Paul says it so well.
I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience shows that I agree that the law is good. But I can’t help myself, because it is sin inside me that makes me do these evil things. I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I can’t make myself do right. I want to, but I can’t. When I want to do good, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyways. But if I am doing what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing it; the sin within me is doing it. It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another law at work within me that is at war with my mind. This law wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?
I read this in a book the other day (not the Bible, although it is from there- the book of Romans) and something deep inside me felt relieved to know that Paul apparently found himself just as frustrating as I find myself to be. I am downright aggravating.
I don’t know how to forget myself.
I mean… I forget so many things. I really do.
But when it comes down to forgetting myself… I can’t seem to do it.
Not just forgetting myself. But redirecting all that attention to God.
Have you ever noticed how quickly a good thing can become bad?
Isn’t it just absolutely astounding how quickly something can turn from being God-focused to being me-focused?
It makes me feel sad and guilty and a little bit afraid that I will never figure this out. It’s so hard to stop it from happening, because I don’t even notice that I have made the switch. I start out with best, the purest intentions, and before I know it… I am reveling in the personal satisfaction that I am feeling and I am doing it to make me feel good instead of doing it to serve God and others. Just like that… I am serving myself while doing something that might appear Godly. That’s the worst part. That it can so easily disguise itself as something good.
Ooooh, I hate it.
This is embarrassing to say… but the other day, I was thinking about something that I’ve been dealing with, and I have been trying to think my way through it, and solve it, and I discovered that I had a problem within a problem. (Problem-ception would be the technical name for it, I believe.) Not only did I have the initial, apparent problem, but my motives for wanting to fix it were all wrong. I wanted to fix that problem a) quickly, before anyone else would catch on to it and b) so that I could experience some kind of peace and emotional stability. I do love when everything is emotionally stable in there.
But I was so ashamed of myself when I realized how unGodly my motives are. I think that I may have sat down with my journal and started out with good intentions. But about a page and a half into it… I realized that I was thinking more about myself, and less about how God could use me in better ways if I were whole.
I know that looking to myself is useless. I know that in the end, what I do will come to nothing if there is not something bigger running through it. I know that my words are worthless without Jesus laced all over them. But oh… I have so much trouble with wanting to stick myself in there.
I’m scared I’m even doing it right now. Talking about God by talking about myself.
This feeling of thinking that you desperately want to do what is right, only to discover that really, you only desperately want to impress others. It feels like there is such a fine line between those two things, and far too often, I find myself dancing across the line, caught up and giddy in the experience and my emotions, and then contentedly strolling around on the wrong side of the line.
It makes me feel black inside.
But there is so much light that I can’t help but feel hopeful.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law,weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us,who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Forthose who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodiesthrough his Spirit who dwells in you.
So then, brothers,we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he alsopredestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.