Honest with Ourselves

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my flesh nature a slave to the law of sin. (Romans 7:14-25)
6 He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus … 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.  (Philippians 1:6 & 2:13)

The Apostle Paul’s teaching in Romans 7 is pretty difficult to read. Not only is it complicated but, when you finally grasp what he is saying, it gets even harder. The Apostle Paul encourages us to be honest with ourselves that we haven’t got it in us to do what is right. We were born in ‘original sin’ and we have an inbuilt bias to do what’s wrong. Our parents never had to teach us to get up to mischief. We worked that out instinctively for ourselves.

God is our Father, so he teaches us how to do right here. He doesn’t point out that we are too weak to do the good we want to do in order to rub our faces in our sin. He does it because he wants to grant us freedom from the sins that enslave us, a freedom that begins by facing up to this truth. We haven’t got it in us to live the way that we now want to live as Christians. We found forgiveness for our sins by confessing that we couldn’t justify ourselves and by receiving Jesus as our Saviour. In the same way, we find freedom from our sins by confessing that we can’t change ourselves, but need Jesus to be our Liberator. Our progress the Christian life depends on our willingness to be this honest with ourselves.

Being honest with ourselves deals a death-blow to our pride, which enables us to receive help from Jesus. It also stops us from getting discouraged whenever we fail in our battle to live as God has commanded us. It is very easy for us to lose our confidence in all the statements that we spoke out last week about who we are in Christ. We begin to ask, “What’s wrong with me?” and ”Why am I still like this?” and ”Why is my faith not working?” and “Maybe I’m not a saint after all.” It is only when we are honest with ourselves that we can find our way out of such thinking.

The truth is, we did become new creations when we were born again through faith in Jesus. The ‘old us’ was crucified with Jesus – and yet it still feels very much alive and kicking! Part of the joy of walking by the Holy Spirit each day is learning to partner with him in countless moment-by-moment choices. Before we were born again, we only had the ‘old us’, and we obeyed it every time. Now that we have been born again, there is a ‘new us’. Walking with the Holy Spirit therefore means being the ‘new us’ by faith – allying ourselves daily with the Lord against the ‘old us’ that keeps on trying to raise itself again from the grave. Romans 7 is difficult to read but it ends with a cry of glorious confidence. Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, Jesus will!
Becoming aware of this choice that God calls us to make each day can be life-changing. There’s nothing wrong with you – you are just fighting the fight that all Christians throughout the ages have had to fight. Throughout this week, we will be looking at how the Holy Spirit empowers us to live according to the ‘new us’, rather than the ‘old us’, so pray for him to speak to you this week and to deliver you, just as the Apostle Paul promises you he will.
In his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul expands on this promise. He tells us that the Lord always completes the work he starts. In other words, if you are willing to persevere with the Holy Spirit then you will definitely see the fruit of collaborating with God. The one who made you want to do what is right will empower you to do it too!
  1. How much can you identify with the person who is described in Romans 7?
  2. Which sinful habits do you find it hardest to break in your life? What, for you, is the ‘evil you do not want to do that you keep on doing’?
  3. Which Christian habits do you find it hardest to establish in your life? What, for you, is the ‘good you want to do but do not do’?
  4. Do you believe the promises that we have looked at together today? If you do, then the tell that to the Lord. Praise him that he is going deliver you this week from specific areas of sin, as you put your trust in him.
Father God, I recognise that what the Apostle Paul says about me is true. I simply don’t have it in me by myself to do what’s right. But thank you that what the Apostle Paul says about you is true as well. You promise to complete in me what you have started. Having already forgiven me, you promise to free me too. Help me to learn from you this week through these Everyday Devotions. Help me to live as the person that your Scriptures now tell me I am. Amen.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.
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