Inner Conflict - Lesson 8 - The Confirmation of Consent
A BRIEF RECAP
Scripture provides us with the proper way of viewing our situation. A brief recap will again substantiate this truth. We Are Dead to the Law First, in Jesus we have become dead to the law. It did not die, but we died to it (Rom. 7:4). The result of that situation is that the law can no longer condemn us, even though it once stopped our mouths and rendered us guilty before God (Rom. 3:19-20). The law has no power over a dead person, and we have died with Jesus. It is written, "Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him" (Rom. 6:8). We were baptized into Christ's death (Rom. 6:3), this embarking on a life of death. As it is written, " . . . I die daily" (1 Cor. 15:31). This is the prolonged death of the "old man," or old nature. This is the meaning of Romans 6:6; "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." This death puts us beyond the condemnation of the law.
Our Wills Have Been Altered Second, our wills have been radically altered by our justification. We now serve the law of God with our mind (Rom. 7:25). We agree with it, and consent that it is good (Rom. 7:16). We do not want to do evil, secretly or otherwise, and we do consistently want to please God in what we do. This is not pretense, and it is not the result of threat and intimidation. God has shown us realities that have reduced the value of this world and its attendant lusts.
An Uncontrollable Part Third, there is a part of us that we cannot completely control. It asserts itself at the most inopportune times, bringing us into captivity to the lower nature (Rom. 7:23). We cannot stop the thoughts from coming, but we can stop them from bearing fruit within us. There is a saying that is appropriate here. "You may not be able to stop a bird from landing on your head, but you can surely stop it from building a nest there!" Thoughts foreign to our preferences and desires intrude, as it were, into our thinking. They are inhibitions, and stop us from being as pure as we desire. We wrestle against these thoughts, and even cast them down. Yet, they reassert themselves, much to our own frustration. Often they are hurled at us by the enemy in the midst of our prayers, or at other illogical times. If you view them as an expression of your person, they will drive you out from the presence of the Lord. If you view them as intrusions, you can throw them down. Paul was so sensitive to God, the intrusion of these thoughts were offensive.
Another Law Fourth, there is "another law" in our person that remains alarmingly active. It is that when we want to do good, evil asserts itself from within. We want to get away from this recalcitrant law, but we cannot. Even if we pray hard and long, and search the Scriptures with eager hearts, we cannot keep this law from asserting itself. Hear Paul say it again, and glory in your identification with the truth. "So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand" (Rom 7:21, NRSV). It is not that we desire this law to assert itself--we do not! This is a law--a principle--within us. It is to the spiritual world what the law gravity is to the natural world. When you seek to be involved in the good things of God, the old nature will assert itself. It is in competition with the Spirit. As it is written, "For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want" (Gal 5:17, NRSV). In a sense, the believer lives in a constant state of frustration. His condition is such that it prevents him from wholly accomplishing his purpose and fulfilling his desire. The Spirit describes this situation in Galatians 5:17, a text we have frequently referenced. "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."
In Christ, our desires exceed our current abilities. It might be countered that we can "do all things through Christ" Who strengthens us (Phil. 4:13). This is true, but we accomplish obedience with considerable effort. In addition, our obedience falls short of what we really desire. We dwell in recalcitrant bodies that must be brought into subjection (1 Cor. 9:27). While they tend to corruption, our essential persons advance toward glory. Scripture states it this way, "Though our outward man is perishing, our inward man is being renewed every day" (2 Cor. 4:16). The struggle created by this contrariety is fierce, and must be understood by those involved in it.