The Good…I Don’t Do

Day’s Readings: Psalm 88:9b-18, Romans 7:7-25, Hosea 6:1-7:16
Pastor's Ponderings IllustrationMeditational Reading: Romans 7:18b-20, 24-25a
18b For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
19  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.
20  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
24  Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
25  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Wow!  Have you ever had the Bible reach out and slap you on the nose?  The second reading did that for me.  It always does that whenever I read it!  It slaps me on the nose because it describes so well!  The good I want to do, that I don’t do.  But the evil I don’t want to do, that I keep on doing!  Why do I keep doing the bad things that I know are wrong?  Because of the sin nature that still clings to me even as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Take a close look at the reading (in its totality).  Paul is not writing about his life prior to coming to faith.  He is writing about his life as a believer in Jesus.  Paul’s attitude toward the reality and power of sin can be liberating.  When I came to faith in Jesus, I knew that I was a sinner and I rejoiced that God the Father fully and freely forgave all of my sins.  I then expected to become a better person.  And, in some ways (not many), I did.  But sin was still there.  If anything, sin seemed more powerful after I believed than before I believed!  How could that be?

There came a time in my life that I gave up on God.  I was aware of the sins I committed (and kept committing).  It came to the point that I gave up.  I didn’t care anymore.  If God wanted me, he would have to accept me as I was–warts and all.  When I came to that conclusion, sin no longer bothered me (as much as it once did).  I knew my fate and I was resigned to it, might as well not care much about it.  When I came to faith in Jesus, I learned that God did accept me, warts and all, but not because he had no choice, but because he made the choice to send his Son into this world to take my sin (and sins) upon himself and pay their price in full on the cross!  God loved me in spite of me!  God still loves me in spite of me!

With that liberating good news, I expected to improve morally.  But I didn’t.  As I previously wrote, sin seemed even stronger!  Why was that?  I think there are two reasons:

  1. I was more aware of sin, what it was, what it did.  Before coming to faith in Jesus I kind of inoculated myself against sin.  I could justify just about anything I did in my mind.  When I came to faith it was with a (kind of) chilling realization that it was my sins that sent Jesus to the cross.  In reading God’s Word, the Bible, I came to see more and more of the things I did were outside of God’s will (we call that “sin”).
  2. I had a rather weak view of sin.  I believed that sin was things you did or didn’t do (which it is), but sin is even more.  It is a power at work in the world and in me.  Even as a believer sin is still at work in me.  I wanted to master sin, but could not.  I wanted to stop sinning, but could not.  I wanted to exert my power of sin, but sin still exerted its power over me!  Paul reminds us that sin is not merely things we do and don’t do.  Sin is insidious.  It works in us and, ultimately, wants us to despair (even as believers in Jesus) that God cannot possibly love us and will reject us because we are just not good enough for him even as Christians!

Even as a believer in the Lord Jesus, I am still a sinner.  A sinner who should be lost for eternity.  But Paul throws in the kicker in verse 24 “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  What I could not do, what I cannot do, what I will not be able to do, God has done for me, totally and completely, in Jesus and his death and resurrection.  I am still and sinner and God still fully and freely forgives me!  That’s great news!

Although sin is a power at work in me, it does not absolve me from my own personal responsibility for committing sins.  I may claim that “Sin made me do it!”  But I also have to admit that I was a willing participant in the act.

  • I am a sinner.
  • I commit sin(s).
  • Jesus forgives me.
  • I live in that forgiveness!

A prayer:  Lord, I would so like to master sin in my life, but sin still has its way and masters me.  Thank you for your love and forgiveness which are new every morning and never run out, for with out your love and forgiveness, I would be lost forever.  Thank you for being my Savior–even today.  Amen!

If you would like to hear some of Pastor Kerner’s sermons, you can visit the sermon archive at: https://gslcsuffield.wordpress.com/2010/12/08/sermon-archive-2010-2011/  The sermon archive is normally updated every Sunday afternoon.

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 585 South St. (Rt. 75), Suffield CT 06078 USA  www.gslcsuffield.com  If you would like to support this ministry, send your offering to the church.

If you found this article particularly helpful, would you share it with your friends and acquaintances on your social networking websites?  This is an easy way to use the internet as an evangelism tool.  You can friend me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/james.kerner.  Thank you for considering this.

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