Friday, January 16, 2015

Civil War

ROMANS 7:14-25

I am a history buff. I have all the “nerd” channels memorized on my TV. Discovery. National Geographic. The Learning Channel. I love watching documentaries on all things history. As a high school student I loved learning history. As a high school teacher I enjoyed teaching history. And while I enjoy looking at the history of other nations, I am especially fond of studying American History. Perhaps one of the most perplexing events in our great nation’s story is the Civil War. This young and fragile nation had come together many times for battle. Though often outmanned and almost always undersupplied, the brave men of the new republic fought off many foreign enemies and would be occupiers. They refused to lose. They had escaped the clutches of tyranny and they would die before they would return. Their rallying cry was one of absolute solidarity.

Until 1861.

It all changed in 1861. This beloved nation turned on herself. North against South. Slave owners against abolitionists. Nationalists against secessionists. And perhaps the most tragic, brother against brother.

While many people read about this dark four years in American history with tacit bewilderment, I guess I see it all differently. It makes sense to me that a nation can turn on itself. I mean think about it. Is it really that different than you and me? Don't you and I fight civil wars all the time? The Apostle Paul sure did:

“I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”

Isn’t it ironic how you can do something that you despise (even as you do it) and yet you keep doing it? How you can use your tongue at one moment to praise our Lord and in the next to shred another to pieces? How you can crave righteousness in one moment, and in the very next delight in absolute filth and perversion? The Civil War didn't end in 1865. Civil wars happen all the time, every day for many of us. Sometimes our spirit man emerges victorious, though bloody and battle hardened. In other moments we raise the white flag of surrender, once again defeated by our own sin. What is to be done with such fickle followers? Such double minded men and women? What hope is there for any of us?

“The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Thank God that when God looks at me, he does not see me. He does not see my sin. All he sees is the sinless perfection of Jesus Christ. “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19).

What Civil War are you fighting today?

Drug Addiction?

Many of us feel defeated and discouraged, wondering if the enemy of our souls will ever surrender. Some of us have fought so hard for so long, and yet we still lack the confidence to know if we can win. Some of us would even be open to a stalemate between us and the devil. We are just weary with feeling the sickening taste of defeat. I want to speak life to you today and offer some encouragement.

As long as you are still fighting, you have not lost.

Isn’t that comforting to know? As long as you are willing to keep giving your battle to the Lord, you are not defeated. Proverbs 24:16—“For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.”

And while the Lord does not desire that we fall, He gets a lot of mileage out of our frail humanity. Our struggles remind us that we STILL need the Lord. We never outgrow our need for His constant presence in our day-to-day lives. So the next time you get your butt kicked by sin, rather than falling into condemnation, fall instead on your knees in desperation. The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. Whatever your weakness, sin, struggle—give it to God today. Raise the white flag of your sinful nature and surrender to his gentle mercy and loving kindness. Confess your sin to Him, knowing with confidence that He WILL forgive you (see I John 1:9) and you will emerge victorious. As you long as you are fighting, you are still in this thing.

“If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

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