Romans 7:21-25 (MSG) 21-23 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. 24 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? 25 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.
It has always been a bit sobering to me that Paul, the great apostle, writer of half of the New Testament, talks so openly about how he isn’t control of himself. To read Paul writing that he does what he doesn’t want to do and vice versa has often made me feel like I am a hopeless, lost cause. Essentially, if Paul can’t be a good and faithful Christian, what chance to I have of being one?
But as I read these words today (and I read them in several different translations, to try and understand them more fully), the Spirit illuminated something for me – maybe something that has been obvious to many for a long time, but something that is still good for all of us to hear.
Paul isn’t capable of being a good Christian, neither am I. And, I hate to break it to you, but neither are you. And that is exactly the point. On our own we are not now and never will be capable of breaking free of the chains of sin and death. But in and through Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we have access to that freedom.
As Paul says, ‘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.’
Our freedom and our faithfulness, thank God (literally) are not up to us. They don’t rest on our ability, our willpower, or our strength but on that of our Lord and Savior, the very Son of God, Jesus Christ. And he is the answer, and he is enough.
Sharing God’s Love,
Prayer : Holy God, we realize that on our own we are not capable of being and doing what we want and what you call us to. Teach us to lean on you and your grace to guide us. Amen.