Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Ussher Article 24: Our Civil War

A friend once asked me how I was doing spiritually and when I said I was 'fine' he smiled and said that wasn't an answer, that all it stood for was; "Feelings Internal Never Expressed".
I didn't think much of it at the time but actually it highlights something really quite important, because below of the waterline of every Christian's life things are not 'fine', we are at war... with ourselves.

The Holy Spirit having brought new life to our dead bodies has provoked our flesh into declaring war on our new enlivened spirit. This means, that as the tectonic plates shift from honouring self to honouring God our flesh squirms to obscure motives, thwart godly action and wallow in sin.
This is the civil war which rages in the members of each Christian.

As Ussher so aptly put it:
Corruption of nature doth remain even in those that are regenerated, whereby the flesh always lusteth against the spirit, and cannot be made subject to the law of God. And howsoever, for Christ's sake there be no condemnation to such as are regenerate and do believe: yet doth the Apostle acknowledge that in itself this concupiscence hath the nature of sin.

Here Ussher confronts us with two things: Stunning Realism and Stunning Assurance.

Stunning Realism
Ussher's response to the question of Christian experience (this side of heaven) is not that everything is 'fine' or that sin becomes a distant memory. Rather he frankly admits the conflict we each find ourselves in so that we might be prepared and equipped to fight. For Ussher the question becomes not,"Will there be a conflict in your life" but "Will you fight? Fight for the glory of God in every area of your life?"
Thankfully we are aided in our flight by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who "teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age" (Titus 2:12). Paul earlier in this chapter of Titus also urges the church to look out for one another, pastoring, encouraging, training, and if we begin to grasp that we are all experiencing this civil war together it should arouse in us a broken hearted honesty with those close to us and a humility to help those around us.
How many Christians miss out on this opportunity to fight along side others, to share the pains and trails of these present wranglings because they fear what others will think?
The biblical image is of God's people striving together against sin until they reach that final day when we behold the Lord Jesus face to face.

In what area(s) of you life does the battle rage most?
Do you feel alone in your civil war?
Have you asked the Holy Spirit for the help to say "No" (Titus 2:12)?
Have you spoken to a godly friend or pastor?

Stunning Assurance
Earthly battles are unpredictable, a master tactician can change the fortunes of an army in moments to ensure victory... not so with our civil war.
Ussher reminds us that there is no condemnation to such as are regenerate and do believe (Rom 8:1). Justice has been served, we have been declared innocent in Christ and adopted as sons of the living God.This means that we fight daily with renewed vigour because the outcome is certain.
Our war is not against a weak enemy but it is against a defeated one and despite our constant failings and need for repentance one things stands fast... that we will no longer face God's righteous condemnation for our actions because Christ "bore our sins on his body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24)