Honesty

14 Oct

Good morning,

I think the power of Paul’s writing is not only in his analytical mind, but he is totally honesty about who we are as human beings.

As I have said, this part of the book of Romans is written to people who understand faith in God means following prescribed rules through each part of the day and through each event in our lives.  Paul is saying that the law is not helpful, because when we just follow the letter of the law, it leads us into destruction.

13 I can already hear your next question: “Does that mean I can’t even trust what is good [that is, the law]? Is good just as dangerous as evil?” No again! Sin simply did what sin is so famous for doing: using the good as a cover to tempt me to do what would finally destroy me. By hiding within God’s good commandment, sin did far more mischief than it could ever have accomplished on its own.

14-16 I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.

This next section may be familiar to you.  In the New Revised Standard Version, Paul writes that the good he wants to do, he doesn’t and the evil he want to avoid, he ends up doing.  It text is often quoted because it is so true about who we are in our humanness.  It is why we need something more than the law, something more than a superficial relationship with the Divine Presence.

17-20 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

21-23 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

24 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

It is the relationship, the person of Jesus Christ, that changes everything from a “have to” to a “want to”.  I have known so many people in my life who have said that ‘religion’ is useless, a panacea for weak or slow; but have never surrender to a relationship with the Eternal Presence.  Their’s is a ‘prove it to me at arms length’ approach, which I have never seen work for the faith adventure that is Christianity.

There is a old story of a debate between a Christian and an atheist.  After a long, logical, articulate speech by the atheist he looks smugly at the Christian.  The Christian produces a beautiful orange and begins to peel and then eat it.  The says, “this orange tastes wonderful, but you can only prove it by tasting it yourself; so it is with faith in Jesus Christ.”

Our journey is about relationship, surrender, love, and grace.  Paul tells of this astounding truth in profound ways.  Peace

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