Christ, King of Peace
Wednesday of Pentecost 9
9 August 2017
The wicked will always make war upon the good. The wicked world and its lie will always seek to suppress the church and her truth. The old man will always battle against the new man. Evil ever despises the good and seeks to slay it. Evil even does battle against the good without any possibility of benefit to itself. There is an irrationality to evil through which it hurts others along with itself. Misery loves company. The active alcoholic is not only killing himself, but is damaging the family and community in which he lives by dragging those whom he loves into a relationship of co-dependency. The petty criminal in prison leaves his children without a father and abandons his mother to the grief that only a mother can feel when her child falls into a life of crime. And while there may be a thousand different reasons for such fallen lives, still they represent the assault of evil against the good. This will never change until we are called home to see our Lord Jesus face to face.
 
War is most problematic when it is exploding within the heart of Christian people. A new man has been fashioned out of nothing in the re-creative waters of baptism. The Spirit hovered over the face of that unfathomable deep investing it with life that cannot die. The old man who also lives within us will not let that Spirit-made creation in peace. The new man will not rest quietly until the old man has been warred to death.
 
New Christians are especially troubled by this war that only begins at baptism. Their hearts were at peace before conversion because there was only one party within, and thus there was no possibility of hostilities breaking out. The uneasy peace confirmed in slavery to sin mastered them. Trouble only arises when the Spirit puts the new man, fashioned after Christ, within. Then there is war. The new convert then is troubled by the outbreak of hostilities. How can such trouble brew and swirl within after becoming a child of God? The new Christian wonders if he has truly been converted.
 
Ironically, this war is a sign of spiritual health. To this the apostle Paul testifies especially in Romans 7. Only Christ can bring a complete end to hostilities through bringing death. Come, sweet death. There is no escaping war in this world, whether the battle between good and evil, between the old man and the new, or the physical warfare that inevitably breaks out within the city of men. True peace ever remains in the hands of Christ, the King of peace.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Augustine of Hippo

"Cain, the founder of the earthly city, was a fratricide. Overcome with envy, he slew his own brother, a citizen of the eternal city, and a sojourner on earth. We cannot be surprised that this first specimen, or as the Greeks say, the archetype of crime, should, long afterwards, find a corresponding crime at the foundation of the city of Rome which was destined to reign over so many nations, and be the head of this earthly city of which we speak. For of that city also, as one of their poets has mentioned, 'the first walls were stained with a brother's blood' (Lucan) or, as Roman history records, Remus was slain by his brother Romulus. And thus there is no difference between the foundation of this city and of the earthly city, unless it be that Romulus and Remus were both citizens of the earthly city. Both desired to have the glory of founding the Roman republic, but both could not have as much glory as if one only claimed it; for he who wished to have the glory of ruling would certainly rule less if his power were shared by a living consort. In order, therefore, that the whole glory might be enjoyed by one, his consort was removed; and by this crime the empire was made larger indeed, but inferior, while otherwise it would have been less, but better.
 
"Now these brothers, Cain and Abel, were not both animated by the same earthly desires, nor did the murderer envy the other because he feared that by both ruling his own authority would be curtailed (for Abel did not desire to rule in that city which his brother built). Cain was moved by that diabolical, envious hatred with which the evil regard the good, for no other reason than because they are good, while themselves are evil. For the possession of goodness is by no means diminished by being shared with a partner either permanent or temporarily assumed. On the contrary, the possession of goodness is increased in proportion to the concord and charity of each of those who share it. In short, he who is unwilling to share this possession cannot have it. He who is most willing to admit others to a share of it will have the greatest abundance for himself.
 
"The quarrel, then, between Romulus and Remus shows how the earthly city is divided against itself. That which fell out between Cain and Abel illustrated the hatred that subsists between the two cities, that of God and that of men. The wicked war with the wicked; the good also war with the wicked. But with the good, good men, or at least perfectly good men, cannot war; although, while only going on toward perfection, they war to this extent, that every good man resists others in those points in which he resists himself. In each individual 'the flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh' (Gal 5:17). This spiritual lusting, therefore, can be at war with the carnal lust of another man; or carnal lust may be at war with the spiritual desires of another, in some such way as good and wicked men are at war. Still more certainly, the carnal lusts of two men, good but not yet perfect, contend together, just as the wicked contend with the wicked, until the health of those who are under the treatment of grace attains final victory."

Augustine, The City of God, 15.5
Romans 7:14-25
  
We know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. 
 
(ESV)
Prayer
Lord Christ, ultimate victory rests with You, who triumphed over death. Grant that we might ever battle against the flesh, so that the old Adam might ever be resisted and in the end final victory be received from You. Amen.
 
For Susan Narr, that the Lord would grant her strength and confidence in God as she undergoes chemotherapy
 
For John Hatteberg, that the Lord would graciously be with him in his time of convalescence, strengthening him in both body and soul
 
For Todd Evers, who was grievously injured in an auto collision, that the Lord would be with him and grant him the ability to walk
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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