I’ve never related to an older man from 2000 years ago until today. Sometimes reading the Word and the people in it start to become more like characters in a story rather than people who lived and breathed thousands of years ago.
I admit I am guilty of this. I think many of us are. We assume these people don’t understand what’s going on in our lives. They couldn’t possibly know. So, what could anyone have to say that would be relevant now?
Romans 7 & 8 – Paul speaking (NIV)
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate to do [I do]. (7:16)
Do you ever catch yourself believing that these men and women, especially Paul and the disciples, did a lot of good and led perfect, Godly lives? You might be thinking, I could never live as they do.
Paul proves us wrong. He is transparent, honest, and completely accurate about how we live our lives here on Earth. He fails on a daily basis. This is not for anyone to feel better about themselves or to compare their spiritual walk as better or worse. It is for all lovers of God who think they are not enough, or that they are alone in this challenging life.
He goes on to say “it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is the sin living in me.”
Nothing good comes from sin.
“For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”
When was the last time you heard someone in church say this to you? When was the last time you heard a fellow Christian admit to this? I believe Paul – from 2,000 years ago- is more relatable than many of the people around us today that we call Christians, including ourselves.
Paul writes about his failures, his inability to overcome sin completely on his own, he is open and truthful about how he lives.
You know that one thing you just can’t give up? Whether that’s an addiction to gossiping, lying, drugs, sex, or pornography and anything else that might come to mind, Paul struggled with something similar too. Just because he was a large part of history doesn’t mean he didn’t have flaws.
Failure is nothing new, neither is sinning.
Living in the 21st century does not make us special. There is nothing happening today that surprises God or that hasn’t happened in the past. It may look slightly different, but 2,000 years ago the people had to deal with murder, prostitution, gossip, terrorists, suffering, lust, lying and more. They might have different names, and we might have more resources to prove and show these things happening, but they occurred nonetheless.
“When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. In my inner being, I delight in God’s law, but I see another law at work in the members of my body.”
Wow. Once again Paul is speaking for all of us. Making known the evil of the world and the evil inside of him despite his greatest attempts and desires to do good.
The enemy does not take days off.
Fortunately, neither does God.
However, Paul describes himself as a prisoner of the law of sin.
More truth. Ever feel like you just cannot get beyond those cold, metal bars of that thing in your life that continues to push you back into the cell? Paul felt this too.
Do you ever feel like you’re the worst person out there? Or in your family, friend group or relationship? Maybe you have felt like you’re the worst of the worst and there is nothing good left in you.
“What a wretched man I am!” translated to today: I suck, I’m not good enough, I’m hopeless, worthless and I can’t do anything right.
Paul felt this too. He then cries out and asks, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
Who will get me out of this mess? Can anyone understand what I’m going through, how low I have gone? Is there anyone who will accept me in the state that I am? Surely there is nobody who can love this.
Paul felt this too, long before you did. However, he acknowledges his sins but he doesn’t allow his feelings to take over, he does the only thing he knows how to do.
“Thanks be to God!… Therefore there is NO condemnation… because, through Christ Jesus, the law of the spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”
He offers a solution. He offers hope and peace through God. You might fail each day, each moment, as Paul did, as we all do, but there is still hope.
God will pick up his weapons and fight for you. Despite your many flaws and wrongdoings, he will still fight for you. From the first day you cried out his name, you have had the Spirit of God in you, and that can overcome the death of sin each time.
I encourage you to continue to read Romans and I truly hope these passages impact you as they have me. I fail each and every day and many times I become discouraged and hopeless but these verses have changed my perspective on it all. I hope they will do the same for you. Let me know your thoughts!
Until next time,
(God, I pray for whoever reads this that You use these words for their good and for their needs specifically. And that anything I might have said that does not align with Your Words and beliefs that You change it so that it does.)