One of the most humbling aspects of the human dilemma is that too often we consent to the right but find ourselves trapped in or at least struggling with the wrong. This is discussed in Rom 7:
Rom 7:21 . . . I find it to be a law [–> of reliable observation, a law of human nature] that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. [ESV]
Here, we begin with a painful reliable fact: moral struggle. We consent to the right but often find it a struggle to do that right. Too often, a failing struggle.
The apostle then resorts to a grim image that we are told comes from a peculiar roman practice. Binding a murderer to the corpse of his victim, as a means of execution by infection. The implication is, who will rescue (undeserving) me? The answer comes back, Messiah, through the grace of God in the gospel.
It is worth pausing to again note just how inescapable the seven-plus first duties of reason are:
We can readily identify at least seven inescapable first duties of reason. Inescapable, as they are so antecedent to reasoning that even the objector implicitly appeals to them; i.e. they are self-evident. Duties, to truth, to right reason, to prudence, to sound conscience, to neighbour, so also to fairness and justice etc. Such built in law is not invented by parliaments or courts, nor can these principles and duties be abolished by such. (Cf. Cicero in De Legibus, c. 50 BC.) Indeed, it is on this framework that we can set out to soundly understand and duly balance rights, freedoms and duties; which is justice. The legitimate main task of government, then, is to uphold and defend the civil peace of justice through sound community order reflecting the built in, intelligible law of our nature. Where, as my right implies your duty a true right is a binding moral claim to be respected in life, liberty, honestly aquired property, innocent reputation etc. To so justly claim a right, one must therefore demonstrably be in the right. Thus, too, we may compose sound civil law informed by that built-in law of our responsibly, rationally free morally governed nature; from such, we may identify what is unsound or false thus to be reformed or replaced even though enacted under the colour and solemn ceremonies of law.
That is the backdrop for the great escape:
Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.[a]
2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you[b] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.
8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[d] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
This is of course the challenge of spiritual rebirth in Christ through penitent faith and transformational growth through the life of spiritual renewal and growth as a disciple.
Perhaps, Titus 2 captures this exceptionally well:
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
What relevance is this? First, it calls us to attend to eternity, and to the needs of our spiritual nature, with moral struggle as a key diagnostic. Yes, many are inclined to brush these aside, nevertheless, quietly, there they stand. We would be well advised to heed the call of the Spirit.
Second, such points to the only realistic path to reformation and positive, heart-softening transformation: counter-culture that salts and lights the wider community. Here, Eph 4 is highly illuminating:
Eph 4:11 And he [the one who came, descending and ascending in rder to fill all things, cf vv 9 – 10] gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds[c] and teachers,[d] 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,[e] to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ
Here, we see Christ giving spiritual leaders who equip us to function as a mature church, a manifestation of Christ’s body in its fulness. Where, such a church should consciously see itself as an embassy of the Kingdom of Heaven amidst a world in chaotic turmoil caused by rebellion, a bastion of the truth in love. As one result, those who are mature have discernment so they are not easily caught up in the spin, gaslighting and con games of any given age.
Accordingly, the Apostle continues:
17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.
19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.
20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,[f] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Side-note: it is unsurprising, then, to see resistance to truth, benumbed, callous addiction to en-darkening lies and to to wrong. Something has to wake us up, rebirth.
This points to a spiritual agenda for church and community, as transformation begins to shift the balance of factions:
In turn that calls for us to refocus the Heb 6:1 – 2 foundations:
These, collectively, are transformational. END