Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Ongoing Battle

Romans 7:23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.

23 βλέπω δὲ ἕτερον νόμον ἐν τοῖς μέλεσίν μου ἀντιστρατευόμενον τῷ νόμῳ τοῦ νοός μου καὶ αἰχμαλωτίζοντά με ἐν τῷ νόμῳ τῆς ἁμαρτίας τῷ ὄντι ἐν τοῖς μέλεσίν μου.

This comes at the end of a chapter that is somewhat debated. Is Paul speaking of himself in his redeemed or unredeemed state? I don't see any reason from the context to think that he has had a flashback to his unredeemed state. No, I think that he is speaking to his current life as a believer who has to constantly fight his flesh.

I wanted to focus on this verse because of the struggles I've had with this in the past. The most egregious was when I used this whole passage to justify my life of ongoing sin. After all, I could look at the Apostle Paul and his struggles. If he struggled with sin then why couldn't I? Besides, he also had a thorn in his flesh, right?

That's a fairly obvious one to debunk. But I think there is something more subtle here as well. I kind of slipped into gnosticism with this verse. In fact, I would say that the language I used while with Setting Captives Free was more or less gnostic. I started to equate the flesh with evil. That is certainly a fair inference from what Paul writes if we take this passage in isolation.

However, that's not the overall sense of biblical revelation. Solomon spoke of the joys of physical pleasure and even wrote a whole book about sex. Paul addresses eating in 1 Corinthians. He puts it in its proper place by telling us to sacrifice our freedoms for the sake of the consciences of others, but he also seems to imply that we can eat with gladness. In other words, we do not need to be ascetics.

The point is that we need to take a reformed view of the body. God made our bodies for our good and His glory, just like everything else. All things were created for Him (Colossians 1:16). I do not think that Scripture calls us to asceticism, but to discipline. We are to discipline our bodies and make them our slaves, but we do not need to run in fear of our bodies. We do need to subdue them to the will of God, but we should also enjoy the good things He created out of common grace like food, the beach, sunsets, the mountains, sex, etc.

Maybe you've not had this problem. However, if you've had any experience in Independent Baptist Fundamentalism I suspect you have. Enjoy God's common graces!

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