A good name is to be desired than great wealth.
– Proverbs 22:1
My angelic-looking little tow-head had pushed my hot button all day with his mischief.
My patience finally cracked under his antics, and I ordered him into the kitchen for a “talk.” He stood there in silence, ready to take the verbal barrage he knew was coming.
“Erik,” I fumed, “I have had it with you today. You need to cut it out, now.”
To my surprise, a slow, smug smile crept across his deceitfully cherubic face. He clearly did not see the seriousness of his transgressions. I continued to lecture; his smile continued to grow. My stinging rebuke seemed to hit an invisible barrier around him and bounce right back into my face. By the time I paused for a breath, he was actually beaming.
“Erik Thorson,” I blustered in frustration, “are you even listening to me?”
“Yes, Mom,” he replied slowly, as if revealing a satisfying secret, “but I’m not Erik.”
Only then I realized I was calling Kevin, who was indeed the guilty party, by his older brother’s name. Although Kevin knew he had committed the crimes, the punishment didn’t touch him because I had directed my wrath at someone else.
In the Bible, Paul explains the mystery of salvation and the new birth of a believer in this way:
Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
– 2 Corinthians 5:17
We who have accepted the Savior’s sacrifice live in a world of conflicting natures; we are new, eternal creatures living in old, unregenerate bodies.
While our inner man is eternal, incorruptible, and cannot sin, our old natures are still subject to the enemy’s pull and get us into all kinds of trouble. This is our state until the day we either leave the old body at death, or receive our new bodies in the resurrection.
For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
– Romans 7:22-23
Paul explained although he still sinned, it was no longer him sinning, but the old nature living in his body (Romans 7:17). He went on to declare victory over and deliverance from this body of sin through the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 7:24-25).
To be sure, we’ll be fighting the old nature until we leave this earth. But we are no longer at its mercy, and we now have all the resources at hand to live outside its power. So when the voice of the accuser comes to us in a dark hour to remind us of our past transgressions, we can let them bounce off us. He may be looking at us, but he’s talking about someone else.
We can grin and reply, “But that’s not me!”
And we’ll be telling the truth.
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
– Romans 7:24-25