Our Proper Selves
Wednesday of Pentecost 8
2 August 2017
The Fall of Adam had devastating results for us. Of course, it alienated us from the fellowship God had granted. However, not only are we alienated from God, but we are also alienated from our true selves. Just as the law brings with it the full experience of the wrath of God, which is a complete temporal punishment for those who are truly repentant, so the punishment of disobedience is disobedience itself. We are unable to master ourselves because God is no longer our master.
 
Our lack of self-mastery is evidenced in any number of weaknesses, suffering, and frustrations. For example, when was the last time you stayed on the exercise program that you promised yourself you would faithfully maintain? Have you kept your diet? Did you join a Bible class recently and then stick with it? Did you pray regularly this year? Did you fulfill your promises to your wife or husband? Have you kept your resolution to spend more time with your children? Well, you get the picture. We can even say that we desire to do the right thing, but to our shame we cannot do it (Rm 7:18-25). We have been infected by lust, not just the obvious lust of sexuality, but the lust for power, for approval, for pleasure, for revenge. This lust infecting our flesh keeps us from self-mastery and makes us subject to our old Adam.
 
Only the life, death and resurrection of the second Adam can return us to the mastery of our heavenly Father. He alone can return to us our proper selves. Christ is the remaking of our pristine humanity. For we have been hidden with Him through His death by dying with Him in baptism (Col 3:3). We have again been clothed in our proper selves, which is the righteousness of Christ.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Augustine of Hippo

"What but disobedience was the punishment of disobedience in that sin? For what else is man's misery but his own disobedience to himself, so that in consequence of his not being willing to do what he could do, he now wills to do what he cannot? For though he could not do all things in Paradise before he sinned, yet he wished to do only what he could do, and therefore he could do all things he wished. But now, as we recognize in his offspring, and as divine Scripture testifies, 'Man is like a breath' (Ps 144:4). For who can count how many things he wishes which he cannot do, so long as he is disobedient to himself, that is, so long as his mind and his flesh do not obey his will? For in spite of himself his mind is both frequently disturbed, and his flesh suffers, and grows old, and dies; and in spite of ourselves we suffer whatever else we suffer, and which we would not suffer if our nature absolutely and in all its parts obeyed our will. But is it not the infirmities of the flesh which hamper it in its service? Yet what does it matter how its service is hampered, so long as the fact remains, that by the just retribution of the sovereign God whom we refused to be subject to and serve, our flesh, which was subjected to us, now torments us by insubordination, although our disobedience brought trouble on ourselves, not upon God?
 
"For He is not in need of our service as we of our body's; and therefore what we did was no punishment to Him, but what we receive is so to us. And the pains which are called bodily are pains of the soul in and from the body. For what pain or desire can the flesh feel by itself and without the soul? But when the flesh is said to desire or to suffer, it is meant, as we have explained, that the man does so, or some part of the soul which is affected by the sensation of the flesh, whether a harsh sensation causing pain, or gentle, causing pleasure. But pain in the flesh is only a discomfort of the soul arising from the flesh, and a kind of shrinking from its suffering, as the pain of the soul which is called sadness is a shrinking from those things which have happened to us in spite of ourselves. But sadness is frequently preceded by fear, which is itself in the soul, not in the flesh; while bodily pain is not preceded by any kind of fear of the flesh, which can be felt in the flesh before the pain. But pleasure is preceded by a certain appetite which is felt in the flesh like a craving, as hunger and thirst and that generative appetite which is most commonly identified with the name "lust," though this is the generic word for all desires. For anger itself was defined by the ancients as nothing else than the lust of revenge; although sometimes a man is angry even at inanimate objects which cannot feel his vengeance, as when one breaks a pen, or crushes a quill that writes badly. Yet even this, though less reasonable, is in its way a lust of revenge, and is, so to speak, a mysterious kind of shadow of [the great law of] retribution, that they who do evil should suffer evil. There is therefore a lust for revenge, which is called anger; there is a lust of money, which goes by the name of avarice; there is a lust of conquering, no matter by what means, which is called argumentativeness; there is a lust of applause, which is named boasting. There are many and various lusts, of which some have names of their own, while others have not. For who could readily give a name to the lust of ruling, which yet has a powerful influence in the soul of tyrants, as civil wars bear witness?"

Augustine, The City of God, 14.15
Colossians 3:1-17
  
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
 
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
 
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (ESV)
Prayer
Almighty God, You have returned my proper self to me in my baptism into Your Son. Help me to put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, that I might bear with others and be forgiving as You have forgiven me. Amen.
 
For all musicians, that they would bear the gift of beauty to the world, uplifting the souls of those who hear them
 
For John Hatteberg, that the Lord God would grant him healing and full recovery from tomorrow's surgery
 
For all military personnel, that they might be kept safe in their office to preserve peace and protect liberty
Art: Albrecht DURER,  The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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