THE BEAST IS DEAD!
"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 in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work in me.
"What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin." Romans 7:21-25.
Despair! Was there ever despair like this?
Trapped by a power much stronger than himself, Paul felt as though he were caught in the claws of an enraged beast which was destroying his life and he was powerless to overcome it. Have you ever felt like that?
Years ago I was in a relationship that produced ongoing cycles of anger, resentment and bitterness which lasted until I was able to forgive, only to begin the cycle all over again when the same provocation happened. In despair I cried out to God, "How will I ever get free from my old nature?" I, who am not given to seeing visions, had a vision that morning on my knees.
I found myself in a walled garden. It was springtime and the garden was full of new growth. There were trees and flowers everywhere; new plants were coming up and the garden promised to be very beautiful. But there was also a huge black beast in the garden. It was pacing up and down, trampling the plants, and causing destruction wherever it walked. I cried out to God, "O God, how can I get rid of the beast?"
I heard a voice say, "Turn around." As I did so, my vision changed. I was inside an ancient tomb. The tomb was empty, but there were signs that a body had been there; bloodied grave clothes lay on the stone slab. Again the voice said, "Turn around." As my eyes became used to the gloom, I saw the beast lying dead on the floor of the tomb. My heart leapt for joy.
Once again my vision changed; I was back in the garden but this time there was no beast to destroy. The trees were heavy with luscious fruit and the flowers were in full bloom. There were no weeds and the paths were neatly laid out. Jesus, the gardener, was walking with me in the garden. "This is my garden," He said. "The fruit belongs to me. You may walk in my garden but you may not pick the fruit."
When the vision faded, I felt light-hearted and free. I understood that God had given me a vivid picture of Romans 7 and 8. The beast in my vision was my old nature, ruthlessly destroying everything wherever it walked and I had not power to control it. But...Jesus put the beast to death when He died on the cross. When He rose from the dead, the beast was left lying in the tomb. It no longer had the power to destroy in my life.
The garden represents my life, and Jesus, the gardener is in control. By His death He has put to death the power of my old nature to control me and to destroy what He is cultivating in me. As long as I allow Him to take care of my garden, my life will bear fruit for Him because the beast is dead and no longer has any power to destroy what He is growing in me.
Despair has been changed to hope. I am no longer a slave of sin. My old nature remains but it lies dead in the tomb. Its only power to influence me depends on whether I allow it to do so by believing that it can still hurt me. As long as I believe the truth that Jesus has set me free from the power of my sin nature, I can choose to obey God and allow the Holy Spirit in me to strengthen me to obey.
Once again, it's a partnership of faith between me and God. I believe what God has said; I make the choice to obey Him; by His grace He enables me to do what I have chosen and He gets the praise!
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