Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Here I am, warts and all: Life in the flesh: Part 2

"THE LIFE WHICH I NOW LIVE IN THE FLESH"

I do indeed now have a life "in the flesh," if I did not, I would not sin ... ever. Life apart from "the flesh" would bring "sinless perfection." And if it were not true that in this present regenerate life you and I do sin, then I would not be writting this article, you would not be reading it, Christians would not be confessing their sins, and Christian authors everywhere could once and for all put down their pens, cease addressing the sin problem, and find other more important things to write about (as if Christian authors were the only ones bothered by the sin problem).

In fact, if it were not true that we yet live in the flesh and our sin is directly linked to our yet living in our mortal physical bodies (I shall clarify/rectify this heresy later) and continue to sin, then God would have spared us much of the New Testament as He commands us, rebukes us, chastizes us, and exhorts us to "put to death what is earthly" in us and move toward comformity with His Son through the written word. Nor would He have encouraged us as we struggle with our corruptible flesh and blood bodies (Rom. 8:18-25; 1 Cor. 15:50-57).

Justification from sin is the "good news" of the gospel, not the cessation of sin in this life (as unfortunate as that may sound to us); deliverance from God's wrath on account of our sin is the good news of the gospel (as much as we may wish He had also delivered us from the ability to sin). It is the reality of our sin that we deal with everyday that so burdens us: I wish God had just simply done away with my ability to sin.Yet it is this very burden that Christ has freed us from. This is the gist of Paul's argument from Romans 1-8 as well as Galatians.

Because we still sin as believers, we experience guilt and shame and are prone to try to "fix" our own sins (talk about being in the flesh), we owe Jesus at least that much, right? It just doesn't seem right or feel right if I don't experience self-loathing and self-condemnation and emotional flaggelation. And that is a burden we cannot bear ... and a heresy from which we must quickly turn. It is our own way of keeping the law in order to be a part of God's covenant family, meriting God's favor with Christ as a mere aide, setting "aside the grace of God" (Gal. 2:21). And for those who persist in paying for their own sins, Paul's words apply to them as it did to the Galatians, "You have fallen from grace" (5:2-4).

A NEW LIFE "IN THE FLESH"

The in-the-flesh life I now live is not to be confused with the in-the-flesh life I lived prior to the grace of God bringing me to new life and faith in Jesus Christ. Whereas I was "dead in trespasses and sins" in the previous in-the-flesh life (Eph. 2:1-3; Rom. 8:9), I am now alive, regenerate, born again, in this "life which I now live in the flesh" (Eph. 2:4-10; Gal. 2:20). There is a tremendous difference.