I never feel closer to the apostle Paul than when I read his words in Romans 7:19. As passionate, as powerful, as filled by the Holy Spirit – on fire with the Spirit as Paul was, he despaired that he didn’t do the good things he meant to do; while doing the not so good things he intended to avoid.
Oh, I do understand Paul here. From trivial intention to grand ambition I seem to regularly avoid the opportunity; but from the venal to the deadly I’m always able to accommodate. From temporal to spiritual the Lord’s words resonate: “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 (KJV) We are tethered to our human nature for our time on this earth, and while so tied, the selfish and self-serving, the lazy and the lascivious, apathy and ambition exert several Gs of drag upon my better angels.
The secret to victory in this ongoing struggle is given to us by Christ. Shortly after He spoke the words quoted above, he fell upon His face in agony, crying out to God, the Father, that if possible, the cup of his eminent crucifixion would pass Him by…and then comes the secret: “…nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done.” Luke 22:42 (KJV)
The more I go to God, tell him my cares, my troubles, my fears, and beg His will be fulfilled in my life; the more I’m able to do that, the more I listen for His direction, the more often I’m able to transcend the base impulses of my human nature – BUT, paradoxically, the closer I feel to Paul as he wrote those words.
The hope, however, that gladdens the heart, is the knowledge that God’s will is victorious, now and ultimately. AND His will made manifest in my life is more glorious, more profound, more incredible, more full of joy than any plan or will of my own can ever be. Christ’s words again, from Matthew 19:26, “…with God all things are possible.” Either I live the truth of those words each day by trusting God’s will to direct my life to victory, or I pretend, foolishly, to claim sufficient resources without Him to face the battles of the day. If, indeed, it is the good that I would do – God’s will be done. If, indeed, it is the evil I would not – God’s will be done.
Inasmuch as I don’t yield to greater strength, greater wisdom, greater victory in God’s will, as choices present themselves, I am eschewing the good for the evil (or best for just OK at best) that day, whether I am aware of it or not.
“…choose you this day whom ye will serve…; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15 (KJV)