The Baptist Beacon

Up Baptist Beacon Video Beacon Archives Gospel Music File Cabinet Audio Feedback

by J.A. Reynolds


There is so much good in the worst of us

And so much bad in the best of us
That it ill behooves any of us
To speak evil of the rest of us.

 "Christ Jesus came into the world to save SINNERS, OF WHOM I AM CHIEF,” said the apostle Paul.(1st Timothy 1:15) It is very noticeable that he said “I am,” rather than I was. Perhaps it would be more difficult to find a genuine fault in the Christian life of Paul than to find one in any person but Jesus, the sinless One. Good Christians who walk close to God, being filled with the Holy Spirit often show such humility. It is because they possess vision of all things, including themselves, through the eyes of a perfect and sinless all-seeing God. Paul confessed to the Roman Christians that he was a "wretched man' who longed for deliverance from his 'body of death.' (Romans 7:24) He wrote, "We know that the law (of God) is spiritual: but I am carnal (fleshly), sold under sin. For that which I do, I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that I do. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) there dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not. For the good that I would do, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 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. 0 wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?' He answers it, "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.” Paul was not making excuse for his sin with these words. The deliverance from the body he longed for was NOT the one expected in the resurrection hereafter. In chapter eight he expounded at length on HOW that here and now the grace of Jesus Christ enables the righteous inward man in every born again person to live victorious over the sinful outward man in which he dwells. This is "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" he spoke of in verse two of chapter eight which he said had (already) made him free from the law of sin and death.” The Christian must allow the indwelling Holy Spirit to prevail so that he 'mortifies (puts to death) the deeds of the body" (Romans 8:13) in order that the outward life may be truly alive. Thus the sinful outward man may also be quickened (made alive) temporarily and repeatedly by 'the (Holy) Spirit that dwells in' him. (v. 8,11) This is the only way by which even a Christian can truly live a righteous life. The energy of the flesh, no matter how determined the mind and how restrained the actions, will not suffice. It may make one appear outwardly moral and charitable, but it may also make one self-righteous, hypocritical, legalistic, and judgmental.
No perceptive soul ever thinks that he is living above and beyond sin. John warned the churches, 'if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." and if we say that we have not sinned, we make him (God) a liar, and His word is not in us." (1st John 1:8 & 10) But the apparent hopelessness of this pronouncement is greatly modified by what appears on the next page of his letter! "Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin; for His seed remains in him: and he cannot (is not able to) sin, because he is born of God." (1st John 3:9) The person who cannot separate the inward and outward man, as Paul did, cannot reconcile these three verses in John's short and simple letter. The folks who lack this understanding often believe and argue strongly that regenerated Christians can sin so grievously as to lose that salvation which God wrought in them. They must also twist lst John 3:9 to make it mean something less than what it says. Neither can they explain Peter's witness to the "righteous soul” of Lot. (2nd Peter 2:8)