Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Put to Death the Deeds of the Body

The answer to defeating sin and living a life that is pleasing to God is to use the power of the Holy Spirit within us as believers to put to death the deeds of the body. This is what Paul has told us in Romans 8:13. The motivation is internal and the life is internal. He describes this method as the newness of the Spirit as opposed to the oldness of the letter (Romans 7:6). Instead of an external law that has to be obeyed by shear natural human effort, we now have the resources within and the law written within as the resource we need to be victorious.

But why does he speak of putting to death the deeds of the body? How is the body the problem? As I mentioned in a previous post, we are composed of body, soul and spirit. A Christian has a renewed spirit. The soul has been damaged by sin and so the mind, will and emotions are not what they were originally created to be. The body is weak and subject to sickness and death.

I don't want to get too complicated, but let's see if this is understandable. We know that there is more to us than our physical nature. In other words, we have a brain to think and experience emotions. Emotions also involve our hormonal system. These are all intertwined with each other. But the Bible teaches that when we die, we will still have thinking capability and we will still be able to love God and praise him, so it must be the case that part of these functions now as we are in the body are immaterial and part of these functions are due to physical processes. I believe that in the physical side of our being we have developed sinful habits and sinful methods for dealing with life. These become ingrained in our physical nature. This is where sin continues to reside.

In Romans 7 Paul writes these things: “For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death (verse 5).
If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good (verses 16-21).

So you see, he is attributing the problem to sin that is in his members or in his body. The Bible doesn't portray the body itself as sinful or evil the way a gnostic would, but it describes the body and I believe the physical parts of the soul as the seat where sin has taken up residence in a Christian. And this is where it needs to be attacked. Therefore we are told to put to death the deeds of the body. We are told not to yield the members of our body as servants to sin and unrighteousness. We have the inner capability to do this because of our living spirit and the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.

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