Among other things that Paul addresses in today’s Bible reading, he concludes the chapter discussing his internal holiness conflict. On one hand, he says that he doesn’t do what he wants to do. Instead, he does the very things he hates. (Romans 7:15, 19)
A few years ago I heard someone tell about being arrested for public intoxication. He was read his Miranda Rights and was told that he had the right to remain silent. Unfortunately, in his drunken state, he said he didn’t have the ability to remain silent.
Paul can relate. He says in Romans 7:18 that he wants to do what is good, but he is unable to do it. I can relate, too.
All too often, I don’t do what I should, or I do what I shouldn’t. Or I don’t say what I should, or I say something I shouldn’t. Like Paul, I’m conflicted. You probably are, too.
So what are we to do? For one, know that you aren’t weird. You aren’t the only believer who ever walked the planet feeling “spiritually schizophrenic”. We’ve all been there. We’ve all done that. And we all have more T-shirts than we’d care to admit.
So, put down the stick. Stop beating yourself up. Realize that until you cross over to the other side of eternity, you (and all of us) will continue to deal with this conflict.
The Christian life is one of “already, but not yet”. We have already been justified by God. Nothing will ever change that. But until we cross over to the other side, we aren’t there yet.
The Christian life is a life of continually becoming in our experience who we already are positionally in our standing before God. It’s a process called sanctification. It’s a process of becoming more and more holy in our beliefs, our attitudes, and our behavior.
It’s an all-out war to grow to be more like Jesus and to win the battles, you have to take on a wartime mentality. For an example of this wartime mentality, John Piper likens prayer to a wartime walkie-talkie as opposed to a domestic intercom. You would use a domestic intercom to request your personal assistant to refill your empty tea glass. But you would use a wartime walkie-talkie to call for reinforcements in a battle. When you operate with a wartime mentality, you approach things differently. And with Piper’s analogy, when you have a wartime mentality, you pray differently.
Too often, we don’t have a wartime mentality and as a result, we lose a lot of battles. We tend to want to manage our sin instead of killing it. I’ll have more on that in tomorrow’s devotional!
Don’t give up the fight. Keep striving to do those things that God has told you to do and to think of those things He has told you to think on. Know that you really don’t have the ability to do and think on those things in and of yourself. You need help. And the Holy Spirit is there to work in you and through you to change your beliefs, your attitudes, and your behavior. Just remember to ask for His help!
This devotional was originally published May 23, 2019.