Monday, September 9, 2019
One Man, Two Personalities
“Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Romans 7:15–24 NIV).
Reflecting back on his life and the awful period of substance abuse, Johnny Cash said in 1975, “I know that the hand of God was never off me, no matter what condition I was in, for there is no other way to explain my escaping the many, many accidents I had.”
By his own estimation he had wrecked virtually every car he ever owned, totaled two jeeps and a camper, and overturned two tractors and a bulldozer. He sank two boats in separate incidents and once leaped from a truck just before it went over a 600-foot cliff.
After long, frenzied drug binges, just before he drifted off into unconsciousness, Cash sometimes heard a quiet voice say, “I am your God. I am still here. And I am still waiting. I still love you.”
Not every drug addict or alcoholic wants to leave that life behind. Some actually find a form of comfort in that darkness.
God was ready to change the singer’s life, but Cash was not quite ready for the Lord to do that. So, the struggle continued.
Cash often vowed to change, to go back to church and be the kind of man his brother Jack would have been and would want him to be. But he always relapsed. His body’s craving for amphetamines overruled His heart’s desire for righteousness. It was a true Jekyll-and-Hyde existence.
Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” (John 5:2–6 NKJV)
Why would Jesus ask a man in that condition if he wants to be made well? Wouldn’t it be obvious?
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, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. (Romans 8:5–7 NKJV)
Where do the pursuit of worldly pleasures and the desires of the flesh inevitably lead?
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? (Romans 7:15–24 NIV)
Have you ever experienced a Jekyll-and-Hyde existence where there are two warring opponents within? What is the answer to the question Paul poses in the verses above?
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Johnny Cash’s life is loaded with examples of God’s extreme mercy, overwhelming love, and unexpected grace. It demonstrates that no matter how many times we regress, relapse, or revert to old sins, God stands ready to welcome back His sons and daughters as a loving heavenly Father. Read about Johnny’s life in my new book!
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