Thursday, May 26, 2011

Reckoning With Truth

There was a time when I hated Romans 7. I hated it because that’s where I lived. I felt like Paul when he said, “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.”(Romans 7:15). And verse 18-19: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” That was where I lived. I was stuck and didn’t know how to get out. In between these two verses was verse 17: “But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” What that meant I did not really know. Yes, sin was doing it, but wasn’t I the one doing it as well? What was this talking about? Chapter 6 was all about not living in sin or letting it reign over us; that we had been set free from it and our Old Man had been crucified. My mom would tell me, just like Romans 6:11 says, that I needed to “reckon” myself as dead to sin. I tried to convince myself that I was dead, but I couldn’t, at least not for very long. Then there was Romans 8 which was all about living after the Spirit. I wondered what was wrong with me. I was a Christian wasn’t I? I was sure I was. I had trusted in Christ and repented of my sin and had assurance of salvation. I knew that God had saved me and that I was His, but what was missing? Why did I struggle with sin in my life? Why did I not see consistent victory? I even took the time to memorize Romans 6, 7 and 8, and that helped my understanding some, but still I didn’t get it. There was no real “reckoning”, no real power in my life over the deeds of the Flesh.
When it came to baptism, I had been baptized when I was 11. But I'm not sure I was a Christian at that point and certainly didn’t really understand what it meant to be dead to sin and alive in Christ. (There’s Romans 6:3-4!) I was baptized because I knew it was commanded in Scripture and wanted to be obedient to God. But other than that, it had no other spiritual significance.
Ephesians 2:8 says that faith is a gift of God. Saving faith is a gift of God, but so is sanctifying faith. We must have faith in order to reckon the truth of God as true to our lives. This is what I lacked. God began to do a work in my heart and move me to a place of complete surrender of all that I held onto. Then one day, sitting in chapel, one of the staff members began talking about baptism and what it meant. Suddenly, it all made sense. I died with Christ. (Rom. 6:6, Col 2:20, 3:3) It was like scales fell off my eyes and I saw… my sin, my Old Man, my Flesh was nailed to the Cross with Christ. It no longer had dominion over me. That moment, God poured out on me a new measure of the gift of sanctifying faith and I was able to truly reckon that I was indeed dead to sin and alive in Christ. What glorious freedom! Baptism suddenly took on a whole new and deep significance and I chose to be baptized again to make a public declaration of who I was in Christ.
While I was saved when I was younger, God has given me a deeper understanding of salvation and its application to my life. While I still live in a sinful body and the Flesh still seeks to gain control over me, there is, in a sense, another new birth of the reality of my position in Christ. By the grace of God, and in the power of the Spirit, I will continue to put off the Flesh and its deeds.

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