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Identity Crisis?

Discussion in 'Daily Devotionals' started by sunestauromai, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. sunestauromai

    sunestauromai Newbie Supporter

    United States
    Flesh vs. Spirit
    I’ve heard a lot of explanations of Romans 6-8. Most of them left me unsatisfied, for they seemed to be crafted to fit into one theology or another, rather than to clarify Paul’s description of the struggle with the flesh and God’s solution in the Spirit. Paul said this in Romans 7:14-24:

    14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 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. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

    21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 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. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

    Follow me as I follow Christ
    Recently, I believe God gave me a better understanding of what this means. In part, I can thank my friends at SA for this insight, for they seem fairly clear in their distinction that our flesh is incapable of becoming pure and trustworthy to the point of being cured of our addiction, but that God is able to provide the power for saying no to those who surrender to him and trust him – to those who are in Christ. How does that work?

    Walking in the Flesh
    In my flesh, right now, I am a sexaholic. I am addicted to lust. That’s what my flesh wants to do on its own, for it has been wired to go that way by my lifestyle through the years. Claiming I am not a sexaholic is a lie. I may also be a Democrat or a Teacher or even a King, but I am a sexaholic, because that is the lifestyle I have been living. It is my identity by practice and by choice, or at least my choices took me there.

    There are many things I can do to try to stifle those fleshly pathways on my own, or limit temptations, or restrict my exposures, but still, inside, my flesh retains some of those old patterns and memories, and if I am living for myself and isolated, the old switches will still produce the old results. That is my flesh. It is now wired for lust addiction. That’s what all those little compromises and big screw-ups did to me. Not exactly what was advertised – neither the benign viewing of “mature” (aka nude or sexual) art, nor the harmless “consenting adults” scenarios. The Bible warns us that we sin against our own bodies when we sin sexually – this dysfunctional rewiring is part of those consequences.

    Walking by the Spirit
    However, if my life and my heart are surrendered to God, if I am in Christ, if I am walking by the Spirit rather than in the flesh, there is the possibility of a different result. Romans 8:13 says:

    13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

    We need to recognize when temptations come that we are powerless, as far as the flesh is concerned, to fight them. Our flesh wants to go there. But instead of making excuses and giving in, we need to surrender to God – to obey the leading of the Spirit by faith – and allow the power of God to take over and do what we cannot do – defeat that temptation. As we hang on to God and allow him by the Spirit to stop what we ourselves in the flesh cannot, he will pull us through, one step at a time.

    In SA, we also engage the help and prayers of our friends who will stand with us and expose the lies by bringing them into the light, which will also make them lose their power over us. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find church friends who will stand by you in this, especially if your sins are related to any addictions. Other addicts understand the struggles and the lies, and those addicts who have found freedom are grateful to God and want to help others out of their hell.

    Walking in the Spirit is not a denial of our sins, nor our flesh bodies we still live in, nor is it a license to sin because we have a new identity in Christ. Some would like to tell us that we have a new identity in Christ so therefore we no longer sin, or God no longer sees our sin, or Jesus smiles at us even when we sin. They say because of this new identity we need to just claim it and stop feeling guilty for anything we do. For one, the verse they quote is talking about those who are in Christ – that means they are walking in him and not in the flesh. So, excusing sinful behavior that way is irresponsible. How we live our lives defines us. I am in Christ if I am walking as Christ walked, not because I claimed it one day in the past. No, it’s not performance-based salvation, but it is evidence-based and fruit-based faith (see James 2 and Galatians 5).

    My Identity
    Walking in the Spirit is a choice made by a believer in Christ to yield to the Spirit’s direction, to say no to the temptation in the Spirit’s power, one step at a time, moment by moment, day after day, thereby putting to death the deeds of the flesh. It is not my identity unless that is what I am doing by practice, for the proof of my being in Jesus Christ is my faith lived out in my life. It is not the doing that proves I am in Christ, for that may be me doing it, and that was me for most of my life. But, it is surrendering to Christ and allowing him to do it through me – to do what I myself cannot do – and that makes the difference.

    This is new for me, and it is working so far!
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  2. Humble me Lord

    Humble me Lord Well-Known Member Supporter

    United States
    Am right there in the same boat with you. I can't say I am rewired totally, but have come a long way. There are still triggers, but they have way less power than they used to over me. Having an accountability partner made the difference for me. Mine was my wife, and that was really hard at first, but had a profound impact on me. The Holy Spirit did work in me after I got serious about it. I know I didn't do it on my own.
    I truly think you are on the right path, God bless you brother.
  3. sunestauromai

    sunestauromai Newbie Supporter

    United States
    Thanks HML, it has already been a long road but we're the ones who turned that direction. Glad to hear things are healing with your wife - working hard that direction myself. She is also my partner in this and knows me better than I do. Thanks for the encouragement!