Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Jekyll & Hyde

Romans 7:14-24, "For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?Paul here is speaking about two distinct parts of the total self, but about two possible life-orientations of that total self. He is not talking about our physical nature as such, about physical passions and desires, but about a way of life, an orientation of life, a life lived apart from God’s purposes for us. In the contrast between the "I" and "my flesh", the "I" represents the total self insofar as it affirms the good, the will of God as expressed in the law; "my flesh" represents the total self insofar as it is powerless, dominated by sin, unrelated to God.

The point being made is that one of the root causes of moral failure, of not being the person we want to be, results from the fact that the human mind has these two distinct mental systems. These systems often come into conflict. People want to eat and to lose weight. People wish to generalize and work with stereotypes as well as treating people as individuals. Men are drawn to pornography and yet, desire sexual purity. People want revenge for suffering and injustice which struggles with the wholistic health of the person contained in the need to forgive. People wish to enhance their lives by the 'good' that they would do and build for themselves a legacy of honour, however, they live with the hypocrisy of vanity and pride, self-aggrandizement and self-centeredness, struggling with motivations and underlying ambitions contrary to the public opinion they wish to cultivate.

"I resolved in my future conduct to redeem the past; and I can say with honesty that my resolve was fruitful of some good. You know how earnestly, in the last months of the year, I laboured to relieve suffering; you know that much was done for others.... [But as] I smiled, comparing myself with other men, comparing my active goodwill with the lazy cruelty of their neglect ... at the very moment of that vain-glorious thought, a qualm came over me, a horrid nausea and the most dreadful shuddering ... I looked down ... I was once more Edward Hyde."

Robert Louis Stevenson gives a profound insight into the heart of man, the acknowledgement of a sinful self, which gave rise for the desire and need of the potion; the Pharisaical bent to relieve the burden of sin by 'good' works and beneficent value to society; seeking atonement and redemption by smothering the selfish nature with acts of unselfishness. These efforts do not result in actually shriveling pride and self-centeredness but only aggravating and inflaming them. The sense of superiority, self-righteousness, pride, vain-glory lies under the facade and suddenly no potion is needed, the transformation happens. For real people this is not an immediate change, it is more a gradual deception of keeping the rules, obeying the law, becoming self-righteous without awareness, simply because we are 'good'.

Romans 7:5, "For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death."

The corrupt nature is excitable, providing recourse for agitation and conflict with the most devout principles and motivations. We have a tendency to view this dilemma in context of slavery, our passions determining life's bent without regard for the ability held in the power of the Cross to free us. The claims upon us and the demands of sin hold life in check as long as we refuse to accept salvation.

Romans 7:6, "But now we have been delivered (destroyed, slain, wrenched from the grasp) from the law, having died (the violence of death on the Cross) to what we were held (enslaved) by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter (external rules of behavoiur without reference to the heart)."
Matthew 6:24, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (wealth, riches, carnal desires, earthly treasures and pleasures)."
Psalm 123:1-2, "Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens. Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until He has mercy on us."

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