Have you ever had that day or week or month or year or decade where a particular sin has you by the neck? I mean really has you by the neck. You could be having a perfectly amazing day and then BLAM you lie or lust or murder with your thoughts or well up with pride. Then right after you think to yourself, “Who was that? Waiiiit, that was me? How could I do that!?” Or even worse, you go on like nothing happened. Yeah, we have all been there. So what do I, the self-righteous Christian that I am, do? I pull up my boot straps, read a good self-discipline book, maybe slap myself in the face and then muster up all the power in my heart, soul, mind, and strength to go crush any sin that comes even a few inc…BLAM
It’s so frustrating, isn’t it? Jesus cancelled my debt and now lives in me so why am I still addicted to evil? I mean, I just can’t change! I can’t not sin. I. Can’t. Change.
18 I know there is nothing good in my sinful nature. I want to do what is good, but I can’t. 19 I don’t do the good things I want to do. I keep on doing the evil things I don’t want to do….24 What a terrible failure I am! Who will save me from this sin that brings death to my body?
– Romans 7:18-19, 24
Well Paul’s in the same boat. You can feel the same anger and confusion in his rant-like words, “What a terrible failure I am!” Yes!! That is exactly what I feel! I love you Paul! But waiiiit… doesn’t Paul always has answers? Yes again. Paul knows what’s up.
25 I give thanks to God. He will do it through Jesus Christ our Lord.
– Romans 7:25
In a way, I was right. I cannot change. I cannot change because all the power that I try to muster really amounts to nothing. It’s like if a baby koala bear tried to muster up all of its strength to move Mount Everest. It’s comical, right? Maybe even a little cute, except for the fact that we look like the koala above. Blehhh. Really it’s just pathetic. But you get the point. My debt wasn’t paid by any power that was within me. It was Jesus. Jesus made me righteous. So why should I think that I can suddenly be righteous all on my own? Who can save me from this sin that brings death to my body? Jesus. Only Jesus.
I remember hearing this a lot at my private Christian school, so much so that it became empty words to me. I heard that only Jesus could save me from my sin but my brain told me that I had to carry the brunt of the load; I had to save myself every day. And it was terrible. For some reason I thought that “Only Jesus can save me” meant “I need to be good enough, disciplined enough so that when temptation comes then Jesus can save me”. What!? How prideful I am.
So what does “only Jesus can save me” look like? Well from what I have come to know, it looks like a relationship. But let’s see what Paul has to say.
15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
– Romans 8:15-17
Adopted children. That’s us. We have been adopted by God almighty and now we have the divine privilege to cry “Dad! Father!” I don’t want to live like an estranged, wet, disgusting baby koala anymore. I want to live like a son of God, a brother of Jesus, an heir. I want to live with my Father.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think discipline is great. Reading God’s word is wonderful. Praying with Him is beautiful. Living in fellowship with other believers is enriching. But I have often found myself doing this alone, apart from my Father. I “honor” God with my lips but my heart is far from him (Matthew 15:8). And that is what the Father wants, my heart. If you think about it that is what any good father wants.
So no, I can’t change. On my own I don’t really want to change. But when I live with my Dad it’s hard not to. He’s just so amazing! When I grow up I want to be just like Him.