The contemplation of our natural selves is an essential ingredient in genuine Christian thought. The knowledge of our nature is essential to our faith in God. From our creation the assessment of the human constitution is that we are weak. “The first affirmation of the Old Testament about man and one which underlies all the rest is that he is a creature and as such shares in the feebleness and limitations of all creatures” (Edmond Jacob). We are more dependent upon and upheld by God than we realize. This applies to our nature before the fall. Our flesh is contrasted with the strength and power of God. “The feebleness of man is inherent in his creaturely state” (E.J.).
Since the event of the Fall this weakness has now fallen prey to the influence of sin, and detached from God we have no protection from it as an invading and driving impulse. We actually prefer its gratifying dominion over our souls. Its force and enticements enslave us, having gained the consent of the will that is now in bondage to evil. Righteous-ness is alien to our nature and free choices.
The consequence, under conviction and admission of sin, its offensiveness to the God who encounters us in his unmotivated mercy, is that the things of the past that fueled and filled our lives of disobedience are now the cause of very painful shame. They were death dealing instruments of a gradual and final separation from God - the dreaded second death. But the freedom and sense of forgiveness in Christ has dramatically altered the fate of the believer. Life is now progress in holiness and, wrapped in that holiness, we shall see the Lord and participate in his everlasting life as eternal companions qualified by the righteousness of the Lord Jesus and born from above by the Holy Spirit.
Paul exhorts us to transcend the enslavement of sin with conscious and guarded resolve and recognize that in the transition effected by grace we are actually now the slaves of God in captivity to his love and the wisdom of his righteous will. Paul contrasts the benefits that those who know God actually enjoy in the present and anticipate for the future with the wretchedness of natural man in this world and woes yet to come.
Sin pays its grim wages to those in its employ. Under the evil paymaster the pleasures that seemingly accrue are transient and ultimately treacherous to the wellbeing of the soul, wreaking an alienation from God and an appetite for bogus goods and gains that can never satisfy. Sin is absolute subservience to the realm of negativity ruled by the great deceiver. He has nothing beneficial to bestow. Sin is wasting in its nature, depleting of vigor, hope, and joy until it destroys its victims. Holiness is the commencement of abiding in the Lord, strengthening our association with him until we are fully compatible with his nature and made fit for his fellowship. The result of living to and with God is the sublime reality of eternal life - pure gift.
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Sermon reference: Eternity