Section One: The Spiritual Characteristics of a Godly Life.
Our current theme: Characteristic Three: Being Victorious.
Our reading for today: Romans 6: 6-11 (MsgB)
Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in His life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, He took sin down with Him, but alive He brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.
As we continue our trek on the spiritual characteristics of the godly life, we’re in the midst of a conversation on attaining the victorious life as a follower of Christ.
Now, there are some who might say that total victory is attainable only in the life to come (in heaven), while others believe it is fully possible to obtain victory in Christ here, on this side of eternity (on earth).
As I see it, both sides are partially right. It’s been my experience, after 50+ years of walking with Jesus that there is an amazing gift of victory available on this side, if (and I do mean if), I can only be brave enough to persevere toward that goal. And yet, there have also been times in my life when I’ve wondered seriously if the old man inside me would ever give up the ghost, making my life as Paul once described his own in Romans 7: 19…
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.
Sadly, there are a great number of churches out there that offer, what I call, the Just Do It option for all of us Christians who find it so difficult to find that victorious life Scripture talks about. As we discussed last week, this two-pronged solution from the Just Do It crowd goes like this…
1) Resist Satan. 2) Stop sinning.
But here’s the rub. So often in my life when I’ve tried the Just Do It approach, I will find myself being successful in my sin-management project for a few days (or a few weeks?), working diligently at pushing away the worst of my sins, only to have a relapse where my sinfulness comes back at me like a flood, washing away all the fortifications I thought I’d built throughout my season of good behavior!
Ever been there? I bet you have!
So over a decade ago, I finally decided that I’d had enough of the Just Do It approach to sin-management and I opened up my Bible looking for the ways Jesus of Nazareth seemed to handle the many temptations that came His way. This approach of looking to Jesus and seeing how the Master did it is nothing novel. As a matter of fact, the historical Church has been asking the question, “What Would Jesus Do?” long before it ever became popular to print WWJD on bracelets and other assorted jewelry for Christians! Even our scripture reading today from Romans 6 suggests that our entire life is attached at the hip with Christ, so I knew I could find something on the subject of Jesus and sin-management, if I only searched hard enough!
And I was right. It actually didn’t take me very long at all to find the story I was looking for!
The Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all mention, early on, the story of the temptations of Jesus, so I decided to camp there for a season and see if I could uncover some good counsel on sin-management from the Master. But lo and behold, as I dug ever deeper into the text, I discovered that the actual story about Jesus wandering out there in the desert, refusing Satan’s temptations, actually speaks very little about sin…but much, much more about issues of self!
Thus, I’ve come away with a whole different approach to my sin management problems. I’ll even be so bold to say to you that over the last decade or so, I’ve really spent very little time looking at my sins!
Now, that may sound strange…and maybe even a bit heretical. But I invite you to join me next time, as we look just a bit deeper into Jesus’ approach to resisting Satan. As I see it, we will find a much more obvious intent in the Master dealing with the second head of that hideous two-headed monster I’ve been talking about all along.
And, my friends, I’m convinced that this whole thing is not about Satan & Sin…but about Satan & Self!
My prayer: Jesus, You are the one with the true answers, and I trust when I look to the Scriptures, I will find what I’m looking for when it comes to living the Christian life You want me to live. Holy Spirit, keep my eyes open to new truths and exciting answers. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So what has been my recent experience with the Just Do It approach to sin-management? Has it been successful in the long-term, or has it been a two-step forward, one-step back approach like Paul talks about in his life (Romans 7:19)?
So what is God speaking to you today as we attempt to live the Christ-centered life?
Over a thirty-six week period, you and I will take a deeper look into twelve key characteristics of a godly life. In other words, we’ll take A Journey into Christian Discipleship. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Journey home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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