For the past few months I’ve been relearning, in a fresh way, a very important reality about myself and about sin.
I am a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
But sin still dwells in my unredeemed body (Romans 7:18-23).
Those two truths, mixed with the entire book of 1 John have convinced me that much of what I deal with in terms of “struggles with sin” have to do with my own failure to think according to truth.
The battle is in the realm of the mind
Paul makes a point in Romans chapter 7, to pinpoint the “dwelling place” of sin and the “dwelling place” of victory over it through Christ.
- The law of God operates in the realm of the mind (Romans 7:22).
- The law of sin and death operates in the realm of the body (Romans 7:23).
That means that the way I THINK about myself is vitally important.
I have to think of myself according to what God says about me… not according to how I think about me, or how I feel, or what I’ve been told by well-meaning-but-sadly-ignorant Bible teachers who insist that I’m a “sinner, saved by grace.” (I know what they mean, but I’m coming to believe the phrase is counterproductive). Here are some examples:
- I don’t typically see myself as a new creation… I see myself as a sinner.
- As a result I don’t typically see myself as “dead” to sin but alive to God (Romans 6:11).
I’m playing a mental trick on myself, convincing myself that I’m not who I truly am (who GOD says I am). I think on, and therefore live out the identity of “sinner” (despite the fact that I’m saved by grace).
What I need is a renewal of the mind, a change of understanding, a new way of thinking about myself. I need to see me the way God sees me and learn to live that identity out in real life.
What’s all that got to do with P90X?
My wife, oldest daughter, and I began the infamous P90X workout yesterday.
If you don’t know what it is… it’s crazy. I still can’t believe I agreed to this…
It’s a 90-day, intense, hour to hour and a half a day exercise program and diet that is supposed to get you totally ripped within 90 days.
We aren’t necessarily wanting the “totally ripped” part… we just want to finish what we started a few years ago so that we can be the best stewards of our health and bodies that we can be.
When the Apostle Paul was describing the lengths he was willing to go to in order to share and spread the gospel message, he used the need for bodily discipline as an example. He said, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)
I don’t know exactly what bodily struggles Paul was concerned about, but I am enlightened by what he’s saying. He knew that the body can affect the soul and spirit, therefore the body must be handled in a disciplined manner in order for us to live rightly for the sake of the LORD.
That’s where P90X comes in.
Though I’m wanting to get my body in shape, I’m also finding another use for the exercise program that is proving to be helpful (so far). Here’s how I’m thinking on it…
- Since the area where sin dwells is in my physical body (Romans 7:18-23), I’m trying to make the workout into a “subjection” of my body (where sin dwells) to my will (which is controlled by the Holy Spirit).
- I’m using the workout to remind myself that the power of the Spirit who lives in me, is ENOUGH to help me not only overcome my natural resistance to the pain of a strenuous workout, but is also ENOUGH to enable me to overcome the sin that dwells within my unredeemed body.
It may sound hokey, but it’s helpful to me. I’ll let you know how it goes…