Defeated or Delighted?

Leslie M. Grant

The power of sin within us is far too strong for us to conquer, even after we are saved by the grace of God. Unbelievers give way continually to this cruel enemy of souls. They are slaves of sin, and generally prefer it that way. They are not responsible for having a sinful nature, for this has been inherited from Adam. But they are responsible for allowing that nature to express itself by sinning. Everyone is personally responsible for their own sins, and God allows no excuse for this. Yet it is the most common deceit of people's hearts to blame anything or anyone else for the wrong they do themselves. This is one of the repulsive characteristics of that sinful nature. Such a dishonest cover up is the very reason that human beings find no deliverance from sin.

First, we must face our sins as our own personal guilt, if we are to be forgiven. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). This guilt must be removed before we can begin to understand how God deals with our sinful nature. The sinful nature is not our responsibility, but our guilt is. It is guilt on account of the sinful acts we have committed and which only the blood of Christ, shed on Calvary, is sufficient to remove before God. Personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as the great sacrifice for our sins, is absolutely essential for this forgiveness and justification. For God offers this "unto all," but it is applicable only to "all them that believe" on His Son (Rom. 3:22).

Yet it is possible that this forgiveness may be known, with its accompanying genuine faith and thanksgiving to God, and still the believer finds deep distress and perplexity in realizing that within him is that hateful sinful nature. It springs into activity on the slightest occasion, influenced greatly by temptation, so that too often the believer gives way and finds himself defeated and miserable. Romans 6 and 7 deal specifically with this matter. God knows well what our souls go through and has made perfect provision to meet it. Let us then honestly desire to know His answer and learn it well from His Word. We note here a few outstanding points for serious consideration:

1. Recognize this dread principle "sin" as an enemy. As to the unbeliever, sin is his master, but sin has no dominion over the believer, who is under grace (Rom. 6:15). Christ is the Master of the believer and sin is his vicious enemy, attempting to defeat and destroy him. Nor is it a virtue to underestimate the power of an enemy. Sin's power is dreadfully great, but our Master is infinitely greater. These two points should be deeply impressed on us.

2. Take sides fully with your true Master against the sin which is both His enemy and yours. This means you must not excuse yourself in the least degree for giving way to sin, nor blame it on anything or anyone else; but blame yourself fully for it. Let it be stressed that this is a vitally important matter, for far too many defeat themselves by not honestly taking the full blame for their failures. Notice Romans 6:21, and compare Job 33:27-28.

3. Reckon (or count) yourself dead to sin, and alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:11). We have full title to do this because God counts the death of Christ as our death. It is an absolute, established fact in God's eyes, that believers have died with Christ (Rom. 6:8), and therefore have died to sin (Rom. 6:2). If sin therefore presents its subtle temptation to your mind, it is right for you to respond, "No! I have died to that." You are rather alive to God now and your true life is in Christ, not in sin.

4. Yield yourself to God as one who is alive from the dead (Rom. 6:13). It is not your determination that will keep you from sin, but submittingto the only One who is able to keep you from it. Remember, having died with Christ you are now alive from the dead, on the other side of death, where Christ is in the glory of God. Your life is there, "hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3). If you have not before gone into the presence of God to take the deliberate step of yielding yourself to Him, then do so without delay. There is certainly no power for you anywhere else.

5. Yield your members as instruments of righteousness to God (Rom. 6:13). To yield ourselves is the first thing and this should be done once for all. But members speak of the details of our life: our mind (what we think), our eyes (what we see), our ears (whatwe hear), our lips (what we say), our hands (what we do), our feet (where we go), etc. The first three of these are passive, but they are basic to all that comes from us. "Set your affection (mind) on things above" (Col. 3:2), where our life is. If our thoughts are on profitable things (Phil. 4:8) this will greatly influence our actions. As to seeing and hearing, we must constantly be on our guard. Lot, in seeing and hearing, was vexed in his soul from day to day by the filthy conversation of the wicked (2 Pet. 2:7-8). If we make provision for the flesh (the sinful nature) in the way he did, by friendship with the ungodly, or even by radio or television bringing evil conversation into our homes, we cannot but be affected by it. Let our eyes behold rather the purely satisfying beauty of the Lord Jesus, and let our ears drink in His precious Word.

We are to be concerned about yielding to God in all of these details day by day. This means constant exercise in communion with Him, both in meditation on His Word and in prayer, along with the self-judgment that this will rightly produce.

Deliverance from Legal Thoughts

Romans 7 shows that one may honestly desire the character and attitude of which we have been speaking, and yet lack the liberty of true deliverance. This is because one's eyes are on one's own efforts to maintain a proper standard, which in the case considered there is a standard of law-keeping. But we must realize that we are as dead to law as we are to sin. Law can be no standard for the one redeemed by the blood of Christ. We must learn that the law of the Spirit, which is that of life in Christ Jesus, has made us free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2). The Spirit of God in the believer is a new ruling principle in precious liberty.

Added to this is the fact that Christ Himself is the Standard of the believer, and the Object (Rom. 8:34) to engage his heart and mind. The believer is entitled to look altogether outside of himself and his own sinful heart, to find perfect rest in contemplating the beauty and perfection of the Son of God. Christ has done what the law could not do, and what we could not do. We rest in this and trust Him simply for everything. Our old sinful nature does not change, but we have title to forget it and turn thoroughly from it, in appreciation of the One who is supreme above it and sufficient to fill our hearts with praise for eternity.

We need Him for every step of the way. We need His Spirit and we need His Word, for we have no strength and no protection in ourselves. But there is perfection of sufficiency in Him, and as we enjoy Him we shall prosper and bear fruit. This is true liberty, true peace, true rejoicing. Let no believer settle for anything less!

Transformation

Sins are no longer my burden, (Romans 1 to 5:11)

Adam no longer my head; (Romans 5:12-21)

Sin nevermore is my master, (Romans 6)

And to the law's claims I am dead. (Romans 7-8)

Now Christ is my heart's blessed Burden, (Romans 5:1-11)

And Christ my undying Head, (Romans 5:12-21)

My merciful, grace-giving Master; (Romans 6)

While, for fruit, by His Spirit I'm led. (Romans 7, 8)