I'm sick of screwing around. That's it. I'm sick of it. I'm sick of feeling like a fake, sick of knowing I have a sickness, a problem, and never being honest about it and never being quite willing to expose myself for what I am. I'm sick of feeling like I fail constantly, and then going on like I'm fine. I'm sick of struggling and fighting and trying to beat down my flesh and being completely and utterly unable to do so. I hate who I am. I hate it. I hate my sin, and yet I am incapable of getting away from it, and even more incapable of doing anything good.
These verses from Romans 7 have been running through my mind lately:
This is exactly how I feel in my life. Paul and me are on the same page here. I don't do what I want, but I do the very things I hate...I know that nothing good dwells in me in my natural state...I do not do the good I want, but the evil I don't want is what I keep on doing...what a wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this? I am incapable of not sinning. I sin every single day. I hate it, and I do it anyway. The desire of my heart is to do good, and yet I can't.14For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For 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. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.21So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.24Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Here's a little taste of me, my flesh and my weakness:
- I don't think I've ever gone more than a week reading my bible every day. Never in my life.
- I want to get married desperately. Part of me regrets that I didn't just say "screw you, God" and go along with the plan that would have ultimately gotten me what I wanted.
- I have only like, three or four bible verses memorized. I can tell you plenty of things the bible says, but can I point you to the specific verse? Heck no.
- I haven't been baptized because I was embarrassed of the fact that I hadn't been baptized yet. Ridiculous, but true. I didn't want any attention paid to me, and I was baptized as a baby, so I have avoided it, because it seems ridiculous that I've been a Christian for so long and just didn't get around to it. Hopefully in a couple weeks this will be remedied when DTC starts doing baptisms.
- I hate cleaning my apartment, because I'm lazy and I just want to do what I want to do, and cleaning is one of my least favorite things. So, there's a nasty layer of dust on my ceiling fan and a huge pile of nasty dishes in my sink and the floor hasn't been swept in weeks.*
That's just little small stupid problems. Real ones, but not even the biggest struggles in my life. Not even close to the things that bother me most about my flesh.
In Romans 7:24, Paul asks who will deliver him from his flesh, from the sin that he hates and can't get away from. Who will deliver me from the prison that is my mind and my flesh and this wretched body? Who will deliver me from this bondage, from my own inability to do what I long to do, to do what Christ commands? My heart swells with this, it cries out, asking who will save me?
In the beginning of verse 25, Paul answers his own question. The NLT says it this way:
25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.I read this verse, and in a sarcastic manner I said "Great, awesome, Jesus is the answer yet again. What does that even mean?" And because I was using Bible Gateway and it only shows one chapter at a time, I almost quit right there. If Jesus is the answer, I should just shut up and stop asking questions, right? Jesus is the trump card. But no, I wasn't happy with that "Jesus, fine if you're the answer to all my issues with my flesh and sin. But why? What does that mean for me? You can be the answer, great, but what makes you the answer and what does that imply?" I sneered at myself inwardly a little bit, because I found it ironic that the very question that "seekers" ask themselves when they are investigating Christianity is the question I, a "long-time" believer, asked myself today. So, I thought I'd do the obvious thing, and read the next chapter.
Romans 8 happens to be my favorite chapter in the entire bible, so you would think I'd know what it says right? I sure thought so. But God smacked me in the head when I got to the first few verses, and said, "Yeah, you don't really have it figured out after all, do you?"
1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
God did what the law could not accomplish. The law couldn't save us. Paul explains the role of the law back in chapter 7. (This is NLT again, by the way)
7 Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.” 8 But sin used this command to arouse all kinds of covetous desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power. 9 At one time I lived without understanding the law. But when I learned the command not to covet, for instance, the power of sin came to life, 10 and I died. So I discovered that the law’s commands, which were supposed to bring life, brought spiritual death instead. 11 Sin took advantage of those commands and deceived me; it used the commands to kill me. 12 But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.Satan uses the power of suggestion. The law seriously says not to covet? That sucks. I bet you could just try it. It's not really that big of a deal, I mean, come on. But go back to what Paul said in chapter 8. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus...By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." The law, which is good and holy, but which has been used against me and which condemned and killed me, has been fulfilled. By me? No! By Christ, who God sent to fulfill the law, because just as Adam's sin condemned us all, Christ's righteousness saved us from a life ruled by sin. Romans 5:18,19 says "Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." I am righteous and holy not by my own actions or anything good I've done, but through the righteousness of Jesus Christ and the love that God had for me that he sent his righteous son to bear my own sin so that I might live an eternal life that I don't deserve alongside Christ, the very man who became my sin, (John 3:16) and so that I can live a life free of condemnation and guilt and shame. God knew that I could not fulfill the law. He knew that I was incapable of not sinning (pardon my double negative) but he made a way that I could be free of that.
I sin every day. But it's my flesh that sins, and I no longer live by the flesh, I live by the Spirit, because God sent Jesus (by the way, isn't the concept of the trinity beautiful?) so that I could not only live an eternal life with Him, but so that I could live an earthly life free of condemnation.
*I took a break from writing and cleaned the dust off my fan. That would be Christ working in my life. Ha.
NOTE I don't believe in proofreading. So, if anything wonky happens to have slipped in there, just try to see past it. I know it's hard, but I believe in you.