This morning I joined about 10 saints at the Gilbert, AZ, Vineyard church (in the southeastern part of Phoenix) for 2 hours of silent prayer. These saints do this regularly, and call it “Quiet Days.” During the time of prayer, the silence was broken with an occasional short word of direction. But that was it. Otherwise, the room was totally quiet.
During the time, I became aware of some of my own baggage. That’s what often happens when we quiet down.
Essentially the Lord said, “Don’t work to solve the problems of others. That’s not your job. Work on your own stuff. You spend time letting me change you from the inside out. I do live inside you, you know. So let me transform you.”
As I drove from Gilbert back to Scottsdale (about a 35 minute drive from the southeastern part of Phoenix to the Northeastern side) — taking a loop through the old neighborhood in Mesa where my wife, Jennifer, grew up — I felt compelled to pray this prayer:
“Father, I confess that I have sinned against you in thought, word and deed by what I have done and by what I have left undone. I have not loved you with my whole heart. I have not loved my neighbor as myself. Quite honestly, I have not even loved myself in the way I know you so hope I will. I am truly sorry and I humbly repent. For the sake of your son Jesus Christ, have mercy on me and forgive me, that I may delight in your will and walk in your way, to the glory of your name.”
My thoughts went to Paul’s words in Romans and his description of God’s fabulous grace (Romans 6 & 7). I don’t think he could have been any clearer when he wrote:
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual,sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. … Romans 7:14-25
A friend once asked me, “Do you think Paul is referring to his pre-Christian days here in writing to the saints in Rome, or is he speaking of his days after he had surrendered his life to Jesus and was his follower and disciple?“
Well, I know my own heart. And I’m guessing in your quiet, somber moments, you know your heart. Don’t you?
So let me ask you, “What do you think the Apostle Paul was referring to here in his letter to the Romans? His days before he was a follower of Jesus, or the days after he converted and was a growing, mature disciple of King Jesus?”
That’s what I think, too! 🙂
There’s not much question in my mind that Paul was referring to his current, ongoing life in Christ. He still struggled. Sure he did. Read Romans 6. He knew his flesh, his old man, was in a spiritual battle to the very end. [Read Ephesians 6:10-20.]
And you know what is so amazing in all of this to me? Immediately after speaking about this continuous battle for the soul, obviously for his own soul, too, he said (Romans 8:1),
“There is now no condemnation in Jesus! None! So friends, do not condemn yourself. There is NO CONDEMNATION IN JESUS! That’s right. You are free. So confess this self-condemnation, this self-hatred, this loathing, this place that you so often go to when you blow it. Confess it, and let it go. The Spirit of Jesus sets you free — indeed releases you — from the law of sin and death.”
Holy Cow! and Wow! Thank you Jesus for setting us free.
In Jesus, I am free, and so are you. By God’s Spirit living within us, coming along side our very own spirit, we can choose to do the right thing. We are filled with the grace of Jesus, and we can choose righteousness — right living, right choices, right and not wrong.
How great is that?
There you go, friends! There is but one way those filled with the Spirit of Jesus (That’s us!) keep from doing the wrong thing. Over and Over, we choose to do the right thing! And God is praised because he alone is worthy of our adoration!
What do you say for starters we once again commit to treating others the way we want to be treated? There surely is no law against that.
“Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your loving grace. Come to my assistance today. Fill me once again with love, joy and the peace of Christ that passes my understanding. Because I realize the temptation to do the wrong thing is ever before me and will continue to my dying breath, I plead your mercy once again, saying, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.‘”