Twelve years ago, my oldest daughter Anna was diagnosed with strep throat. Nothing out of the ordinary. But before it was treated, she coughed into her hand and scratched a mosquito bite on the lower part of her leg.
The next day, her bite looked a little swollen. My wife Kelley expressed concern about it, but we decided to give it one more day before doing anything about it.
The next morning, Anna’s leg was swollen from her ankle to her knee. It was obvious that something was wrong, so we rushed to the hospital. I won’t go into detail, but that was probably the worst day of our lives—that same day our baby Allie came down with an ear infection that burst her eardrum and Kelley miscarried our third child.
When we brought Anna into the children’s ward, the doctors looked extremely concerned. They began pumping her body with antibiotics, but none of them were working.
“We have one more antibiotic we want to try,” the doctor reluctantly confessed. “It’s extremely strong, but nothing else has been effective. If this doesn’t work and the infection reaches her hip, we’ll be forced to amputate her leg.”
By that point, the infection was a mere two inches away.
The doctors went to work on her, and miraculously, the antibiotic worked. One hundred years ago, she would have died.
In the midst of the crisis, the doctors told us that Anna was fighting a derivative of the flesh-eating virus. When she coughed into her hand, some of the strep infection entered her leg.
Like that flesh-eating virus, all of us fight our sinful nature—which, coincidentally, Scripture calls our “flesh.”
If you struggle with habitual sins, or if you can readily see evidence of your sinful nature at work in your life and you want the antidote, then you’ll want to join us in today’s daily Bible conversation.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
2 Chronicles 8:11-10:19. In today’s reading, Solomon’s life comes to an end. Again, the Chronicler’s intent was to portray Solomon as the second part of a double dynasty that demonstrated God’s blessing to nations who served Yahweh.
After Solomon’s son Rehoboam comes to power, it becomes obvious that Israel’s extravagant wealth was earned on the shoulders of the common people. “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you,” the people told him (2 Chronicles 10:4). Rather than lighten up on his subjects, Rehoboam follows the foolish advice of his friends and threatens to cast an even heavier hand than his father. Because of his arrogance, Rehoboam lost most of the kingdom.
While it’s easy criticize “foolish” Rehoboam, I must admit that I share a lot in common with him. In my twenties I was pretty cocky. All too often our arrogance clouds our judgment.
Besides, what can you expect from a man who grew up with ridiculous wealth? He was likely out of touch with the people…unlike Jeroboam (for more on his background, read 1 Kings 11:26-40).
Romans 8:9-25. This is one of those passages that is best read slowly so you can glean everything you can out of it.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
All too often I forget who I am. When I mess things up, I too easily look at myself in the mirror and say, Mike, you’re such a screw-up. You’ll never get it together.
At one point in my life, I thought I was a pretty good person, but then the pendulum swung and I readily identified with Romans 1-3. While the first three chapters of Romans are true, they aren’t the last word on who we are.
In Romans 8, Paul makes a pretty bold statement: If the Spirit of God lives in you, then you aren’t controlled by your sinful nature (verse 9).
Don’t feel like it? It doesn’t matter. Regardless of how you feel, it doesn’t change this fact. The deepest part of you isn’t even you—the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ now live in you.
Paul didn’t write these words to a group of pastors—as if they were immune to the clutches of sin. He wrote it to everyone who follows Jesus.
The antidote to breaking the death-giving virus that ravages our souls is to believe that the deepest part of us isn’t our sin. The deepest part of us is Jesus, who, by the power of the Holy Spirit (who also lives in us), breaks our bondage to sin.
But God also wants us to cooperate with him. Paul tells us that we have an “obligation” to live according to the Spirit (verse 12).
So how do we deal with our sinful tendencies? Paul tells us to put them to death (verse 13). We must treat sin like a flesh-eating virus. We must be violent in dealing with it. Remove its influences. Choke it until it suffocates. Sounds violent, doesn’t it? Absolutely.
Nothing good results from our cooperation with sin. But the good news is, God has given us the antidote: his son Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.
I encourage you to meditate on the fact that if you have chosen to follow Jesus, you now have the antidote to your fight against the ravages of sin.
What spoke to you in today’s reading?
If you belong to Jesus, then sin no longer has power over you. Is that hard to believe? Why?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.