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Midweek Devotionals

Published weekly on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays.

Midweek Devotional 3/19/2015

Robert Chen

Dear Church:

ROMANS 8:12-27

12So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh — 13for 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.14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ — if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

18I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Long, long time ago the 17th century English Puritan theologian, John Owen, wrote a book entitled, Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers, that treated in earnest detail the importance of "putting to death" our sinful deeds. Such treatments are no longer fashionable in our time, mainly because our culture does not like to dwell on the negative, like "sin" and "death." We in our culture prefer the positive. Happy thoughts. For those of us old enough it's like Al Franken's character on SNL, Stuart Smalley, who says ad nauseam, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me." We as a culture have become allergic to serious critical assessment of ourselves.


All to our detriment. An honest assessment of ourselves encompasses both sides of ourselves, not just the good parts. Spiritually speaking, we empower our sinful tendencies when we skim over the kind of prayerful attention our bad habits and patterns deserve. We are not called to obsess over them, but we are called to recognize our sins and confess them. We are called, in fact, to "put to death the deeds of the body [sarx=sinful nature]". "Putting to death" is of course a metaphorical way of speaking. We cannot literally kill off our sins. If that were possible, then the sins we've killed would no longer be alive to cause further trouble.


But we are troubled, by our sins. Are we hopeless? No! We put to death our sinful deeds and habits by living according to the Spirit. Paul writes, "By the Spirit you put to death ... " It's not will power, it's not self discipline per se, nor is it some brute force. Dealing with sin requires resources that can overcome the power of sin: truth, grace, hope, and Spirit. 


The good news is that the Spirit is at work, whether we consciously discern the Spirit's work in us or not. The Spirit actually intercedes (prays) for us, especially when we are weak. 


The battle for our minds, souls, and spirits are all too real. Not doing anything is never a way to win. Doing something is important. Doing something in the power of the Spirit is the way forward, the way of victory over sins, the way of true freedom and joy.


Let's pray: Father God, we thank you for the Spirit of Christ working in us. We are never not-resourced. We are equipped by the Spirit's power to overcome that which entangles us and that which steals our joy. Show us how, help us, to practically and prayerfully deal with sins that beset us. We want to overcome. May we look to you, O God, and may we look to Jesus, the perfecter of our faith, for everything we need to overcome and be filled with hope and joy and the laughter of victory. In Jesus' Name, Amen.