Torch, Winter 1987

j I I ... Please note it - we now enjoy a new position in Christ. This new position provides the legal basis for triumph over sin; we now have the legal right to actual– ize in our experience a holy lifestyle. Because we have been declared righteous, we now can move in the direction of a righteous lifestyle. Was this not Paul's contention in Romans 6? He reminds us of our justified position in Christ and gives us the reason for it - "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" (6:6). According to verses 11 and 12, because we have died to sin and are now alive to God (in Christ), we are not to permit sin to reign in our mortal bodies. Sin must not have dominion over us because we have a new position in Christ, a newness of life, which sets us free from servitude to sin. For whatever reasons those restoration Jews caved in to their opponents and stopped building, they did not need to. Cyrus ' decree validated their construction efforts. In the same way we need not cave in to our sin. God's decree has made legitimate our attempts at godly living. We do not have to sin; we sin because we think we have to or because we want to. Let us stop being intimidated by our own failure ; the basis for victory is already in place. AN INNER RESOURCE Admittedly, an unseen verdict in the heavens may seem quite distant and far removed from our current struggle with sin. To speak of a legal decree also may sound rather impersonal. Accordingly, we need to remind ourselves that God has provided the person of the Holy Spirit to enable us in our attempts at godly living. He is neither distant nor impersonal, for as the third Person of the Trinity He is permanently present within every believer in Christ. Next to the Savior Himself, the Holy Spirit is the Father's most precious gift to us . Not a few verses link the presence of the Holy Spirit within us to a godly lifestyle. Note these... "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:2). "That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh , but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:4). "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5: 16). Because Galatians 5:16 has been so bracing in my own spiritual experience, I want to develop Paul's thought for a moment. He issues a command: "Walk in the Spirit," and follows it up with the consequence of obeying that command: "Ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh ." And what does it mean to walk in the Spirit? A good question. Walking connotes dependence. When we walk physically, we are continuously depending on our feet and legs to hold the weight of our upper body. We probably are not always conscious of just how dependent we are on these lower parts, but will be quickly re– minded if we twist an ankle or pull a muscle. Similarly, Paul commands us to be consciously dependent on the Holy Spirit. We need to admit our need of Him. The figure of walking is a most appropri– ate one, for it pictures a daily activity which is perfected with practice. Such is our relationship with the Spirit. Depending on the Spirit is the opposite of depending upon ourselves. Self-dependence will produce either a · cocky arrogance born of pride or a sense of despair born of failure. Neither of these two attitudes is biblical. Walking in the Spirit means that we will be trusting Him for victory rather than ourselves. We are not like the proverbial little train that chugged its way up the hill puffing, "I think I can, I think I can." Rather, our attitude must be "I know He can, I know He can in and through me. " What a happy consequence results from such a dependent attitude - "Ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. " Victory over sin in any and every form! A holy lifestyle! The grammar in the verb emphasizes the certainty of this victory and could very properly be rendered, "Ye shall by no means fulfill" or "No way will you fulfill. " The evil desires lurking within us can be defeated by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. He is our marvelous inner resource for godly living. Those who walk in His ability will find the righteousness of the law fulfilled in them. A POTENT \VEAPON Of course, the only way that we know of our legal status and this internal resource is through the Word of God. Dare I then omit any reference to the Scriptures themselves? How potent a weapon we have for snapping the allurement of sin. Even our Lord used it in that way when He defeated Satan with the simple formula "It is written." The Bible is a potent force in the battle against sin. Memorized Scripture quoted at the opportune mo– ment can keep the believer's thinking straight and prevent him from falling into sin. The old saying is still true, "This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book." The Scriptures and sin are mutu– ally exclusive; they mix like cats and dogs, like oil and water. When Paul enjoins us to put on the whole armor of God in Ephesians 6, he includes in our weaponry the Word of God. The term he uses for "word" refers to a spoken rather than to a written word. God's Word becomes a potent weapon as we speak it out in crucial situations when temptation is raging about us or within us. This means we must know it, memorize it, review it, and quote it as needed. God's Word breathed out by us under the duress of temptation goes a long way toward blunting the edge of Satan's thrusts. It will effectively short-circuit temptation's power. FINALLY Christians, we are on the victory side! Godliness is attainable! We have the legal right, the inner resource of the Holy Spirit, and the potent weapon of the Word. Let's think like winners and live victoriously, taking full advantage of all God has provided. You can be godly - He promised! 7