18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. Romans 7:18-20.
What a dilemma. The life of a Christian is a constant struggle and Paul puts it well. As Christians we all want to do good but so often, our best intentions do not materialize the way we see they should. As Paul puts it very bluntly; I intend to do good but end up doing evil. As this passage concludes, we see the reason why. It is sin and sin alone.
Why doesn’t this happen the way we think it should happen? This reminds me of the old cartoons. There is a big dilemma the character is facing; on the one shoulder is the devil, on the other shoulder is the angel. This devil and this angel are both leading the character in what he should do. This is all well and fine for a cartoon, but this is not how real life works.
This goes all the way back to creation to find an answer. As it tells us in Genesis that God created man in his own image. And we like to think that’s how it’s done today. This was all changed when sin came into the world through Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve became sinful and enemies of God, therefore their children all the way down the line are born in sin. Scripture tells us in sin in our mother conceived us. When we come into this world, we are sinful and enemies of God.
God in his mercy and grace enabled us to be reborn. Nicodemus, a Pharisee at the time of Jesus, came to him and asked how this change could happen? On Pentecost we see the realization of this happen. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit, the Helper. Through the waters of Holy Baptism our old Adam, our sinful self, was drowned. As this happened, we became children of our heavenly Father.
It was then the role of those around us to lead us to hear the word of God. As you were raised in a Christian family you probably went to Sunday school, confirmation, and became an adult member in your church. In Holy Baptism you received the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you and gives you faith and develops that faith throughout your life.
What does all this mean? For those children who were baptized and did not grow up hearing the word of God, they did not grow up in Christ. They were condemned to sin, death, and hell. Hopefully later in their life they will hear the word of God and faith will develop and grow. It is the Holy Spirit that makes you holy. But you still live in a sinful world and being human, your human nature wants you to live in sin. Christians are constantly battling the unholy trinity; the devil, the world, and our own sinful nature. So as long as we live on earth, we will be struggling with trying to do good.
Where does that could come from? It comes from the Holy Spirit who has sanctified us and made us holy. It is the Spirit that leads us to do good in this world, not for ourselves, for the purpose of glorifying God and bringing others to know our good and gracious God. We are used by the Holy Spirit to lead others to know and love the one true God! This brings us to the concept of we are both sinners and saints in this world.
We are saints because God through the work of his son Jesus Christ has made us holy. We have been purchased from our sins as Christ paid for each and every one of them on the cross! We know that when we die, we will receive God’s promise of eternal life and salvation in Him for all eternity.
It is by God’s grace that we as sinners do good in this world. After all, we know that God defeated Satan on the cross and he has no power over us.
Have a God pleasing week.