Do what’s right, not what’s wrong. A conflict known to every man and woman. If we’re brutally honest, Christians and the church are very familiar with the struggle.
Right VS Wrong/Good VS Evil
“I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” Romans 7:15.
The Apostle Paul’s writing to the church at Rome. He had a unregenerate past. Persecuting Christ-followers and the early church.
But this is the new Paul—transformed. The man who met God and lived his latter years devoted to serving the church he tried to destroy. He journeyed on missionary trips, shared the gospel with countless people, and wrote letters to the churches to teach God’s truths and aid in their spiritual growth.
The question has been raised if Paul’s speaking here as a Christian under grace. I like how John Piper tackles the answer.
So when I describe Romans 7:14–25 as “Christian experience,” I don’t mean “ideal” experience, or “normal” steady-state experience. I mean that when a genuine Christian does the very thing he hates (Romans 7:15), this is what really happened to Paul the Christian in moments of weakness and defeat.(DesiringGod.org)
Paul wrote the book of Romans as a faithful servant of the Lord. He may not be carrying out the violent, horrible acts that defined him in the past. But one thing is clear. At times, Paul wrestled with his actions. Between good and evil. Between holiness and sin. He describes his struggle to help the church in Rome understand the work of God’s law in contrast with sin.
“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” Romans 7:18-19.
Internal conflict leads to outward actions. Good or evil. Even inaction is an outward sign the conflict is so intense that it causes a paralysis of the good.
When we want to do the right thing—acts of goodness—we don’t. Instead, we do the evil we hate. We carry out the very action we tried to avoid. Why? In verses 22-23, Paul describes a waging war in his inner being between his delight for God’s law and the law of sin at work in his body.
Although he is under grace, Paul calls himself a wretched man. The man who always excelled at everything he set his mind to do. His bragging rights before Christ contained an impressive Jewish resume. After Christ, his spiritual resume was just as impressive, but he chose to boast in the Lord.
Paul always dug down deep and got er done. Educated. Trained. He went big or went home. In everything and in every way.
So what does this mean for me and you? Where’s our hope in becoming godly if Paul couldn’t handle doing all the right stuff all the time? Paul doesn’t leave the church at Rome hanging, he offers hope.
“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!…” Romans 7:24-25. (Emphasis mine.)
Lord, Have Mercy
God’s law reveals our sin and our need of a merciful Savior. He provided the blood of Jesus Christ to make us righteous. After salvation, the sanctification process begins for the Christian. It won’t be fully complete until Christ returns. In the meantime, we’re in a continual state of requiring mercy from a Holy God.
Delighting in God’s law causes holiness to rise up. Bringing the power to carry out good and cease evil. We still won’t get it right all the time. But it will help us transition from wretched to holy. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Holiness took our place for mercy’s sake.
*Scripture passages are from the ESV
*Images courtesy of Pixabay.com
© 2016 by Karen Friday, All rights reserved
February 18, 2016 at 8:00 am | Uncategorized