By Allen White
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. Romans 7:15-17
The Apostle Paul doesn’t seem to be a guy that many of us can relate to. He planted the church throughout Asia Minor and Southern Europe without an airplane, a computer, a telephone or a television. He wrote nearly half of the New Testament (13 of 27 books: Romans through Philemon). He was arrested, beaten, left for dead and run out of town. He preached to politicians and prisoners. The Apostle Paul is out of our league.
Yet, this passage in Romans is probably the most “human” of his writing. When I read these words, I feel like Paul is writing about me. “Why did I just say that, I know that it hurts their feelings? Why did I just eat that, I’m not even hungry?” The list can go on and on.
Don’t take this passage as an excuse to place blame for our actions. We are responsible for how we act. If we don’t understand why we do what we do, then we need to figure that out. The point is this: you and I are powerless to overcome the temptations in our lives. God never encourages us to resist our temptations (James 1:13-14). He directs us to run from them (1 Corinthians 6:18). There is no way through temptation, that will benefit us, but there is a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Left to us, we will never become the best versions of ourselves. We seek comfort, safety and self-preservation. We want to be soothed. We want to escape. An old saying goes “The path of least resistance makes both men and rivers crooked.” Left to ourselves, we’re a bit of a mess.
But, God is not content to leave us there. “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9).
On our own, you and I will never achieve the lives that God will bless. We’re just not that good. But, as God does His work in us, He will transform our lives through the work of His Spirit. The key is control. If we attempt to control our own lives and to control the people and circumstances around us, we cannot receive the blessings of God. Our desire for control always results in sinfulness. If we allow God’s Spirit to control us, the results are much different. “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).
How’s your peace these days? What’s the quality of your life? Are you dragging through your days or are you enjoying life that is truly life (1 Timothy 6:9)?
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