December 9 I Monday
“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” —Romans 7:24
From the opening verse of this devotion, Paul is speaking of the ongoing battle with which he struggles. For his question, we find the answer in the next verse, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25). The answer Paul gives does not consist of methods, programs, techniques or rituals but simply Jesus Christ Himself. It is because the pure, sinless life of Christ inhabits our fallen humanity where the conflict between the flesh and the Spirit takes place. It is not that we have two natures and
experience a kind of spiritual schizophrenia. We have only one nature and it is corrupt.
Only Jesus Christ can liberate us, and He does so by counteracting the law of sin with a higher law––the law of the Spirit of life that sets us free from the law of sin and death. Paul tells us, “…through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).
What do we do about our old nature? Paul tells us, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). In the same letter, he says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Whenever Paul speaks of our crucifixion, it is always in the past tense because two thousand years ago, we were crucified with Christ outside the city walls of Jerusalem. Legally and judicially, everything we deserve as sinners has already been meted out.
It is not only true that Christ died for us, but we also died in Him. When a Christian is baptized, we are baptized into the body of Christ, which means what is true of Him becomes true of us. We have been crucified with Christ, buried with Christ and have risen to new life with Him. Paul tells us, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). That means we knock these things on the head and “put them to death” as an ongoing responsibility. This is not a matter of eradicating our old natures, as we will always be engaged in the battle of flesh against the Spirit, but the more we come to know Christ, the more we crave to be like Him. This is not our own doing, but the law of the Spirit of life counteracting the law of sin in our lives.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for the law of the Spirit of life that is at work in me. I cannot do it on my own and ask that my dependence on You grows stronger and deeper. Amen!