I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. … What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
– Romans 7:18-19, 24-25
“I wanted to be done with that bad habit, but there I went and did it again.” Does it surprise you that even when you are a Christian, and have a heart that wants to follow God, you still struggle against sinful impulses, and too often fall to them?
You are not the first Christian to feel that way. Almost 2000 years ago the apostle Paul wrote: “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” Right before that verse, he explained why this was so. He wrote, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.”
When God brings people to faith in Christ, he covers them with Christ’s forgiveness and counts them as completely holy. He creates in them a new heart that loves the Lord and wants to walk in his ways. But as long as we are in this life, the old, sinful self that we have from birth still wants to do what is evil and fights against the good desires of the new heart God created within us.
So Christians still struggle against sin every day. They often stumble and do sinful things their new hearts don’t want to do. And it frustrates them! Paul wrote, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
But there’s good news: “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Though we struggle each day, each day God forgives us because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice that was complete payment for all our sins. At last, Jesus will come and take us to be with him in heaven. There will be no sin there, around us, or inside us, to fight against or drag us down.
Keep looking forward to that day. Meanwhile, let your daily struggle with sin make you appreciate even more how good it is to have Jesus as your Savior, and to be covered by his mercy and forgiveness.