Most days I really let myself down. I start off the day by saying, “I will not do that today.” Maybe it is more personal like “I will not think like that again.” Either way, I frequently plan to have a day that I think will make God proud of me. I pray for it in the morning. I plan for it as the day gets started. I swear to it in the deep recesses of my spirit.
Then it happens. I step into the darkness of my own soul. I do that thing I swore I would never do again. Upon realization of my thoughts and actions, I slip into the despair of another failed day. I let myself down and I let God down.
On a day like this, my mind goes back to a piece of scripture. It is from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Church in Rome. He is talking about a life of faith, the gift of grace and the power of the Holy Spirit. In that passage, he says something that I cannot escape.
Romans 7:15-20 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. (16) Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. (17) So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (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. (ESV)
I know there is a deeper understanding of this passage than what just lies at face value. Yet, I read the words clearly without any commentary other than my own life.
“I do not understand my own actions.” Oh yes.
“I know nothing good dwells in me.” How very true.
I quickly take comfort in the fact that one of the greatest Church leaders struggled some day just like I do. He felt the burden of our flesh’s desire to do that which is contrary to God’s will. He felt the burn of the flesh as he did those things he despised.
I know that feeling. And sometimes, I just want to know that I am not alone in my struggles. There are times that I think no one will ever understand what I am thinking or feeling. There are times I feel all alone in my depravity. Then the scripture reminds me that I am not alone. God’s people have struggled with sin since the very beginning. Even God’s greatest people were a total mess, all the way from King David to the Apostle Paul.
The human struggle against sin is real. We all have been there. We are all there right now.
Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Everyone has been there. Just do not give up. Instead, throw yourself on the grace of Jesus over and over. No believer is perfect, just forgiven.