Tuesday, December 30, 2008

No condemnation

I love how honest the bible is. Take Paul for example- one of the great leaders in the early church, a master theologian who wrote a good deal of the new testament. But take a look at some of what he wrote concerning his struggles
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.
(Romans 7:15-23 NIV)

I think we can all relate to him there- i know i can. At this time of year many of us are making new years resolutions that involve getting rid of a particular sin out of our lives.You can promise yourself you will never go back to your old ways but way too often it ends up happening, often quicker than you'd ever expect too. Temptations have a nasty habit of coming back again (and again and again...) and giving in can be all too easy. And then there's the resolutions about doing something positive that the bible teaches you that you should do. I think all of us have failed at our commitments to do what we should. I don't know how many times i have started an "i will get up early and pray" plan. This can all get pretty discouraging at times and if this was the end of the story we would all be in big trouble....but it is not. Look at what Paul goes on to write.

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 7:24-8:2 NIV)

Here's the good news- as a believer in Christ you do not live condemned for your failings that will inevitably come. Jesus has already paid the price for them so you don't have to. That doesn't mean that you deliberately sin or not try to do what is right (see  Romans 6) It does mean that in those times that you do mess things up the grace of God extends to you because of what Jesus has done. When you fail at the commitments you make to God this new years, don't give up. Repent, ask for his help and keep moving forward.