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A nation at war within itself cannot fight a war against its neighbours, or better still, as Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.”  The apostle Paul wrote to us honestly and frankly about a war that was waging within himself when in Romans 7 he confessed of his difficulty in doing the things he ought to do and his doing of the things he ought not to do.  So he wrote:  So I find this law at work:  When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.

If there is such a war within you, that is, the law of sin versus the law of your mind, then it is impossible for your mind to conform with the law of the mind, no more than it is possible for a government to govern properly if there are rebels waging an evil war within the country.  So let us just look at a few definitions. 

What are the laws that Paul spoke of?  Firstly, what isthis law’:  When I want to do good, evil is right there with me?  This law exists in our flesh because we ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the substance of that fruit was digested and absorbed and it became the substance of our flesh as well.  Because it is the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, then we find that our flesh is affected by its law.  What is the law then?  Is it the law of sin?  It sounds like it, but it is not.  It is actually the law of good and evil, which is what some religions call ‘yin and yang’.  And this law, as stated by Paul, goes like this:  When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  If you want to state it another way, you could say, “When I want to do evil, good is right there with me.” 

So this law that Paul was speaking of that was the cause of his conundrum, a law we subjected our flesh to when we ate of the fruit from that tree we were commanded not to eat from, subjected his flesh to the law of sin.  The law of sin at work in the members of our flesh, that no matter what we do whether good or evil, is we will die because that was the ‘reward’ or consequence of eating of the fruit according to God’s word.  You see, what God says always is.  So if God had said that we would live after we ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, we would have lived, but because He said, “…you will surely die,” we died.  Since the essence of the command of Genesis 2.16-17 is “…you must not… die,” disobedience brought death.  So the law of sin dictates whosoever disobeys must die.  The knowledge of good and evil that now forms our flesh then dictates by its law that wherever there is good there is also evil, and wherever there is evil there is good, and whether you do good or evil as a man or woman, you die because of the sin.

Thus, the war waged within a man’s mind is that whether he does good or evil, he still dies, and to his mind this is meaningless, as Solomon found out for himself, writing:  As it is with the good man, so with the sinner…  This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun:  The same destiny overtakes all.  It is because of this same destiny for both good and evil men alike through the law of sin and death, the mind of every man is at war.  The war is not whether one decides to do good or to do evil, but rather, the war is waged as to the ‘meaninglessness’ of life because all share the same destiny.

Thus, in the law of the mind all who are descendants of Adam are waging this war.  A war to find meaning to life through the futility of doing good because evil is always there, as well as the injustice of those who do evil, for still the destiny and the fate is the same – death.  As such, the mind of a son of Adam struggles to find any meaning to life.  Hence, despite all his wisdom, the only conclusion Solomon could come to is that all things are meaningless, and he came to this final conclusion:  Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

A millennium later, Paul found himself in the same struggle as he realised that his flesh with its inheritance from Adam and its inherent laws continued to wage war against his mind, and as he wrote, this war was making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.  If he was a prisoner, then he had no freedom, and if he was not free, he remained a slave, and as such would have no part of the Family.  You see, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.  Now a slave has no permanent place in the Family, but a son belongs to it forever.”

What Paul found was that if he lived to do good, evil was right there, and he could not break the association of good and evil no matter how he lived.  Worse still, whenever he tried to do good, the doing of good activated within him, that is, within the members of his body, the law of sin producing death.  That is, whenever he tried to do good he started dying.  Listen again.  Whenever he started to do good he started to die, and as such, it made him a prisoner of the law of sin at work within his members.  He found himself subject to death just as those who were doing evil were subject to death.  And so his mind was warred against on the meaning of his life.  If he was still subject to death, then he has no permanent place in the Family of Life, for God gives life and Jesus is the Life, and if he was truly in the Family, he should stop dying.  Now since the law of sin and death within his members was producing the effect of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil as he did good, it meant he had no permanent place in the Family.  If the good that Paul sought to do still produced death, then in truth he had no place in the Family of Life.  And so he concluded for us and for himself this:  Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Then he gave us the answer:  Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

Paul was not speaking of salvation, for he wrote as one saved but yet unable to win the war that waged within him between the law of sin and death and the law of the mind.  What Paul found for us and for himself is that through Jesus Christ we who are born again of the spirit by the Spirit now followed a new law, the law of the Spirit of Life, if we lived in accordance with the Spirit by having our minds set on what the Spirit desires.  And within the conflict of Romans 8, Paul tells us what the Spirit desires:  …because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of Sonship.  The decree of the Spirit is that we follow Him and are led by Him, just as Christ was led by Him.  Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert…

You see, the evidence that you too are a natural born son of God is not whether you belong to a church or the church, or whether you do good or evil, not even if you believe in Jesus, but whether, like Jesus, you are led by the Spirit from the beginning of your walk as Jesus was.  You may find this foreign, that not even faith in Jesus counts at this level, but you should not, for we are not talking about salvation and we are not even talking about sonship, but rather we are now speaking of the quality of your sonship.

You see, you may say, and I hope you can now see, that the prodigal son of Luke 15 did evil when he left and squandered his wealth, and his brother did what was good as he stayed home and worked his share.  But neither of them was a source of joy, and worse still, not a source of glory to their father.  Both remained a source of grief and shame to the father.  What a shame it was for the father to be spoken to by a son who said, “ ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving…’ ”  What a shame for a father who had to go out and plead with him.  The fact a father has to plead with a son is shame enough, much less being spoken back to.  And in the other parable, one son said what was evil by saying, “ ‘I will not,’ ” and did good by changing his mind and went and did what the father asked.  Whereas the son who said, “ ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go,” said a good thing but did an evil thing, thus proving himself to be a liar.  See again, these four sons did good or evil, said good or evil, but for all their good or evil, the effect on the father was the same – a source of grief and shame, not a source of joy, and worse of all, not a source of glory.

It is obvious then that the war is won when you are no longer subject to the law that dictates the presence of good with evil and evil with good.  The war is won when you refuse to have anything to do with good or evil whilst you have life, for when does good or evil matter?  It does not matter whilst you live; it matters when you have died.  For it only matters at the judgment after you have died.  Hear of what Jesus said, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”  Since you and I are not in the grave, then whilst there is life good and evil does not matter, life matters, for the Lord came to give us life and life abundantly, as He said, For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom He is pleased to give it.”  And, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”

Since death came from disobedience (sin) to the command not to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, then to cross over from death is to leave all knowledge of good and evil to be innocent of good and evil as if we never ate of it, and to enter life as if it is the only fruit we ever ate.  Thus, anyone who eats the flesh of Jesus and drinks His blood has in truth eaten of the fruit of the Tree of Life and being cut off from the law that defines good and evil, we are now subject only to life and the law of the Spirit of Life.

All this sounds fine and well and has been taught and quoted in countless sermons, yet the church remains obsessed with good and evil as well as the eternity that follows death.  So you have this paradox:  We say we are subject to the Spirit of Life and yet we all plan for death.  We live in expectation of dying and we are forever concerned about good and evil.  We keep bringing up the very result of our rebellion, the very effect of the rebellion, of the law of good and evil that now governs our flesh rather than the result and effect of Jesus’ resurrection, which is the law of life.  The reason for this is because we missed what Paul wrote:  …those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  Paul did not say that it is our hearts, our might or our souls, but our minds, and this is where having the mind of Christ, the mind of the natural born Son, is all that is needed to end this war within us.  The mind of the Son who went and searched for His lost brother and brought him back to share His inheritance with him, and the mind of the Son who said yes and did what He said.

As long as we are still in the mindset of a slave, friend, believer, disciple, child or adopted son, we are not set free from this war and we cannot be the peacemakers that we are meant to be.  As Jesus has said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”

Thus, the real life of the son that we claim to be can only be evidenced if we are capable of making peace.  For that is how Jesus defined the sons of God before He defined who are His brothers and sisters.  Thus, those brothers and sisters of Jesus who are also really sons and daughters of God as He is the Son of God are those who are peacemakers.  And how can anyone be a peacemaker unless he has first stopped the war that rages within him, the war between the law of sin and the law of the mind that Paul spoke of?

That peace between the law of sin and death and the law of the mind is made the moment our minds are renewed and our thinking is changed to that of a natural born son who, like Christ, has only on his mind the desire to obey and glorify the Father.  Jesus is the Way a son who wants to obey and glorify the Father must live.  He is the Truth by which we measure all claims of sonship.  He is the Truth who judges and decides as to what is true and what is false when it comes to the reality of a real natural born son, not those other four who are in the two parables.  And He is the Life of the natural born son who is well pleasing because he obeys and glorifies his Father.

Once we make that peace by total disengagement from good and evil, having nothing to do with the knowledge that comes from that tree, then our flesh is no longer able to wage war against our mind.  Our mind, having been set on what the Spirit desires, will then have nothing to do with good and evil, for God is good, not good and evil.  Led by the Spirit, set on His desires, the mind of the ones who are born of the Spirit are then free to grow, to grow from children of the Spirit to sons of the Spirit who cry out, “Abba Father.”  This freedom that comes from the mindset of the natural born son ensures a permanent place for all who have made the peace in the Family of Life.

From that moment on, you will find that your thoughts are focussed on life, not death; on doing what God does, not doing good or evil, for what God does, whatever God does, gives life and is good.  Your concern is about living, not dying, and if living is all you have in mind, that you can never enter Heaven through death, but by your life you are already in Heaven.  For the mind that is set on what the Spirit desires, or as Paul wrote:  …the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace… because that mind releases the power of God that is in His thoughts, and the thoughts of God, I remind you, are for good, for hope, for future and for life. The peace is because there is no war with the law of sin that draws its definition from the Mosaic Law.  The mind that is controlled by the Spirit will never permit speech that is against the Spirit, and as such the one whose mind is controlled by the Spirit can never sin against the Spirit.  A mind that is controlled by the Spirit is the beginning of the manifestation of the mind of Christ.

So we see a separation, a setting apart, a holiness, from those whose minds are set on the sinful nature and because of that setting are subject to the war between the law of sin in the members of their body against the law of the mind.  And those whose minds are being controlled by the Spirit have the law of the mind of Christ, which seeks to glorify the Father only.  Those whose mind are set on glorifying the Father are holy and remain holy under the law of absolute holiness, even when they become sin and the sin offering.  It is this absolute holiness of the mind, heart, soul and might of Christ to glorify the Father that allowed the Holy Spirit to declare Him Son of God by His power, raising Him from the dead as the Spirit of Holiness.  So the two are separated with a chasm fixed in between.  Those whose existence is governed by the manifestation of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil in their flesh are forever waging a war with their minds that cry, “Meaningless, meaningless… all things are meaningless, for the destiny of the good and the evil are the same.”

Those whose existence is governed only by that which brings God glory and joy have their minds set on life and peace.  Life in their flesh and peace between their flesh and their mind, for they are not subject to the judgment that is based on knowing what is good and evil, but rather are subject only to the judgment reserved for sons for whom there is no condemnation.

You see, the son who lost his share was not condemned.  The son who spoke up against his father was not condemned.  The son who said no and then did what his father said was not condemned.  The son who said yes and did not do it was not condemned.  They all remained sons of their father even though their father was not glorified.  There is indeed then no condemnation for all who are in Christ Jesus who are sons of God, but will there be commendation for them?  Can it be said of them as it was said of Jesus, “beloved Son with whom I am well pleased”?  That is up to each and every one of us independently, for at this level of your growth it is not about salvation or condemnation, it is not about punishment or reward, it is not about a share of the inheritance, it is all about pleasing your Father so that His joy is complete and He is glorified before all and sundry, especially before His enemies and friends.  So the command of Jesus to Peter, “You must follow Me,” is not a command but a most earnest encouragement for those who are His brothers and sisters who seek to be well pleasing to the Father, for Jesus alone knows the way and the life of the well pleasing Son, and that is the truth about Him.  Amen

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