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The Sin is Stronger than Discipline

Romans 7:15-18
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (NIV)

The Apostle Paul confesses that he is not in full control of himself. For an educated man with theological training he was amazed at his inability to regulate his own behaviour. He was unable to do what is good or to stop himself from being bad. His lifestyle demonstrated that God's law was necessary; he needed to have an external moral reference point, and be accountable to somebody greater than himself.

His personal dilemma is also ours. A knowledge and desire to do what is right is so easily overpowered by the sinful nature which still lurks inside us all. Paul is not excusing his behaviour, or avoiding responsibility for his sins; but he is convinced that his sinful nature is stronger than his self-discipline. Indeed that old nature which is in the habit of sinning is not good in any way. It defeats even his best intentions.

While discipline is essential in the Christian life, it can never kill the inner urge to defy God. Discipline can protect our time and fill the spaces in our lives where mischief breeds, but it can never reform our hearts or make us holy. It is essential that we realise this otherwise we will try to win our own salvation by works. No, we need Jesus to be our Saviour and give us His mercy and grace which we do not deserve! We need to live in relationship with Him.

Dear Heavenly Father. Thank You for not leaving me to get to heaven through my own goodness. Forgive me when I arrogantly think I can be good enough for Your presence, when Your Word tells me that I am a sinner. Thank You that Jesus was punished as the substitute for my sin and that Your forgiveness is free. Help me to keep on relying on Your grace day by day, and please enable me to learn to live a life which pleases You. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams