Now Is the Time
Why I Continue to Choose Civility

No Good Thing


Untamedyouth.jpgFrom  Untamed Youth, copyright,  Warner Bros. Pictures, the publisher of the film or the graphic artist. Use of the poster art in the article complies with Wikipedia non-free content policy and fair use under United States copyright law

Out of control, wild, unruly, impulsive, volatile, and rebellious, like those described in the movie from 1957.

I am not talking about you or them. I am talking about myself.

God's good law, held up as a mirror to my soul has shown me that and it has been verified by my experience. It is frustrating.

Did what is good, then, bring death to me?

By no means!

It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin.

I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.

Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand.

For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.

Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin. - Romans 7:13-25 (NRSV)

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” – Romans 7:18 (KJV)

As I struggled with my humanity some time back, I was confronted with some important truths. There is no way that my flesh will ever improve to the place where God can use it or be pleased by it. In the flesh, as Paul understands the flesh,  I am selfish, irritable, weak, spiritually bankrupt,  spiritually lazy, hungry for flesh-satisfying stimulation, unreasonable, stubborn, and emotionally volatile -just to name a few of my “charming” characteristics (They certainly “charm” me into deception).

My flesh is not getting better and shows no prospects of getting better.

Read Romans 7-8 to get the picture.

We all face Paul’s dilemma and we are all disappointed when we discover that we cannot become what God wants us to be by doing what we think God wants us to do.

So, what’s the point?

The point is that, through grace, as God makes us what He wants us to be, we will desire to do, also by grace, the things that God wants to do through us. And, as we trust Him and turn our dials toward the Spirit and begin to walk in the Spirit that will all happen.

We’ve all been disappointed by people who we thought were strong Christians, but let us down. Those disappointments have been shocking at times and have caused us to question ourselves.

That is not a bad thing.

What is dangerous is if we ever start feeling so proud of our “efforts” and “successes” that we forget we are vulnerable and weak and that we are capable, in the flesh of the same falls that we have witnessed in others. We are totally and absolutely dependent upon God for the Christian life and God is totally and absolutely dependable to accomplish His purposes in and through us.

God will never let us down. Trust God and commit your moments and days to God's care.

Grace That Saved a Wretch Like Me

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? - Romans 7:24 (KJV)

Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: - Revelation 3:17 (KJV)

No one aspires to wretchedness. All resist the implication that they are wretched. No one wants to be known as a wretch.

However, to be a recipient of grace, the soul must know its great need and acknowledge that it is depraved and lost in a sea of sin.

The sound of grace, the voice of God, the Word of the Gospel, that Word which was made flesh has sounded forth from Heaven into the realm of time and space. It has declared with unambiguous truth, “Thou are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and bind, and naked.”

And without a breath or a rest in the song of grace, it has declared to us, the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve that we shall be called Benjamin, for we are “the beloved of the Lord.”

Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin, wretched in his righteousness, zealous in his misguided legalism, vengeful in his passion to please God. “Why persecutest thou me,” our Lord inquires. And grace came to Brother Saul and the wretched one became the instrument of proclaiming grace to the nations, even “the least of the Apsotles” and the chief of sinners who would declare,

But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. - I Corinthians 15:10

How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.

We must know our state apart from grace that we might fully appreciate what God has wrought in us and done for us. It evokes in the heart of an honest soul both gratitude and hope, flowing from the fount of humility.

To be eligible for great grace, we must know how great our need is.