I remember hearing these verses for the first time and my response was “WHAT?”. The pastor had repeated them several times but I could not seem to grasp this tongue twister for my brain. I opened my bible and slowly read the verses several times before my AH HA moment came. It seems I was not alone living in this frustrating state of trying to do what was right but ending up doing what was not. It also seemed that evil forces were working against me to confuse my efforts so it wasn’t really my fault that I sinned, it was in my nature.
When asked why people don’t attend church the most common response is there are too many rules. If truth be known and we dug a little deeper we can find that they believe that there are too many rules that suggest their lifestyle is questionable. Call them rules, laws, commands or whatever but there is a moral standard based on God’s expectations and it can be difficult to live up to that standard. Paul suggests that we are up against forces that inhibit our ability to live by these standards. These evil forces somehow turn our efforts about so that we offend God as we try to please the standard instead of the author of it. It seems that our attempt to do “good” gets caught up in a CATCH-22 scenario; a problematic situation for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem. Losing something is typically a conventional problem; “to solve it”, one looks for the lost item until one finds it. But if the thing lost is one’s glasses, one can’t see to look for them – a CATCH-22 (Taken from Wikipedia). Living a life that is pleasing to God is not an unsolvable logic problem. It is not a CATCH-22 scenario. Paul shares in verse 25 of Roman’s 7 that we are rescued by Jesus from the death caused by the sin we can’t seem to avoid doing. Jesus brings eternal life to this seemingly hopeless and helpless situation.
We should be careful not to get tricked by the AH HA moment that suggests we can’t help but sin. We know we can have victory over sin with the help of God. We can pray for help in overcoming sin but we must include some sort of action on our part. I recently read that it is OK to pray and ask God to help us lose weight. However we should not be surprised if He does not answer because we are unwilling to exercise or diet. Just the same, He will answer our prayer to gain victory over sin if we make the effort to recognize what offends Him and then strive not to offend all the while seeking forgiveness as we trip and fall. It may seem inevitable that we will sin but it should not be our excuse to do. Seek God’s heart and then seek His help.
Let’s pray: “Holy God. It is my desire to live a life pleasing to you but I admit I seem not to be able to do so; forgive me for my transgression. Jesus. Thank you for the hope of the cross that has allowed my sins to be cleansed. Holy Spirit, prompt me before I fall and continue to guide me on that path that leads to righteousness. Amen”.