The Romans 7 Syndrome

Last night, Chris and I had a really good heart talk. For you quality-timers out there, it was one of those talks. We talked about all kinds of things, but the majority of the time was spent discussing the Romans 7 syndrome: I do what I don’t want to do and I don’t do what I want to do.

Romans 7 NASB

14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

We spent some time with friends over the weekend and I found myself being very careless with my words. I thought about this verse:

Matthew 12:36 NASB

36 But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.

I went through the usual cycle: sin, feel guilty about sin, berate myself over sin in my head, berate myself over sin to Chris, remember and be thankful for God’s grace, repent. The berating stages probably last a little too long, if I’m honest. Imagine a canyon between the berating and the grace-remembering. I said something along these lines to Chris, “I’m 27, shouldn’t I be through struggling with this by now?”

God is always faithful and one of the ways He has been faithful lately is by allowing me to have a part-time job working from home. I attended my first staff meeting this morning where a devotion was shared on “already, not yet.” We talked about what we find hard in the middle, between “already” and “not yet.” One of the staff members, who is older than me, shared that she gets frustrated when she catches herself struggling with sins that she thought were long in her past. “Hmm…” I thought, “that certainly sounds familiar.”

Romans 6 tells us that we are not to go on sinning, but instead walk in newness of life. How do we do this? By being emptied of ourselves and filled with the Spirit. But when we don’t, when we walk in the flesh (and we will walk in the flesh), grace abounds. Praise the LORD.

Lesson to be learned? I’ll never fully be rid of my sinful nature this side of eternity, but I can always be repentant and seek to be filled with His Spirit more everyday.


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