May we have the grace to accept more and expect less as we follow Jesus, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly.
13 Did what is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.
The Inner Conflict14 For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin.* 15I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
1) "By no means;" "...I am of the flesh;" "...nothing good dwells within me;" "...I can will what is right, but I cannot do it;" "...I do not understand my own actions;"
2) Some of these verses seem so clear and others make my head spin. Anyone who has lived with anything like addiction can understand: "I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do." Addiction is way more pervasive than we think. We think of drugs and alcohol, maybe food, maybe gambling or spending money. But we are most pervasively addicted to our own way of thinking. I may want to think differently, but like a dog to a bone, I go back to the old way of thinking. I see that in ministry so much. We have a meeting and decide that we are going to do something differently, but seconds later in the hall, we are back to the same behaviour. Addiction kills. And our old behaviour, adaptive behaviour that once served us, is now killing us. Paul points out that it isn't "us" returning to the behaviour, but "the sin that dwells within" us. The law might have some success in controlling the behaviour, but only grace can genuinely save us and create new behaviours in us. We need to pray. We need to stay focused on God's grace. We need to keep correcting our old behaviour, forgiving the return when we return back, and move on again in the new way of being. 12 steps has nothing on Paul.
3) What is the invitation in all this? To accept grace. To accept the failures and that the failures are do to our inherent nature (original sin?). To accept the return to grace. Over and over and over until the new becomes the familiar.
"Holy One, transform our hearts and actions to be just, kind and humble."
Breathprayer: "Sin... I do not understand"