10th November 2011

No Good Thing

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”
Romans 7:18 (JKV)

Turning the searchlight, that I so often use to scan the vast outer darkness of a corrupt and perverse world, inwards upon myself; to probe the murky corners of my own corrupt and deceitful heart, I find, as did the apostle, that in me, that is, in my flesh “dwells no good thing” (Romans 7:18).  All of the evil that I see in the world around me, I find has its roots here—this, the human heart, is its natural home, its permanent abiding place (Jeremiah 17:9).

This indwelling sinful nature is a law unto itself and I am bound to it as I am bound to this fleshly, mortal frame.  As the apostle declared, “I am carnal, sold under sin” (Romans 7:14).  With my mind, I may strive to serve a far higher and nobler law, but I remain in chains and, for me, that is, for my flesh, there is no escape.  What hope then?

Thank God then, for the understanding that this ‘body of death’ has already been taken away to the cross and nailed there, so that although “I am 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” (Galatians 2:20).

We may be persuaded, by fine sounding arguments, that we can “become better people” (perhaps even better Christians) if only, and with the help of God’s Spirit, we diligently adhere to all the commandments and precepts of the law; but the apostle tells us that this is a complete reversal of the Gospel of Grace and is really no gospel at all (Galatians 1:6-7).

Continued focus on the law, which has no jurisdiction beyond the cross, yet which once served to throw a spotlight on the abject wretchedness of my former life in the flesh, now serves only to cast me back upon myself.  For the gospel, as T.F. Torrance has stated, is always “Not I, but Christ.”

In Jesus, I have a new identity. I may stand before you as a sinner; at one with every sinner in the universe.  I may rightly see myself as such.  But I stand before God as a new man in Christ, ransomed and redeemed, sinless and spotless, and the life I now live in the flesh, I live in the light of this glorious and wonderfully liberating truth.

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son, in the likeness of our sinful flesh, to take away our sins, our weaknesses and our brokenness, and to nail them to his Cross.  Help us now to surrender our wretched, sinful, imperfect lives to him, as he surrendered his holy, righteous and perfect life for us.

Study by Richard Dempsey

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One Response to “10th November 2011”

  1. John Magowan on November 10th, 2011 10:10 am

    A good article Richard, and well expressed. What a relief it is to know that we are not depending on “our righteousness” to save us, but rather on the righteousness of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Now that’s what we call GOOD NEWS!

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