Romans 7:15-25a - For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the Law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For 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. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the Law of God, in my inner being, but 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. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Paul sounds incredibly frustrated—and really, who can blame him? Because from one point of view, this is what it's like to live as a Christian. It's to live with a divided heart—to be a child of God, trusting in Jesus, loving Him and wanting to walk in His ways. And yet, to feel the pull of temptation, to fall into sin on a daily basis, and the more mature you become in Christ, the more aware you are of your own sinfulness! Honestly, there are days when it feels like I'm going backward. And if my salvation depended on my self-improvement, well ... that wouldn't work out so well for me, would it? I might as well book my ticket on Hell Airlines immediately.
But Paul has it right. "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
Because that is the other side of living as a Christian. It's knowing that God loved you and all the world enough to come into this world as a tiny child, as Jesus our Savior. It's knowing that He chose to lay down His life for us—to rescue us from our impossible struggle with sin and temptation and guilt, to lift us clean out of all that, by nailing it to His cross. It's knowing that we have eternal life already, even as we struggle—because Jesus has risen from the dead, and He shares His victory with us.
Now that Jesus has died and risen for us, the struggle is different. We may still be frustrated, but we know that our salvation is not riding on it. Jesus has taken care of that. The Holy Spirit is doing His work, whether we see it clearly or not. And our struggle will have an ending point—either when we die or when Jesus returns to reign. What a relief!
WE PRAY: Lord, when I am frustrated and tempted to despair, set my heart on You. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Does Paul's struggle sound familiar to you?
2. How does Jesus' forgiveness take the sting out of the struggle?
3. When you are frustrated with yourself, how do you find hope in Jesus?
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