I have been struggling in my spirit. I feel something but not sure what, but it isn’t a good feeling. It is almost as if a battle is raging around me but I can’t see it, I only feel it and I don’t know what the attacks are on my spirit. I go to bed and fall asleep and then wake up an hour later and can’t sleep. Other nights I can’t sleep even though I feel so tired. This makes my life miserable because I can’t find the reason for the sleeplessness. In the past I have struggled with sleeplessness but usually a person’s name will come to mind and so I will pray for them and then fall into a restful sleep. But not this week and I don’t know why. Have you ever had that problem? I decided to look up some verses in the New Testament that I find informative and comforting and maybe they will help me to figure out what is going on and maybe this will help you too if you are struggling in life.
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. Romans 7:14-20, (New International Version or NIV).
The Apostle Paul knew of a group of Christians who lived in Rome and so he wrote them a letter telling them that he hoped to visit them one day. Of course we all know that he did go to Rome and was not a free man there but this letter was written before his government sponsored trip. In this book of Romans Paul lays out a wonderful explanation of why the Hebrew Law was no longer necessary since Christ died and rose again. He is in the middle of this explanation when he writes the passage above. I don’t know about you but this passage of Paul’s sure does sum up what I have been experiencing and feeling lately. I want to do some things differently than I am doing but for the life of me I can’t seem to get heart and head on board with my ideas. Instead of doing something productive I seem to be spinning my wheels and doing not much of anything. I never really thought about the fact that I might be sinning in my frozen state! I will certainly have to think about that for a little while and pray asking God to help me identify my sins and then repent them and hopefully crack that frozen state I seems to be living in. I want to change some old habits. I want to get that huge pile of cloth cut into quilt blocks and get some quilts made. I want to finish reading the book I began that is a bit challenging for me to understand. I want to go visit my elderly aunts. I want to spend some quality time with my granddaughter. These things are on my to-do list that I want to do but all I seem to get done is nothing because I am so tired from not sleeping. Oh how I feel the conflict Paul discusses here. Okay Paul, where do I go from here?
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 a slave to the law of sin. Romans 7:21-25, (NIV).
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. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:1-17, (NIV).
There is a lot to digest in this passage but it is so comforting and uplifting to understand that I as a follower of Christ and you as a follower of Christ, we Christians, are living our daily lives in a sinful world where we battle emotions and convictions and temptations in the physical world but that is not all we are. We are also spiritual beings that have been covered by the blood of Jesus Christ and are no longer going to die a spiritual death when we die our physical death. We are not going to fear death or evil because we know that God is in us and with us and we are not condemned because of our sins. I don’t know about you but I always feel sad when I sin and as quickly as I can I ask God to forgive me. I do not want to presume upon God’s grace even though I already know that I will not be condemned to death at the judgement seat of Christ. This is also comforting because I realize that every Christian struggles with sin, even Paul whom I admire greatly. I can thank God and praise God for all the goodness that He helps me to do. But because I am a frail mere human I will make mistakes and I will fail and fall into sin as long as I am still breathing! I strive to live as the Holy Spirit of God guides me to live but there are times that I fail but I do not need to fear God’s wrath directed towards me because I am one of His children. He may discipline me but will not break me beyond what I can stand. God will work in me to do better, to sin less and less and to be a woman of faith. God will help me stop being frozen and to stop struggling, I just need to realize that the battle belongs to the Lord! Praise God for this reminder. I hope it has helped you in your struggles too.