The War Within…

We recently covered Romans Chapter 7 on a Sunday morning in church and reading this again just serves to remind me of the war within…the war between the flesh and the spirit.

I found it interesting to see that the law allows us to recognize sin, and that recognition produces the desire in us, as a fallen race, to do that which we ought not do.

What then shall we say?  That the law is sin?  By no means!  yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin.  For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”  But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness.  For apart from the law, sin lies dead.  I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.  The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.  For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.  So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, bring death to me?  By no means!  It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.  For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. (vv. 7-14 ESV).

Furthermore, the flesh produces all manner of conflict as show by Paul when he continues in verses 15-23:

For I do not understand my own actions.  For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.  Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.  So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.  For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.  For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (vv. 15-23 ESV)

Paul describes the war we all experience within and he, very interestingly, personifies sin.  He doesn’t describe it as some inanimate, impassive, or impotent idea; rather, he uses active words like “seizing”, “deceived”, and “killed” to accurately describe what sin seeks to do to all of mankind who know the righteous Law of God.

This war plagues all who know the truth and Paul laments this, then gives the remedy:

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. (Romans 7:24 – 8:5 ESV)

Thank God!

Lord, may I live by the Spirit and not the flesh this day and every day through your power and sacrifice on my behalf.  Amen.


The Tiny Book of Jude…

I was listening to 66/40 this week and last and it happens to be on the book of Jude.  I thought I would share some commentary on the book of the Bible by my favorite author, Chuck Missler.  The following excerpt is taken from his Learn the Bible in 24 Hours Book.

The epistle of Jude is just one chapter, but is full of surprises!

Jude was the half brother of Jesus.  He also was an unbeliever while Christ was alive, but became a believer after the ressurection.

In this letter, Jude attacked apostasy and argued for his readers to contend for the faith because some people would fall away.  He argued against subtle perversions which included at least two basic denials: denying grace by turning it to lasciviousness (just because we have liberty in Christ does not give us a right to sin); and denying our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.

Apostasy will lead to certain doom, and he used three examples: Egypt, the angels in Genesis 6 (see previous post on this), and Sodom. He also pointed to three apostates by using the examples of Cain, Balaam, and Korah; and then emphasized the utter falsity of these teachers by using six awful metaphors.

An analysis of 2 Peter deals with many of these same things, but in Peter they are future tense; in Jude they are past tense.  Apparently the prophecies in 2 Peter were fulfilled by the time Jude wrote his letter.

In light of the fact that apostasy has been foretold, Jude told his readers how to contend: they should build, pray, keep, and look.  And they should support those who contend. 

Jude focused on the certainty of judgment, and he used an extremely provocative example:

And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.  Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
     Jude 1:6,7

Jude argued that these false teachers were going to be judged.  Then he linked the errors of Sodom and Gomorrah in “going after strange flesh” with the angels in Genesis 6.  (The Scripture always confirms the truth by two or three witnesses, and 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 1:6,7 refer to the angels in Genesis 6.)

Here is something extremely provocative – Jude quotes a prophecy given by Enoch.

And Enoch, also the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints , to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
     Jude 1:14,15

Jude was quoting this prophecy of Enoch, as it was presumably familiar to his readers; but let’s stop and realize what was going on.  The oldest prophecy uttered by a prophet, uttered before the Flood of Noah, is a prophecy of the Second Coming of Christ.

But Jude did something else that should disturb us.  He chose a bizarre example to make his case.

Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.  Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
     Jude 1:8,9 

Here again, Jude alluded to some background familiar to his readers, but which has been lost to us.  First of all, the fact that there was a dispute between Michael and the devil regarding the body of Moses is a surprise.  Where did that  happen?  And why would Satan want the body of Moses?

In any case, the point is that even when Michael was contending with Satan, he didn’t speak evil of Satan.  He said, “The Lord rebuke you.”  Jude would tell us to not speak evil of dignities, and he chose Satan himself to make the point.  Don’t speak evil of him; don’t rail directly against him.  Let the Lord deal with him.  If you are ever confronted with a demon, rely on the authority of Jesus Christ.  Don’t try to confront a demon on your own.

Disobedience and Mercy…

We all know that our actions, for good or for ill, have consequences.  The Bible is full of examples of this, but I want to focus on two examples: one of disobedience and one of mercy.

Israel looked at the nations around her and, not content to be led by the prophet Samuel, decided they wanted a King.  Though advised against such a desire, God relented and appointed Saul, son of Kish to rule over them.  Saul was instructed to destroy the Amalekites (1 Sam 15:7-28), but he did not.  In disobedience, Saul spared the King and the best of the flocks.  His disobedience cost him dearly!

Fast forward several years into the future.  Absalom, David’s son, revolts and David is leaving into exile.  Shimei, a man belonging to the family of the house of Saul was yelling curses as David approached (2 Sam 16:5-13, 19:16-23).  He even went to far as to throw stones at David, all the royal servants, the people and the warriors.  His soldiers wanted to kill Shimei for the offenses, but David thoughtfully refrained. He showed mercy.

Now, let us examine the consequences of these two actions. To do so, we need to look at the Hadassah’s story (Book of Esther).  Here’s a brief summary (read the book, it will not take you long):

  • The Book of Esther can be divided into three main sections.  Chapters 1:1-2:18 – Hadassah (a.k.a. Esther) replaces Queen Vashti; 2:19-7:10 – Mordecai overcomes Haman; 8:1-10:3 – Israel survives Haman’s attempt to destroy them.  The noble Esther risked her own death as she realized what was at stake.  She willingly did what could have been a deadly maneuver and took on the second in command of her husband’s kingdom, Haman.  She proved a wise and most worthy opponent, all the while remaining humble and respectful of the position of her husband-king.

Let us turn our attention to two integral persons in this event: Mordecai and Haman.  Haman was hell-bent upon the destruction of the Jews, not just in his city, but throughout the entire Persian kingdom!  Mordecai adopted Hadassah as his own in her parents absence and was instrumental in raising this gem of a girl who would one day become a queen and save her people.  Here’s the rub: Haman was a descendant of the Amalekite king who should have been destroyed had Saul obeyed his orders to destroy all of the Amalekites.  But, because he didn’t, the very fate of Israel was at stake.  Mordecai, on the other hand, was a direct descendant of Shimei, David’s thorn in the side.  Because David spared Shimei when everyone else wanted his head for what he had done, he allowed the mentor of the woman who would save the nation to be born.

Our choices have consequences…sometimes very far-reaching consequences!  I am reminded of the words of Moses: I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live. 
    Deuteronomy 30:19 NKJV

May you make choices that bring life and blessings rather than death and cursing!