The older I become, the more I realize how little I know and how little I act upon what I do know. Although I have been gifted with a slightly above average intelligence, I am not always wise. All too often, I reach conclusions through faulty logic that is clouded by unhealthy thought patterns.
I’ve gained head knowledge over the years by sitting under incredible teaching in local fellowships and attending conferences with brilliant keynote speakers. As I’ve read the Bible from cover to cover several times, I am well aware of the path I should go as far as my Christian walk goes. And yet, so often, I don’t walk out the basics. “Do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8). I stumble in my thought life, spoken words, actions and lack of effort.
Paul writes of the frustrating stalemate most Christians find themselves in at one time or another.
Romans 7:15-20 MSG – “I can anticipate the response that is coming: ‘I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?’ Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary. But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.”
Many Christians quote the above passage as justification to proclaim themselves as hopeless sinners. Depression might creep in if I didn’t know the rest of the story. God never expected Paul to stay in such a wretched state. He certainly doesn’t want me to wallow there either!
In Romans 7:24, Paul asks the million-dollar question. “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?” If you read Romans 4-7 carefully, you’ll see Paul’s narrative move back and forth from his life as a Pharisee, trying to follow the letter of the law without Christ, and his life as a Christ-follower. Jesus answered Paul’s question way back on the road to Damascus.
And so, Paul answers his rhetorical question in this passage by testifying of the transformation that took place that glorious day.
“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. With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death” Romans 7:25-8:2 MSG
I am a new creature in Christ; the old man is dead. Although I might sin on occasion, my identity is no longer defined as a sinner. If I do sin, I do so in a direct violation of the who I now am, through Christ Jesus. I plan on plugging into that new power and reminding myself of who I am today and of whom I am a representative. As one of his ambassadors here on earth, it would be a shame if I went around saying I am a sinner. It’s more logical to humble myself before my Lord and to align my thoughts to His truth.
Proverbs 3:5-8 ESV – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”
In times of uncertainty and stress, we tend to revert to old comforts and thought patterns. We often excuse such behaviour with comments such as “I am only human.” “I can’t help myself,” “I wouldn’t do what is wrong if they didn’t…”
Perhaps you protest, “I’m just a sinner saved by grace, isn’t grace all about God turning a blind eye on my sin?” The answer to that one is NO. God’s mercy and God’s grace are two different things. God’s grace empowers us to do the right thing and to represent him well in our thoughts and actions. God’s mercy is there to forgive us when we mess up. Mercy triumphs over judgement as we repent of specific sins. If you identify yourself as a sinner, then you will use that identity as an excuse to sin.
It’s not the time to let yourself off the hook, now is the time to keep short accounts with both God and the world around you. Be vigilant in your thought life, and remind yourself of your new identity in Christ. If you momentarily forget who you are in Christ or if you deliberately choose to walk away from that truth, repent, change your thinking, and press on.
Join in my weekly feature “Let’s Discuss” on YouTube, Tuesday at 5 PM Mountain Standard Time. If you subscribe to my channel, and hit the bell once you subscribe, choosing the ‘all’ option that will pop up, you’ll receive an email reminder about the live chat where we often discuss the blog I wrote that week and get to know each other a bit better. Come join a welcoming group of people.
I invite you to subscribe to my YouTube channel, “What’s Up With Katherine” it doesn’t cost anything. If you hit the red icon that says ‘subscribe’ then hit the ‘bell’ and choose all, you will receive an email notification stating I posted a new video. Neither Youtube or I will be spamming you with stuff, I promise.
Follow me on Facebook. You do not need to send me a friend request to follow me. However, I welcome friend requests if you message me first to say you know me from the website or email list! Here is the Facebook link.
Sign up for my weekly email that not only includes a devotional but also seven quotes from prominent authors, speakers, and heroes of our faith. I do not use this mailing list for any other purpose!
All Bible verses attributed to the ESV version unless otherwise indicated.
Like what you read? You can help keep this ministry in several ways. Find out more HERE
Until Next Week,
©2020 Katherine Walden