This meditation is Part 1 of a three-part series of meditations on Romans 6-8.
In Genesis 25 we read of the birth of Jacob and Esau. Isaac was Abraham’s son and Jacob’s (Israel’s) father. Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah. Though Isaac was the heir of the covenant God had with Abraham, he had produced no heir. Isaac’s wife, Rebekah was childless so Isaac prayed for his wife. God heard Isaac’s prayer and Rebekah conceived after almost twenty years of marriage to Isaac.
And, it was a difficult pregnancy for Rebekah: “But the children struggled together within her; and she said, ‘If it is so, why then am I this way?’ So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her: ‘Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples will be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger.'” (Genesis 25:22-23, NASB).
This struggle not only represented the struggle that the nation of Israel would have throughout its history with the tribes and nations surrounding it, the struggle also typifies the human condition at a very personal level. Human beings are rebellious and disobedient toward God and in need of God’s mercy and salvation. And when they receive God’s grace, there is a struggle for domination within the human mind. The rebellious and disobedient self tries to dominate the faithful and obedient self.
As a Christian, you experience life from parallel universes: the spiritual reality of the Kingdom of God and the physical reality of the world in which you live. Your citizenship is in heaven while you live out your days on earth (Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 13:14). When the unseen world of God’s Kingdom is revealed to you, your expectations for the future begin to impact how you live in the present. In other words, you start to live in the present reality according to the way things will be in the future. You start living for the future in the present because you are the beneficiary of a not yet received but presently conceived future.
So, the Christian life is a struggle. It’s a tale of two dominions, a struggle for the domination of the mind. And, like Rachel we ask God if this is the way it is supposed to be. The answer, of course, is the same answer as God gave Rachel: There are two people in you! The new person, the spiritual self, is stronger than the old self, the flesh, and the old self should serve the new self.
Yet, it doesn’t always play out that way in our daily lives.
The problem we face is who’s in control, the old self or the new self, the world or God’s Kingdom? “We have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.” (Romans 6:4-5, NASB).
When you become a Christian, you become engaged in a struggle within yourself. It’s a struggle that occurs mostly in your mind. And, the struggle isn’t about your salvation, though in your mind you may think it is. The struggle is about control of your mind, having a mind that’s renewed by Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:23).
To win the battle for your mind, to mitigate this duality dilemma, you have to know who or what you are serving: “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for disobedience; you are slaves of the one whom you obey…and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:16,18).
Christians are people who hold dual citizenships, in the present and in the future. We live in the present world but live for the world to come! “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.” (Romans 6:22).
Although the world we are living in is incongruent with the world we are living for, we resolve this incongruency, this duality dilemma, by living your life in this present world as if it is preparation for the life to come–because it is!
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, NASB)