Romans 7:24, O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Paul uses these terms to declare his struggle because he is wrestling with a corpse. How many of us where expecting an immediate, powerful, all-inclusive metamorphosis? (When we accepted Christ.) I have never reached this goal and at this point I’m not sure if it is possible short of heaven (this corruption called flesh), but, like all of you I’m working at it—beating this flesh into submission.
This week I read the following story. It was written as a fact, but when I researched it, I discovered that it is a myth. However this myth is a great illustration of our sermon today, “Fightin’ With a Dead Man”. Imagine with me that corporal punishment was administered in this bizarre method. Imagine that the body of the murdered victim being tie it to the murderer. So, everywhere the murderer went, the corpse did too, since it was attached to him. Worse still, the murdered victim was ever upon him—he could not forget his victim. He was weighed down by him. He could not avoid the putrid, rancid flesh to which he was attached. This kind of intimate contact would be unpleasant even if the man were alive, but because the man was dead, it was unbearable. The mere odor of the soft, decomposing, deteriorating flesh would reek with the stench of rot, contaminating all of life’s moments with the ever-present aroma of decay.
What could we enjoy in life with this flesh hanging on as a content reminder of the past?
This nauseating level of intimacy with mushy flesh would turn the strongest stomach. That is exactly how Paul felt about the old nature that continued to press in so closely to his existence—rubbing him, touching him, always reminding him of things he could neither change nor eradicate.
Eventually, the punished murderer, this bacteria-filled, murky, mushy flesh would pass its fungus and disease to him until he died from this association with the dead. What an agonizing, disgusting way to die.
I remember, in my early days as a Christian secretly suffering from low self-esteem. I thought that the Christians around me had mastered a level of holiness that seemed to evade me. I groaned in the night, I cried out to God to make me like a robot, take away my free choice, so that I could attain holiness. I admired those virtuous “heroes of faith” whose testimonies seemed to unattainable. They seemed so changed, so sure, so stable! I seemed to think that God’s love was doled out according to a merit system. If I did well today, God loved me. However, if I failed, I felt that He didn’t love me. What a roller coaster ride!
When the apostle realized that his association with his past was affecting his present, he cried out,
O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Only the second coming of Christ, only when we put off this body of corruption and put on our new body will. So, what is guy to do, throw in the towel, cave in to our sinful lust? Paul’s answered, “Certainly NOT!”
Philippians 3:12-16, Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.
Ephesians 1:6, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
It is only through Christ that we are made the righteousness of God, so living in Him and threw Him is the only way to remain righteous holly. I can’t maintain my righteousness I must surrender and make Jesus… Lord of all.
Ephesians 2:4-10, But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.