Monday, April 19, 2010


In 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson published a book called, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” In the story, a good Dr. Henry Jekyll discovers and drinks a potion that turns him into the monstrous Edward Hyde. These dual personalities struggle within the same man for control. Ever feel that way? It is the war within that Paul is describing in Romans chapter seven. Listen to a man whose life has become a battlefield:

15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do,
that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.
16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it
is good.
17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells;
for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.
19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not
to do, that I practice.
20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but
sin that dwells in me.
21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills
to do good.
22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my
mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of
25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I
myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

That, my friends, is a no-holds barred portrayal of the war within!

Yet, the Apostle tells us that it is a battle we can win—but, not through our own struggle and strength. That will only lead to more setbacks. Success is found in surrender—not in surrender to sin by giving up, but surrender to the Savior by looking up.

Paul has three types of people in view as he presents this passionate autobiography: the natural man, the carnal Christian and the spiritual man. Look at how he describes these spiritual stages in 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:3:

14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of
God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are
spiritually discerned.

15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly
judged by no one.

16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?”
But we have the mind of Christ.

1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as
to carnal, as to babes in Christ.

2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were
not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able;

3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and
divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?

The natural man is the sinful man who does not know the ways of God. The carnal believer is the struggling man who knowing the ways of God finds himself failing to follow them, though there is a part of him that very much wants to do so. The spiritual man is the one who knows and walks in God’s ways. Paul experienced all three stages in his spiritual life. That’s what we’ll explore this week as we study God’s Word together.

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