I have a ritual I go through almost every day.
- I leave the house intending to go to the post office and then the church.
- I pull into the church parking lot.
- I say “Darn it. I forgot to go to the post office.”
You would think that after five years I would remember to go to the post office first, but for some reason I keep making the same mistakes over and over again.
In today’s passage Paul confesses to his own weakness. What struggle does Paul face? What does Paul keep doing? Why does he do this?
Forgetting to go to the post office at the beginning of my day is a nuisance, but really not a big deal. Being unable to break negative habits, on the other hand, is a big deal. Whether it is a strong addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling or pornography, or simply an inability to act in a Godly way when the opportunity arises, we are living in our sinful nature when we fail to do what is right.
Some people have strong addictions that are very hard to break. Some may even require professional (and long-term) counseling to get past. But I believe most people simply fail in small ways on an almost daily basis.
Perhaps you let your temper get the best of you and you took it out on an innocent person. Maybe you had an opportunity to do a good deed for someone but you were too afraid or caught up in your own worries to bother. You may have recognized a needy cause but decided your money is better spent taking care of you and your family.
All failings, big and small, are failings. We may be aware of what is right and good on an intellectual level, but we just can’t get past the inertia that keeps us doing nothing about it.
To get past our failings we need egkrateia – self-control. We need the ability of our souls to overcome the sluggishness and selfishness of our minds and bodies. Through self-control we can see the good and holy things that need to be done and then act on them – carry them out.
But fighting that vicious cycle of always doing what is wrong is difficult to do. How do we overcome the power of the sinful nature? Paul handed his “wretched” self over to Christ, and through the power of Jesus was able to be one of the most powerful and influential believers in history (see Romans 7:24-25). By submitting to Jesus we can gain the true self-control needed to do what is good.
DAILY CHALLENGE: What sinful cycle of yours needs to be handed over to the power of Jesus?