Today’s Reading: Jer 32:1–44, Rom 7:7–25, Prov 21:13–31
Today’s Theme: God vs Flesh
Today we look at the nature and power of sin made clear by God’s good law, which works through our flesh vs God and His power.
As believers we are in a very real conflict with the power of sin at work through the flesh. We are thankful that nothing is too difficult for the Lord and that He has provided us His enabling grace in our battle against sin.
Nothing is too difficult for God
‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.(Jeremiah 32:17, ESV)
This is a great statement of faith when said sincerely because it is true that nothing is too difficult for God.
God, mighty in thoughts and acts
great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the children of man, rewarding each one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds.(Jeremiah 32:19, ESV)
God is not a mindless force, He has a great mind with great plans and purposes and He doesn’t just will them, but actively gets involved in bringing His will to pass, so His acts are mighty too.
The God of all flesh
“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?(Jeremiah 32:27, ESV)
Major correction to the dualism that has snuck into our theology, the devil is not the god of the flesh and the Lord the God of the spirit. God is the God of all flesh because He created mankind, including our physical bodies.
God reaffirms Jeremiah’s earlier statement by asking the question: ‘is anything too hard for Me?’, the answer is no.
God, the persistent teacher
They have turned to me their back and not their face. And though I have taught them persistently, they have not listened to receive instruction.(Jeremiah 32:33, ESV)
God teaches us persistently, He is patient and works hard to redeem and nurture His people.
God and His people
And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.(Jeremiah 32:38, ESV)
The relationship is transformed from a national one to a relational one, which includes all those who are God’s elect, past, present and future.
The fear of God in Our hearts
I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.(Jeremiah 32:40, ESV)
This is fulfilled in Christ and concerning Israel as a particular people, this is yet future.
No man can turn to God on his own merit, God needs to put the right fear of Him in our hearts, as the Holy Spirt and the truth of the gospel bring us to the place of repentance.
Fields shall be bought for money, and deeds shall be signed and sealed and witnessed, in the land of Benjamin, in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, in the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the Shephelah, and in the cities of the Negeb; for I will restore their fortunes, declares the Lord.”(Jeremiah 32:44, ESV)
This is already happening again today as it happened after the captivity, with the forming and thriving of the modern state of Israel.
Making sin clear
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”(Romans 7:7, ESV)
A quick sample of what the law does for us, it makes sin clear.
Sin comes alive
I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.(Romans 7:9, ESV)
This is in infancy when there is no knowledge of the law in any concrete sense. This is where we get the idea that babies and toddlers are below the age (to do with mental faculty rather than chronological age) of accountability.
So there comes an age where a child understands God’s and their parents commands and it is at that point that sin comes alive… Jolted awake by the law.
The great contrast
Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.(Romans 7:13, ESV)
When sin is highlighted by the law, it more grossly manifests itself in our members and conscience, it is at this point that we realise we need divine help.
So the law remains good and it is by the contrast of its perfection and goodness that sin becomes so clearly apparent in the evil and darkness of our flesh.
Slaves to sin
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. (Romans 7:14, ESV)
This follows the same idea as earlier; we are slaves to the one we obey so we are sold by our obedience to the dictates of the flesh (or disobedience to the desires of God), as slaves to sin.
We need enabling grace
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. (Romans 7:18, ESV)
The ability to carry out what is right can only come from God.
God’s grace is not just unmerited favour, it is God’s enabling power to live right and resist sin. We really must think of grace in those terms, to help us in our fight and walk of faith.
As Pastor Dennis has always said: “it is the elevator to lift us up to meet the demands of God’s truth”.
Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (Romans 7:20, ESV)
Sin dwells in us like a virus. Paul separates his core self by using the word “I” from sin, this makes sin a power of its own.
This helps us to understand the nature of sin, it is a virus and parasite that seeks to drain the life of its host and eventually occupy every part of the host, killing the person and leaving only driving desires.
Jesus came as and with the cure to the virus which we let in at Eden and has been passed on to all mankind.
The power of sin is that it is inside us and is attached to the will or desire of man, corrupting and corroding the image of God in man, by distorting every good and perfect gift that God so lovingly provides.
The believers battle
For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, (Romans 7:22, ESV)
This is speaking of the believers’ conflict with the flesh, so corrupted by sin versus our delight in God and His law.
If you are not in this battle then serious questions need to be asked… Are you even in the fight?
Serve God with the mind
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.(Romans 7:25, ESV)
We must fill our minds with the truth of God, through His word. We serve God according to His word.
Help the poor
Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.(Proverbs 21:13, ESV)
This is a really serious proverb, we must listen to and minister to the poor, it is where the famous poem about helping in time of need and being remembered in our time of need is drawn from.
Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich. (Proverbs 21:17, ESV)
This is true, whoever loves to indulge in the fleeting pleasures of this world will end up wasting their money and will not be rich, there are far greater pleasures to be had in God.
Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honour. (Proverbs 21:21, ESV)
We need to pursue, pressing hard after and making an effort towards righteousness and kindness.
All day long he craves and craves, but the righteous gives and does not hold back. (Proverbs 21:26, ESV)
We should give generously!
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
The Gospel Coalition on Romans 7