Wow, I thought. My young son grasped what many adults miss: good desires alone aren’t enough to make us good.
Unlike Brant, I grew up thinking I was basically good because I wanted to be good. It wasn’t until after I became a Christian in middle school that I recognized how often I failed to follow through on my good intentions.
I have an impatient bent. Every night before bed, in high school, I promised myself that tomorrow would be better. I vowed to reign in my temper. And every day I failed. When I read Paul’s struggle in Romans 7, I knew He was describing me.
Like Paul, when I gave my life to Christ, I received a new nature that wanted to please God. The desire to be patient and gentle was real, but my efforts failed. I thought focused will-power or the right rules would tame my tongue. But neither worked.
In this passage Paul describes the struggle between the flesh (sinful desires) and his new nature.
I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t.I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it” (Rom. 7:15-20 NLT).
Paul loved God and wanted to please Him. But a power within him blocked his pursuit of godly living. Who hasn’t felt this struggle?
But the evil force wasn’t Paul. It was an enemy that lived within his mind. Paul had been crucified with Christ and was a new creation (Gal. 2:20). While Paul had died with Christ, sin, like a parasite, continued to flourish.
Have you ever wondered how a Christian can still struggle with wrong desires? Has a particular weakness ever made you question your relationship with God?Have you ever wondered how a Christian can still struggle with wrong desires? Has a particular weakness ever made you question your relationship with God? #hope Click To Tweet
Romans 6 says to win this battle we must know that the power of sin was broken at our spiritual birth. We are to consider ourselves dead to the sin that dwells in our body and alive to God who lives in our spirit.
Before Paul learned to walk in the power of the Spirit, he declared, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24-25 NLT).
Every Christian who has tried to live the Christian life by human effort knows Paul’s misery. But did you catch the answer?
Programs, rules, and will-power can’t make us good. But Jesus can!Programs, rules, and will-power can't make us good. But Jesus can! #Faith, #Victory Click To Tweet
My son is grown now, but I still remember his insight. It’s not only hard to be good, it’s impossible. The only person who ever successfully lived the Christian life is Jesus. Will you let Him live His life through you?
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16 NIV).
For more on this topic here are some related posts:
For a deeper understanding here are two books I suggest:
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