Will Call

Some years ago my grandfather gave me a memorable gift. It was a ticket to see a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game at Forbes Field. Being an avid baseball fan at the time, this was the gift of a lifetime. My grandfather had paid for the ticket in advance, but left instructions that I was to go to the “Will Call” window at the ballpark to pick it up. Before I could enter the stadium I had to have proof that payment was made, which “Will Call” provided in the form of a ticket. If I failed to arrive on time and pick up my ticket I would miss the opportunity to attend the game.

“Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift” of His Son. God sent His only begotten Son to die for our sins. My friend, He personally had you in mind. You see, to enter into the presence of a holy and righteous God, you must be perfect. Of course, someone is sure to say, “But, nobody’s perfect!” Herein lies the problem, you must be perfect; otherwise you will suffer the eternal consequences of your sins in the lake of fire. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” which is a sad commentary on each of our lives (Rom. 3:23). Thankfully, Christ’s finished work on the Cross is God’s answer to the sin question. He paid the full debt of your sins at Calvary that you might have eternal life.

But what must you do to be saved from your sins and the wrath to come? Your ticket to eternal life, which has already been paid in advance, is waiting for you at God’s “Will Call.” According to the Scriptures: “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

I am happy to say I arrived at the “Will Call” window on time that day and enjoyed the ballgame. Years later someone shared with me about another gift, one that would be life-changing. It was the gift of God’s dear Son. When I called upon the Lord He saved me by His grace. It was a decision I have never regretted. But what about you, my friend? God’s “Will Call” is open today, but if you die in your sins, you will have missed your opportunity to be saved from the judgment to come. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved!” (Acts 16:31).

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.


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Growing In God’s Grace

(The soon to be published, Growing in God’s Grace by Pastor John Fredricksen is a new believers guide to spiritual maturity. The articles that follow are two excerpts from John’s forthcoming book. John is the pastor of the Grace Bible Church in Rapid City, South Dakota, and serves on both the Berean Bible Society and Berean Bible Fellowship Board of Directors.)

MINISTRY-MINDED

In nearly every species, the most preeminent thought in the mind of each new mother is the care of her young. By nature, she will devote her life to feeding, providing, and protecting, even unto death, those to whom she gave life. Mothers instinctively realize their purpose for existing is to serve their offspring. In many cases, a mother thinks of little else. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we inherently know that one of the primary reasons for our existence is to serve the Saviour who died for us. In fact, we should be as devoted, single-minded, and vigilant in serving the Lord, as a mother is to her task.

Saints Were Created for Ministry

God has always used men and women to accomplish His purposes. He could use angels, but instead has chosen to use human servants. In fact, God saved us for the purpose of serving Him. Paul told the saints at Ephesus, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, that God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (2:10). Horses were created to be ridden, cars were created to be driven, and believers were created to serve their Saviour. If I’m saved, this IS my divine reason for being alive and being left on earth after salvation. Therefore, we are urged to “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who…made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant…” (Philippians 2:5-10). Every believer needs to cultivate the attitude and practice of being a servant of the Lord. We need to be ministry-minded.

Saints Can All Have a Ministry

God never intended for only pastors or missionaries to be “in the ministry.” All believers can have a meaningful ministry. As members of the Body of Christ, God has designed us so that we are “fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working of every part…” (Ephesians 4:16). Just as we need every joint of our body to work effectively, or we suffer, so each of us needs to be working for the Lord, or the cause of Christ suffers.

It doesn’t matter if we feel inadequate to minister. A sense of our own insufficiency is actually the first qualification for ministry. We learn from I Peter 5:5 that “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.” Recognizing our weakness puts us in the position of relying on God’s strength, as He provides us with the power needed in ministry. Moreover, God prefers to use regular saints instead of superstars. Paul told the Corinthians, “Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty…are called, but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise…that no flesh should glory in His presence” (I Corinthians 1:26-31). Paul continued to press this principle home to these saints in three other passages. Those who properly minister for the Lord realize: “not that we are sufficient of ourselves…but our sufficiency is of God; who also hath made us able ministers…(because) God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (II Corinthians 3:5; 9:8; 12:9).

God has always used imperfect people to accomplish His purposes. Abraham lacked courage, Moses thought himself unqualified because he was slow of speech, Gideon lacked faith, Peter was impetuous, Paul had a violent past, and Timothy was full of fear and struggled with physical infirmity. Yet, these and many more were greatly used of the Lord, sometimes in spite of themselves. The greatest ability for ministry is availability wrapped in a constant dependence on the Lord. If you will meet this qualification, God will continually put ministry opportunities in your path. Be ready, looking, and willing.

Saints Should Long for Ministry

Spiritually healthy saints who are growing in Christ realize ministry is God’s priority for their life. We should not merely minister if we have time left over, on occasion; ministry should be at the center of our lives. We should passionately desire ministry for the Lord. It should be regular, deliberate, and scheduled. Paul was making this point to Titus when he wrote, “Christ…gave Himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak and rebuke with all authority” (Titus 2:14-15). If Titus was to be a faithful servant, then he would need to “affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain works” (3:8).

Your local church and fellow believers in your church need your ministry. For example, we can serve the Lord in cleaning the church, sweeping the walk, providing transportation, accompanying the pastor on visitation, teaching a class, assisting with the children’s program, stocking the kitchen, greeting newcomers, participating in music, preparing the bulletin, recording messages, opening our homes, witnessing, doing follow-up, calling or sending out notes to absentees, working in the nursery, giving announcements, mowing the church yard, being the one who goes for anything needed, working the sound system, ushering, inviting people to church, and much more. Every one of us needs to be available, to let others know we want to minister, and actively look for ways to serve the Lord. God wants us to be “zealous” or “on fire” about serving Him.

Saints Should be Growing in Ministry

It seems to be in our human nature to be lax about serving the Lord. Paul told Timothy to “stir up the gift” God had given him in ministry capability. In other words, he was telling Timothy to “get to work.”

The writer of Hebrews told the Jewish saints, “When for the time when ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not strong meat” (5:12). Like us, these saints should have become grounded in God’s Word, then stretched themselves out of their comfort zone to become teachers themselves. Most believers can and should eventually become teachers, first becoming established in doctrine, then serving in dependence on God.

However, when saints don’t grow or serve, we regress in many ways.

Saints Waste Life Without Ministry

In II Corinthians 6:1, Paul pleaded with the saints saying, “We then…beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.” Only a few verses earlier Paul had explained that believers are “not henceforth (to) live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again” (5:15). Yet, when believers choose to live without ministry, therein NOT fulfilling God’s purpose for their lives, there is a real sense in which their lives are a waste of God’s grace. It is absolutely stunning how many times the Apostle Paul wrote to different saints out of concern that his ministry to them, and subsequently their lives, would be lived “in vain,” or emptiness (Galatians 4:11; Philippians 2:16; I Thessalonians 3:5; Romans 13:11-12). The practical point for us is to see that life filled with ministry has meaning, purpose, joy, and fulfillment. We then must mold our lives into becoming ministry-minded.

Saints Will Be Rewarded Based on Ministry

In I Corinthians 3:8-15, the Apostle Paul emphasizes over and over the importance of our working for the Lord. We are told “every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour…(and) if any man’s work abide…he shall receive a reward.” In eternity, when we stand before the Lord Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ, every part of our lives that was lived only to ourselves shall be “burned.” What we often think is so important in this life will go up in smoke. Now is the time for every saint to grasp the importance of serving the Lord. Now is the to time embrace the truth that God saved us to serve. If we do, God will richly reward us in eternity. Let’s get busy for the Lord, stay busy for the Lord, and let’s begin with zeal this week.

DEVELOPING DEEP CONVICTION ABOUT TRUTH

A New York family bought a ranch out west where they intended to raise cattle. Friends visited and asked if the ranch had a name. “Well,” said the would-be cattleman, “I wanted to name it the Bar-J. My wife favored Suzy-Q, one son liked the Flying W, and the other wanted the Lazy-Y. So we’re calling it the Bar-J-Suzy-Q-Flying-W-Lazy-Y.” “But where are all your cattle?” the friends asked. “None of them survived the branding.” (Taken from: D.A.C. News.)

We are living in times of too much compromise. This is especially true when it comes to the truths of the Bible. The Lord wants an army of Christian men and women who know what they believe from God’s Word, where to document it in Scripture, and an unwillingness to compromise these beliefs. What the world needs to see, and will generally respect, is people who have convictions and are willing to stand by them. May we become Christians with deep convictions about the truths of the Bible.

A Lack of Conviction Leads to Catastrophe

It has often been said that: those who won’t stand for something, will fall for anything. The history of Israel in the Old Testament proves this principle true. As the Lord gave the Jewish nation His instructions, He intended for them to faithfully keep these truths. Tragically, “they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them; they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the Lord; but they did not so” (Judges 2:17). God’s design was for Israel to be a positive spiritual influence upon the world by holding fast to the Lord and all He told them to do. Instead, they repeatedly put up with error, then embraced it. Eventually they allowed false teaching to lead them completely away from the Lord and into unimaginable degenerate behavior.

The testimony of Jeremiah is a vivid example of what can happen when believers do not have strong convictions about spiritual truths. The Lord told Jeremiah, “Seek…if ye can find a man, if there be any… that seeketh the truth” (5:1). It’s incredible, but it was hard to find even one man with a backbone holding God’s truth. Instead, “The prophets prophesy falsely…and my people love to have it so” (5:31). “The word of the Lord is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it” (6:10). God told Jeremiah, “Thy children (Israel) have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods (and) burn their sons, and their daughters in the fire” (5:7; 7:31). When conviction about God’s truth was abandoned, it led to the human sacrifice of their own children to false gods. Yes, they who won’t stand for God’s truth, will fall for anything. This was the reason Jeremiah said, “O Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth?” It needs to be so for us as well.

God Wants Us to Hold Strong Convictions

It is NOT the natural or the easy thing for believers to stand firm with convictions based on God’s Word. But, throughout the Scriptures, God encourages us to settle for nothing less than His truth. Solomon writes, “Buy the truth, and sell it not” (Proverbs 23:23). Paul urges, “Prove all things, hold fast to that which is good…stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle” (I Thessalonians 5:21; II Thessalonians 2:15). Peter warns, “Beloved…beware lest ye also, being lead away with the error of the wicked (one), fall from your own steadfastness” (II Peter 3:17).

Just as Israel did in the Old Testament in Jeremiah’s day, today many of God’s own are falling away from the truths of the Scripture. Some ask questions such as: “Does it really make that much difference?” “Is it really that important?” “Is it the end of the world if we practice spiritual activity that is contrary to the Scripture?” The answer is yes, it does make a difference and it is a big deal if we compromise the truth of God! The Lord deserves nothing less than our obedience to His instructions and He expects us to stand with strong convictions about what He says is true. This is exactly why we have repeated instructions to, “Be steadfast, (and) unmoveable” (I Corinthians 15:58). Paul constantly urged saints everywhere to “stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved…(that) I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit” (Philippians 4:1; 1:27). It is God’s will for everyone who has accepted the forgiveness in Christ Jesus to accept the divine call to hold the truths of God’s Word as such a deep conviction that we are unwilling to compromise the essentials of the faith for anyone, for any reason, or at any time.

God Left Us Many Examples of Convictions

Since the terrorist attack of 9-11 in New York City and Washington, D.C., politicians and the media are constantly talking about “heroes.” Without detracting in any way from the efforts or memory of those who died on that day, there are even more important heroes for us to remember.

When Hezekiah ascended to the throne of Judah at the age of twenty-five, “He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord” (II Kings 18:3-4). His father before him had done evil in the sight of the Lord, but Hezekiah “removed the high places (for false worship), and brake the images, and cut down the groves.” He reopened the house of the Lord and sternly charged the priests to sanctify themselves and diligently teach the way of the Lord. He was a hero. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were carried away as slaves into a foreign land and commanded to worship false gods, they refused. Even under the threat of certain death in a fiery furnace, they told their captors, “Be it known unto thee, oh king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Daniel 3:18). They said this in the context of telling the king they were willing, if necessary, to die for their convictions. Likewise, Daniel would not discontinue his routine of daily prayer to the Lord, even though it had been outlawed under the penalty of death. He “kneeled upon his knees…and prayed…as he did aforetime.” Standing by his spiritual convictions became such a testimony that the king told Daniel, “Thy God whom thou servest continually, He will deliver thee” (6:16). If we too will demonstrate such strength of biblical conviction and can prove what we believe in God’s Word, it can still have a powerful impact. These men were heroes for God. Of these Old Testament believers, it was said: “God is not ashamed to be called their God” (Hebrews 11:16).

The Apostle Paul was a man of conviction, especially when it came to standing for the truth in God’s Word. When false teachers tried to impose the Mosaic law on his converts, he said, “To whom we gave place…no not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you” (Galatians 2:5). Biblical truth was paramount to Paul. Even when Peter came to Antioch and refused to eat with Gentiles, Paul said, “I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed” (2:11). It did not matter who it was, or even what it cost the Apostle Paul, he stood by his convictions and absolutely would not compromise the truth of God. This is why he had to “suffer persecution,” was “beaten with rods” three times, “five times received forty stripes save one,” was even stoned and left for dead (Galatians 5:11; II Corinthians 11:24). Paul was a real hero, as are all today who will purpose to become men and women of conviction.

The Apostle Paul warned that the time will come when even Christians will “not endure sound doctrine; but will…turn from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (II Timothy 4:2-4). But it does not have be this way with any of us. Be one who stands, with uncompromising conviction, for the truths of grace and be one who stands with a church that likewise stands for the essentials of the faith.


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Part 5: The Two Natures in the Believer

(As we continue our series on True Spirituality, Pastor Stam effectively addresses the two natures in the believer. The conflict between these two natures explains the present warfare we experience within our members. The lesson that follows is a biblical guide on how to have victory over sin in your life.)

THE OLD MAN AND THE NEW

The believer who would be truly spiritual must recognize the fact that within him there are now two natures; that in addition to the fallen nature of Adam there is also the perfect nature of Christ, begotten of God through the Holy Spirit.

So real is the presence of both these natures in every child of God, that in Paul’s references to the believer’s experience, his personal pronouns refer sometimes to the one and sometimes to the other.

A good example of this is found in Romans 7, where the apostle says on the one hand: “I am carnal, sold under sin” (Ver. 14) and on the other: “I serve the law of God” (Ver. 25). Again he says, on the one hand: “In me…dwelleth no good thing” (Ver. 18) and on the other: “I delight in the law of God” (Ver. 22) referring on the one hand to the old nature, and on the other to the new. Surely the “I” who delights in the law of God is not the same “I” who is “carnal, sold under sin” (Ver. 14). Yet in both cases the apostle uses the first person pronoun, associating both conditions with himself.

That the apostle here refers to two natures in one person is clear from the qualifying clauses he employs. On the one hand he says: “In me [THAT IS IN MY FLESH] dwelleth no good thing” (Ver. 18) while on the other, he says: “I delight in the law of God AFTER THE INWARD MAN” (Ver. 22). Thus the “me” in Verse 18 refers to the old nature, while the “I” in Verse 22 refers to the new. In the former dwells no good thing, while the latter delights in the law of God.

THE OLD NATURE IN THE BELIEVER

The believer who would be truly spiritual must recognize the presence of the old nature within. It would be dangerous not to recognize a foe so near.

The old nature in the believer is that which is “begotten of the flesh.” It is called, “the flesh,” “the old man,” “the natural man,” “the carnal mind.”

Just as “they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8) so that which is of the flesh, in the believer, cannot please God. “The flesh,” as we have already seen, is totally depraved. God calls it “sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3),1 warns that it seeks “occasion” to do wrong (Gal. 5:13) and declares that “the works of the flesh” are all bad (Gal. 5:19-21).

Nor is the old nature in the believer one which improves by its contact with the new. It is with respect to “the flesh” in the believer, even in himself, that the apostle declares that in it “dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. 7:18), that it is “carnal, sold under sin” (Rom. 7:14), that it is “corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” (Eph. 4:22), that it is at “enmity against God,” and is “not subject to the law of God, NEITHER INDEED CAN BE” (Rom. 8:7).

“The flesh,” even as it remains in the believer after salvation, is that which was generated by a fallen begetter. It is the old Adamic nature. It is sinful in itself. It cannot be improved. It cannot be changed. “That which is born [begotten] of the flesh is flesh,” said our Lord (John 3:6) and it is as impossible to improve the “old man” in the believer as it was to make him acceptable to God in the first place.

The “old man” was condemned and dealt with judicially at the Cross. Never once is the believer instructed to try to do anything with him or to make anything of him, but always to reckon him dead, and so “put him off.” But more of this later.

THE OLD NATURE NOT ERADICATED IN THIS LIFE

There are those who, with good motive, to be sure, strive to achieve the eradication of the old nature in this life. Such do not help, but hinder, the attainment of true spirituality.

First, the doctrine of eradication, far from taking a truly serious view of sin, takes a very shallow, superficial view of it. Those who teach it suppose that if we could get rid of the sins we recognize we should be perfect, not realizing that at our very best we all, having fallen into sin in Adam, constantly “come [present tense]2 short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23) and will continue to come short of it until we are changed to be “like Him.” Thus “We, through the Spirit, WAIT for the hope of [perfect, personal] righteousness by faith” (Gal. 5:5).

Concerning those who feel that they have achieved the eradication of the old nature, the fact is that others can invariably testify that they have not! And generally those who claim to be without sin are guilty of one of the greatest of all sins—spiritual pride.

Certainly the doctrine of eradication is a flat contradiction of Scripture. The first epistle of John emphatically declares:

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (I John 1:8).

“If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us” (I John 1:10).

Paul also speaks of “the law of sin which is in my members” (Rom. 7:23) and urges constant reliance upon the Holy Spirit for overcoming power (Rom. 8:11-13; Gal. 5:16,25). Indeed, if the doctrine of eradication were Scripturally sound there would be no reason for Paul to instruct all believers to deal with the old nature, in such terms as: “reckon,” “yield not,” “put off,” “mortify,” etc.

But let us suppose for the moment that it were possible to achieve the eradication of the flesh; would that also dispose of our other two enemies, the world and the devil? Surely not, and having gotten rid only of the fallen nature of Adam, we would, like Adam before the fall, be as subject to temptation from without as he, and would as surely fall. But the Scriptures clearly teach that we all fell once in Adam:

“by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12).

THE NEW NATURE IN THE BELIEVER

It has been well said that if there is anything good in any man it is because it was put there by God. And something good—a new, sinless nature—has been imparted by God to every believer.

While there is still within us “that which is begotten of the flesh,” there is also “that which is begotten of the Spirit,” and just as the one is totally depraved and “cannot please God,” so the other is absolutely perfect and always pleases Him.

Adam was originally created in the image and likeness of God, but he fell into sin and later “begat a son in HIS OWN likeness, after HIS image” (Gen. 5:3). It could not be otherwise. Fallen Adam could generate and beget only fallen, sinful offspring, whom even the law could not change. But “what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending His own Son IN THE LIKENESS OF SINFUL FLESH, and for sin,” accomplished, “that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:3,4).

As Adam was made in the likeness of God, but fell, so Christ was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, to redeem us from the fall, that by grace, through the operation of the Spirit, a new creation might be brought into being, a “new man…renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him” (Col. 3:10) a “new man, which, after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:24).

John, who does not go as far as the symbol of the new creation in this connection, nevertheless refers to the impartation of the new nature to believers, when he says:

“Whosoever is born [begotten] of God doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born [begotten] of God” (I John 3:9).

“We know that whosoever is born [begotten] of God sinneth not…” (I John 5:18).

It is evident that the “whosoever,” here, does not refer to the individual as such, but to that part of the individual which Paul calls the “new man,” for we have already seen that John, in this same epistle, declares that if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and make God a liar. It is the new nature in the believer that cannot sin, for it is the new nature, not the old, that was begotten of God.

Thus in addition to our fallen Adamic nature we, through faith, have also become “partakers of the divine nature” (II Pet. 1:4). This is the “inner man” of which Paul speaks in Ephesians 3:16, and this “inward man” delights to do God’s will (Rom. 7:22).

Let us thank God that the old nature is under the condemnation of death. Judicially it has already been dealt with. It was put to death representatively in Christ. Practically it will come to its end when our “earthly house…is dissolved” (II Cor. 5:1) or when we are “changed” (I Cor. 15:52) and “caught up…to meet the Lord in the air” (I Thes. 4:17), but the new nature—that which is begotten of God—will never die. In the first place it does not come under the condemnation of sin. In the second, it is that which is begotten, “not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (I Pet. 1:23).

Paul, by the Spirit, gives particular emphasis to this fact as it affects believers in this present dispensation, for we are not only “begotten” of the Spirit and given the resurrection life of Christ, but we belong to the “new creation” (II Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:10) which God will glorify “in the ages to come,” in order to “show the exceeding riches of His grace” (Eph. 2:7).

We have now cleared the way for a consideration of the conflict between the old nature and the new, and of the means placed at our disposal to overcome the old.

THE CONFLICT BETWEEN THE OLD AND NEW NATURES

The epistles of Paul have much to say about the conflict continually going on between the old and new natures in the believer. God has a gracious purpose in permitting this conflict and it has its real advantages to the believer; also, abundant provision has been made for spiritual victory in any given case, but before considering all this, let us deal first with the fact of the conflict itself.

Concerning this conflict, the Apostle Paul writes, by inspiration:

“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Gal. 5:17).

Regarding this conflict in his own personal experience, he writes:

“For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”

“For I delight in the law of God after 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” (Rom. 7:19,22,23).

It has been taught by some that we need not experience this continual strife between the old nature and the new. They say: “Get out of the 7th of Romans into the 8th.”

We would remind such that the Apostle Paul wrote Romans 7 and Romans 8 at the same sitting; that in the original the letter goes right on without interruption—without even a chapter division. Thus the same apostle who exclaims: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1) refers in the same letter, only a few sentences before, using the present tense, to “the law of sin which IS in my members,” and freely acknowledges the present operation of that law in his members, as we have seen above. How then shall we get out of the 7th of Romans into the 8th? Paul experienced both at the same time, and so do we, for while we are free from the condemnation of sin, sin itself nevertheless continues to work within us.

It is true indeed that no amount of striving can improve the old Adamic nature, but it is not true that there should be no strife between the old and new natures, otherwise the exhortations not to “yield” to the dictates of the old nature, but to “put off” the deeds of the old man and “mortify,” or put to death, our earthward inclinations, would all be meaningless.

It is a simple fact that the conflict described in Romans 7 is experienced in the life of every believer. Else let those who contend that we should get out of Romans 7 deny it. If they have come to the place where they can consistently do the things that they would;3 where “the law of sin” no longer operates in their members; if in their experience they have been wholly delivered from its captivity; if they need not—up to this very day in their experience—acknowledge: “The good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do”; if they need not cry with Paul: “O wretched man that I am!” if they need not “wait” with Paul “for the hope of [perfect, personal] righteousness by faith,” they should take their stand with those who teach sinless perfection and the eradication of the old nature. If, however, they are not prepared to make these claims, they should acknowledge the naked truth of Galatians 5:17 and Romans 7:22,23.

Should it be asked how we are to be blamed if we “cannot” do the things that we would, we reply that Galatians 5:17 was not written to teach us our helplessness, but rather our utter depravity. The Spirit is always present and willing to bestow needed help, but we are so inherently bad by nature that we never consistently succeed in doing the things that we would. Indeed, the flesh wages constant, relentless war to prevent us from doing them.

It is true that the believer has been made “free from sin” by grace (Rom. 6:14,18); that is, he need not, yea, should not, yield to sin in any given case (Rom. 6:12,13). It is also true that the believer is “free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2) for Christ bore the death penalty for him. But no believer is free from the presence of what Paul calls “the law of sin which is in my members;” that is, from the old nature, with its inherent tendency to do wrong. Nor is he free from the conflict with the new nature, which this involves. If we would be truly spiritual and deal in a Scriptural way with the sin that indwells us, we must clearly recognize its presence; we must face the fact that while, praise God, we are no longer “in sin,” sin is still in us, and that though the “old man” is counted as having died with Christ, he is still alive and very active as far as our experience is concerned.

THE BLESSINGS OF THE CONFLICT

But this conflict should not discourage us, for it is one of the sure signs of true salvation. It is unknown to the unbeliever, for only the additional presence of the new nature, along with the old, causes this conflict, for “these are contrary the one to the other.”

If we did not experience this conflict at all it could only mean that we were not saved, for with two natures so utterly incompatible dwelling within, conflict would be inevitable. If we know little of this conflict it can only mean that the old nature, in any of its subtle, deceitful forms, has attained the upper hand, for when the new nature asserts itself, as it should, the old nature is sure to “war” against it all the more fiercely.

But not only is the conflict within us a sure sign of salvation; it also creates within us a deep and necessary sense of our inward corruption, and of the infinite grace of a holy God in saving us and ministering to us daily in helping us to overcome sin. And in turn this again gives us a more understanding approach as we proclaim to the lost the gospel of the grace of God.

Notes:

  1. Even though, as we have shown, it may express itself in an attempt at self-betterment, seeking to control the baser passions, and revelling in religious rites and ceremonies, in ascetic practices or in other substitutes for true spirituality.
  2. The idea in Romans 3:23 is not, as might appear from the Authorized rendering: “All have sinned and have come short of the glory of God,” but “All have sinned and do come short of the glory of God.”
  3. Granting that Galatians 5:17 might be rendered: “to prevent you from doing what you would,” as in R.S.V., the fact still remains that “the law of sin” operates in our members and does hinder us from doing (consistently) what we would.

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Berean Searchlight – June 2005


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