Symptoms! It’s the symptoms that you see. Just like a tree. You can see the trunk, the limbs, the leaves and the fruit. But these are not the problem. Nor are they the cause of the problem. What we can see is the result of the problem which is the result of the cause. Symptoms!
Symptoms Are Affected By Motivation
What’s my motivation!? The familiar cry of the actor paid to play a part that is not naturally themselves. In order to perform in a certain manner (read behavior), I must have the proper or corresponding motivation. Given the present climate of things (as of June 4, 2020) relative to virus outbreaks, social injustice, protests, and rioting, too many people are only identifying the symptoms.
Nearly every report, commentary, and interview I’ve seen or heard has only addressed the symptoms. The question comes: What can we do to effect change? The answer: Stop dealing with the symptoms and define the problem. Once defined, root out (pun intended) the causes and deal with those.
How Romans Fits In
I don’t think it is by “accident” that we are going through Romans chapters 6-8 at this time. In fact, I believe it’s Divine Intervention. Why? Because in these passages the Apostle Paul is dealing with the root that effects real change. What change are we talking about? Behavioral change.
Behavioral change (effective over the long term) does not come from simple behavioral modification through conditioning or reward/punishment approaches. This only deals with the symptom. The symptom is what we see…the behavior. To effect real change (to make the behavior different) you have to confront the root problem and the motivation behind it. Paul is dealing with motivation specifically in these chapters.
Motivation Comes From the Heart
The people of Rome are wondering about their relationship to the law while being under grace. Do they have to obey it? If so, why and for what reward? Paul says you have already received the reward…eternal life! Your motivation is the result of the change you have already experienced.
Behavior is the result of thinking and thinking is the result of belief. If I act in a certain way it’s because I think a certain thing about the situation or person. I think that way because of what I believe about it or them. If I want to effect how I behave, I change how think. And I change how I think by determining what I believe and why I believe it.
The real problem is a heart problem. The cause is sin that destroys and kills the heart. It’s dead in its transgressions and sins (Eph. 2). If we/I want to have a heart change, then we have to trust Someone big enough and powerful enough to accomplish it. Once received (converted, born again, regenerated), the heart is soft (Ez. 36:26) and the motivation is changed (Romans 6-8).
The motivation to do what? The motivation to live according to the law of God. Why is that important? Because its the law that teaches us how we are to behave and treat others. And isn’t that what social justice is, treating others the right way? Well, it’s the law that tells us the right way.