Understanding our Condition
Read Romans 7:14-8:2
“For I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate”
Perhaps the hardest thing to do is to be honest with ourselves about who we really are. We deceive ourselves by overlooking our faults and justifying our behavior. Yet for all the outward appearances we portray, in the quietness of our inner being we sense that something is terribly amiss. Outwardly we portray that we are happy and content, but inwardly we fear that people might really see the inner thoughts, attitudes, and temptations we struggle with. We are actors, who portray one image to people around us, but inwardly struggle to conceal and conquer the ugly beast that reigns within. But we are not alone in this struggle, for it is one that is universally felt. The apostle Paul confessed what we often want to hide, that he was unable to obtain freedom from his bondage to sin. Thus, we live with the contradiction and disconnect between who we want to be and the image we so desperately try to uphold, and who we really are and the passions and sin that dominate us. Daily we find ourselves doing the very things that we hate and miserably fail to live the life we so desperately want to live. We cry like Paul, “O wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?”
However, change begins when we are honest with ourselves about our true condition. Personal transformation only can happen when we acknowledge who we really are, with all our sins and evil desires. This self-assessment leads to the recognition of our inability to really change. No matter how much we try, we cannot live perfectly. This is true for everyone—there are no exceptions. No one is perfect and no one can stand before God free from the guilt of sin.
Even as Paul admits his own sinfulness, he is not left hopeless. Instead, he is driven to find the answer and the answer is in Christ, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Christ is able to do what we cannot do for ourselves. He provides not only freedom from the guilt of sin but also deliverance from the control of our sinful desires. He brings freedom from sin’s condemnation and joy and peace as he transforms our thinking (8:6).
This not only brings us to the need for our salvation, but also the need for communicating the gospel to others. The conflict we experience within us is one that everyone shares. No one is exempt from the struggle with sin and its consequences. The answer is the same. When we look at others, we must see beyond the façade and see the need people have for the salvation Christ brings. They desperately need the same hope we have found in Christ. People try to hide and overcome their inward turmoil by pursuing prosperity, changing their outward circumstances, or even trying to change their identity but in the end find themselves still confronted with their inward turmoil. The only answer is found in Christ. To have the answer and withhold the answer people long for is both tragic and unloving. Today as you encounter people, remember they are searching for answers, answers that we have in Christ. Then ask God to give you opportunities to share the hope that we have discovered, for then we are a true friend.