Romans 7-8, Psalm 136
Approximately 5 years ago at one of our partners meetings (we have one between the physician partners in our group monthly) a heated argument broke out between myself and another partner. Though I didn't curse or name call, our voices were raised and it was unyielding. When things began to settle down a little, another of my partners ( also an unbeliever) said, "You say you're a Christian? Really?" I have always been open with my faith and shared with my partners, my employees and many of my patients. So the answer is, yes, I'm a Christian. But sometimes my behavior doesn't reflect Christ. When I share I often state that I wouldn't want many things in my past or for that matter many thoughts and deeds presently displayed for all the world to see. I freely tell others that I'm a sinner saved by grace and nothing more. Though I am becoming more like Christ daily, in this process of sanctification, my flesh is still present, and this process will not be complete this side of eternity.
Sanctification is a state of separation unto God, growing more like Christ as we abide in Him more and more. Though we will continue to fall into sin, we are not to live in
It if we have repented of it. In Romans 6:2, it says, "...How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" He goes on to explain in Romans 6:6, "knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin." This "old man" was our spiritual condition before we trusted Christ. This old man died when we accepted Christ's offer and His payment for our sin. We are now free, sin no longer masters us. But this life is far from easy. We read in Romans 7:15,19, "For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.""For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice." He goes further with this thought in 7:23-24, "But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" This war never ends this side of eternity. The question is what are we feeding, our flesh or are we yielding to the Spirit. Paul says in Galatians 5:17, "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish."
So when we find ourselves saying and doing things which seem the opposite of what Jesus would have us do, what do we do? Paul says in Romans 8:1, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." Though Satan not only tempts us he also whispers in our ear and would have us question whether or not our faith is real or whether God will forgive us. The flesh is real. The pulling of the world is real. Satan and his demonic horde is real. But God is real and much more powerful than any of these other temptations. So when we fall, and we all will, remember the promise in 8:31," If God is for us, who can be against us?" And though the enemy would like you to believe that when we sin that God has departed from us remember the beautiful promise in 8:35,38-39,"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall Tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Never forget that we are sinners saved by grace, that unfortunately we will continue to sin, but that once we are His, nothing can ever separate us from Him.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: