On Day 8 of my fast this month, the devotion referenced the passage Romans 8:1-4, 8-9 GWT. I decided to go directly to the Message translation because in most cases it’s the version that resonates most with my spirit. I like basic, to the point, in your face messages and the Message bible does it for me. I tried really hard to pick a few verses to highlight but I simply couldn’t! So much so, I had to go back a chapter to get the full meaning. So here we are at Romans 7!
I encourage all of you to read Romans 7 (MSG) in its entirety and spend time meditating on it. I’m going to pick up at verse 14 of Paul’s message because it’s what spoke most to my spirit and confronted many of the dilemmas that I’ve had over the years trying to grow in my faith. I know I’m not alone so this blog is for anyone who thinks living for God is too difficult. You think that there’s a demand to be perfect and that we can never truly please God because we’re human. For everyone who has felt less than worthy and frustrated with missing the mark, Paul has the answer for you:
14-16 I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.
17-20 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
21-23 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
24 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?
25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
Newsflash! We aren’t expected to be perfect! We don’t have to be. We just have to purpose in our heart to please God and lean on Jesus to do it! It’s about relationship NOT religion. You can follow a bunch of rules that have been embedded in you since Sunday School but when temptation arises and Pastor isn’t there, mom isn’t there, and the choir isn’t belting out a praise song, you’re not going to be able to fend off the desires to go off course. It’s not until you have an understanding and a true relationship with Christ that you will be able to withstand all the roadblocks coming your way. Keep pressing. Have frequent talks with God and SMILE!! He loves you in spite of your mess!!