Watch your toddler. He will wander past the street, the stove, the electrical outlet, etc., completely ignoring the potential hazards, and then one day he gets too close and you say, “No.”
And that’s all it takes for you to spend the next hours, days, or weeks moving him, distracting him, scolding him, and and putting him in “time-out” . . . all in an attempt to prevent him from doing something you know will hurt him.
Paul wrote in Romans:
21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power[e] within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Romans 7:21–24
Paul was frustrated. Even when he knew something was a sin and made up his mind to not do it; he did it anyway.
Can you relate? I know I can.
I’ll wake up determined to keep my charming disposition all day, and then I act in ways that are anything but charming! I’ll decide to eat healthy, and that’s the day the box of cookies calls my name alllll daaaaay looooong! Or I plan to fit in strength training or a good long walk, and then I fill the hours with self-made distractions.
I will… I want to… I won’t…
Then I do exactly the opposite.
That’s the battle. Our human nature is sinful. No matter how badly we want to obey God completely. We know His commands are there to keep us safe and protected, and yet we still fail again and again.
Look at Paul’s words again:
I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power[e] within me that is at war with my mind . . . Oh, what a miserable person I am! Romans 7:22–24a
When you and I admit we are “miserable people,” and have a sinful human nature that’s at war with our plans to obey God. We stop making excuses and admit there is no one to blame. Then and only then are we ready for the rest of verse 24:
“Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Grace! Life Application Bible Notes say for Romans 7:25a: Whenever he (Paul) felt overwhelmed by the spiritual battle, he would return to the beginnings of his spiritual life, remembering how he had been freed from sin by Jesus Christ. When we feel confused and overwhelmed by sin’s appeal, let us claim the freedom Christ gave us. His power can lift us to victory.
As hard as this battle is, it is a good battle. We can thank God for giving us the desire to obey, ask Him for continued strength in the battle, and praise Him for His gift of grace.