So I was going to write a bit about my week… in fact, I’ll confess to you right up front that it was going to be a severely negative post. I WAS (unintentionally) going focus on ME, and share the battles and what felt like I had just been “wrestling with my demons” a lot this week. Sharing the sin and darkness that has been haunting me quite intensely lately.
Then, something shifted as I began to try to locate some passages in God’s word about my very human struggle… I was thinking of the passage where Paul talks about doing the very things he hates and cannot do the things he should do (which at this point I still have yet to locate, but that’s okay for now). I couldn’t remember the exact verbiage he used in that in order to really find it, so I just looked on biblegateway.com the term “flesh spirit”. It brought up quite a few verses and passages since it’s such a major topic in the bible. So I scanned through the first page of the search and decided to click on Romans 8 (the whole chapter). I’ve read that chapter many times before and it described a lot of what had been going on. So I read it again and then pasted the relevant section of the passage in this blog draft before I would begin my writing… I know I really don’t have to share all of this, but I still find it humorous and it gives you an idea of what actually occurred.
I was going to move on and try finding the passage I was initially searching for. Then I thought, I wonder what this sounds like in The Message translation. As I read this version of Romans 8:1-17, I just started laughing. It hit me so stinkin’ hard and made me realize the condition of my heart. The way it was worded convicted me in such a huge way that I’m wanting to re-read it again at least 5 more times after I publish this blog, so that I can really soak it in deep. My heart and spirit needs it, and God knows why… I’m just blown away right now. Read it as many times as necessary, and if it doesn’t make sense in this translation – try reading another one. In fact, reading in multiple variations may help. The Message version of this passage was uber clear to me today, so clear it’s gloriously painful to my flesh/pride.
Romans 8:1-17 (The Message)
With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.
God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.
The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.
Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.
But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!
So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!
I think the reason why this is hitting me so hard is because of my personal tendencies to always try to ‘do better’, ‘be better’, ‘more determination’, ‘fix it’. I was frustrated this week that I was seeing all of these deep rooted sins and gross tendencies, battling my darkness/demons on my own. I was even identifying myself with these chains. Brittney is this, this, and this – sinful area… plus, that one and that one also. I felt even more horrible about myself, so I was completely focused on SELF, ME, and ignoring God (if I’m looking in the mirror and being honest with myself – I can’t pretend I was thinking more about God than of me). I couldn’t see past my own filth this week. Part of me is still wanting to hold onto it as well… so reading this passage again and again will help, plus running to the Cross and Jesus.
I think some of the most intense parts about this passage are these:
In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all.
When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!
It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are.
It clearly shows that Jesus fixes all the mess we’ve made, He did it on a Cross and that clinging to that reality and truth is where real life resides. His Spirit living in us is what does the work (not by my own work, extra will/determination to change, or fixing). The life we received through His death and resurrection is what delivers us from ourselves (the sin, gross, flesh, chains/stains, nasty dark tendencies, etc.). So like children, we can adventurously expect God to do what He promises in our lives, tell us who we are, and let His Spirit move in our hearts to change and free us. It doesn’t depend on me, but on His Spirit touching mine.
SO COOL! I’m not sure if I explained it right, but the verses should be enough and I don’t want to add to them. So just read Romans 8:1-17 over and over… let the Lord do the speaking to your heart, not me cause I can be a little off sometimes. ;)
*Update* a few hours later: Funny… I found the passage I had initially wanted to find without even doing a search. I simply began reading the open page in my bible and discovered it was in fact in Romans 7! Haha! I’ll write another blog about that one though sometime soon, because it’s intense as well.