We become a new creation in Christ Jesus. But there still remains one big question...why do we still sin? The apostle Paul really addresses this in the 7th chapter of Romans:
15. For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I [would] like to [do], but I am doing the very thing I hate. ...19. For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. ...23. but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
And what are some of these deeds that can keep us in a life of sin?
19. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20. idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21. envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
An unbeliever cannot help himself in these areas. They may find a temporary solutions or help, but as a rule an unbeliever can stay in this lifestyle for most of their life. They cannot help but live "in the flesh", but we as believers, no longer have to live this way.
Getting rid of our old fleshly nature was God's job and gift to us at the cross. He changed our nature, supernaturally, but it is our responsibility to change our "behavior", by putting to death the "deeds of our body".
I, and all of us for that matter, exhibit certain bad habits, sinful actions, and problematic behaviors, even as a born-again child of God. All we have to do is take a look at that scripture from Galatians 5 to see some of the biggies.
I had a problem with anger. It wasn't so much a problem with being angry "at" people, but I exhibited anger because of my frustration with situations, and then it came out as anger. You know, the old "short fuse" syndrome. I'm not a jealous person, or like to pick fights. I hate strife and want it no where in my life. But I could go off in a split second, then you better watch out. I would be over it in 5 minutes, but by that time the damage was done, and I was left feeling horrible for my behavior and wishing that I could just undo what had been said and the actions I had just exhibited.
OK, you want another one? I seem to be letting all the cats out of the bag, so here is another one. I cannot drink. When I do, I turn into someone else. Someone who I don't care to be. I cannot hold liquor and I frequently made a fool of myself. Actions, words... oh my, I was a mess. So, I don't drink.
I love the taste of wine, and a variety of other alcoholic beverages, but I cannot just have one and be done. Nope, I just keep going. There are other reasons I don't drink: medications, and a promise I made to God when our daughter was going through a tough time. I know it's just not something I need to do.
Now, having said that, I don't have any problem with anyone else, so this is not about you all out there. It's my way of confessing my own problems. If you can enjoy yourself with a great glass of wine, or find a drink at a get together is a social indulgence, then I find nothing wrong with it, but for me... I couldn't control it. I wanted one or two drinks everyday. Then it got to be a bottle of wine, you get the picture? For me, it didn't work.
The same principle would hold true if it were 5 candy bars a day, a pack of cigarettes, or 2 liters of soda. It's not a moral thing with me, but a health and behavior issue. I don't want to be controlled or dominated by any thing. And there are certain things that for me are just not worth jeopardizing my relationship with God. I know it's wrong for me, so I don't do it.
After what I know now these many years later, could I drink responsibly? Probably. I think I could use discernment and maturity to my advantage, but I just don't want to go there again. So, as I said, I make no judgement on others, I just know it's not the best for me.
12. So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh-- 13. for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
There are two main elements involved in gaining victory over "walking according to the flesh".
1) The first is that we need to learn to condition our behavior to our "new skipper", our new self which is infused with Jesus Christ.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
2) The second is that we allow our old patterns for thinking and responding to our sin-trained flesh, be transformed by the renewing of our mind.
1. I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, [which is] your spiritual service of worship. 2. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
My question about these matters was always, "OK, I understand this, but what is the practical application to changing my behavior? How do you "walk by the Spirit", and how do you "transform and renew" the mind."?
This is where we find the disconnect. We hear these truths of scripture but we don't know how to make it a reality in our lives. We will begin talking about the practical application of these scriptures, but first put yourself in a place with me to ask The Holy Spirit to reveal any issues, behaviors, or attitudes that are standing between you and Him. That's the first and most important step.
Love in Jesus,