Last week, I was running late for work (as usual) and the last thing I needed to do before stepping out the door was grab a piece of paper I had left on the kitchen table. A man’s name and phone number was on that piece of paper and I had promised I would call him that day. My wife and daughter were in the kitchen, also preparing for work.
The piece of paper was not where I had left it.
After looking for it for a full 30 seconds, (which did include moving several other pieces of paper on the table around) I could not find it.
“Where is that piece of paper with that guy’s number on it? I know I left it right THERE!” I fumed, pointing to a two-square-inch area of the table.
“It was right HERE!” (Underline, italic, bold, all-caps.)
The obvious implication was that one of the people whom I dearly love had taken that incredibly valuable piece of paper and hidden it from me in a vile, evil plot to make my life miserable.
Both of my girls calmly sat there and watched me over-turn and redistribute everything on the table three or four times. It was no use. It was gone. Why weren’t they helping my find it? What was I going to do? I was late for work and I simply had to call that guy today!
Then, strangely, inexplicably, I placed my hand on my back pocket…
Yes, the piece of paper had been there (apparently right next to where I had been keeping my brain) the whole time.
The only evil in the room was me. I had let myself fly into a rage when there was no one to blame but me. No excuse--guilty on all counts.
Fruit of the Spirit? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control? Now those words rang in my conscience underlined, italicized, in bold-face type and all caps.
Some Christian. Yeah. Epic fail Christian. Somebody ought to beat me senseless with a WWJD bracelet.
I thought I was a new creation when I believed in Christ. How could I act like that?
The apostle Paul was no stranger to this this very thing:
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate (Romans 7:15 ESV)
He’s even harder on himself than I was on myself:
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:24 ESV)
The fact is, my soul became a new creation when I came to Christ, but my flesh will not become a new creation until the resurrection.
And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:24 ESV)
So, how do I cope with this flesh, this body of death, until the resurrection?
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 8:34 ESV)
And there is the comfort, the sure hope, the peace. We can lay those sins at the foot of the cross and ask Jesus to intercede. We can pray and cast off those awful, ugly burdens that drag us down. His Spirit does live in us and we can change.
And we can be assured that we will be changed. Maybe not overnight, maybe not in a week, but we know we will share in Christ’s victory.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39 ESV)