Our Inner Civil War
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 65 (Holman) For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of
His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection.
The death to sin we believers experience at conversion will prove itself by producing a resurrected life characterized by newness. People set free from the dominion of sin demonstrate it day by day in their behavior.
The world should be able to look at us and see that without question we have been made new. Spurgeon said,
If there is no visible difference between you and the world, depend upon it there is no invisible difference. I have generally found that a man is not much better than he looks and if a mans outward life is not right, I shall not feel bound to believe that his inward life is acceptable to God.
People put the best apples on top of the basket for all to see. The deeper we pry into peoples hearts, the worse they usually become. Let everyone know by our outward conduct we truly are dead to sin.
Romans 66a For we know that our old self was crucified with Him. . .
Old self (KJV old man) refers to what we were before conversion. It is our Adamic nature, the essential us before we died to sin. To be saved, we must fasten this old nature to Jesus cross, for only by its power can our old man be defeated.
It helps to remember crucifixion was a means of execution whereby death came slowly. Crucifixion brings death in time, but through a lingering process.
A crucified person could live for hours, days, and some for even a week. Our old man, though crucified, still lives. His crucifixion began at our conversion, but he will not die until we pass into glory.
Our old nature lingers on its cross. Its agonizing process of dying causes it to seek ways to gratify itself through our flesh. Our lusts are crucified, but alive. Pray for nails of grace to hold them tightly to the cross. Our inner demons are crucified, but alive. Pray for Heaven to keep them nailed hard and fast to their tree of doom.
Our full and complete release will not come in this life. At physical death, our old man will die, never to rise, and our new nature will live on, guiding us into glory.
Romans 66b . . .in order that sins dominion over the body may be abolished,
Body of sin (KJV) is a pictorial way of expressing the way the old man forces himself on the individual. He is pictured as having a body through which he bullies us around. Once he is crucified, however, his body loses its ability to enslave us. It is deprived of its overruling power.
A new power is now available to us, whereby evil can be gloriously overcome. Our old nature exists and is active, but ways and means of overcoming it have been placed at our disposal.
Before conversion, we stood unarmed before well-armed Sin. But now Sin has been disarmed, and adequate stores of artillery are available to us.
Sin can only taunt us, and try to talk us out of using our power. The Devil tells us our rifle is not loaded and our bayonet is made of cardboard. He constantly taunts us to do battle with less than is available to us, but Gods intention through it all is to enable us to live above sin.
Romans 66c . . .so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, . . .
Sin is no longer a tyrant over us. It can only taunt us and tempt us, but God does not take away our free will and treat us as machines. The old and new natures reside in us, and we are forced to choose right or wrong moment by moment of every day. This results in a never-ending inner Civil War.
A believers mind can become a battlefield of such intense warfare that we might fear our head will explode. New believers are often appalled at the inner turmoil they discover in themselves. They are surprised to learn they still must face temptations and experience occasional setbacks. They can be disheartened to learn this inner struggle will last through all of life.
The two natures within the believer cannot make peace with one another. The enmity between them is irreconcilable and life-long. The warfare rages relentlessly.
The old nature, from Adam, always pulls us down toward sin. It struggles vigorously, even in the best person. If outward sins have been overcome, the old man will continue to plague us with inward ones. Pride, covetousness, discontent, envy, bitterness–these and other inner sins are the temptations that plague us the longest.
The new nature, from God, aspires always after the holy God who bestowed it. Its longings and tendencies are ever upward. The new man seeks to control the heart because the blood of Christ has purchased it.
The old man views the new man as an intruder, a trespasser. Hence, sin never yields voluntarily. It always dies hard. After each battle between the two natures, the believer experiences pain.
If our old self wins, there is pleasure for a season in sin, but then comes the pain of punishment, and the sorrow of remorse. If our new nature wins, there will eventually come peace and satisfaction, but at first there is the pain of self-denial. Each time we say No to self and the old man, we can almost feel the nails tearing our flesh.
Nevertheless, regardless of the pain, never squelch our new nature, which causes us to press on toward perfection, and to feel uncomfortable in sin. We are not perfect, but should want to be. We should want to hunt down sins in our body, and put them to death.
Pain notwithstanding fight your sins to the death. They crucified our Lord, and caused His humiliation and shame. Lets avenge the death of Jesus by hacking mercilessly against our sins.
Always remember to stay close to the blood of Jesus. Only Christ has the power to defeat evil. When we forget this, we lose.
With Jesus help, we need to always be seeking the immediate, complete removal of our sin. Nothing less should satisfy us.
We need to be at war with all our sins, and not compromise with any given evil under any circumstance. There might be a given sin that requires our special attention at times, but we should continue to be at war with all other sins simultaneously.
To please God should be the all-consuming passion of our lives. It should be neither a sidelight nor hobby, but the main thing. My mom and dad used to have a concrete pool in their back yard. The water was usually cold. I made my way into the pool one step at a time. It would take me a full five to ten minutes to get my whole body in the pool. My children and grandchildren took a flying leap into the pool. After one second of breathtaking shock, they felt great. Hence, while they were playing and frolicking with all their might, I was still shivering my way into the pool one step at a time.
My fear is most Christians approach godly living the same way I approached the pool. They want to dabble in it, to approach it slowly. When it comes to dealing with our sins, we are too often like the boy who thought it would be too cruel to cut his dogs tail off all at once, so he cut it off one inch at a time.
Christians often do not want to go overboard and be whole-hearted about godly living. We need to quit dabbling at it. We must make it the all-consuming passion of our lives. We should act as though we truly are dead to sin and ourselves, and alive solely to God and holiness.