I am a mystery to myself, for I want to do what is right, but end up doing what my moral instincts condemn… For I know that nothing good lives within the flesh of my fallen humanity. The longings to do what is right are within me, but willpower is not enough to accomplish it. My lofty desires to do what is good are dashed when I do the things I want to avoid. So if my behavior contradicts my desire to do good, I must conclude that it’s not my true identity doing it, but the unwelcome intruder of sin hindering me from being who I really am – Romans 7:15, 18-20.
Dear reader, last Sunday we left off here, in the throes of sharing in the struggle the Apostle Paul describes succinctly, the warring factions of the members within us, the clash between the old man and the new man, the yearning to do the right thing and the miserable inadequacy of willpower to actually get us to do that right thing. Then enter Christ Jesus as the solution to this nightmarish struggle. Stating that God’s mighty power has finally provided a way out of this conundrum through our Lord Jesus, Paul concludes his rant by thanking God for his salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I marvel at the paradoxical weight and simplicity of this verse. I marvel at the assurance in its conclusion, and that it brings Paul relief. For the longest time, I failed miserably in trying to understand that this verse meant anything at all; that it’s pivotal; that it’s transformative; that the equipping of saints for a successful Christian walk hinges on this statement. In all my years as a Christian, I am humbled to admit that only recently have I come to understand the life-changing power in this verse. If you already previously grasped the power in it, please do add your revelations in the comment section below for all our edification. If you’re on your way to learning along with me, then buckle up and let’s deconstruct it together for our understanding.
How does it work?
How exactly does Jesus Christ help us shun bad behavior to instead do the good deeds we actually want to do? Let’s start by identifying his role in our lives as our savior and the son of God. His purpose for coming to earth was to save us from the bondage of sin and death. In Romans 12:2 the bible describes him as the author and perfecter/finisher of our faith. When we are trying to follow the law by being good people, we are trying to align our lives with God’s word. This verse lets us know that we can only achieve this by demonstrating faith in Jesus Christ, and not relying on our own strength, for as we’ve already experienced, even willpower fails us.
The precursor to this verse tells us to ‘fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.’ Now I know a lot about fixing my eyes on Jesus as I’ve experienced just how effective that is. Echoing my experience, my study bible’s notes under this verse states that in order to live effectively, we must fix our eyes on Jesus, and that we will stumble and fall/give up if we look away from him to stare at ourselves or at the circumstances surrounding us. Also that we should be living for Christ anyway and not ourselves, so we must always keep him in sight. In other words, the solution is not found in looking to ourselves or our circumstances. Rather, our solution is found in looking steadily at Christ. When even our willpower fails us in our quest to live as ‘good’ people, our solution is found in looking to Christ as the one who will help us do so successfully.
What is it that happens when we fix our eyes on Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith, and how exactly does he help us concur sin to live good victorious lives? Apparently, this is how transformation takes place. 2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us that ‘But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.’ Transformation is the key, and Jesus is our point of reference. We’ll explore this topic further next Sunday -thank you for reading the Sunday blog.