Thursday, September 23, 2010

Close ...But Not Quite

Growing up as a... whatever it was I was, I always heard pastors, church leaders, and uberChristians bemoaning the fact that we come to church on Sunday and then fall into our same sinful habits. Even today, I hear these guys talking about how Christians seem to "fall back into the old self." To a certain extent, most of them will even admit--maybe only in private--that everyone does this so that no one pulls off the Christian life the way they are supposed to.

Close... but not quite.

Hey, genius, in this life we never leave the "old self". The problem that you are seeing is more pervasive than you think. You aren't "reverting", because you would have to be something different in order to "revert". If anything you are "continuing". We don't just get religious and holy one day and then have trouble with follow through. St. Paul tells us that the old flesh still clings to us even after our conversion. Everything you catch yourself doing on Monday, you are guilty of all the time if you examine yourself close enough. And it's not just happening Monday morning through Saturday night. It happens on Sunday at church while you sit in the pew.

You think the problem is bad now? If you are giving yourself even an hour of success each week where you think that you are at least "pulling it off" then you just haven't figured out how bad the situation really is. You don't need a holy stamina or a holy strategy to improve your piety.

What you need is a holy Savior, Jesus Christ who died on the cross for you, to forgive your manifold litany of sins. The problem isn't just what you are doing and not doing. The problem is you. The problem isn't just that you commit sins. The problem is that you are (and will remain!) a sinner.

The answer to this problem? Repent and believe the Gospel. When the problem is you and you are powerless to fix it, someone else must save you from yourself.

"So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 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. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin."

"There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God."

"You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus fro the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you." -Romans 7:21-25; 8:1-11

Hey, looky there! That sounds like "simul justus et peccator". It's time to get off the hypocritical moralism rat-race and look at sin the way the Bible actually looks at it.

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