There is an awful law at work in every Christian. It is a stumbling block for both the instigator and the witness. We would be lost if God’s Word didn’t help us understand the battle within…
“What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.
“But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
“It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
“I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?
“The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different” (Romans 7:15-25, MSG).
On the one hand, I hate that I can identify so well with the Apostle Paul’s description of his inward battle. And yet, it is also a great relief to me that he, the great Apostle, of whom I am so thankful for because of his inspired revelations of who we are in Christ, struggled with the very thing that cuts my own soul to the core at times.
I remember the words of King David also: “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight—That You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge… For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:4, 16-17).
He too struggled with loving God yet making poor decisions in the flesh. But he and Paul both knew something we all need to remember: [Tweet “It’s no excuse. But the grief and wrestling over sin within us is in itself a form of repentance.”]
It’s not an excuse and it should never be taken lightly, but when our hearts are pricked over sin, then God still has something to work with. It’s when we blow it off, go on, un-repentive and barely moved by the awful actions and reactions of our flesh, that we are in trouble.
I hate sin. I hate the grief of heart that follows poor choices. But I’m grateful because it is a constant reminder that God is still with me–and I remember His love and forgiveness.
If this is you today, remember also the following words of the Apostle Paul: “For there is no condemnation to those who [remain] in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1). Don’t let it get the best of you. Instead, let the better part of you rise up again.
Today’s a new day.