There was a cartoon which showed two friends standing before a Preacher and one asks, “Why is it that opportunity only knocks once but temptation beats on my door every day?!”
Can you relate to that to that feeling?
Oscar Wilde, the celebrated playwright and poet of the early 20th Century, known for his self-indulgent life once quipped, “I can resist everything but temptation.”
Maybe you feel the way that Wilde did?
Regardless, every human being struggles with the enticements of the flesh in some form or fashion.
Today’s Bible passage speaks to that universal struggle. It’s a difficult and challenging passage. Commentators, scholars, and preachers hold various views about Paul’s point. C. D. Hamilton suggests that Paul is speaking of “himself rhetorically to demonstrate or illustrate what every individual experience.’
Regardless, the text does speak to the inner conflict that is very real to everyone who wrestles against the wiles of the devil, while seeking to do right.
“I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (V.15).
“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh” (v.18)
“For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (v.19)
Paul reminds his readers that while the law of Moses had “died” and they were now “married to another,” yet they were not without law. Everyone in this dispensation is subject to “the law of Christ.”
Law, whether the Law of Moses or any law points out the problem of keeping it perfectly. Humans fall short. Perfectionism is not realistic or attainable. That doesn’t make the law bad. Or sinful. In fact, the very law that punishes the wrongdoer is actually designed to protect the law-abiding.
However, both the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ remind us of “the law of sin and death.” Law accentuates the lure of sin and Satan’s seductive appeal to fleshly desires. It highlights our feeling of guilt, remorse and shame. And, if we dwell too long on our faults, flaws, and frailties of the flesh, we can feel inadequate, impotent and unable to please God.
Yet, as dark and dim as this chapter may seem, it leaves us on a high note with help and hope. “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Paul rhetorically asked.
“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (v.25)
What the Law was unable to do, God accomplished through Christ and his vicarious death on the cross. The Gospel of Grace is about freedom from the bondage, burden and blame of sin.
You don’t have to be Satan’s slave. You don’t have to stumble through life. You don’t have to be shackled by sin. You don’t have to live in the past. You don’t have to wallow in guilt. You don’t have to suffer in shame.
“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” (Rom. 8:1)
In Christ, there is a peace that overcomes distress. Joy that defeats depression. Hope that vanquishes hopelessness. And victory that conquerors failure.
Don’t give up. Don’t surrender. Don’t allow the struggle to overwhelm you. By the grace of God, you can win.
Nothing can separate you from the love of God. Stay by His side and you will be a conqueror.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman