Soul in Conflict

Scripture: Romans 6:16, Romans 7:15-25, Romans 8:13
The spiritual conditions of mankind at are a low ebb. God is calling people to respond to His will. There are two powers in our world pulling on our hearts. Whoever we respond to will have our loyalty.
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Night had fallen in Jerusalem. The aged priest in the temple and his youthful assistant had retired for the night. As they lay sleeping, a voice called Samuel, the young man who was helping the old priest. Samuel, being an obedient servant, arose from his place of slumber and went immediately to the side of the priest, Eli. "Here am I," said the young man, but the priest was surprised for he hadn't called the lad. When this thing happened the third time, Eli realized that the call must surely be the voice of God talking to Samuel and he instructed him to go back and lie down again, but he added these words: "If the voice shall call again, you answer and say, "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth." So again Samuel went back to his bed and for the fourth time that same voice spoke to him. This time Samuel responded as he had been instructed. He said, "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth." The voice of God had spoken to Samuel.

Friends, this is the story of God's call to Samuel to be a prophet and spiritual leader in the time when Israel desperately needed divine leadership. It was a time of spiritual decline in Israel. The political and social conditions of the time demanded some real leadership and God would call His people through this humble lad and his voice would be heard guiding the affairs of his people.

Today in a world of turmoil and strife the spiritual conditions of mankind are at their lowest ebb. God's voice is still calling men everywhere to respond to His will. There are at work this very moment strange almost mysterious powers working on the minds of men. Voices, although unheard with the natural ear, are constantly calling for the attention of man. The souls of man are in constant conflict. The Bible tells us there are but two powers in the world. Paul speaks of these two powers clearly in Romans 6:16. We're told that whichever voice we listen to, whichever power we serve, will be the voice that directs us and the power that controls our lives. Perhaps today, you find your own soul in conflict. Perhaps you have a problem that seems too difficult to solve. Perhaps in your heart right now there's a deep longing for a better way of life-you deeply desire to serve God but somehow you find it well nigh impossible. Possibly some habit in life has entwined itself around your soul and life so deeply that you just find it impossible to make that break with sin. You have a deep desire for a better way of life. Your intentions are the very best but you somehow fail on every hand in this constant struggle to be free. Is there no help, no hope for you at all? Can you ever be free? Turn in your Bible and read Romans 7:15-25 if you want to know the story of another man who was struggling to be free. Paul speaks and in essence he says this: I find that my soul is in conflict. The very things that I know to be good and right and which I want to do and follow are the very things I fail to do. I also find the things I hate, to be the very things I find myself doing so often. "Oh, wretched man that I am," Paul cried out.

Thus, we see that the apostle Paul also found his soul in conflict and faced the very same problem that we face every day. Now Paul is speaking here of that same struggle and conflict that you and I need to learn how to deal with and cope with. There is a voice of God speaking and then there's the voice of Satan calling us. Since man is by nature a sinner, he finds it much easier to listen to and follow that voice of Satan than he does the voice of God. Little by little he finds that by following the way of Satan he becomes a slave to the devil and to his way. And now with the voice of God revealing to him a better way of life, he's constantly trying to free himself from the domination of that evil power. The struggle for the supremacy in the heart and life of man has begun. In Romans 7:25 we read that Paul finally found peace and freedom for his soul through the Lord Jesus Christ who set him free. Paul realized that while there was nothing good in him, yet Jesus had set him free from sin and from the power of that evil over his life. Now herein we find the answer to our soul's struggle.

We come to Christ by faith. We confess our sins to Him. We determine to walk fully in His way. But almost before we've taken the first step in this new way of life, we find ourselves falling back into that old former way. The voice of God has called us and we've responded, but the voice of Satan is there also calling us, and wooing us, and by our very natures we seem to find it easier to incline toward him. It seems that victory through Christ is just about impossible as far as we're concerned. Alright, what are we going to do about this situation, friends?

We get up in the morning and start out with every good desire and resolution. We say, "Today, I'm not going to sin. I'm going to practice very hard at being a Christian," but almost before we realize it, we've sinned again. Some old habit of life from the old human nature has risen up and we've fallen back again into defeat. Day after day goes by just like this one and soon we get the feeling that there really isn't much use in trying. We've tried so hard and failed so miserably that there's just really not much hope for us-why not just give up and forget it all? Haven't you felt that way? Of course, that's the natural human feeling.

You know, I'm reminded of the legend once told that illustrates this condition of life so beautifully. The legend says that there was once a wolf who lived on the side of a mountain. Every morning he observed a shepherd in the valley below as he brought his flock out to graze-his flock of sheep. Now the wolf would watch all this with fascination as the shepherd took care of those sheep and their every need. The shepherd led them to the very best grass; he guided them to the best water; when the sun was high and hot, he led them to the shade; at night he made sure the sheep had a warm safe place to sleep. Finally the wolf decided that he would like to become a sheep. He'd like to have the shepherd take care of his needs also, but the question came up, how could he become a sheep? How could he ever get to the place where he could be enough like the sheep to have the shepherd take care of him. Now the only way he could think of was to just work hard at it. He'd just have to practice doing the things the sheep did, so that he could qualify to be one of them.

So the legend tells how he worked diligently at the task. Day after day he worked faithfully, earnestly, and carefully; he tried so fully to do everything just as he saw the sheep doing it. Now I'm sure that if somebody happened along and would have asked the wolf how he was coming along at his task of becoming a sheep, we might have heard him answer this way, "Well, I'm just doing the very best I can. I'm working so very hard at it." But listen, friends, that wolf could never become a sheep even if he practiced night and day for all his life. If by some means he could have been granted a hundred years-even a thousand years of life he would have been no closer to becoming a sheep by practicing at the end of his life than he was the day he started. It would take a miracle from God to make a wolf into a sheep. We all agree to that. Well, that brings to mind the words of Jeremiah-Jeremiah 13:23. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil." I also remember the words of Jesus found in Matthew 7:18. "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit."

Now Paul has this to say in Romans 8:5-9 and this has a lot to do with the subject under discussion. "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." Note how beautifully this explains the difference between our two natures and the reason for this terrible internal struggle that's taking place in every human heart. We're taught in the Bible that through the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve's, we've inherited their sinful natures.

We're also taught that not only do we inherit their sinful natures but their penalty of sin as well which is death. In Exodus 20:5 we learn that the weakness and sinfulness of men are passed down through their succeeding generations thus we're sinners by choice. We've all sinned. Having been born in the flesh, we naturally and easily fall prey to the things of the flesh, things that are quite contrary to the Word of God and the things of God. But while we're following the natural ways of our heart which are leading us further and further into sin, the voice of God speaks to us. We feel the pleadings of the Holy Spirit and we have a desire to come to him and become a christian and be a member of the family of Christ. We come to realize the full truth of Paul's statements in 1 Corinthians 15:22, 47. The family of Adam is by birth and choice a family of sinners. As such they're all headed towards eternal death-the wages of sin is death. If we remain in this family, living according to that which comes easily and naturally for us, we know that our lot will be death. And we also know that those who come into the family of Christ will be made alive again. No longer guided by the natural worldly powers, the children of God through Christ Jesus will be directed by heavenly influences.

But what is perhaps even more joyous is the truth that all who are in the family of Christ will have the assurance that a place in heaven waits for them when Jesus comes again. Thus, it's very important that we somehow get out of this family of Adam, this lost and dying family, this family of sin, and get into the family of Christ, the family of life. Our eternal destiny depends upon which family we remain a member of. But how can we do it, friends? Here's where our soul finds a conflict, but there's no need of this conflict any longer. God has made ample provision that our soul be set free. The conflict is already over. Here is the simple secret of the freedom of the soul from conflict. Paul calls this process by which we leave the family of sin and come into the family of Christ an adoption. This is one of the finest texts in the Bible, Romans 8:13. It says that we are adopted into the family of Christ and we become a joint heir with Jesus, all the glories and blessings that belong to Him. This is the very heart, the very secret of success in christian living. We begin to look like the adopted Father, even our Lord Jesus Christ and our Saviour. By nature we're sinners but we're taken into His family and we begin to look like the family into which we've been adopted. We begin to look like the children of God. How wonderful this is!

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