We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 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. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[d] a slave to the law of sin.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
– Romans 7:14-8:2
I think that I have used this Scripture before. I read recently somewhere (I am getting forgetful) that this person praised God for Romans 7. You read the Apostle Paul’s letters and you see this man that has so much Grace oozing from every pore in his body. You feel so inadequate that you could never measure up, except for Romans 7. Ah! Paul was human after all.
But it is necessary to not end at the end of Romans 7, for the Grace that comes through Jesus Christ sets us free in Romans 8.
Yet, throughout Paul’s confession of sin in Romans 7, how does Paul characterize the sin? “What I do not want to do” or “doing what he hates doing.” We see in this a desire for holiness while trapped in an imperfect body and living in a broken world constantly tormented by the Tempter’s snare.
Sometimes, it is not sin that gets in the way, but we may have a feeling that the Holy Spirit has not given us enough … You can fill in the blank with enough words to properly express something, enough wisdom to convey what should be passed on to others, or many other things.
My daily dose of Tozer reflected this feeling this morning. Tozer wrote in Christ the Eternal Son, “I believe I had anticipated that it was going to be a pleasure to expound this beautiful and high soaring Gospel of John. However, I confess that in my preparation and study a sense of inadequacy has come over me – a feeling of inadequacy so stunning, so almost paralyzing that I am not at this juncture able to call it a pleasure to preach.”
He follows this with a call upon the Holy Spirit for help.
Do I ever feel inadequate? Absolutely. Probably my best work is done when I feel inadequate. That’s when I rely on God even more. That’s when I check, double-check, and triple check my work, in fear that it doesn’t make sense, or I have too many errors. When I really feel terribly inadequate, I go to others for help. Sometimes just a sounding board is needed. Sometimes a shove in the right direction is needed.
Then, what brought this topic to mind?
In my reading for a few days, I had been getting the feeling that I needed to attain something more, maybe something unattainable. I read an Oswald Chambers devotion, just last night, and realized some monumental mistakes that I have made. There are a few of Chambers’ devotions that I would love to share with the caveat that “I ain’t there yet, folks!” attached to it. But add this devotion from last night to the Tozer devotion of this morning. God is talking. But there is more.
I had an earworm. It was Finlandia.
That got me to thinking about one of my favorite Gaither hymns. On one of their videos, Bill Gaither said that he’d challenged his wife to write the words for the tune, Finlandia by Jean Sibilius. But when Gloria Gaither had written the hymn “I Then Shall Live,” she realized that it was something that she felt was beyond her grasp. Bill Gaither said that when the Gaither Vocal Band was to sing the song in their performance, they would pray that they sang the song as a prayer of what they could achieve, rather than think that they had already arrived.
Having gone to bed with the feeling of inadequacy after reading Chambers, and then waking to hear Finlandia as the earworm in my head and reading how Tozer felt inadequate this morning, I just had to write about my own feeling of inadequacy.
A feeling of inadequacy is a gracious necessity to understand what Paul was saying in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Otherwise, we would think that we did it on our own steam.
With that is mind, I’d like to share the words of my earworm. We may not be there yet, but as Paul said as he confessed his sin in Romans 7, we desire holiness. We desire to be more like Jesus.
Lord, only through You can we obtain our desires. Amen.
I then shall live as one who’s been forgiven;
I’ll walk with joy to know my debts are paid.
I know my name is clear before my Father;
I am His child, and I am not afraid.
So greatly pardoned, I’ll forgive my brother,
The law of love I gladly will obey.
I then shall live as one who’s learned compassion;
I’ve been so loved that I’ll risk loving too.
I know how fear builds walls instead of bridges;
I’ll dare to see another’s point of view.
And when relationships demand commitment,
Then I’ll be there to care and follow through.
Your kingdom come around and through and in me;
Your power and glory, let them shine through me;
Your Hallowed name, O may I bear with honor,
And may Your living Kingdom come in me.
The Bread of Life, O may I share with honor,
And may You feed a hungry world through me.
Amen. Amen. Amen.
– Gloria Gaither, I Then Shall Live
Below is a youtube link to the Gaither Vocal Band along with Ernie Haase and the Signature Sound singing this song.