The defeated Christian life is one of confusion, guilt, shame, addictions, self-condemnation and according to Romans 7:18-20, it’s a life filled with frustration. Paul writes, “No matter which way I turn I can’t make myself do right. I want to but I can’t! When I want to do good, I don’t. When I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. Now if I am doing what I don’t want to, it is plain where the trouble is: sin still has be in its evil grasp.” (See Living Bible Translation) Solomon discovered the frustrations life everywhere he looked. He said it was all “vanity of vanities.” It has an emptiness about it all. Frustration permeates everything. Paul is going to affirm this truth later in Romans chapter 8, verses 20 and following when he says, “For the creation was subjected to frustration…” Then in Verse 22, he says “the whole creation” groans to be delivered from this frustration.

Another name for frustration is “burn out.” People get burned out, according to David Jeremiah, “…because they work hard without focus, purpose, or accomplishment.” He goes on to say, “Burning out comes from trying to accomplish something that is unattainable…” He has truly captured the theme of the Book of Ecclesiastes as well as Paul’s exasperation with himself in his efforts to win a declaration of righteousness through acts of the law. It will lead only to frustration and it is clearly a “vanity of vanities.” It is impossible to win God’s favor by being good. The greatest achievements and the greatest self-denials in the world accomplish nothing. Jeremiah also says, “All around us in our world we see frustrated people—road rage on the freeways, shooting sprees in corporate offices, hopelessness in the hearts of individuals.”

Chapter 7 of Romans ends (24-25), “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” The answer to our sin problem is not a 12 step program. It’s not a prescription. It’s not a procedure, a pamphlet or a principle. It’s a person! The war has been fought and has been won on our behalf. Chapter 8 begins with the exciting news of our victory. The first two verses read, “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.” Jesus redeems us from the frustration and futility of life. He provides true meaning and purpose to the entire universe. And as Morgan writes, “…if there is meaning and purpose to the universe, there must be, somehow and somewhere, meaning and purpose to life. And if there is meaning and purpose to life, there must be, somehow and somewhere, meaning and purpose to my life, and to yours.” I’ve always loved the old hymn, “Stayed Upon Jehovah.” The chorus reads, “Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest, Finding as He promised perfect peace and rest.”