Romans 7:14–20 ‘For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.’ (v18)
We quickly realise that no one is immune to thinking and doing the wrong thing – what Christians call sin. Many studies by anthropologists and psychologists have sought to establish if there is a violent gene within our human make-up.* Paul confesses that even when we intend good, we are likely to produce its opposite – one reason why a new relationship with God through Jesus frees us from an enforced righteousness policed by moral laws. Sin is the result of entertaining illusory thoughts in the expectation of a better outcome to what we are experiencing. We may intend no harm, yet harm happens. What are we to do? This is the core question surrounding our daily encounter with God.
Jesus invites us to practise radical self-honesty. This presents challenges in our age of self-promotion through dynamic social media profiles and the active pursuit of our 15 minutes of fame. Our problem lies in the fact that we have failed to make peace with who God made us to be and to become, and we reach for upbeat descriptions that present who we might like to be, with a strong whiff of dishonesty. When we come before Jesus we are known precisely for who we are; all facades fade before His piercing gaze. Paul here models radical self-honesty; the apostle to the Gentiles is as fractured as his newest convert. There is no hierarchy of righteousness; just honest attempts to love God, ourselves and others, the greatest commandment.
SCRIPTURE TO CONSIDER: Isa. 30:15–22; Jer. 7:16–29; 2 Cor. 8:16–24; Eph. 4:17–32.
AN ACTION TO TAKE: Consider deepening your pursuit of God this Lent.
A PRAYER TO MAKE: ‘Lord, help me to discern Your way from my own preferred path every day. Amen.’