I don’t know how many times I’ve read the passage we studied this past Sunday in Romans 7, or how many times my attempts to read it out loud have ended in me speaking gibberish. But this week as the scripture was read (very eloquently!), two phrases jumped out at me. The first was “waging war” and the second was “making me a prisoner” (verse 23). Both of these reminded me that we’re not playing a game here; we’re in a battle – every day. Our enemy’s chief weapon is to tell us little white lies. And if that doesn’t work he switches to the big ugly kind.
Free will and choice are wonderful things, aren’t they? Take me out to eat and I’ll choose comfort food over salad almost every time. Hold a book or a barbell out to me and I’ll take the book. But it’s those very choices that remind me I’m a sinner saved by grace. I live, as Pastor Sean reminded us, in a war zone called the “dual nature.” It rears its head every day, causing me to choose the “wrong thing,” exercise my own will, and let my un-renewed mind pull me off course. Can you hear my lament (like Paul’s), “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out” (Rom. 7:18b).
Yep, we’re in a battle, and jail time is the penalty.
Have you ever visited a prison? My husband was part of a prison ministry for years, and I used to shudder when he explained the procedure he had to go through to get in and out each time he visited. The closer he got to the jail cells and the room designated for him and others to share the gospel, the more steel doors and bars that closed behind him. Only the guards knew the code that could get him out at the end of the evening. It’s like that with sin, you know? We choose to visit, and pretty soon we’re trapped – unless we know the right person with the code to release the bars!
I am so thankful for the gift of salvation, aren’t you? On my own I can’t live the life I want to live, that is, one full of peace, fruitfulness, and generosity. But safe in my Savior’s arms, I can do all things. And the very first thing on my job list is to live and model a life of total surrender, confessing my faults often, resisting the devil, and intentionally drawing near to God through reading scripture and prayer. Let’s be honest here – those are some of spiritual disciplines that help me in the game of life to “Pass Go, collect Grace, and Get out of jail free!”