So many times in my life I have gone through the same struggles that Paul describes in Romans 7. I’ve been confused by my inability to control my thoughts, words and deeds. I’ve felt guilt and shame. I’ve seen some practices become addictive behavior patterns and compulsive in ways. I’ve wrestled with frustration and experienced great discouragement bordering on despair. I’ve had great intentions, I’ve practiced spiritual disciplines, I’ve made promises to myself, to God, to my wife and family, and yet still felt enslaved to these attitudes and actions. I’ve experimented with various methods of gaining victory over these sinful aspects of my life, but all to no avail. The harder I tried the harder I failed! It’s just beginning to dawn in me in a very powerful and real way that my problem has been and still is at times associated with the methods I’ve used and still look to for deliverance. It’s not that I used the wrong method; it’s that I believed at any time that victory over my indwelling sin could be won through any method at all. Victory over sin cannot be achieved through any “right” method, practice, program, prescription or principle. Victory is only permanently found in a person: Jesus Christ! Paul summarizes this truth at the end of the book of 1 Corinthians. He writes in Chapter 15, verses 56-57, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Even when I’ve been able to find some measure of success in some particular effort, it was at best temporary. Usually, I’d end up finding another outlet for my compulsions. Sometimes I’d become angry and disconsolate. I’d become argumentative and bitter. I’d take my anger, for example, out on myself instead of on someone else and become discouraged and depressed. I’ve heard depression actually defined as anger turned on one’s self. I’ve even found that at times of success, I’d become proud of my accomplishment and look around in comparison at others who aren’t quite as spiritual as I was at the time! I just traded one sin for another! The point I’m trying to make is that trying to make life correction through some method or practice is the typical behavior of someone whose life is still ruled by the law!

You see the system of “law” is that practice by which a person tries to make spiritual progress, or possibly win God’s favor and gain His blessings, based on WHAT he DOES in life rather than WHO he IS! I am great at living in the “ought to,” “must do,” and “should do” realms. I plan more programs, work longer hours, give less time to my wife and family, let my boundaries become murky and allow the demands of others and of the job become addictive and compulsive patterns. Living under the dictatorial rule of the law is a miserable way to live always leading to defeat and despair. The flesh is enslaved to the law. It makes us “human doings” but God created us to be “human beings.”