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I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do (New International Version, Rom. 7.15) 1.
Good morning, my friends!
We’re getting close to the end. I’m so thankful you’ve decided to join me once again. I’m not sure how all this information is hitting you, but my prayer is that it simply gives you pause and invites your thoughts to linger a little. If it is causing you to wrestle a bit with yourself, read on. You’re in good company. (If you’re just joining us, I encourage you to go to Part 1 of our series first – it will make more sense).
4) Christians struggle between acting Christ-like and acting human every day.
The words of the apostle Paul…
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 myself who does 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 (Rom. 7.15-20) 2.
That pretty much sums it up.
Y’all. Seriously. The struggle is real. Having spent my teens and early twenties as an unbeliever trying to find my way, I would even say, in this respect, its more difficult to live as a Christian than a non-Christian just for the sole reason that I’m more aware of my human tendencies and propensity toward sin every day. I also know others look at my actions with even more scrutiny because I am open about my faith.
But it must be said – Christians cannot be held to a standard that absolutely no one can attain, save Christ – to battle our humanness and win every time.
Collectively, as a group, we will fail in every way possible. For one person, they will constantly fight the temptation for extra-marital sex. For another, its money, or pride, or fame. Sometimes its unholy anger. You pick a temptation, chances are there is a Christian you know fighting against it.
For the most part (ok, 51% of the time), I believe I portray Christ well, demonstrating love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control 3. However, it doesn’t magically happen – I have to stop, pray, and ask God for help because many times what I want to do doesn’t match up with what I should do as a mature follower of Christ. I have to engage with God. When I forget to look to God in those moments, inevitably my human nature rears its ugly head and I find myself yelling at my kids or saying something unkind out of frustration. Then, instead of forgetting about it and moving on like my human nature wants to do, I am convicted by the Spirit within to apologize.
So I do…sometimes begrudgingly. But I was right!! Sigh.
It’s an internal WWF wrestling match. Sanctification, overall, is a slow process, with fast spurts of growth here and there. Conviction (the awareness of our sin that results in repentance, confession, and cleansing,) is absolutely good and necessary for growth…but can be challenging when faced with it.
People – its HARD to admit when you’re wrong. Its hard to humble yourself and self-reflect. Its hard to apologize for saying something thoughtless and stupid to a co-worker or to ask for forgiveness for something you’ve done. The difference between emotionally and spiritually mature Christians and non-Christians is not that we are “holier than thou” or able to live without offending, but that we are willing to humble ourselves before God and others and we have hope to overcome our temptations and our sins because Christ provides strength for our hearts and minds when we have none 4. We’re willing to apologize and self-reflect, staying aware of our limitations.
We’re willing to be changed.
We lean into God the most when we are fighting sin, temptation, heartache, or pain. It has bondage over us that we want to escape. Resting in Christ and posturing ourselves toward God emotionally and spiritually is the only way to freedom. He has overcome the world, which means He has overcome death itself AND every possible sin and human desire that can lead to personal destruction 5. He wants to impart His power to overcome to us. But we have a responsibility to look to Him for that power rather than look to ourselves 6…and in a world that promotes self-sufficiency and independence from early childhood, it becomes a significant struggle in the daily life of a Christian.
Lean on the Lord, lean on myself. Lean on the Lord, lean on myself.
It’s a battle. How do you undo what is ingrained in you from the start? You can’t completely, simply because we are human. Not even the most mature Christian can escape it. If you feel a Christian shouldn’t sin, offend, or make mistakes…basically, be human…the standard to which you are holding us is too high. Within ourselves, we do not have the power to overcome our human nature 7. The power to overcome is from God alone 8.
With that being said, when we do fall prey to our human tendencies, as Christians, we should feel conviction from the Spirit to right the wrong, repent, ask for God’s help, and ask forgiveness. And, of course, having the ability to do that with humility comes with increasing maturity and progressive sanctification as we walk out life with God. So, we aren’t always great at that part, either. Suffice it to say, we are a work in progress and doing our very best for where we’re at.
Aren’t we all?
Please join me tomorrow for the last post in our series! If you’ve come this far, you won’t want to miss it.
With love and In Christ,
- The Bible. New International Version. Bible Gateway/Biblica, 2011. BibleGateway.com, www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=romans+7%3A15&version=NIV. Accessed 9 Dec. 2018.
- The Bible. New International Version. Bible Gateway/Biblica, 2011. BibleGateway.com, www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=romans+7%3A15-20&version=NIV. Accessed 9 Dec. 2018.
- See Galatians 5:22-23.
- See Isaiah 40:29-31; Psalm 46:1; Ephesians 3:16; Philippians 4:13.
- See John 16:33.
- See Proverbs 3:5-6
- See 1 John 1:8.
- See Isaiah 41;10; 1 Corinthians 10:13.