Hindrances to Discipleship: Freedom from the Flesh - Part II - page 2

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From the Spring 2013 issue of Knowing & Doing:  


Hindrances to Discipleship: Freedom from the Flesh

by Thomas A. Tarrants, III, D.Min.
Director of Ministry, C.S. Lewis Institute

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  Actually, this is to be expected, and Paul addresses it by saying:

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. (Rom. 6:11–14)

  In other words, we must reckon and count as true (even though it might not feel that way sometimes) that we are no longer slaves of sin but are now alive to God in Christ. Sin’s reign (rulership, domination) in us has been broken, and we can now live for God. But sin’s residue remains, and we must not yield to it lest it regain strength. A new era has dawned, but it has not yet been fully realized. We are “new men,” united with Christ, yet we are still living in mortal flesh, not yet raised with Christ in glorified bodies. For that reason, growing in godliness remains a struggle—though it is a battle we can and will win as we cling to Christ in faith.
  John Stott says:

The major secret of holy living is in the mind. It is in knowing (Rom. 6:6) that our former self was crucified with Christ, in knowing (Rom. 6:3) that baptism into Christ is baptism into His death and resurrection, and in considering (Rom. 6:11 RSV) that through Christ we are dead to sin and alive to God. We are to recall, to ponder, to grasp, to register these truths until they are so integral to our mindset that a return to the old life is unthinkable. A regenerate Christian should no more contemplate a return to unregenerate living than adults to their childhood, married people to their singleness, or discharged prisoners to their prison cell.2

  So we must proceed to be what we are. This means that as those dead to sin and alive to God, we are to give ourselves wholeheartedly to God as grateful children, actively offering up the “members” of our bodies (eyes, ears, mouths, hands, feet, etc.) as instruments of righteousness for God’s pleasure and glory. In our old life, energized as it was by the flesh, our spiritual deadness and rebellion against God were expressed in sins through the members (parts) of our body. In our new life, empowered as it is by the Holy Spirit, our love for and submission to God is expressed in obedience through the members of our body.
  For example, we choose to no longer look with our eyes at pornography but rather at things that are wholesome; to no longer listen with our ears to dirty jokes, gossip, etc., but rather to things that are edifying; to no longer use our mouths to tell lies, gossip, or slander but rather to speak truth and share the gospel; to no longer hold tightly to what is ours but rather to share with those in need; to no longer sit at ease in our bodies but to get up and out in service to God and neighbor; to no longer use our private parts to have sex outside of marriage but to be chaste, and so forth.

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