I do not know about you my friend, but the longer I go in God the harder it becomes to grow in God.  Maybe that is because the longer we go in God the more He expects of us.  The longer we go in God and the more He invests in us the more He looks at us as mature men and women of God.  It almost seems like an impossible task.  One day in Rwanda I was walking up a small volcano with steps cut into the pumice hill side and I slipped.  I was wearing a pair of penny loafers (well that is another story), but the more I struggled to get to my feet the more I slid down the volcano until I was at the bottom.  Everything seemed to have happened in slow motion. At each step I bumped and bounced to the bottom.  I am sure the Rwandans (I would not blame them I am sure it was a funny sight to see) chuckled inwardly as they saw the fat white man bouncing down the steps. The bottom is not the best place if you are trying to get to the top.  Now my destination is not the point of this story, but my effort and struggle is. If I would have stopped struggling and trying to get to my feet I would have stopped falling.  A few days later I thought about what had happened and how that parallels our battle with our carnal flesh and sin.  Paul really opens this truth up to us in the book of Romans, “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.  16If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23But 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. 24O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death25I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”  (Romans 7:14-25)  Of course Paul answers his own question in verse 25, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Only God can deliver us from our body of death.  Now I do not believe Paul was talking about our physical body as much as he was talking about the things in us that we struggle or war against within our mind, heart, and spirit. Not the devil (who most Christians blame for bad things in their lives) as much as those things that cause us to fall short of God’s best for our lives.  Those things that would kill the work of God in our lives and cause us to fall out of the everlasting way God has for us to go.  There is so much here in these verses, but I would like to focus in on the spiritual principle moving in verse 24. I can relate to what Paul is saying because I too have a “body of this death” or in my case bodies of death.  Now Paul was making a comparison to a dead body (Strong’s #4982, a dead body or corpse used in verse 24) to the warring in the members (our thoughts, plans, motives and desires) that win out and bring us into captivity.  The war is real and vivid in us.  Daily we wage war against our carnal thoughts, plans, motives, and desires in the face of knowing the right thing and path to go, yet we do not.  I can think of nothing more frustrating (personally for me) than to know the right thing to do and do it not, wait a minute is that not the definition of sin – to know right, but do wrong?

One of the biggest areas in my life where this daily happens is my love for America and this world. I know the Bibles speaks of us being strangers in this world (Hebrews 11:13 and 1 Peter 2:11) and to come out of the world and be separate (2 Corinthians 6:17) from the world, her systems, and ways, but I struggle in this.  Now I am not talking about getting drunk, smoking dope, cheating on or beating my wife, or even hating my friends and family, but I am talking about an ungodly selfish concern for America that sometimes over rides what I know to be true in God’s word and what He is doing at this time in the earth.  Maybe if I would not have served in the U.S. Navy for 24 years I would not care so much about her. Maybe if I was not so proud of how America once spread the Gospel message and provided trillions of dollars to feed and heal billions in the world I would not mind watching her slip into moral and spiritual decay as a socialistic agenda from the liberal progressives are being entrenched into main street America. But, I know what God is doing.  God has raised up President Barack Obama (God save his soul) and his administration (I wish them no harm) as a vessel of dishonor to humble and bring America to her knees, because of her disobedience, rebellion, and waywardness to Him and His words. But, I find myself kicking at the goads of what God is doing in America.  Oh America you can play fast and lose with God for only so long. We have mistaken God’s longsuffering with His faithfulness. God is not mocked America, what we sow we shall also reap and we are reaping the bad spiritual seeds that was planted in America and the church in the 1960s and 1970s.  Take heed America before God comes and removes your candle stick, thus sayeth the Lord.  I know it and believe it, yet I resist it in my heart.  I know at the heart of my frustration and struggle is my selfishness and self-life screaming to get its own way. When we struggle over matters of the heart most often it is because we are not getting our own way.  Remember, at the heart of every issue it is always an issue of our heart.  I know what God is doing, yet I reject it.  I need to change, I need not be so concerned about America and what the Democrats are doing or saying to the Republicans or vise versa.  I need not worry about the deception in both churches (the black and the white) to where color and politics are more important than God’s word. I need not worry about the economy or the political picture of America, because I know God is pulling the strings of our Government, America, and the world.  All of this is my “body of death” and only God, as I submit my heart and mind to His dealings and judgments, can deliver me.  If not it will kill my spirit and the work that I have allowed God to build in my life.  We all have our own bodies of death (maybe many) if we are true with ourselves.  For us to have the life of God in us we must allow God, “through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”  Paul tells us in Romans, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”  (Romans 8:13-14)  It is amazing to me to read we become “sons of God” and “are led by the Spirit of God” when we can “mortify the deeds of the body” (#4983 body, same word in Romans 7:24) not when we work our fingers to the bone at church, sing in the choir, or any other church activity.  I wonder why we work so hard to do things for God?  Now please do not misunderstand me here, there are some things we must do to get the gospel message out, but the work God desires to do is not found in working for Him, but us becoming His work.  In the Book of Genesis we were created in His image and today God is still creating us into His image, He has not changed His mind.  We will never become the image of God unless we can learn to “mortify” or kill the deeds of the body.  All of those things in us that maybe are not frank sin, but will keep us from growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Those things we hold to for strength, those strong holds we have built in our lives that we lean on for support.  Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5) Our “weapons” (Strong’s #3696, any tool or implement for preparing a thing) are spiritual, mighty in God for pulling down those areas in our lives that would keep us from allowing God to work in our lives, that would keep us from mortifying the deeds of our body of death.  Sadly these verses (2 Corinthians 10:4-5) have been hijacked by the hyper-spiritualist (Satan under every rock) in the Body of Christ and distorted what Paul was saying and even sadder the truth of his words have been lost.  Listen to verse 5, “Casting down imaginations” does that not sound like our flesh in deed and word? “and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God” does that not sound like we are wanting our way and the preeminence over God and what He wants?  Oh how subtle our bodies of death are.  We wrap our flesh up in a real nice Easter basket form of religion and tradition and present them to God, but His response is the same He told the Children of Isreal, I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.  22Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.  23Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. 24But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.”  (Amos 5:21-24)

This may be off the topic some what, but at the end of the 1970’s there was a deliberate switch in the religious world (God never changes) from evangelism to teaching. Christians TV really kicked in full of teaching and individual ministry programming. It is no wonder why there are so many false teachers and religions in the Body of Christ. There is more money and people to be had in teaching. Teaching allows you to manipulate people.  All of the main stream denominations exploited this opening, under the promise of sharing the Gospel, for numbers.  They quickly learned they could get in a work centered teaching religion which exploded leading many Christians out of God and into a man-centered, non-spiritual, emotional driven, denominational theologies that has divided the Body of Christ and carved up the world (getting their own piece of the pie) with their own brand and teaching of the Bible. This is so far from what God wants. (yes, I am speaking for God) This is so far from what the Bibles says. Remember a false teacher is still a teacher, but they and what they teach is still false.  If we ever will come to know the truth about ourselves we must stop deceiving ourselves. Self-deception is a most destructive area in our lives.  One of the greatest revelations we can have in God is to know who we are in God and what our bodies of death are.  If not we will continue in our religious and traditional ways thinking all is well with our soul, but in reality we are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.  Let us daily, willfully submit our bodies to be mortified and put to 1,000 deaths so that God may live through us.