I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
A Victorious Struggle
Have you ever found yourself wondering, “If God has redeemed me from my sin and filled me with the righteousness of his Son, why do I still struggle with the same sins again and again? Why do I still worry about my kids, or my spouse, or my job? Why am I still so fearful and reluctant to share Jesus with others? Why do I still lose my temper and say things that I regret? Why are my eyes so quick to wander and my tongue to gossip?”
Like the apostle Paul we want to cry out, “What a wretched person I am!” The struggle is real. It is exhausting. It is painful. Several years ago, after preaching at an outdoor revival service, a young man came up to the preacher and said, “You talk a lot about the burden of sin. I’ve never felt it. It doesn’t seem all that heavy!” The preacher paused for a moment and then looked directly at the young man and asked, “If you laid a 100-pound weight on a dead man, do you think he’d feel the load?” The youth sneered. “Of course not!” The preacher immediately responded, “And so the soul that doesn’t feel the load of sin is dead!” If you didn’t feel a struggle with sin, you wouldn’t be spiritually alive. The Spirit’s work in our hearts is what leads us to experience this battle.
But knowing that Christians struggle with sin, doesn’t necessarily help us with the outcome. How long will it last? Will there ever be a day that we don’t look back and regret something that we said or did? Will we ever be able to lay down at night and close our eyes in peace? “Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
Listen to Paul’s answer: Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! We can’t rescue ourselves; our past is proof of it. If left alone we would forever struggle in a losing battle. But…God delivers us through Jesus Christ our Lord! The answer to our struggle is found in God’s Son. Jesus didn’t feel a 100-pound weight on his chest, he felt the weight of humanity’s sin and bore it on the cross. His resurrection from the dead proves that he paid for every last sin.
Because of Jesus’ work in our lives, the sinful nature is nothing more than an unwanted invader. Our inner being, our new nature in Christ, finds delight in God’s law. So even though we will continue to struggle here on earth, we have the victory through faith in Jesus. The victory gives the power and the motivation to keep on fighting against sin.
Dear Heavenly Father, as I continue to struggle with sin, focus my eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of my faith. Give me confidence knowing that he has won the victory for me and that my sinful flesh has no power over me. Amen.