I have a question for you. I have a question for all of us.
Who are you when no one else is around? When you are all alone…no one watching…no one but you. What do you think about? What do you watch on the television, or the computer? What kind of music do you listen to? What kind of magazines do you ogle. Where do you allow your mind, or your body, to go?
Are we men of integrity? One definition I like for integrity is – who you are when no one is around.
Is there a difference in who you are when people are watching, and who you are when you are alone? If I am honest, I would have to admit that there was a time when there was a large chasm between the two. On the outside I was the poster child for a “good Christian young man” and performed in that role very well. On the inside though, in the dark places in my soul, I was far from “good”. I allowed my eyes, my heart and my mind to wonder to places not fit at all for a follower of Jesus. I always felt bad about it, and promised God I would never go there again….but you know the drill…. I fell again. Over and over again.
I took much solace in finding out that Paul himself understood my plight. He too struggled with his flesh, and evidently knew personally what it was like to stumble and fall repeatedly. Check this out – Romans 7:14-2414 We know that the Law is spiritual; but I am a mortal, sold as a slave to sin.15 I do not understand what I do; for I don’t do what I would like to do, but instead I do what I hate.16 Since what I do is what I don’t want to do, this shows that I agree that the Law is right.17 So I am not really the one who does this thing; rather it is the sin that lives in me.18 I know that good does not live in me—that is, in my human nature. For even though the desire to do good is in me, I am not able to do it.19 I don’t do the good I want to do; instead, I do the evil that I do not want to do.20 If I do what I don’t want to do, this means that I am no longer the one who does it; instead, it is the sin that lives in me. 21 So I find that this law is at work: when I want to do what is good, what is evil is the only choice I have.22 My inner being delights in the law of God.23 But I see a different law at work in my body—a law that fights against the law which my mind approves of. It makes me a prisoner to the law of sin which is at work in my body.24 What an unhappy man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is taking me to death?
Man, that sounds familiar, huh? Paul had a flesh that fought against the spiritual man inside who sincerely wanted to sincerely follow Christ. He refers to it as a struggle between spiritual and mortal, wanting to and not being able to, the real me and the sin that lives within me, good and evil, body and mind. Which is it? Is it all of these? The real you, or the you you want to be?
So, how do we ever keep our head above water? How do we ever win these battles? As you probably know – Paul found his answer…..he actually found THE answer…for all of us.
Romans 7:25 – 25 Thanks be to God, who does this through our Lord Jesus Christ!
Then he spends the entire next Chapter, and many other verses throughout the New Testament telling us how to walk in true victory. Not the shallow victory that we confess at church or small group, but the kind of victory that triumphs when we are all alone…at home, in a hotel room, at the office…when no one but God is watching. No one will probably ever know – but God will…and that matters more to us than anything.
Romans 8:1-3, 12-13 – 1 There is no condemnation now for those who live in union with Christ Jesus.2 For the law of the Spirit, which brings us life in union with Christ Jesus, has set me free from the law of sin and death.3 What the Law could not do, because human nature was weak, God did. 12 So then, my friends, we have an obligation, but it is not to live as our human nature wants us to.13 For if you live according to your human nature, you are going to die; but if by the Spirit you put to death your sinful actions, you will live.
Galatians 5:16 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
There are so many more verses that tell us exactly how to walk in complete victory over those impulses, those urges, those magnets that draw us to sin like a moth to the flame. It is only by walking in the Spirit, every day, throughout the day, can we ever hope to have meaningful and lasting freedom. If you and I choose walk on our own, to (like Adam and Eve) choose our own path and turn our backs on the loving and powerful Spirit of God – we will fall…time and again..we will fall…until our “real” man is exposed for who he really is…and we will not be alone any longer. The world will know what our Father knows, and the consequences will be very painful.
What freedom to walk in true victory over the “sin that so easily beset us”, and enjoy the freedom we were offered at the cross of Calvary. The choice is ours to make….every day.
The real me,