OT: 2 Chron. 6:12-8:10
Solomon's speech today sounds a lot like the one we heard in 1 Kings. I love the recurring theme of man's repentance and God's forgiveness. Solomon repeatedly beseeches God to take the people back when they stray, and after he asks all this, God confirms that He will.
Like Solomon, I am also blown away by the fact that the God of the universe chooses to dwell among men. It amazed Solomon that God would choose to put His Spirit in the temple (6:18). How much more amazing is it that God chooses to dwell in human bodies, these "jars of clay" (2 Cor. 4:7).
NT: Romans 7:14-8:8
Ah, the famous "do-do" passage, as my brother always called it. It is a pain to read out loud, but the message is profound. And yet, what is the message?
As a teenager, when I read this passage, I immediately fell in love. It really seemed that in verses 14-25, Paul "got" what I was going through as a human. Like Paul, I did not understand the things I did. For what I wanted to do, I did not do, and I instead did the things that I hated. As a teenage Christian, my life seemed like a constant war between my own desires and God's teachings. And I took great solace in the fact that Paul understood that feeling. Furthermore, I took solace in the fact that that feeling was normal.
Then I went to college and took a Greek class, and something that my professor said there rocked my world. He said that Romans 7 was meant to describe a pre-Christian life. It described life under the law--that same law that Paul has clearly said no longer applies to his audience. Romans 7 is meant to contrast with Romans 8, which tells us that we are set free from all that struggling and guilt. And honestly, I think my professor was right. I think that that is what the text is saying. In fact, I think that it is quite obvious that the text is saying that.
And yet, that's not what my life looks like. I can still relate to Romans 7. Is that bad? That's bad, right? I'm supposed to be free from all that law stuff, right?
The way I have come to reconcile my Romans 7 existence with my Romans 8 dreams is by understanding transformation as a two-level process. Hebrews 10:14 describes it very clearly to me: "...by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." Note the verb tenses. That verse is helpful to read alongside Romans 8:3-4, which tells us that God sent his son "in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit." The way I take the concept of transformation is that Christ's blood covers us and makes us "perfect" before God. In other words, his blood fully meets "the righteous requirement of the law." However, learning to live according to the Spirit takes time. It is a process. As the Hebrew writer says, we are being made holy. And I must say that I feel less Romans-7-ish than I did as a teenager. I do believe that God has been refining me and purifying me. I still have so far to go (oh...so far....), but seeing where I've come from makes me very hopeful.
A psalm in which David praises God for His deliverance.
Proverbs 19: 24-25
The first proverb blasts laziness, while the second contrasts the discipline needed for a foolish man and wise man.