It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. (THE MESSAGE)
Sometimes we may wonder if we can even call ourselves ‘Christians’. We go astray so often, we are constantly attacked with temptations and don’t always resist them. Despite all our best intentions and our fervent promises to please God from now on, we stumble and fall. Is this what discipleship is all about?
Yes—and no. In this passage, Paul highlights our inner battles. Though some see his words as referring to his pre-conversion experience, those same words ring true for what we all experience even after embracing Jesus. We want to do what is right but find ourselves doing wrong. We know we ought not to say certain things and yet say them. We win some victories but also suffer some defeats.
In a funny sort of way, passages like this are a great comfort to us. The fact that we struggle doesn’t negate our status as loved and forgiven children of God. Indeed, the very fact that we do struggle is a sign of our faith, not something to cause us to doubt it. The time to be concerned is when we simply don’t bother about our going off track. Falling into sin is not the primary problem: whether we are concerned about it is the problem.
Followers of Jesus are reminded repeatedly they are in a spiritual battle. We do not sail serenely over life’s setbacks and challenges. This is uncomfortable at least. But we can be sure that while the battles are being fought, the war has been won.