I read a friend’s facebook comment today. It stirred within me a latent thought, bringing me face to face with the very real struggle that daily wages its war in my goings and doings, and even my thinkings!The sign says WET PAINT!
Why don’t I believe, and think I must TOUCH?
The fire is HOT! I’m told it will HURT!
Why must I reach for the PAIN in SUCH?
The place is too high, keep off of that LEDGE!
Why then must I test, to peer down from the EDGE?
The street’s not safe to walk in the NIGHT!
Why then do I think I can go without LIGHT?
Every day, in every way
I seem to push, and fail to stay
Where I am told I’ll be okay.
I’m told I must diet, my life to EXTEND.
Why then do I eat so, and my body OFFEND?
The doctor says walk, to care for my HEALTH.
Why then do I sit, with health on the SHELF?
I’m told that some movies I shouldn’t OBSERVE.
Why then do I watch, throwing my mind a CURVE?
And when I’m commanded to read my BIBLE and PRAY,
Why then do I put these in last place TODAY?
Every day, indeed, in every way
I seem to go, and do, and think, and fail to stay
Where, indeed, I know I’ll be OKAY!
I could go on, and perhaps you can add to the list of goings and doings and thinkings that take you astray from the path that is right. To quote my friend, we have a renegade heart! But we are not alone, for it is a condition that affects all in some way or other.
But, we’re in good company, so to speak! The Apostle Paul had his own list and summed it up in his writing to the Roman Christians. In what sounds on the surface like “double-talk”, Paul records his own struggles when He writes about the law and its revealing of the “sin which doth so easily beset us”. (Heb. 12:1) Romans 7:7-25 is his recounting of the Christian’s struggle with it.
His wrestling with our common malady is filled with the paradoxes of “woulds”, “shoulds” and their antitheses. Note these excerpts:
“For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” (vs. 15)
“For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (vs. 19)
Sound familiar? Well, read on - the frustrated plea from his self-inflicted misery. “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (vs. 24)
Paul knew very well the human condition, which was and is under the law of sin. He also knew that the law of God was given, not to be as much a standard of behavior, though it is that, but as the revealer of sin that is in our nature and practice. As he says in verse 7, “…I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.”
Paul also knew very well the account of the wilderness temptations of Jesus, and how the Devil had put the Lord to the test. In His forty days of fasting, He was tempted to use His power to change stones into bread to feed His hunger, to perform a miracle in leaping down from the top of the temple without hurt, and to bow to Satan to gain worldly rule. (Matthew 4:1-11) All of this Jesus did without sin, to become the perfect sacrifice for our sin plagued nature, that in spite of our bent to sin, and its sometimes victory in our lives, we might have the promised law of God inwardly that assures us of final victory.
So, how do I proceed in this quandary of struggle? First, I realize and admit the true nature of sin in me and the reality of God’s law in my mind, the inward man. The struggle is inevitable, however, the more often I acknowledge the greater victory over sinful thoughts and actions by the Indwelling Presence of God’s Spirit, the less frequently will Satan take the upper hand in the conflict. I will never, in this earthly life, be completely free of his attacks nor yieldedness in thought and action to his temptations, but the greater my time immersed in the word and walk of the Lord, the more completely will the Lord’s shield repel the tempting arrows of the enemy. As Paul says, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God” even though “with the flesh the law of sin.” (verse 25)
Be encouraged in Him, my brothers and sisters.