Romans 7:14-25 (The Message)
I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. 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.
Pondering about what it means in our struggle againt sin and in desiring to honour God. It is important to recognise that despite all our wretchedness, God's grace is still there for us. As Max Lucado puts it in his book In The Grip of Grace, our sin doesn't surprise God. He knows. And He has already extended His grace to us and will continue to do so.
At the same time, we do not continue to sin, but when we recognise the gift that is given to us, we receive and repent. As prisoners who are set free, why would you want to return and have yourself imprisoned?
Theorycraft of course, is easy. If only we could all have perfect discipline, then whatever we know we can apply unfailingly. Paul understands this in his epistle to the Romans, the struggle in our desire to do what we know is right but failing to do it, and in avoiding what we know is wrong but doing it anyway.
Perhaps what we need is a constant renewing of our mind. To constantly recognise who we are in God and to consciously see as God sees. Its obvious that whenever we are struggle, what we know to be holy and true is always at the back of our minds but we try not to think about them but instead indulge in our sinfulness. Perhaps a constant affirmation of these truths will bring them to the forefront, and that is what renewing our mind is all about, a paradigm shift in our mindsets that we may think of whatever is right, holy, pure, true, admirable and praiseworthy.
And perhaps it is also not about simply trying to do (or not do) things, but focusing on who God is, worshipping Him, exalting Him, and out of that springs forth the deep convictions in our hearts that will guide us to be able to overcome the civil war of the soul.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace