This devotional was originally published on January 14, 2019.
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 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. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
— Romans 7:15–25
I have always taken so much comfort in the reality that the Apostle Paul struggled. When it comes to the Christian life, other than Jesus, no one has done it better than Paul. While he became a Christian a little later in life after a very checkered past, it is clear that Paul was all in when it came to following Jesus. He suffered greatly (2 Corinthians 11:23 – 28), yet he persevered. He spent years traveling around the Mediterranean, planting these little churches that would change the world. And, obviously, he wrote about half the New Testament. You would have to agree, that the Apostle Paul was a heavyweight in Christianity.
Yet he makes it clear in this passage of Scripture that he struggled. His actions didn’t always line up with his beliefs and intentions. He says clearly that he wants to do (knows he should do) one thing, but ends up doing the other (what he should not do). And I know that all of us can relate to this.
But, while we can all relate, and we all have our own struggles, we don’t give up. We recognize that God is working in us, and he wants to give us a full and abundant life. In fact, he is in the process of transforming us from the inside out. And the great news for us is that he will be successful. It doesn’t matter how far you feel like you have to go, how far away you are from who God wants you to be. If you are a believer, he is going to conform you to the image of Christ.
In fact, the same Apostle Paul relays that promise to us in his letter to the Philippians:
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
— Philippians 1:6
God is working in you, so don’t give up today. Don’t quit trusting. Don’t quit obeying. Don’t quit striving. Don’t quit looking to Jesus as the author and perfecter of your faith!