What I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.
In many ways, the New Testament laws are greater than the Old Testament laws. Some people think that the Old Testament Law was hard and the New Testament standard is easy. But the opposite is true. In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus said, referring to the Old Testament Law, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Which standard is harder to keep: the Old Testament standard or Jesus’ standard? Jesus also said, “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court” (5:21-22). Which is harder to keep: the prohibition against murder or the prohibition against anger? Grace does not release us from any law; it places us under a new law. In Romans 7:15, Paul talked about the struggle we have as Christians, not with the Old Testament Law but with God’s requirements for us today.
Paul talked about the reality of the struggle with God’s standard. In Romans 7:15-19, Paul described his own struggle with sin: “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway” (NLT). Can you identify with that? Every time I read that passage, I feel as if Paul has sneaked a peek at my spiritual journal because that is exactly how I feel. I bet that is how you sometimes feel too.
Perhaps you say to yourself in a moment of recommitment, “I am going to end this relationship that I know is displeasing to the Lord,” yet soon you find yourself deeper into it than ever. Or you say, “God, I am going to read the Bible and pray every day.” That resolve lasts a week–or perhaps only a few days. Maybe you say, “God, I am going to get a handle on my temper,” but within an hour an atomic explosion of anger comes out of your mouth. We have all been there.
We have a desire to do what is right, but we just can’t do it. We find ourselves doing wrong. There is a battle between what we know God wants and what a part of us still wants to do. That is why we need God’s help to find the victory.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Victory in the War Within” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Scripture quotation marked NLT is taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.