“For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I [would] like to [do], but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want [to do], I agree with the Law, [confessing] that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good [is] not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.” (NAS)
I want to start today’s study by saying that I know schizophrenia is a real and destroying condition. It destroys lives, I am in no way with this study trying to diminish or belittle those who suffer from this condition. I use this term as a comparison only to the way some people live their lives in the Christian community.
The definition of schizophrenia is: A mental derangement characterized by the presence of conflicting impulses, emotions, and ideas, and resulting in a disintegration of personality reassembling.
The definition above sounds sort of like this passage in the Bible to me. The difference is that a person suffering from true schizophrenia cannot control what goes on in their own bodies, while we as Christians can make that choice. Paul is describing what it is like to live the Christian life. It seems like we wage a war with in our own selves every day. We CAN control schizophrenic Christianity, what we put into our bodies is what will come out. Corruption breeds corruption. One of my favorite verses in the whole Bible is Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” (NAS) We need to be sure that our relationships are pleasing to God; 1 Cor. 5:11” I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.” (NLT)
James poses this question to us in James 3:11 “can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?”(NAS) The answer to that as a human being is yes! (But this is not how it should be with Christians.) Unfortunately, we don’t always make the best choices. The result of this is us wanting to live for God, but giving in to the flesh. This is a spring that produces both salt and fresh water. In some places we live for God (or have the appearance of living for Him), then in other areas of our lives we live the way we want. We have no regard for what the word of God says because it goes against what we want in our flesh. This is schizophrenic Christianity.
We are wicked by nature, godly by choice. Our very instincts are wicked. So how can we overcome this? Look at verse 25 “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.” Paul says in his “mind” the organ that perceives the difference between right and wrong. This would imply that it is a choice, to follow God’s laws. Even though we struggle with this body that is fighting us with its schizophrenic Christianity, we can overcome it with the Spirit of God through His adoption. (Romans 8:15).
The true answer to all of this battle between the flesh and the spirit is found in all of Romans 8. Paul tells us that God has delivered us from this bondage; that if we will focus our minds on His will, that it will be easier to conquer the temptations of the flesh. Hebrews 2:18 “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” (NAS) We allow ourselves to be dragged away with our temptations because it fulfills our own desires. Living a godly life in this world is not easy. But we MUST remain focused on what God wants for our lives, not what we want for our own pleasure. James 1:14 “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.”(NLT)
Romans 8:8 “… and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
If you truly have the spirit of God within you than you will want to live a life that is pleasing to God. That does not mean that we will become perfect, it means that we have to use every tool that God gives us to live according to His ways. Romans 8:12 “ So then, brothers, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh-for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”(NAS) God gave us His Holy Spirit, to help us, to guide us. We have an obligation to God when we say we repent, to actually repent. To tear our hearts and not our garments (Joel 2:13), this means to actually make a change not just use words to say that you have changed. This goes back to good works. Again this is not acts that secure our place in Heaven, for this was done on the cross when Jesus died. Good works is to show God and the world that we are changed.
I guess what I am trying to say here is, to live according to the flesh not only destroys you, but it also destroys your testimony. I have met Christians that like to brag about the way they were before coming to know Jesus. They do not talk of it in shame; this is not the way God wants us to be. We are to use our testimonies of the life that God delivered us from to help others find forgiveness for their own sins. So when we struggle with our flesh, be sure that we are doing everything possible to stand firmly rooted on the side of the Spirit, because it may not be just us that is going to fall. We may be bringing others around us down too.
We have an obligation to live for God if we have told Him that we repented. 1 Peter 1:13-15“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober [in spirit], fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts [which were yours] in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all [your] behavior;…”(NAS)
As always, may God Bless you till we meet again….
• Spiritual 4152 (Lexicon) Pneumatikos: Not human, Divine.
• Flesh 4559 (Lexicon) Sarkikos: covers that entire domain of our fallen nature made subject to vanity in which sin springs up and moves.
• Sin 266 (Lexicon) Hamartia: missing the true end and scope of our lives, which is God. An offense in relation to God with emphasis on guilt.
• Practicing 4238 (lexicon) Prasso: to make, to preform
• Indwells 3611 (lexicon) Oikeo: inhabit 1722 (lexicon) En: remains in place, to rest in any place or thing.
• Flesh 4561 (lexicon) Sarx: being human
• Good 18 (lexicon) Agathos: benevolent, profitable, useful.
• Evil 2556 (lexicon) Kakos: wicked, to give back, recede, retire, retreat in battle. One that is evil in himself and as such puts others in trouble.
• Principle 3551 (lexicon) Nomos: a force or principle of action equivalent to a law.
• Wishes 2309 (lexicon) Thelo: to do, to make
• God 2316 (lexicon) Theos: this name was adopted in the NT and means to place. The Greek culture of the time was polytheistic and they worshipped that which was in nature. God’s were disposer’s (or placers), so the meaning here was of one who places. “If the translators rendered the name of the true God by the plural, theoi, they would have given the heathen under Greek culture an idea of God which was inconsistent with the unity of the divine essence and conformable to their own polytheistic notions. However, by translating the Hebrew gods as God, they inculcated the unity of God and at the same time did not deny a plurality of persons in the divine nature.” (From the lexical aids to the NT NAS Greek Hebrew study bible).
• Man 444 (lexicon) Anthropos: distinction between sinful man, whose conduct or way or nature is opposed to God
• Different 2087 (lexicon) Heteros: another, to teach a different doctrine that one’s own, to be unequally yoked
• Free 4506 (lexicon) Rhuomai: properly denotes to draw with force and violence, to drag, pull, meaning to deliver out of danger, calamity and to liberate.
• Death 2288 (lexicon) Thanatos: natural or temporal death, spiritual death
• Christ 5547 (lexicon) Christos: the name of our Lord
• Lord 2962 (lexicon) Kurios: wielding authority for good
• Mind 3563 (lexicon) Nous: the organ of the consciousness preceding actions or recognizing and judging them, the understanding of word concept, sense. To perceive with the mind as distinct from perception by feeling.