Early Mornings… or One Reason Why Preaching the Gospel to Yourself Is So Important

I honestly think that I am a morning person.  There is something I enjoy about being awake before others and listening to the secrets of the morning as they are chased away with the darkness by the rising sun.  Many mornings, however, I wake up mumbling at my alarm clock, whining inwardly (because I can’t form coherent words yet) that I want to sleep for ten more minutes, and headed for the coffee machine with anything but a good attitude.  When 6:30 a.m. rolls around, I’ve had my shower, put on my make-up, packed my lunch, and had (or am working on) my coffee.  I’m awake, but now feel defeated.  I know I’m human, and so am designed to need sleep (and to feel physically oppressed when I don’t get enough).  I don’t mind as much that I’m tired… I just wish I weren’t sinful at the same time.

I do not understand my own actions.  For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.

An early morning bad attitude is not my only — or most serious — sin struggle.  At 6:30a.m., I know this too.  In the forecast for the day I see frustrations at work and exhausted patience, I see complaining instead of thanksgiving, I see me seeking pity when I should seek God.  Early morning grumbling is just an early morning reminder that more temptations and more sin are headed in my direction.

Paul knew this feeling too, I think. After he writes about his struggle (see Romans 7: 15, 19 above) he exclaims, ‘Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?’

Often, I stop there and finish my coffee with a resolve to try to do better.  That’s not where Paul stops, though:

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!…

There is therefore now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.  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, HE CONDEMNED SIN in the flesh, 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…

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.  BUT if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

(Romans 7:25; 8:1-4, 9-11; emphasis mine)

So, instead of guilt, I have the Spirit.  God has condemned sin; God has set free; God has reconciled; God has done it.  My salvation is sure because of the Spirit of Christ in me, not my strength living in me.   My justification does not come from me but because Christ was condemned for me.  My forgiveness rests on God’s past dealing with sin, not my ability to subdue sin in my heart.  I cannot balance out my bad attitude with good actions, nor can I make up for my sin by insisting on feeling guilty.  The hope I have for salvation is my hope for daily renewal: that to those who have the Spirit of God dwelling in them, God will give “life to [their] mortal bodies” just as sure as he raised Christ from the dead.

My answer for 6:30 a.m. feelings of defeat is that Christ has conquered.  My hope for conquering 5:30 a.m. grumbling is that the Spirit lives in me.

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