Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Spirit Brings War

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. Romans 1:24 NIV

For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. Galatians 5:17 NIV

...when a person is born again of the Spirit, there is a disclosure of enmity against God. No man knows he has that enmity inside until he receives the Holy Spirit. Immediately he receives the Spirit the carnal mind is aroused and the carnal mind clamours and will not yield to the Spirit. This war is described in Galatians 5:17, the flesh lusting [desiring] against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, both demanding, “I must have this body at once. --Oswald Chambers*
Chambers argument is that the carnal mind, the person who has not been in relationship with God and who has not been convicted of her sin, isn’t aware of how sinful she really is or how depraved she is or could be. He interprets the following passage:
"Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean'? For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods "clean.") He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.'" Mark 7:18-23 NIV
and says, “These verses mean that no crime has ever been committed by a human being that every human being is not capable of committing.”*

Powerful words! It could just as easily have been me on that Greyhound bus, stabbing the passenger next to me, cutting off his head and eating his flesh. (Greyhound suspect whispers 'please kill me') My heart is no different from Mr. Li’s. And if I haven’t done what he did, it is only because of the grace of God. We are all seriously depraved, more than we realize, and it isn’t until the Holy Spirit shows up in my life that I begin to realize just how depraved I am.

“Immediately he receives the Spirit the carnal mind is aroused and the carnal mind clamours and will not yield to the Spirit.” I not only begin to realize how depraved I am but my depravity begins to show up in full force. My carnal (natural, human) mind is aroused, clamouring to be sated and rebels against all God wants for me.

I know this from experience. When I finally came to the point where I was able to admit, publically (in a Christian Internet group to which I belonged), that I had sexual desire for women, everything changed. Up until then, my desire had expressed itself only in fantasies about nameless, faceless women but now that I wanted to rid myself of these desires and walk cleanly before God, what happened? Every woman I saw became a potential sex partner and every woman I was close friends with was in danger of my lust and passion. On one level, I was horrified, but on another, these desires so clamoured for my attention that I seriously considered abandoning God so I could pursue and satiate my heart. On that second level, I did not want to yield to the Holy Spirit.

And so for two years I battled, the two parts of me warring over who would have control. It seemed that it would never end and often I felt like just giving up and running away from God. I think, had I done that, the torment of the struggle would have ended because I would have shut the Holy Spirit out of my life and closed my ears to him.

Do not suppose that the moment you or anyone else chooses to follow God, life will now be easy and all your sinful desires will be gone. On the contrary! Those sinful desires will be stirred up and, if you continue to pursue God, your life will become far more difficult as you learn how to call out to God in your need and depend on his strength and mercy to get you through.

Lord, I am so glad your Spirit has chosen to live in me. And I’m so grateful that you did not give up on me, even when I rebelled against you and chose my own ways instead of yours. You knew that my heart, the innermost part of my being, longed for you more than anything else and you continually warred against my natural, human desires. Thank you that you value me so much that you were willing to spend that time fighting for my soul. Thank you for the increasing strength you gave me to yield to you. I thank you too that just because I yield to you in one area that you don’t leave me alone, half finished. You continue to dig deeper and deeper to war against every single part of me that still lives the natural, human ways instead of yours. Continue to war inside of me, Lord! Please do not rest until I am wholly yours, not just in mind but in the deepest recesses of my being—those parts of me that are beyond my current knowing. Thank you for the love you show to me in this pursuit for all of me.


*"Heart: The Radical Region of Life: TheRendezvous of Perfect Life" in "Biblical Psychology" in The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers pages 177, 175.

2 comments:

Mike said...

Hi Debbie, wow that you post this and it is so true too! I made it to church today and God took me under His arm.

For the first time in my life I have an accountability partner! I feel that God is taken this time to take me under His will.

It looks like that I will in fact be going to my old church for a season.

Everything said it is all up to me though on if I am gonna pursue things or not.

I confessed sins to a brother for the first time that I have kept secret for a while now. Secret sins and I feel that I weight has been lifted off of me.

Thank you for your post, it actually helps me a lot!

Debbie Haughland Chan said...

Mike! So good to see you here! I am so excited to hear all your good news. Thank you Jesus! Wow! God did some wonderful things for you today, Mike. I hope it keeps getting better for you each week now that you've taken that "first" difficult step (I know it's not the first time to church for you--you've been a regular attender in the past but I know it's been hard for you to get back to that). Yes, it's up to you to pursue or not pursue but you've at least broken the barrier.

Confession of sins to others is so important. It really does remove a burden from us and it puts us into accountability with others which enables us to push forward to heal and grow.

I've been trying to write the back cover copy for my book and was talking about this very thing. For me, it was only when I admitted my struggle with ssa publically that I was able to begin doing something about it.

Way to go, Mike! Thanks for commenting.