Dealing with consequences – dealing with cause
Scripture reading – Romans 8:9–11 (NIV): “You however are not controlled by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who lives in you.”
As Adventists we have proudly taught the principles of health reform saying that “an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure”.
We point out the need to find the causes of sickness and deal with them, rather than focusing our main attention on the symptoms.
Let’s look at a headache or an upset stomach.
Taking a pill that removes the pain. Will the underlying cause go away?
How many people today go for the pill or a quick fix?
But how have we done in spiritual matters? Our history tells us that not so well.
We talk a lot about victory over sin, bad habits, bad behavior and bunch of other things.
What are we focusing on?
- the observable things in ourselves
- on our sins and shortcomings
What kind of results we achieve?
You know the principle at work: “By beholding we become changed”. What we focus on we become more like it. So this one does not work too well!
So we change our focus on:
- the high standards of God’s word
- on God’s law and commands and ask God’s help to fulfill them
- we must pray more and try a bit harder
- we even claim victory through God’s promises and what happens?
We get some short-time success, but then what? Back to the point a)
Are you in this category? How well has it been working for you?
There are those among us who claim we are just too sinful and that’s the way it is.
- do your best and since God knows you to be a sinner just relax, grace covers it all
- God loves you and accepts you as you are, it’s just about love
While there is some merit in all of these, isn’t there another, better way?
In Romans 1:16.17 apostle Paul says: “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes; for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it (in the good news) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘the just shall live by faith’.”
One of our early Pioneers, Brother Uriah Smith an influential church paper editor believed that we achieve righteousness when we by faith obey God’s law and commandments. He held this view till he died and influenced majority of early Adventists to believe this. He passed this focus to next generations.
Prior to 1888 this view was so entrenched in our ranks that God had to raise 2 young preachers to change the unhappy focus and its unfortunate fruits.
The focus was taken away from self and sin and the law to Jesus Christ.
- Jesus our Redeemer, Sin-Bearer and Divine substitute
- Jesus our Lover, Justifier and merciful High Priest
- Christ our Righteousness, the perfect fulfiller of God’s Law
- Indwelling Christ by the Spirit the fulfiller of God’s laws through love in us
There are few vital steps that majority of Christians and us have overlooked and ignored. Apostle Paul deals with it in Romans chapter 6.
Let’s read part of it – Romans 6:1–7 (NIV): “What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection. For we know that our old self (our old carnal nature in KJV called flesh with its lusts, passions, sinful and wrong desires and pride) was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with (rendered powerless, stripped of its controlling power, rendered impotent), that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed (delivered from the control) from sin.”
Pastor George Vandeman used to say that we all have a tiger living within us.
Untamed, wild, powerful, angry, unpredictable and ferocious – we cannot control him!
That tiger is our old nature – what we are by birth. And that tiger is hungry and all our lives we feed that hungry demanding animal.
It can become unhealthy co-dependency. We feed him to satisfy him to have some peace.
To keep him pacified and satisfied temporarily we feed him. But he wants much more!
Now we don’t have strength to resist him, do we?
Then we start reading or hearing God’s word that tells us what we should be, how we should think, talk, behave and live. So we try to do so and the tiger doesn’t like it a bit.
That old tiger wants to be fed. And we feel his desire and hunger. The tiger has been an inseparable part of us – sort of love hate relationship.
So what do we do? Yes, we feed him a bit or more and get short relief, right? Until the conscience tells us enough is enough, so we make an effort to starve him a bit.
How long do such attempts last? Come on, be honest!
Problem is: We haven’t dealt radically with the tiger! You cannot tame him!
Christ’s gospel as taught by Paul goes way beyond forgiveness and justification.
Through the power of God’s grace “sin (here the sinful nature) shall not be your master”. We cannot overcome the tiger by law obedience!
Paul’s gospel tells us how: “You have to deal with the tiger!” How?
You cannot destroy him – he is too much part of who you are!
Romans chapter 6 offers 3 important steps:
1) Through accepting death of Jesus on the cross as yours you identify with His dyeing by faith, claiming it your own – you reckon, count and claim that death to be yours. By uniting with Him you go through the experience of death to sin (verses 3.4a)
2) Only after co-experiencing His death to sin on the cross, you can experience His glorious resurrection power that gives and imparts new life (verse 4b and 5). If you have gone through the experience of death and funeral in relation to your old nature, you can experience the glorious liberty provided by Christ’s resurrection
3) Stripping the tiger (the old sinful nature) of its controlling power, rendering it powerless, impotent to control you from now on (verses 6. 7.)
All of this is done through God’s grace ministered by the Holy Spirit.
This grace supplies:
- liberating forgiveness and new birth experience
- ongoing healing and motivating love
- enabling power
- Christ’s own righteousness that is and will lead into fulfillment of all God’s commandments, law(s) requirements (Romans 8:4)
So for us sinful beings the law’s goal is never to provide righteousness, but to lead us to Jesus Christ our Righteousness.
He, the mighty Lion from the tribe of
He lives His life of righteousness in us and through us.
Paul expresses this as a reality in his own life in Galatians 2:20:
“I have been crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Has this become your on-going experience?
Then dear brother, sister, youth, stop fighting the old lion self!
Ask the Lion from the tribe of
Keep learning from Jesus to walk in the Spirit as He did while His covering of perfect righteousness covers you against the onslaughts of the enemy outside of your life.