The inward struggle
November 14, 2007 § 4 Comments
There is a passage in Romans chapter 7 that had a huge impact on me during a recent reading. I have to share it, because I think it represents perfectly every Christian’s struggle to stay close to God and obey His Law. The words resonated deeply with me, even though I read that passage plenty of times before. Perhaps I was only now ready to truly understand its message.
I’m going to quote from the New Jerusalem Bible, whose translation of this passage is superb. Here is what the apostle Paul writes in verses 14 through 25 of that chapter:
“We are well aware that the Law is spiritual: but I am a creature of flesh and blood sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand my own behaviour; I do not act as I mean to, but I do things that I hate.
While I am acting as I do not want to, I still acknowledge the Law as good, so it is not myself acting, but the sin which lives in me.
And really, I know of nothing good living in me — in my natural self, that is — for though the will to do what is good is in me, the power to do it is not: the good thing I want to do, I never do; the evil thing which I do not want — that is what I do. But every time I do what I do not want to, then it is not myself acting, but the sin that lives in me.
So I find this rule: that for me, where I want to do nothing but good, evil is close at my side. In my inmost self I dearly love God’s Law, but I see that acting on my body there is a different law which battles against the Law in my mind. So I am brought to be a prisoner of that law of sin which lives inside my body.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body doomed to death? God — thanks be to Him — through Jesus Christ our Lord.
So it is that I myself with my mind obey the Law of God, but in my disordered nature I obey the law of sin.”
Wow! If I had tried to put my own struggle into words, it wouldn’t have been half as good or half as honest as this. Aren’t Paul’s words so true? It seems the more we want to do good, the worse we fare — our lives are then constantly assaulted by either internal weaknesses or external factors that exploit our weaknesses, and we end up doing worse, never coming close to the heavenly standard. Then again, we have some days when we feel really close to God, and things go just great.
One thing I’ve learned, is to not trust my feelings. They come and go, they’re up and down, and if you rely on them, you can end up happy one day and depressed the next, depending on how things go. The important thing is to keep your faith, and make a fresh effort every day to stay close to God. Whether you succeed or not is not for you to judge, but for God. I think that if we keep trying to do what’s right in our walk with God, and have faith that Jesus Christ’s sacrifice sufficed to forgive our sins, God will supply our poor record with the grace we will need to be counted as saved.
We must keep trying, persist, and struggle against that human nature of ours, and we will succeed with God at our side!