In studying Romans 7 and 8 this week I came across what may be my favorite quote from Paul.
It’s in Chapter 7, Verse 15: “For I do not know what I do; I do not do the things which I want, but I do the thing which I hate. That’s exactly what I do.”
Here, Paul is explaining to the new church that Jesus made us a new creation when He sent down the Holy Spirit. But it is very hard to wrap our minds around exactly what that means.
Paul is talking about this fleshly body that wants to control him by it’s needs. He knows what he should and should not do but, the old habits die hard.
In Verse 23, Paul goes on to say, “But in every part of me I discover something fighting against my mind, and it makes me a prisoner of sin that controls everything I do.” Verse 24, “What a miserable person I am. Who will rescue me from this body that is doomed to die?”
It’s much like me trying to watch my food intake. I don’t want the cookie, I don’t need the cookie. My brain knows this but my physical desire is so strong, I end up eating the cookie. Then I’m miserable.
I do take comfort that perhaps the greatest evangelist of all times struggled in this area and, thankfully, he wrote many books of the New Testament.
The laws that Moses gave his people were perfect and holy, but they were given to people who could not ever keep them. Then Jesus’s death made the old law void.
Paul was trying to persuade people to accept the guidance of the Holy Spirit because with Him we don’t need the law. The Holy Spirit is stronger than any fleshly, physical desire because it is part of God Himself.
People today are still struggling to understand exactly how the Spirit of God works and what we are supposed to be doing to love and honor God.
Many days I go through my life as if I were still under this old law, trying to be a good person and keep all the Christian expectations. As if I could attain God’s love and admiration because of my efforts, forgetting that God doesn’t need or necessarily want my effort.
I just end up busy and tired in the end. Then I remember to get quiet and still, and there I can be refreshed by the Spirit who will bring the things to me that He wants me to concentrate on.
In conclusion, Paul says in Romans, Chapter 8, Verses 1-5: “If you belong to Christ Jesus, you won’t be punished. The Holy Spirit will give you life that comes from Jesus and will set you free from sin and death. God used Christ’s body to condemn sin. He did this, so we could obey the Spirit instead of our own desires.
“People who are ruled by their desires think only of themselves. Everyone who is ruled by the Holy Spirit thinks about spiritual things.”
A wonderful future is promised to those who will do what it takes to listen to the will of God and to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
(Rhonda Sexton is an author and inspirational speaker. She lives in Neosho with her husband and children. She can be reached at email@example.com or 417-389-1222.)