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Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life from the week ending 12/23/07
The Study of Romans 9,10,11.
Mental Attitude Toward Self

We have been noting the importance of our mental attitude, and the thoughts that dwell within our soul. A very dangerous area of our life is the attitude we have toward ourselves. We are examining ROM 7:14-25, a passage which should set you straight as far as your relationship with God is concerned and your attitude toward yourself.

            In ROM 7:14-17 the emphasis is on practicing the very thing we hate: The inability to overcome the sin nature. In verses 18 to 21, the emphasis is on the failure to do that which is desired in the new nature: To do right. This double failure of the believer to overcome evil and accomplish good is set forth; therefore help must come from outside, beyond himself! ROM 7:14talks about life that is controlled by the Old Sin Nature (OSN) and the importance of understanding the problem and dealing with it by using the proper mental attitude. ROM 7:14 “For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of [or belonging to the realm of] the flesh [sin nature], sold [as a slave] in bondage to sin [sin nature].” We were all born into slavery, placed entirely under the control of the love of sinning. ROM 7:15 “For that which I am doing, I do not understand; For I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very things that I hate.” This is the confusion caused from the OSN which tries to control the believer. We all have a legitimate desire to please the Lord, and this desire increases with our increased intake of Bible doctrine.
            So, Paul is saying that he really wants to advance spiritually and to please God by reaching spiritual maturity; however, there's a problem. These good intentions are hindered by the overtime work of the OSN with its trends toward good and evil.ROM 7:15-16, “For that which I am doing [the old sin nature controlling us at times], I do not understand. For I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing that I hate [the shattering of the OSN as it controls us and tries to put us under a guilt complex, separating us from the grace of God].” But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do[giving in to the OSN] I agree with the Law or the doctrine that it is good.” Doctrine is important because it helps you to recognize your flaws and the control that the OSN has over you. ROM 7:17 “So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin or the sin nature which dwells in me.” This was a wonderful discovery! Paul realized the guilt of sin, and our forgiveness through the blood of Christ. Our old man (OSN) was crucified with Christ! Now we must put that old man away, and all the things of our former life must be put away. That can’t be done until we discover that all of those things of the former life still can have a grip on our lives because of the indwelling sin nature (OSN) which remains. Paul concludes then that since he is doing what he does not wish to do, there must be another evil principle working within him, (and us as well). It is not our real selves because we have a new life in Christ. Therefore it is sin which dwells in us. GAL 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” Paul is saying that because he has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, it is Christ that is living in him. Therefore when he sins, it is no longer him, the new man or the new creature, but the old man (OSN) which is within. If God's people could only realize this, they would become free from the bondage and slavery to their OSN. They would stop blaming others for their situations, and they would look at their failures as an opportunity to appeal to the mercy of God. 1JO 3:9 “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”
            So, because the nature of God cannot sin (1JO 3:9), and Christ is in him (GAL 2:20), Paul has learned to separate the two natures. Unfortunately most believers have not, and that is why self-righteousness, legalism, guilt and condemnation exist in the lives of most believers today. What made Paul such a great apostle is the fact that he realized that his sins had been paid for, and therefore totally forgiven. ROM 7:18 “For I know that nothing good [good of intrinsic value] dwells in me, that is, in my flesh [sin nature], for the wishing or the desire is present in me, but the doing of the good is not or I cannot do it.” There are times when the OSN becomes strong enough to beat the person's will.
            So, how can understanding ROM 7:18 be a benefit and blessing to the believer? Well, before any believer can appreciate the Divine solutions to the indwelling problems of the OSN and the magnificent grace of God, the believer must be brought to the end of himself. You must realize how helpless and hopeless you are without Christ, and also how the Lord has solved the sin problem and the problem of the OSN. There is no good thing in our old selves, and we cannot do the good we wish to do. We are renewed, and we want to go forward in sanctification, yet we cannot. We are dependent on the Holy Spirit as our only spiritual power, just as we have depended on Christ as our only righteousness! PHI 2:13 “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”          Not only has sin been forgiven, but the effects of that sin as well. The effects of sin are guilt and condemnation, and therefore there is no place for any of that in the life of the believer. PSA 32:5 “You have forgiven the guilt of my sin;” PSA 85:2 “You did forgive the iniquity of your people; you did cover all their sin”The Lord has not covered some of your sin, but all of your sin. As a part of God's plan to free us, we also have the promise that God does not deal with us according to our sins. PSA 103:10 “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.” There have been so many lies portrayed by the kingdom of darkness concerning the sin issue.
            ROM 7:19 “For the good [good things of intrinsic value] that I wish or desire to do, I do not do but I practice the very evil that I do not wish.” In his sin nature, Paul has discovered that it doesn't matter what he wills; inevitably he will not be able to do it. ROM 7:20-21, “But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish to do [and I am], I am no longer the one doing it, but the sin nature which dwells in me. I find then the principle, that evil is present with me, the one who desires to do the good [virtuous, noble]. Even when we are trying our best, the evil of the old sin nature is still there. ROM 7:22 “For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man or with reference to my inner man [doctrine in mentality].” This is a positive believer who now sees that Bible doctrine has provided him with standards that now teach him how to be delivered from the bondage of the sin nature. ROM 7:23 “But I see a different law [principle] in the members of my body [the law of the sin nature], making war against the law of my mind [attacking him with temptation and or trying to put him in bondage], and making me a prisoner to the law of the sin nature which is in the members [cell structure] of my body.” Here is Paul crying out for deliverance, not from sin’s guilt and its penalty, but from its power. Not for forgiveness of sins, but for help against the indwelling OSN. Here in verse 23 Paul is laying claim to, and taking ownership of, the problem. As long as we kid ourselves about the fact that we still have this fallen nature to deal with, we are not even close to being delivered from the struggle. Paul is saying that there is no power in ourselves to resist the principle of sin which resides in the members of our body. God left us every bit as helpless and dependent on Christ’s work for our sanctification as He did for our redemption. The power of sin was broken at the Cross because we died with Him there, both to sins and to the power of the OSN (GAL 2:20).
            ROM 7:24 “Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from the body of this death [the old sin nature]?” The Greek word for wretched is talaiporos and it means wretched through the exhaustion of hard labor. ROM 7:25 “Thanks be to God or grace belongs to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then, on the one hand, with my mind I am myself serving the law of GOD; but on the other hand, with my flesh [OSN in control of the soul], I am serving the law of the sin nature.” God in His grace knows we have inherent flaws, environmental flaws, in addition to the sins we accumulate. The answer to Paul’s question of who will rescue him (and us) is a new revelation: Identification with Christ in His death! Just as the sinner cannot find forgiveness and freedom from guilt until he despairs of self and believes in the One who redeemed Him with the blood of His cross, the believer, after a period of pointless struggle to overcome sinful tendencies by self-effort, now looks to Christ for renewal. The believer is now ready to accept the fact, revealed in God’s word, that he died with Christ at the Cross to the principle of sin. 1CO 1:18 “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” The word of the Cross and of what Christ did there is the power of God, and is both to save sinners and to deliver saints.
            ROM 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” The Holy Spirit delivers us from the power of the OSN by applying to our experience that which was accomplished by Christ on the Cross, namely complete separation from fleshly Adam. We discover our own utter powerlessness to defeat our indwelling sin, and then we are given the insight that we have been delivered from the slavery of the OSN. The blood of Christ frees us from the guilt of our sins, and the cross of Christ frees us from the slavery of our sin nature.
            Paul discovered through his struggle depicted in Rom Ch. 7, four things: 1) That sin dwelt in him. 2) That his self-will was powerless against it. 3) That the sinful self was not his real self. 4) That there was deliverance through our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul realized that all he was in the flesh (OSN) was addicted to sinning. So he quit trying to reform the old man and saw himself wholly in Christ, ready to live by means of the Spirit and the word of God, the power sources for the spiritual life of the Church-age believer. We are believers, regenerated and made new creatures in Christ, indwelt by the Trinity, declared perfectly righteous, sealed with the Spirit, but still living with that body of sin and death. The flesh is still with us, and will be until the day we die. Just as we were condemned at birth and were helpless and depraved and in need of a Savior to pay the price for our sins, after salvation we are wretched in our flesh and in need of the Sanctifier who will apply the power of the Cross to our body of sin. Unless we learn to ignore the idea that self will ever change self, we will not enter into the rest of experiencing spiritual deliverance in Christ. Our human condition will not catch up with our perfect position, until we are out of these bodies and receive the new body of life. That time will not come until Jesus Christ comes back in the clouds for us. In the meantime, we can still be glad that God made an end of the Adam that we were, and started new with the new Man Jesus Christ. He has placed in us the new Man Christ as a new spiritual species, filled us with His Spirit and said, “walk only by means of the newness that cannot sin.” (COL 2:6-7). Notice that we are not instructed to walk in Him by means of grace through faith until first we have been firmly rooted, and built up, and established in our doctrines. The path of faith is the most hateful path possible for the flesh. Faith gives the flesh no place to go; it leaves no part for man’s plans or resolutions or the energy of the flesh. The flesh will go to any degree of religious self-denial, or self-inflicted sufferings, anything but death! However, faith begins with this: That we died with Christ, and now we live in Him. We have no righteousness of our own, only His. When we are weak, then we are strong.
            The battle of Romans chapter 7 is necessary before living in the freedom of chapter 8. This type of doctrine is designed for you to change your attitude toward yourself, if it needs to be changed, in certain areas. Mental attitudes are even more important than facts. If you don't have the right mental attitude, then even the right facts don't matter (PRO 14:12). Your life is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the mental attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens. Remember that life is not what you make it; it is how you take it! A great mental attitude not only gives you greater discernment, but it allows you to perceive opportunities in your life that have always been there but have gone unnoticed. Any problem facing us is not as important as our mental attitude toward it, for that mental attitude determines our success or failure. This is why the way you think about a situation may defeat you before you ever do anything about it. You cannot forget PHI 4:13 “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” If you have a positive mental attitude and constantly strive to give your best effort, eventually you will overcome your immediate problems and find you are ready for even greater challenges. Mental attitude is your acceptance of the natural and the spiritual laws designed by God, or your rejection of them. We cannot change our past, we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way, we cannot change the inevitable; however, we can change our mental attitude toward these things. If you can't change your fate, change your mental attitude. Develop a mental attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation. Adventure isn't hanging on a rope off the side of a mountain. Adventure is an attitude that we must apply to the day to day obstacles of life. The only difference between a good day and a bad day is our attitude. Consider how much more you often suffer from your mental attitude than from those very things for which you are angry and grieved about. Think of how much more painful are the consequences of a bad mental attitude than the causes of it. One of the greatest discoveries of Bible doctrine is that we can alter our lives by altering our mental attitudes. This is why Paul said in ROM 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” Even spiritually adult believers can be in danger when they have a mental attitude test because it may knock them out of living the spiritual life if they are not humble enough to receive correction and recognize it. You know when you have failed the mental attitude test when you enter into the sins of the tongue which inevitably will also lead to overt sins.
            So, when you are advancing toward an objective, you must be alert. Your alertness, comes from objective, not subjective thinking. Remember that we are warned not to be arrogant: GAL 6:3 “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” 1CO 10:12 “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” PRO 26:12 “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Paul said in 1CO 8:1-3,“Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.”
            Now, when we deal with the mental attitude being filled with positive thoughts and not negative, this is not positive thinking. Focusing on the positive does not mean ignoring the negative. It is unrealistic and detrimental to deny that negative things exist in our lives. A positive mental attitude is determined more by how you respond to situations than by how you perceive them. There is no beneficial value in refusing to see or acknowledge your problems. In fact, that is very harmful. A positive mental attitude is not achieved by turning a blind eye to the negative, but rather by responding to every situation in the most positive way possible. See negative things for what they are, and then respond with positive action. Acknowledge and accept the problems, the difficulties, the shortcomings, the abuses, and then do something positive about them.
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