When God Failed Me
Romans 6:4-6 We were buried therefore with him… into death… just as Christ was raised from the dead…. we too might walk in newness of life. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
When I first realized I had a problem with addiction, I turned to God and the Bible to understand my condition. I knew I had followed my flesh to disaster but I did not understand why. I clearly remember reading this passage where Paul claimed that my old self had been crucified so that I may walk a new life.
I was not walking the new life though. I still had a wildly active flesh nature with an appetite for destruction. What did that mean? If being a Christian meant that the old self was dead and gone, then either I was not a Christian, or God had failed me. My addiction stood as indisputable evidence that my flesh nature was not dead. I had believed and God had not delivered. Where was God? Why had He failed me?
Several popular Christian authors told me that I had just not believed hard enough. They insisted that I had already been delivered from my flesh nature but that I had just failed to believe it. Thus, freedom lay in positive thinking. That turned out to be a joke. I prayed and strained my brain, but I could not mentally defeat my flesh nature. I returned to destruction several more times.
God failed me. Paul lied to me. My flesh nature was not dead. It was alive and well. It still is. What gives? Why do I still have destructive desires? Though an addict, my mind was working well enough to realize that if it came down to God failing me or me failing God, God was probably not at fault. I realized that the most likely thing was that the addict had gone wrong somewhere. So, I set out to understand Romans six and myself.
As I read through the New Testament several times, I realized this continual tension between the flesh life and the spirit life. Jesus taught that we were born once of the flesh and then born again in the spirit (John 3). Paul’s death and resurrection then, referred to a rebirth in our spirit lives. The death he speaks of does not refer to our physical lives. We do not die (literally or figuratively) physically when we come to know God. The death, resurrection, and new life Paul described is in the spirit life. It is in our spirit lives that we are very literally given a new, perfect existence. The problem, as Paul later points out, is that we carry this perfect spirit in a defective flesh (2 Cor. 4:7).
The truth is, God has done and always continues to do his part. He has given me a new, perfect spirit life. He has not however, made me a robot. As I am still in this imperfect body, I still have a very real flesh nature that retains destructive desires. I still have a choice. God never failed me. I failed God. I pursued my flesh nature and I met with the inevitable consequences.
God always draws near to those who draw near to him but the reciprocal is true as well. If I turn from him, He allows me to pursue myself. Because of Christ’s death on the cross though, I have this new perfect spirit life that allows me to live free from slavery to myself, if I will but pursue it. Thus, the rest of my life, in this flesh, is to be spent pursuing the perfect spirit life. I am to daily and continually pursue God in me. God never fails me. He will always do his part, growing his spirit life when I pursue him.