• unifying the double mind – diets and grace

    Success in life comes through grace in failure

    Do you ever have one of those days where you feel like you are living Romans 7 and not in a good way? You know, the whole “I want to do what is right but instead I do what is wrong because sin lives in me. The desire to do good is there, but the ability to carry it out isn’t” (see Romans 7:13-21). In other words, the desire to do what is right is there, but sin seems always to trump it. Does that mean you try harder not to sin? You can, but it doesn’t do any good. The cycle of striving and failing will continue, with you just feeling more and more anguished and guilty about the outcome.

    A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. James 1:8To me, this is what it means to be double minded. We desire what is right, but are hopeless in achieving it.

    One area this shows up for me is in my weight. I am a cyclical dieter. For a while I grit my teeth, deny myself my favorite treats and I loose a few pounds. Then I think, “Man, I’m doing great! I think I’ll take this week off.” Out comes the sangria and ice cream, and the diet goes away, not surfacing again until the seasons change and I can’t get into last year’s shorts.

    Double mindedness can be obvious flat-out sin, like murder, coveting or adultery, or subtle, like my weightloss example. The way we recognize it is to look for the signs of confusion like those we see in Romans 7. If you’re feeling like you can’t make a decision, you can tell your feelings and beliefs are not lining up or you literally feel as though you are “of two minds” about something, you are suffering from double mindedness.

    What is the antidote? Romans 8 gives us the answer:

    There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do….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 set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
    Romans 8:1-3, 5-6

    • We are not condemned. Too often, when we fail at doing what is right we condemn ourselves and assume that is God’s judgement on us. Have we been judged and found wanting? Yes, but Jesus has already suffered the consequences for that. Therefore, the one who took the punishment for us, says “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” If we’re the only one left in this scenario that’s doing the condemning, we need to repent and as Jesus to show us how his love covers us.
    • We are set free from the law of sin and death. “The law” refers not just to the Old Testament, but also to the laws we construct within our own heads. This can be not just our own condemnation, but our own notions of how life should be, cultural norms that we’ve made into demands or obligations we feel from family or friends. If these things feel as though they are crushing us, they are laws of sin and death. We must identify and offer up to God. Any “law” that feels sinful, unrealistic, too demanding or like it’s one of the “should’s and ought’s” of life must be repented of.
    • We live under the law of the Spirit of life and peace. This is the key to the matter. It is the Holy Spirit that breaks the cycle of sin and self-judgement. Setting our minds on the Spirit brings life and peace and this in turn allows us to accept Christ’s taking our punishment on himself without that action becoming loaded with guilt and shame. The truth is, we cannot bear the weight of our own sin. It will crush us. Our only choice is stop trying to bear it, stop feeling horrible that Christ had to bear it, and accept that he did take it on, that he did die for us–with no strings attached. We can still feel guilty about it, if we want. But that’s not what he wants. He wants us to be set free, to live an abundant and peaceful life full of the Spirit.

    When we can accept this free gift with an attitude free of guilt (in other words, full of grace) suddenly our double-mindedness doesn’t seem to matter quite so much. We can, in face with ourselves with the forbearance we extend to others. We can be kind to ourselves, we can sigh and feel contrite about our failures, but they no longer tyrannize us. We are free to live our lives under the law of the Spirit, which is peace and life itself.

    I am back on a diet. I’ve gone carb-free for three days and managed to get an extra walk in yesterday. This is probably not the end of my yo-yo dieting, but there is a difference this time. I am asking God to help me to crave foods that are good for me and I am am living under the law of the Spirit. No beating myself up for eating Culver’s, but sighing afterwards and praying “Lord, have mercy!”

    May we all be gracious to ourselves today, as He has been gracious to us.


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