Friday, December 9, 2011

Joyful Despair

Joyful Despair

"For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" Romans 7:14-24 (ESV)

WANT, DESIRE: thelo (to determine, as an option; to choose or prefer)

GOOD: kalos (beautiful, good, valuable or virtuous, for appearance or use)

DELIGHT: synedomai (to rejoice in with oneself, to feel satisfaction concerning); from sun (with or together) and hedone (sensual delight, desire); from handano (to please)

WAGING WAR: antistrateuomai (to attack or destroy); from anti (opposite) and strateuomai (to serve in the military); from stratia (to encamp as an army); from stronnymi (to "strew" or spread out a carpet or couch)

There is a part of my deep inner self that desires good. This good nature prefers things that are beautiful or valuable. In these good things, my heavenly nature delights, feeling satisfaction and pleasure.

But there is another part of my self that desires to attack or destroy my heavenly nature. This warring enemy is encamped within my soul, its tents spread throughout my being, battling against the good I desire in every possible way.

Sin wants easy gratification and instant pleasure. Every good desire is tempted with offers of something that is cheap and convenient, providing a promise of pleasure that overwhelms caution or consideration. All desires of waiting for the best are pushed aside by warnings of pain or loss. The urge is to experience pleasure now, no matter that it is not the best pleasure, or that the ultimate cost of the pleasure is harmful or destructive. The battle cry of sin is Now! Hurry! Don't miss this pleasure! Immediate mediocre pleasure is better than ultimate excellent pleasure!

The law of sin is the law of Now. If there is a chance of experiencing small pleasure Now or big pleasure Later, sin will battle for Now.

When will this war end? When will my fleshly nature be changed? When will my soul and flesh both desire good and only good?

"We wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." (Romans 8:23)

Our spirits were redeemed at the moment of Christ's sacrifice on our behalf. Our bodies will experience redemption, renewal and regeneration at the end of this age. This is our hope, for which we wait with patience.

Now we resist, we struggle, we fail, we confess, we rejoice in our forgiveness, and we wait for redemption.

Now I feel a kind of joyful despair. Despair, that here on earth my flesh will ever desire the best, the truly good. Joyfulness, as I hope in the ultimate redemption of my flesh. Feeling my flesh's hungry desire for sin is a reminder of the reason for Christ's sacrifice and a reminder of His ultimate victory over sin.

Image courtesy of tanel viksi