Saturday, 6 July 2013
So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:8
This verse is explicit and obvious – one who is “in the flesh” cannot please God. There are two possible instances tied up in the thought. The first is the unregenerate soul – the person who has not been cleansed by Jesus’ work. Any person who has not come to Christ is in this category to the full measure. The second instance is a person who has called on Christ, but has his mind and actions directed to the things of the flesh. This is the natural man being allowed to take over during our earthly walk. When we as believers please the flesh, it is obvious that we are not pleasing to God.
In the first instance, we can think of a bully down the street. He is wholly unpleasing to those around him. There are no family affections and he is kept separate from our care or concern. In the second instance, we can think of our own children when they are disobedient. At such a time, they aren’t pleasing to us and yet there is the stronger bond and tie of family. Despite their inability to please us due to their current actions, they are members of the family. Though unpleasing, they are not rejected.
In both circumstances, there is nothing to say that either child won’t voluntarily turn and make right choices. The bully could give up his ways, seeing what is right and pleasing to those around him. If he were an orphan, he may even be adopted into the family because of his turn to right living. Likewise our child will probably get over his disobedience and turn back to right living. If not, it doesn’t make him any less our child.
The concept of total depravity in a person in no way negates volitional acts of the will to “see the good” and turn to it. Nor does calling on Jesus guarantee that we are instantly perfect saints who never sin and who can’t lapse into more sin. Categories are important and acts of the will cannot be dismissed in our theological conceptions of who we are in relation to God. The difference in the two who “cannot please God” mentioned above is that one is a family member and the other isn’t. The change in relationship doesn’t necessarily guarantee that our on-going relationship will be perfect, but it does guarantee final results
Life application: Romans 8:8 is clearly stated. If we are in the flesh we cannot please God. Some people are in the flesh completely, having not called on Christ. They are apart from the covenant promises of God. Some people are living in the flesh, despite having moved from Adam to Christ. This could be us and therefore we need to be attentive to our new state and family ties, and live our lives in a manner which is pleasing to our Lord and God.
Heavenly Father, You adopted me into Your family because of Jesus. How unworthy I was of that honor and how unworthy I still am. My thoughts and actions at times belie the person I have been called to be and I ask that You redirect me in those times, turning me back to the straight and narrow path which is pleasing to You. Thank You for Your attentive care. Amen.