Why Is It Hard to Be Good?

As I pulled into the grocery store, my first-grader said, “Mom, why is it so hard to be good?”

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 Share on X

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 Share on X

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).

Add your thoughts here.



For more on this topic here are some related posts:

The Power of One Act for Good or for Evil and What You Need to Know to Protect Your Heart

For a deeper understanding here are two books I suggest:

Give Yourself a Break and Victory Over the Darkness

Photo by Japheth Mast on Unsplash

Sometimes I link with these great sites:

Tea &Word Tuesday, #Kelly Balarie & Friends#Recharge Wednesday, #Coffee for Your Heart, #TuneinThursaday, #HeartEncouragment #Dance with Jesus, #FreshMarketFriday, #Grace&Truth, #Faith ‘n Friends

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  1. Jimmie Aaron Kepler

    I needed this today. As a Believer for over 40 years, a seminary grad, etc I still struggle and too often fail. Too often I do the things I don’t want to do. It is a great reminder for me to cling to Jesus and don’t let go. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Jimmie, as you’ve said, the battle between the flesh and the Spirit is very real, no matter how long we’ve known the Lord. It helped me to understand I can never tame the flesh; I’m not supposed to. But I can walk in the Spirit and let His life flow through me.

  2. Jim

    Amen Ms. Debbie. With God’s help, we can. It takes time; sometimes more time than we think it should. Great thoughts ma’am.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Jim, spiritual growth is a process like all of life. It took me a while to get that. Thanks for reading!

  3. Melissa Henderson

    Amen. Rules and programs can’t make us good. Jesus can. 🙂 We all fall short at times. We are blessed to be His and know He forgives us and gives opportunity to try again. 🙂

    • Debbie Wilson

      Melissa, you said it perfectly!

  4. Lisa

    Thank you, Debbie for walking with us through this truth that is so difficult to grasp yet so simple by God’s perfect design. It’s such a comfort to know that we are not alone in our struggle. I thank Jesus for already doing for us what we are unable to do for ourselves!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Lisa, it is baffling that the desire for good can be so strong and the follow-through fail. Thankfully, Paul showed us not only the source of our struggle but also the source of our victory!

  5. Horace Williams Jr.

    So true, Debbie. Satan is active in trying to steal our hope preventing us from living for Christ. If only we can learn to see ourselves as Christ sees us. Fallen, fallible, and yet still forgiven. I thank God for his grace. Thank you for sharing these words of hope. May God continue to bless you and your family. Be well.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Me too, Horace. The longer I live the more I appreciate His grace. Blessing to you too, Horace.

  6. Christine Wood

    Still learning and persevering each day. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and encouragement today.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Christine.

  7. Ashley Rowland | HISsparrowBlog

    You’ve met me right where I am today. It can be discouraging when it feels like there’s a power trying to undo everything you intend or do. I think about that verse a lot, which is a comfort for me that Paul felt the same as I do. Thank you for the encouragement today.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Ashley, haven’t we all experienced Paul’s struggle in Romans 7? So thankful the Holy Spirit is alive in us providing the desire and ability to please God. Continual process of learning to let Him reign in us.

  8. ~Karrilee~

    Aren’t you just so glad for Pauls’ writings? For who he was honest and transparent in the struggle? I know I am! Let us lead by his example and, as he also is known for saying, follow him and he follows Christ!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Karrilee, you are right. Paul sets a very good example for us to follow. Thanks for reading and adding your thoughts.

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