22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
I want to do the right thing.
I want to do what God wants me to do.
So why do I keep on sinning?
St. Paul asked the same thing!
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:15, 24)
If anyone knew what the right thing – the God thing – to do it was St. Paul!
He was a zealous Pharisee and knew the Law of God forwards and backwards. He was so passionate about the Law of God that he took on the entire Christian Church single-handedly in order to snuff them out of existence.
But then Jesus Christ showed up!
As Paul was about to enter the city of Damascus in order to arrest the Christians he found there, Jesus knocks him down with the brightest light he’s ever seen!
Then Jesus speaks to Paul. Paul is struck blind (temporarily) but then recovers his physical sight after he receives his spiritual sight through the waters of Holy Baptism!
The Gospel was given to Paul and he became the champion of the Christian faith. He traveled from Jerusalem to Rome and most spots in-between, all the while proclaiming the Good News of salvation by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
And yet, towards the end of Paul’s missionary ministry, he’s still lamenting the fact that while he knows better, and wants to do better, he still sins!
How is this possible?
In September of 1945, Mamoru Shigemitsu – on behalf of the Emperor and nation of Japan – signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender. This officially brought to an end World War II. The war was over. The Allies had won.
Yet, in March of 1947 Lieutenant Ei Yamaguchi and a detachment of 33 Japanese soldiers emerged from the jungle of Peleliu and attacked the garrison of U.S. Marines stationed on the island. While the war was over, these soldiers either didn’t hear of the surrender or refused to accept it and were still battling!
The war against sin, Satan, and death has been won. It was won by Jesus Christ through his death and resurrection.
But the battles are still being fought in the outlying areas. In this case, the war for our hearts has been won, but the battles are still being fought at our hands and feet and eyes – the outlying areas away from the heart.
This is why we have been given the Means of Grace – to strengthen our hearts, our faith, to continue to fight the battles against sin and Satan in our outlying areas!
Martin Luther picked up St. Paul’s cry when he wrote:
Therefore see to it that you subdue the flesh. It will require a strong effort on your part to overcome and quench your lust; and the greater your faith is, the greater the conflict will be. Therefore you should be prepared and armed and should contend without ever ceasing, for they (your lusts) will assault you in multitudes and would take you captive” (from Luther’s exposition of 1 Peter in 1522-1523, quoted from What Luther Says – A Practical In-Home Anthology for the Active Christian © 1959 Concordia Publishing House, p 659).
Keep fighting by reading God’s Word, having daily devotions and prayer, and participating in weekly worship with your brothers and sisters in Christ!
Almighty, everlasting God, for our many sins we justly deserve eternal condemnation. In your mercy you sent your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who won for us forgiveness of sin and everlasting salvation. Grant us a true confession that, dead to sin, we may be raised up by your life-giving absolution. Grant us your Holy Spirit that we may be ever watchful and live true and godly lives in your service; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
©2017 True Men Ministries