Have you ever not done something you knew you needed to do, or not done something you knew would be the right thing to do? Or worse yet, not only did you not do the thing you should’ve done, but you did the opposite? Or maybe, maybe you even DID do something, but it was the something you knew you SHOULDN’T do?
Well, just take a second & look at your “resolutions” for the year, those might just be some good examples…we’re almost to the end of January. How are those holding up for you? On a bigger scale, though, we’ve all done stuff like this. Self-sabotaging- & not just sabotaging our resolutions- but sabotaging our souls with sin when we know we should be doing something different.
There is a passage of scripture that speaks to this, too:
“For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold as a slave under sin. For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. Now if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one that does it, but it is the sin that lives in me. So I discover this law: when I want to do what is good, evil is present with me. For in my inner self I delight in God’s law, but I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind & taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”Romans 7:14-24
I used to think I understood this passage…but you know, it IS Paul writing so it can be a little confusing. It wasn’t until recently that I felt like I finally got it. It was my hormone-flooded-3-month-post-partem self that finally got it. Post-partem hormones had me feeling fine one second, then I’d feel them stirring up thoughts of hormonal resentment towards my husband & the world. When I recognized those thoughts & feelings I’d lecture myself to keep it under control, but despite my self-lecturing, the thoughts meandered their way to my tongue, lips, & beyond…until they got out & I couldn’t take them back.
One day I told my husband that it kinda felt like I was crazy. Not crazy in the sense of needing to see a doctor or be institutionalized, but the kind of crazy where I felt like there were two versions of me on the inside. There was the version of me that just wanted to glorify God in everything I do & then there was the version of me that wanted to do whatever it was I felt like doing or saying. I told him that it felt so weird being able to recognize the difference between the two & to actually feel myself playing tug-of-war over my actions. I could literally feel the one Emily having moments of anger, frustration, or negative thoughts & I KNEW that Emily felt like spewing them from my mouth…while the other Emily was like, “wooaahh, no…chill, breathe. It’s okay. Father God, help me, breaaatthheeee.” The more I began to recognize the two Emilys & the feeling of the tug-of-war happening, the easier it became to keep it together.
But it didn’t always work.
I don’t know how many times I had to apologize to my sweet David because the one Emily, the “flesh” Emily, got loose. And those moments were SO frustrating. I really began to feel what Paul was saying in those last 2 verses- vs. 23 & 24. My heart just LONGED to please the Lord but the other half of me was holding me hostage, messing myself up, & laughing while she watched me trip & stumble. It really made me feel verse 24- feeling so wretched, frustrated, & trying to figure it out.
And that’s where Paul leads, too. You see, the “spirit” Emily isn’t capable of keeping the “flesh” Emily under control, not on her own. If you & I try to keep ourselves together on our own we do end up feeling wretched & hopeless as Paul says in verse 24 because it’s not possible through ourselves. But Romans doesn’t end there. Paul goes on in the next chapter:
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin & death. For what the law could not do since it was weakened by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh as a sin offering…”Romans 8:1-3
Because of Christ, because of His love & sacrifice I am free of all that shame, all those wretched feelings of failure when the “flesh” Emily escapes. I don’t have to run away in shame anymore, I don’t have to beat myself up for my failures. I don’t even have to pick myself up because more often than not, Christ does the picking up when I come to Him with my broken, messed up pieces. He puts it back together in love & tenderness. There is something so sweet & uplifting in knowing I can open my heart to Christ- my heart that is embattled & filled with failures- & He hasn’t condemned me but rather heals me. There may still be consequences for our actions in this world, but even there Christ will walk with us. All of this makes me love Him all the more & makes me want to cling to Him even tighter.
So, if you feel that battle going on inside, if you’re feeling defeated because your “flesh” you is getting loose more often than your “spirit” you, bring it to Christ. In your brokenness & failure, bring it to Christ, lay it all out at His feet. Let Him remind you Whose you are, let Him speak peace, joy, healing, & gratitude into your heart. The more you’re filled with those, the more you’re filled with Him, the harder it will be for the “flesh” you to come out…& overtime, the battles won’t be quite so loud or quite so difficult.
Be blessed, friends.