Romans 6, 7 and 8 provide us with great insight into the different phases we move through as we go from glory to glory. When we are in Romans 6 we discover that we are crucified with Christ and that all our sins are forgiven. The old man has been taken care of at the cross when Jesus became sin and that old master, the Spirit of error, was cast out. We came to Christ through a crisis when we saw that we were lost sinners without hope in this world. The solution to our predicament was that exact Jesus who we in our unredeemed days had ridiculed and avoided at all costs.
In Romans 6 we fall in love with Jesus and our firm resolution is to make Him happy and show Him that our conversion is for real. So we start out determined to be good Christians who do the right things. We try to tame our flesh – this unruly factor in the equation. Its desires and cravings must be controlled and in the process we conclude that we have to become more loving, in short; better persons in every possible way. In retrospect it is almost funny to observe how we fought against ourselves in order to please our new master.
To our great dismay we after a while discover that we are unable to live the Christian life. We have moved into the Romans 7 reality where we have found out that we do what we don’t like and what we would like to do we don’t do. What a painful predicament. Confusion and despondency reign in our minds. We really believed in the things we tried to accomplish, but we find that we are so powerless. It is utterly confusing that our prayers to God about power, more love and the host of other things we need to function on the level we anticipated are not answered. The more we fought against the flesh the more powerful it seemed. All the attention we gave it just seemed to enhance it and magnify its significance.
This is the second crisis. We are thoroughly beaten up and we cannot figure out why everything went wrong despite our good intentions. God has us exactly where He wants us. The deception from Eden is about to be unveiled and this illusion that we have an independent self is about to be disclosed. So we move into Romans 8 where the truth about the exchanged life puts everything in its right perspective. In this phase we recognize the facts about who we really are – that Jesus is our life and that we are led by the Spirit and not the flesh. Someone else runs our lives. Paul so magnificently articulates his great discovery to the Galatians when he writes that God revealed Christ in him. It is Christ who runs the show, not us.
Now we finally can breathe freely and ultimately accept ourselves and not least accept our flesh. It is not our job to tame its inclinations. That is God’s job. When we face fear we just simply admit our fears and leave it to God to handle them. When we feel unloving we know that the lover is on the inside and we leave it to Him to love that person we cannot stand. Condemnation which more than once has made us cringe in pain is losing its hold on us. Our flesh isn’t longer a liability. It is our greatest asset because through it God manifest Himself and through it He makes Himself known to the world.
We move from being flesh haters to flesh lovers. God uses the flesh in a most astounding way to fix us in Him. From now on we accept our flesh with all its hates, dislikes, resentments, hurts, fears and lusts. We cease fighting the flesh and its oddities and just recognize that those things are there and hence simply admit that we are not the ones to fight the flesh. We have tried and failed miserably. Christ is the one who fights its inclinations. He is the great warrior on the white horse who went forth conquering, and to conquer (Rev 6:2). Furthermore, He has even declared me perfect and if His sense of perfection is at odds with mine I give His opinions precedence. He is the truth!
In Romans 6 we found that Jesus has taken care of all the old stuff. Before we enter the Romans 8 reality of who we really are we go through the Romans 7 crisis. While in Romans 6 we believed that we had the necessary grit to live the Christian life and if we lacked anything we thought that God would provide us with love, power, patience and all the rest we needed in order to be successful in our new endeavor. However, He has a better plan. He won’t give us anything on account of that He is love, He is power and He is patience so the good news is that He is the one who is leading the new life in, through and as us.