If God let you know that it was His will for you not to put your hand on a hot burner on a stove, would it be hard or easy to obey His will? Probably easy, because in this instance, our will and God’s will are in alignment, our will is also not to put our hand on a hot burner. Why, because it hurts when we put our hand on a hot burner and we don’t like getting hurt.
But if we know that it is God’s will to love our enemies, it is usually not easy to obey His will because our will is not always in alignment with God’s will. We seldom want to love our enemies, especially when they have grievously harmed us. God’s nature and our carnal nature are not in alignment, they are not the same. What we want to do, our carnal or human will, is not aligned with God’s will.
Sometimes our carnal or human nature likes to even the score. There are many examples of what our carnal nature likes that is not in alignment with what God likes or wills.
Paul speaks of this conflict for Christians in Romans 7:15-25
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Followed by Romans 8:1-17
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
I know that I was baptIzed into Christ’s death and because Jesus rose from the dead, I will rise also. I know that my sinful flesh was buried and that I am a new creature. I know that it is because of Christ’s faithfulness that I am accepted by our Heavenly Father. It’s the lingering imperfections that bother me. Like when I know better and give into the flesh. I hate myself when it happens and it definitely doesn’t make me feel good. I confess it and ask for forgiveness and God’s word tells me that I am forgiven,
(1 John 1:9 (NIV) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”)
but I can’t help but feel that I have fallen short, …. again. And these shortfalls are just the ones that I am aware of, undoubtedly there are many more. I know I have a long way to go but when I fail, it reminds me of the difference between God and myself.
Years ago, for reasons still unknown to myself to this very day, at a Full Gospel Businessman’s luncheon, I was ushered into the presence of God. The noise in the room went silent. I did not see anything nor did I hear anything. I was just aware of His presence. Three things struck me at the same time. Holy is not a word, it emulates from Him. The difference between God and myself was immense. I understand why the prophets of old fell to their knees in the presence of the Angel of the Lord. And His love, it can’t be described, overwhelming falls way short. I was married with three kids at that time and I loved them with all my heart (five now and same beautiful wife) but I never wanted to leave His presence. Slowly the sound in the room came back and His presence was gone. It could have been a minute or two, not much more. I hold onto that plus all the other times God has demonstrated His love and faithfulness throughout the years. So much grace given to me and to so many others. I love Him, I wish I loved Him more.
I look forward to going home and leaving my imperfections behind.
But this is just one side of the coin, and not really the one that we are to focus on.
I think that sometimes we try to earn approval or acceptance in God’s eyes via our behaviour. That is not possible, even through the Law of the OT. I accepted that when Jesus died on the cross that He paid the price for my sins. The sins that I infrequently commit, that I am aware of, are confessed and I ask forgiveness but sometimes my shortcomings make me move away from God rather than draw me nearer to Him.
I am a child of God and as such Christ is my righteousness, He is faithful, He has redeemed me and He is my sanctification. God the Father sees me in His Son, the attributes of Jesus are transferred to us, the children of God, now. Learning to abide in Christ is a life long process and while we are in our bodies it is a process that is never completed but it is vitally important to understand what has already been accomplished in us and that which we have realized or overcome while in the flesh are not one and the same. We are sanctified, faithful, righteous, redeemed now. Not because of what we have done but because of what Jesus has done and what has been attributed to us. When we focus on a negative, it beats down our self perception and moves us away from our faith. We focus on our sin rather than His righteousness.
1 Cor 1:30-31 “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
John 3:27 “To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven.”
Rom 11:35-36 ““Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”
James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
1 John 4:19 “We love because he first loved us.”
By focusing on what Jesus accomplished on our behalf we start from a place of truth and work back to a point of need. That moves us closer to God in adoration and thankfulness. When we focus on our sin we are starting from a point of need, attempting to establish a point of truth.
SIN SAYS, THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE, IT DEFINES YOU.
JESUS SAYS, THIS IS NOT WHO YOU ARE, WITH MY HOLY SPIRIT IN YOU,
MADE POSSIBLE BY MY DEATH AND RESURRECTION
YOU CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST, WHO STRENGTHENS YOU.
Luke 9:62 “Jesus said to him, “no man who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Do we give up on God or do we give up on ourselves?
Most times it is us giving up on ourselves.
When you set your hand to a plow you focus on where you are going, not looking back where you have been.
Phil 3:13-14 “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”