I was remembering back to the times of my early Christian growth, when I was a young man.  I can remember my frustration and anguish when I was unable to keep myself from sin, no matter how much I might detest it.  There was just something in my flesh that was too strong for even my iron will to overcome.  But this was not just my experience.  God led me to a passage in Romans 7 that spoke to this very situation.  Even Paul the Apostle, who is so revered among Christians, apparently struggled with sin and the resulting frustration when he could not control his actions.  “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.  Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.  For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  (Romans 7:19-25).

What Paul was feeling was the power of his flesh in his embryonic Christian walk while the Holy Spirit, the grain of mustard seed, was just beginning to grow in his life.  But that tiny seed would grow every bigger bit-by-bit through God’s training program which He applies to all Christians, the process of sanctification.  Of course, not all Christians proceed through the lessons at the same rate.  There are many variables that stunt or delay Christian growth, such as pride, fear, unwillingness to relinquish control to God, obsessive, secret sin and/or desires, unwillingness to let go of something cherished in life (perhaps a dream, a possession, or even a person), or even anger and bitterness that we are not willing to let go of.  I’m sure there are many more such obstacles that we put up within ourselves, resisting the work of God.  But God is tireless, patient, and persistent.  He does not give up on us and never will, no matter how hard of a nut we are to crack.  Every Christian is different, and we all mature in different areas of our lives at different rates than others, but one thing is for sure, the pit-bull persistence of God in training and teaching us is a relentless, unyielding, and unstoppable force.  As He promises in scripture, He WILL complete the work that He has begun in each of us (Philippians 1:6).

I take no pride in my walk with God.  All the glory goes to Him.  All the work and power to change me into the man I am is due to His miraculous intervention in my life.  But I believe that Paul, like me, probably experienced a steady growth of God’s Spirit within him over the years which gradually and eventually overpowered the weak flesh.  But he would have had to do as I did, yielding to God in all manner of training, teaching, and serving situations, and spending constant time in fellowship and meditation on His word.  God builds up His Spirit within us bit by bit in countless small situations, decisions, services, etc. that follow His footsteps on the path of love.  All these tiny things build up over a lifetime to solidify the character of our hearts and to determine how much work God will be able to do within our hearts, minds, and spirits.


More on this tomorrow.  May you walk in the sweet joy of His love this day and may His perfect peace fill your heart.
 


Comments

12/08/2014 1:13am

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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

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