From Paul the Apostle of Christ to the church in Rome:
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.
— Romans 7:15, 18–19
Reading those words, what I hear the apostle saying is this:
“I want to do the right thing, make right decisions and choices, but my want to don’t know how to.”
When earth’s first couple, Adam and Eve, chose to eat of the tree God had expressly forbidden, they unknowingly released a catastrophic plague infecting the whole of creation, a pandemic the Bible calls sin. And no one or no thing in space or time has escaped its paralyzing effect. By way of God’s law, Paul discovered just how destructive and far reaching our first parents’ error in judgment was as he came to terms with his own fallenness. Spiritually, Paul was among the walking dead, as was I before being awakened to faith in Christ. And, like Paul, I wanted to do right and often tried my best. I went to church, read the Bible, participated in Sunday School, memorized John 3:16 and sang Amazing Grace. But the death grip of sin held fast. Lost, with no sense of direction, my situation was despairingly hopeless. I had the want to, but my want to just didn’t know how to. These words from 2 Peter would well sum up my life back then:
The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.
— 2 Peter 2:22
I was numbered amongst the walking dead. There were signs of life, but there was no life in me — just an animated body, headed for the grave without hope. Sound familiar? Might this be your story too? Yes, you got the want to, but your want to don’t seem to know how to? Don’t despair. God’s gotcha covered. If you got the want to he knows how to. Scripture reads:
But being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved.
— Ephesians 2:4–5
Please, take a moment to let those soothing words soak in and, if you have not yet done so, now would be a good time to invite Jesus into your life. My friend, rest assured that he has purposed to save you. And never-never forget:
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
— Hebrews 10:23
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
— Lamentations 3:22–23