I've been reading Romans over the past few days. So far, it has mostly been Paul's discourse on the nature of humans (sin) and the nature of righteousness (through faith in Jesus' death & resurrection) It's always good to rehearse these theological truths, but during chapter seven I started feeling pretty crappy about myself. It resonates so deeply with me when I read words like those in verse 18 that say, "I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." At this point in the letter, our hope in Jesus had already been explained multiple times, but here our sinful nature seem so powerful!
"What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?" (7:24)
Exactly what I'm saying! Whew--thanks, Paul. I'm glad I wasn't the only one feeling crappy here. But what do we do? He continues,
"Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (7:25)
The kind of "yes" when something is so relieving--so true!--that you feel like you could just fall down upon it with all of your weight, and find rest. Reaching the shore after boating in a storm. No more waves, no more insecurity, no more fear--just rock solid stability. Immovability. Breathing freely, deeply.
When I take a good, hard look at my sin, it's scary--but that's when the textbook knowledge about the Gospel becomes real. I keep talking about wanting to "turn the corner," from dwelling in my sinfulness, toward grasping the Gospel deeply. Paul is helping me get there. Thanks be to God for using Paul to write these words, because they're finally making the long, hard voyage from my head to my heart. I've known them, but now I'm knowing them.
"But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood..."