“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” – Romans 7:24 (NKJV)
Pride. That old enemy resurfaces and keeps showing his face.
Last week Amy asked me to help her with something that should have taken no more than five minutes. She wanted help bringing the plants inside so they wouldn’t freeze that night. Instead I complained as I helped and basically hinted that I would have done it differently, and bought them later on in May so we wouldn’t run into this. And of course, turned something into an issue that just shouldn’t have been one. That’s me…I always know better ! And I hate myself for being that way.
I was having dinner with one of the pastors last week and explained this situation to him. I said, “Pastor, I just don’t get it. I continually think to myself, ‘Next time, I’ll be more patient and handle things differently.’ But then I wind up doing the same thing all over again.”
I then said I sometimes feel like Paul in Romans 7. “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” – Romans 7:15 (ESV). It’s at these times I feel that I can’t possibly ask God for more grace in these things, that I’ve wrung it all dry. I’ve asked and prayed about it too many times.
That’s when Pastor Jay jumped in. He said, “Joe, you can’t do that. Don’t give me Romans 7 without also giving me Romans 8. You can’t have one without the other.”
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” – Romans 8:1-2 (ESV)
I think this is another area where pride comes in for me too…that I can make myself feel better by beating myself up over how sinful I am (?). I recently came across a quote from C.J. Mahaney’s book “The Cross Centered Life” about how wrong-headed this kind of thinking is:
“Don’t buy the lie that cultivating condemnation and wallowing in your shame is somehow pleasing to God, or that a constant, low-grade guilt will somehow promote holiness and spiritual maturity.
It’s just the opposite! God is glorified when we believe with all our hearts that those who trust in Christ can never be condemned. It’s only when we receive his free gift of grace and live in the good of total forgiveness that we’re able to turn from old, sinful ways of living and walk in grace-motivated obedience.”
This is a very difficult concept for me to get a handle on. I think sometimes that if I let go of the “wallowing”, as C.J. puts it, then I’ll fall into the “I’m a good person” mentality, and everything will swing back the other way. I know that grace is there, but I feel better holding onto the awareness of how sinful I am.
But…you can’t have one without the other. I thank God that through his Word, and through brothers and sisters around me, that I’ve been reminded again of that.