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The Reality of the Struggle

November 15, 2011

People, specifically professing Christians, are generally comfortable with the idea that we are “sinners.”  We really seem to be “okay” with it.  This is really a bizarre reality that we find ourselves in…that people have just accepted that we are sinners and that’s the way it is supposed to be.  Now, to be sure…we are sinners…every single one of us.  This is how we came into the world…it’s our default position…we sin because we are sinners.  But to be okay with it…that’s a different issue altogether. 

 Take a moment and read through Romans 7:15-20.

 Can you imagine a state of guiltlessness?  Imagine walking through life with no jealousies, no lusts, no selfish intentions…seriously, can you even begin to imagine it?  In this text, Paul is not only giving us some theological insight into the battle against sin, he is offering a confession of the personal war that raged within his own heart.  Most of us see Paul as a superhero type figure of the Bible, standing on top of the hill, looking out over the landscape with his cape waving in the breeze…uttering some rich doctrine for us to embrace.  But in this text, Paul reveals some of the struggle that we normally ascribe only to ourselves.

 And here’s the question for the believer: Why do we continue to sin?  We simply can’t ignore the truth that coming to Christ…being justified by His sacrifice…has not resulted in a state of inward or outward purity in our lives.  Even Martin Luther said, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said ‘repent’, He willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”  You don’t even have to read very far into the 95 Theses to find that one…it’s the first.  And in that, he’s talking about men who have come to Christ.  He’s talking about those who are walking in the grace of God…those who have been called out of darkness and into the Light.

 Paul, in verse 15 says, “For I do not understand my own actions.”  Remember now, this is Paul…not your cousin Paul…the Paul.  He continues by saying, “For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”  He says, “I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”  And here is a great paradox of the faith; that is both the problem, and the solution.

 The more I rest in my will power, my intentions, and my desire to do right…the more my true weakness is revealed.  My desires are to do right, but I lack the strength to carry it out.  But we need to be careful because this is not a license for us to give up…or give in.  Paul wrote in Romans 6:1, “Are we to continue to sin that grace may abound?”  His answer is a resounding, “By no means!”  So what is the answer?  We can’t do it…we’ve tried.  This is why Paul looks to the cross of Christ.  He looks to the One who could pay the price that we can’t.  He looks to the One who made sacrifice that we couldn’t even offer.  And he professes strength in the Spirit…not in his own ability or personal discipline.  Then he makes that beautiful cry in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”  He doesn’t give up the battle.  He understands where the strength to fight comes from.  And so he says in Colossians 1:29 that “For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that he powerfully works within me.”  Jesus wasn’t okay with you being a sinner…that’s why He came to redeem you.  That’s why He sent the Spirit to come alongside us…that we would battle for holiness…that we would stand firm in the faith…that His strength would be our strength…not for show, but for the fight.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. lauri williams permalink
    November 21, 2011 10:26 am

    God is so good…I sometimes find myself thinking, ” UGH!!! I can’t do this!” But I can, I need to remember to find my strength in the Lord. When I am constantly thinking, “I, I, I” I’ll never do what I need to do. I need to remember this daily, hourly…

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