I’m skipping right to the end of chapter seven, to a dilemma that many Christians wrestle with.
Starting in verse 15, Paul says, 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. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Paul really nails what I and so many other Christians struggle with – the question of why do I continue to sin if I have turned my life over to Christ? Certainly all Christians still sin. I know my sins, and you know yours. But why do we continue to repeat certain sins over and over, if we know they are wrong, and we want to change our behavior? It’s frustrating. Many new Christians especially think they have left sin behind once they have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior, only to be discouraged to discover that their sin nature is alive and well within them, as Paul points out.
I cannot begin to attempt to explain or examine every facet of sin, and why Christians still find themselves caught up in various sins, but I can offer at least one strategy that has worked for me, dealing with a specific sin. We should all have strategies for overcoming our biggest sin obstacles.
The following is an excerpt from the marriage book From This Day Forward by Craig and Amy Groeschel.
-“I have a special software installed that, although it allows me to get on the internet when I need to, filters what sites I can get to. And it sends reports of everything I see to my accountability partners. Maybe this sounds extreme to you (which doesn’t bother me at all). Maybe it sounds like a lot of trouble. It is. An obvious question might be, “So are you really that weak and vulnerable Craig? That if nobody was watching, you’d look at things that were immoral or impure?” I can honestly say the answer is, “No, not really.” Right now as I’m writing this, and as I’m thinking about these things, I’m in a really good place. My resolve is strong. I’m confident in my relationship with Christ, and everything is going really well. So why bother? Because if you are honest, you know that not every single moment of your life looks like that. Sometimes I get tired. Sometimes my feelings get hurt, or I get angry, or I feel like I’m not getting everything I deserve. And then, in those fleeting moments of weakness, every door to temptation that I might otherwise try to turn to is completely, thoroughly, securely locked. Strong Craig of this moment is looking out for weak Craig of those other moments.”
This is great advice. (By the way, the software he is speaking of is likely called Covenant Eyes, which we use in our house). When we are strong, we often don’t think about our weaknesses. But that is the best time to acknowledge them and plan what to do in case they return. If we can cut off access to committing some of the sins we have struggled with, then do it, if at all possible.
But when we do sin, whether large or small, habitual sin or not, we need not be discouraged to the point of giving up. Remember that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. And Paul humbly acknowledged that even he struggled with continuing to commit sins after accepting Christ. Our sin nature will not be completely shed until, Christ returns, and he delivers us from it. Until that day, we should be working to sin less and less. There are certainly strategies we can employ to try to accomplish that, as mentioned already. But thanks be to God that Christ’s blood covers us, despite our sins.
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Romans 4-7.
Tomorrow we continue with Romans 8-10.