Last week, I talked about contradictions in life. I wrote about the fact that we praise God and speak poorly of others with the same tongue, and that ought not to be.
There are other contradictions to which the Bible speaks. In Romans 7, Paul says some things that both encourage me and discourage me at the same time. It encourages me because if Paul — the apostle, great preacher and writer of Scripture — had these troubles, then I realize that it is normal.
At the same time, I get so tired of doing the same foolish things over and over again. I want to do the right things. I want to honor the Lord with my whole life.
Let’s consider what Paul wrote. “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Can you empathize with Paul? Do you ever do something, knowing in advance that it is wrong, frustrated with yourself as you do it and fully disgusted after the fact?
Many of us have done so. We actually enter into sinful behavior with our eyes wide open, and after it’s been done we are so disappointed with ourselves that we do not know what to do.
Let me offer you two words of encouragement. First, the Lord Jesus offers forgiveness to us. That should not be taken as a license to sin (Paul dealt with that in the same book of Romans), but it does give us hope. The work of Christ on the cross was and is sufficient for all of our sins.
Secondly, we do not have to continue sinful behavior; we have the power to defeat sin as it tempts us. In 1 Corinthians 10:13 Paul wrote, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
That simply means this. When you are faced with temptation, you have the means within you to defeat it.
I am not saying that we will be perfect. But we need to quit making excuses for ourselves. The Holy Spirit lives within every true believer and empowers us to live for the Lord. I cannot accomplish this on my own, but in his strength I can be victorious.
I pray for you to be strong when you face the temptation to do wrong. The Lord wants us to follow him, and he helps us in that way. But you must trust him and seek to follow him.
I encourage you to be faithful. It is the only way for us to go.