What I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do... For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice... O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Almost 2000 years ago, the Apostle Paul described the soul-splitting temptations every Christian faces. It's the age-old fight of evil versus good, lust versus love, actions versus intentions, and soul versus Spirit.
Scars from similar battles surround us today: broken marriages, fallen stars, failed diets, prodigal pastors, orphaned children, human trafficking, drug addictions, appearance obsessions, buried talents and lost dreams.
Peace seems to have pulled up stakes and left us at war. 'Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll--are they not in your record?' (Psalm 56:8). The fight between selfishness and unselfishness cuts deeply, but when you pause to consider it, this cut can be good.
Because 'The Sword of the Spirit' (Ephesians 6:17) is always good. Because 'The Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, It penetrates even to dividing soul and Spirit' (Hebrews 4:12). Isn't that division exactly what we need? The exposure and removal of ungodliness?
Actors, models and talent for Christ: Paul's misery at the end of Romans 7 is transformed to victory in Romans 8. Within that Chapter, the key to Paul's transformation is explained, as are the jaw-dropping benefits of any disciple who continues to walk with God.*
The way I see the turn in Paul's favor is two-fold:
1) Paul stopped hating himself: 'There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit' (Romans 8:1). Paul claims neither perfect success nor perfect obedience, but he realized his best efforts were enough. By the grace of God, practice would perfect him.
2) Paul discovered the good in suffering (including his own battles of the flesh): 'For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us' (Romans 8:18). The brilliant illumination of Christ's work within us shows others the victory they, too, can experience.
The rest of Romans 8 (which beleaguered Christians should recite daily) is a celebration.
To Be Continued...
* Romans 8 is one of the most uplifting and revelatory Chapters in Paul's Epistle's: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=romans+8&version=NKJV
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Practice Makes Perfect series.