I have used the analogy repeatedly throughout the years — worse than being in a minefield, is not knowing you’re in a minefield. At least if you know it, you can do whatever you can to try and step carefully . . . and lightly . . . to find your way out of it. But not knowing, and you’re oblivious to the danger and have little regard for where, or how, you walk.
And, there’s something, in my mind, even worse than not knowing. It’s being told you are in a minefield and not believing it. Being warned of the danger and disregarding it or, worse yet, seeking to disprove the warning by carelessly making light of it. The tendency then is to recklessly stomp around just to prove others wrong. Can anyone say, “KABOOM?”
I’m reading in Romans 7 this morning and being reminded of a minefield.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
(Romans 7:21-23 ESV)
There is a battle going on. A battle between the redeemed inner being which delights in the law of God and the flesh, the old man lingering on in our natural bodies, still susceptible to the temptations of sin. While the things of God might permeate the mind which, through regeneration, has been made alive to what is spiritual, sin still dwells in my members, that which is prone to the sensual. While I long to be under the influence of what is holy, there is something working in opposition which seeks to make me captive again to sin.
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
(Galatians 5:17 ESV)
As my daughter would say, “It’s a thing.” It’s real. Better believe it or we risk carelessly stomping around in a minefield.
And avoiding the danger isn’t found in what I can do but in what Christ has done.
Paul talks about how ineffective Vitamin “I” (a term coined by William MacDonald) is in dealing with sin.
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. . . . For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. . . . For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. . . .
(Romans 7:15, 18b-19 ESV)
To think I can win the battle is to be stomping around in the minefield. To rely on my effort, to count on my discipline, to gut it out with my resources is only to eventually hear “KABOOM!”
Paul knew it. He knew the frustration of the spirit being willing but the flesh being weak. Of wanting to walk in a manner worthy but repeatedly finding himself heading down the wrong path. “Wretched man that I am!” he cries out. And then he asks,
Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Paul recognized his need for deliverance. An on-going deliverance. An ever present, help me to remain faithful, rescue. The power to put down the flesh. Strength outside himself to say no to the old man.
Where is that daily rescue found? Where is the power produced? Where is the strength sourced?
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
(Romans 7:25a ESV)
God has effected the deliverance for which Vitamin “I” will never be enough. There is a way of rescue, and that not of ourselves, but through Jesus and the finished work of the cross. What my best efforts can never do, the gospel has accomplished.
Mine is to believe it. Mine is to bow to it. Mine is to recognize the battle and arm myself with it.
There is a need for on-going deliverance. And we can be more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
By His grace. For His glory.