Have You Taught Yourself Lately?
By Terry M. Hightower
A lady came to a stop at the red light. She was directly behind a car filled with young children, driven by their mother, and bearing a big bumper sticker: Honk-If You Love Jesus. So the lady in the second car gave a friendly push on the horn, whereupon the mother in the car up front stuck her head out of the window, swore profusely, and yelled, "Can't you see the light's still red?"
Isn't this a little bit like all of us? While we may give "lip service" to the gospel of Christ as our ethical standard and even use such to severely criticize others around us when they violate plain passages of God's divine word, we personally "fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).
Paul honestly and openly admitted:
For we know that the law (God's perfect ethical standard for mankind-in this case he refers specifically to the Old Testament) is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I know not: for not what I would, that do I practice; but what I hate, that I do . . . . For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but to do that which is good is not. For the good which I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I practice (Rom. 7:14-19).
Tell me, do you do things you know are unethical or just plain wrong? Do you sometimes find yourself aware of a certain specific good you realize ought to be done, but then for some reason you refuse to do it? (If you don't relate to this, perhaps your "ethical indicator light" called a conscience either has a dead bulb or is starting to dim!)
In our more sober moments, most of us agree with the apostle Paul's assessment that we "delight in the law of God after the inward man" but we also 69see a different law in our members warring against the law of our mind, and bringing us into captivity under the law of sin which is in our members" (Rom. 7:22). That is, our carnality wins out over what we know is right. No doubt thousands know about the wrongness of recreational drugs such as alcohol and cocaine, about the error of adultery, about sinful secular music, about racism, about homosexuality, about failure to help the poor, and about stealing and lying. Yet they must proclaim, "Wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?" (Rom. 7:24).
"Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin," they promise new Christians "liberty, while they themselves are bondservants of corruption" (2 Pet. 2:14, 19).
Since mere human philosophies are "not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Col. 2:23b), so that "I of myself with the mind, indeed, serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin" (Rom. 7:25b), where, oh, where can I find deliverance from this hell-bound situation? "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord" that I now have the greatest possible motivation
in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross (Rom. 7:25; Phil 2:5-8).
This is no man-made philosophy but is historical fact!
Death is not the end! We may "attain unto the resurrection from the dead ... through faith in Christ" (Phil. 3:11). With Paul, let us declare:
Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:12-14).
Beware regarding yourself as a wonderful child of God, bearing the name of a Christian, resting upon the law of Christ, and glorying in God, knowing his will, approving the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, being confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to them that are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having in the law of the New Testament the form of knowledge and of the truth while you transgress it yourself. "Thou therefore that teachest another, teachest thou not thyself'?" (Rom. 2:17-21).