Let’s talk about bad habits. I have picked up some old bad habits since the quarantine that I am eager to get rid of. Sometimes when stressful events occur, we default to the flesh and revert to that “old” man that we used to be. I had high expectations for this time away from my normal, busy life, but instead of the good things I wanted to accomplish, bad things began to manifest. As Paul said in Romans 7:14-20,
“So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. 15 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. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
18 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. 19 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. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.”(Romans 7:14-20)
I think we are all subject to feeling this way at one point or another. The good things I know are right, that I want to do, I don’t do them. The bad things that I hate, those I do. I love God and I want to please Him and be obedient, but my flesh wars with my spirit. Sometimes the flesh wins a battle and sometimes the spirit. Thankfully, I know the spirit will win the war! He continues to proclaim,
21”I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.” (Romans 7:21-25)
No one wants to admit they are a slave to anything. The negative connotations of slavery, being owned by someone (something) else and having no power or authority over your own person, makes people defensive. Yet, we continue to make ourselves slaves by the choices that we make. Sometimes we can make better choices and sometimes we cannot. However, praise be to God that our bad choices do not dictate the outcome of our lives. That alone belongs to God.
1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. (Romans 8:1-2)
This does not excuse our bad behavior and choices. We will have to answer to God. He gives us the freedom to choose the right thing, but He also gives us grace when we choose the wrong thing. He desires that we make the good, right choice and tells us that we are not alone.
But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) (Romans 8:9)
12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. (Romans 8:12-14)
When we accepted Jesus as our Savior, He accepted us as well, warts and all. He knew our nature because he had lived as we have lived. He understood our temptations and cravings, yet He made provision for forgiveness. He has given us all we need to be victorious overcomers. Don’t give up!
15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)