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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Rabbi K.A. Schneider » Rabbi Schneider - The Struggle Between Flesh and Spirit

Rabbi Schneider - The Struggle Between Flesh and Spirit

Rabbi Schneider - The Struggle Between Flesh and Spirit
Rabbi Schneider - The Struggle Between Flesh and Spirit
TOPICS: Journeying Through the Book of Romans Season 4, Carnality

One of the purposes of the law was to stir up the recognition of our sinful nature. And so listen now as we continue to verse 12 and 13 of Romans 7. "So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good". And then Paul asked, "If the law is holy righteous and good, what happened? Because I see that it produced a death sentence in me. It caused me to come become convicted of my sin. It arouse all types of evil passions in me". As I said, last time, it's the same concept that stolen fruit is sweet. When somehow we know that something is not to be taken, when we feel that something is off-limits, somehow it makes it even more attractive. This is what the law did. It aroused within man his sinful passion.

So therefore Paul says this in verse 13. "Therefore did that which is good," speaking of the law, "become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin". In other words, it wasn't the law that produced the evil. The evil was already there, and all the law did was highlight it. "Rather it was sin," He said, "in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful".

So again, just setting the stage that knowing right from wrong, whether it's through the law or through your conscience, knowing something is wrong actually can cause that thing that you would want to resist doing because you know it's wrong, knowing that it's wrong oftentimes makes it even more attractive because the principle of sin lives in us. Let me read it one more time and then we're going to go on. I just want you to understand this is strong theological foundational truth. And we should understand this because Paul is setting the whole stage for the coming and redemption of Messiah by helping us to understand sin, its consequences, and how knowing the difference between right and wrong stirs up sinful desires in us for the purpose of convicting us that there's evil in us and we need a savior, we need deliverance.

That's why at Yeshua's birth the angel said to Mary, "You shall call His name Yeshua, and he shall save His people from their sin". So once again Paul says this in verse 13. "Therefore did that which is good," speaking of the law, "become a cause of death for me? May it never be"! He's rebuking any wrong thought about the law. That no one would think of the law as a bad thing. It's a good thing. Paul said, "May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good," the law is good, "so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful". It's kind of like there's a lot of pollen in the atmosphere that I'm in right now. And when the sun is really bright, I can actually see the pollen and the dust from the forest in the atmosphere.

The pollen and the dust, beloved, it's already in the atmosphere. But when light comes down from the sky, when the sun beams down, I can see all these little particles floating around. That's what the law did. It revealed sin to us. Do you get it? Let's continue on. In verse number 14, "For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into the bondage to sin". Let me say it again. "For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh..." So you think about the law is of spirit, but I'm flesh. I have all these appetites to eat, and this and the other that are not necessarily bad all of them. But the Spirit doesn't want to eat an apple. The Spirit has no desire to eat a steak, or ice cream, or a hamburger. Spirit is Spirit, but I'm flesh. So I've got all these desires that are not spiritual.

So Paul says here, "For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of flesh..." And not only that, Paul says. Because we've inherited Adam's fallen nature, we're sold into the bondage to sin. And then Paul goes in to talk about this conflict that he's fighting all the time between these two natures. Between his spirit nature, because he's born again and has a recreated spirit through the Ruach HaKodesh, through the very life of God. So he's got the spirit nature, which he wants, which he agrees with, which he wants to follow, which is life to him. But then he also recognizes that he's got this other side to him, his fleshly nature, which is in bondage to sin because it's fallen. And there's this constant battle going on inside him. He's wanting to follow the spirit, but he also senses that he's got this other thing going on in him, he wants these other things that he knows is evil.

So that's what he's going to describe now. "For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I did not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I'm doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I did not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good". What's Paul saying? He's saying, "I have this great hunger and desire to please God. And I find myself sometimes not doing those things deep inside that I want to do that please God. But I find myself yielding to the flesh, and it's corruption. And because I don't want to do these corrupt things, but I'm doing them anyway, I'm in agreement with the law, I know these things are wrong. But I'm in bondage. Lord, deliver me," He's crying out, "Save me, strengthen so that I stopped practicing these things that I know are wrong".

Let's continue on. He says, "But if I do the very thing I did not want to do, I agree with the Law..." How is he agreeing with the law? Because he knows that the thing that he's doing is wrong, and he agrees that it's wrong. He's confessing. He says that the law is good. I know the law is right, but I'm doing this wrong thing, I'm agreeing with the law.

So look at number 17. "So now, no longer Am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me". So he's saying, "When I find myself doing these things that I know are in opposition to the Spirit, it's not even me that's doing it," He said, "because deep in my innermost being, I'm a recreated man, I'm a new man, I'm a new creation. I'm born of God. That's who I am. That's who I really am. That's where I'm going into this destiny of heaven. I'm a spirit man. That's who I am. So when I do these things that are corrupt in accordance with the flesh, that's not even me anymore. It's the principle of evil in my flesh. But that isn't me. I don't identify with that. For I died with Christ and I was raised with Him as a new creation. That's part of the old man. That's part of the old life that doesn't define me anymore. I break that off, but that's not who I am. Satan, you're a liar. I reject that. I reject you".

So he says once again, "But if I do the very thing I did not want to do, I agree with the Law confessing that it is good. So now, no longer Am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me". So in other words, if you're obese, and you've got an addiction to food, but you're born again and you love Jesus, and you find yourself overeating or eating a lot of junk food, that isn't the real you that's eating those Hostess Twinkies, those doughnuts, those cupcakes, whatever it is, that you're indulging in. That isn't who you are. That's your flesh, and you need to break off the bondage because that's not who you really are. It's sin, Paul says. He says, "So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me," speaking of his flesh, "that is in my flesh; for the willing is present in me..."

In other words, the spirit is in his heart, he wants to, but the doing of the good is not. He's finding himself being overwhelmed by the power and desires of the flesh. "...for the good that I want, I do not do..." He's really struggling here. He's talking about the plight of human nature and how we have to overcome the tendency of the flesh. He's not going to end here by saying, "Well, you know, I'm just going to lose this battle, and the flesh is stronger than the spirit". That's not how it's going to end. He's just describing the battle right now. "For the good that I want, I do not do but I practice the very evil that I do not want".

Let me put it this way. Let's say that the Holy Spirit has put a desire in you to exercise and it's really a Holy Spirit-breathed desire he's put in your heart. You know you want to exercise, you know that it's good for your body, you feel good when you do it. It's a God-given breathed desire that you have. But when it's time to exercise, your flesh says no. Like Jesus said to His disciples when He told them to pray, and He went back an hour later they were sleeping. And Jesus said, "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak". This is what Paul is describing here. So you know, you should exercise, you want to, but you find yourself giving into the desires of the flesh and not doing it. It's this battle between that which is spiritual and good and the nature of the flesh.

"For the good that I want, I do not do but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I did not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me". We've talked about that. "I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good". I mean, there's like this dual nature as human beings. We have to fight to overcome, because there's a principle of evil within us. And yet we're not evil, because we've been redeemed by the blood of Jesus. But in our bodies in our flesh, there are still a principle of evil that we have to overcome.

Now, why would God have done this? Why would God have given us this dichotomy in our nature? Because beloved, He wanted us to overcome. And that's why, as I said earlier, seven times in the first three chapters of the book of Revelation, chapters two and three, specifically, Jesus said, "He that overcomes will inherit this blessing". And then He went ahead and He listed seven different blessings that the one that overcame would receive. He that overcomes will eat from the tree of life, will eat in the paradise of God. He that overcomes will sit down with me, next to my Father's throne, as I overcame and sat down next to His throne. God wanted you and I have to overcome. Because it involves our will, it involves our choice. And love is a choice. Love takes effort.

That's why Jesus said, "What good is it if you can love only your friends? Even evil people know how to love their friends". We love people that love us. We love our friends. And why do we love them? Because we like being around them. It makes us feel good. We like the way it makes us feel. But to love someone that you don't like, to love an enemy, that's supernatural. So Jesus said, "I'm not calling you just to love your friends". Gentiles, unbelievers. Sometimes when the scripture uses the term "Gentiles," it's not referring to people that were born un-Jewish. But sometimes the scripture uses the term "Gentile" to define somebody that hasn't been redeemed.

So in that particular instance, that's the way I referred to it. Jesus said, "Even unbelievers love their friends". He said, "I'm calling you to a higher standard. I'm calling you to overcome. I'm calling you to love your enemies". And so this is why the Lord has given us this battle to participate in. Because it pleases Him when we choose life. We have to strive to overcome and do good. We gain something, we receive something. And this is why Yeshua said in the end of the book of Revelations, "Behold, I come quickly to reward each man according to what he's done". So the more we overcome the flesh and all the evil desires, the greater our reward will be in the kingdom to come. And this is what God wants to do-reward us. So He put us in this fight so we could receive this reward.

And then Paul says, once again, "I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 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". So I described all that. We conceptually explained all that's going on here. I'm just continuing to read verses highlighting what Paul said about this subject. But he doesn't leave it there. So let's conclude today with the last two verses of the book of Romans 7. Here's where the hope, here's where the victory is.

"Wretched man that I am"! Paul says. He realizes this fight that he is in, that he's losing the battle sometimes. Not that he's lost the war, but sometimes he's losing a few of the battles. "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God..." Here we go, folks. "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord"! Through Yeshua HaMashiach, the descendant of David, God in the flesh. "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin". But God is going to give him the victory.

Who is going to give him the victory? "Who will set me free...? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord". And so he ends on a note of victory in chapter seven. Just because there's a battle going on, it doesn't give someone an excuse to say, "Well, God knows I'm in this battle. Therefore I can just lay down and give up". No, God expects us to overcome. He demands that we overcome.

Listen, you've heard me, some of you, share this before. But I love this analogy. Maybe you've read a testimony. I'm not sure if you receive this or not, or believe it or not, but one testimony that that I read is from a man by the name of Bill Wiese. I'm not sure how you pronounce his name. He wrote a book called "23 Minutes in Hell". And he talked about when he first got married, he was a very strong believer, a conservative Christian committed to God. It was early in his marriage, he woke up in the middle of the night, and he got out of bed, his wife was still in bed, he went into the kitchen to get something to drink. And suddenly, out of nowhere, he had some kind of experience where he found himself in hell.

And in his book, "23 Minutes in Hell", he describes what it was like there. I can't even go into all the details. It was so wretched. I mean, he said, the smell alone in hell, it was like burning sulfur, rotten eggs, a fowl feces. He said, "The worst smells you could ever think of, all put together and magnified a thousand times". He said, the smell alone was so toxic, it would have killed you. And he talked about a time in his life as a young man when he was out of the ocean surfing one day with some buddies. And one of his buddies got attacked by a shark. And if I recall, correctly, even killed his buddy. And then the shark grabbed ahold of Bill Weise's leg. And Bill said the terror of that incident was beyond description. But he said, the terror in hell, when he experienced hell for 23 minutes, didn't even compare with the terror that he experienced when he was on the ocean in the midst of a shark attack. And when he experienced hell, everybody in hell, all they could do is curse God. Nobody in hell praised God. It was impossible. All they could do is curse Him.

Now, compare that with heaven. In Heaven, all you have is praise to the Lord. The entire atmosphere of heaven is praise. The music is continually praising God. The trees, the flowers, everything is alive and praising God. There's no cursing of God in heaven, only praise, an atmosphere of praise. But on earth, beloved child of His, we have a choice. We can choose darkness or we can choose light. We can choose to praise God or we can choose to deny, even curse Him. And we can choose to overcome evil with good, or we can choose to give into the evil. And what we do will determine our destiny.

And so we're in between heaven and hell. We have a choice on this earth. And what God has called us to do is to overcome, to overcome sin by the blood of the lamb and the Spirit of God. And this is why Jesus says in the book of Revelation seven times, "He that overcomes will inherit the paradise of God". So I want to encourage you right now, if you need to, to get down on your knees and repent. Maybe you've been thinking you love Jesus, but you've not repented of sin. Loving Jesus involves repentance of sin. And the good news, beloved of Messiah Jesus, is that through Him you can.

So Father, we just open our hearts to you right now, and we ask you to strengthen us in the love of God and impart to us everything that we need in you to overcome every evil habit in our life. Father, we love you today, and we give you praise. And we say, to God be the glory, great things He has done.

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