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“i do not understand my own actions”

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Romans 7:15-8:4

do you ever do something and then afterward think “wow, why on earth did i just do that?”

and then kick yourself for doing it, and kick yourself again and again each time you do it after that? i mean little, insidious, unhelpful things, things that are perhaps practically invisible to most other people. things that become monsters in your mind because you know the other thoughts running round in there and you know the deliberation with which you said or didn’t say, do or didn’t do something. so you want to stop this, whatever it is, so you pray and ask God for help … and then keep right on doing whatever it was you were doing, even though you know you “weren’t supposed to” because it breaks your rules.

then, after this goes on for a while and you’ve obviously (to you) not changed, do you start to wonder if you were maybe not really serious all those times you prayed? do you wonder if maybe … just maybe … this means that you really want to do whatever this is after all, which means you’ve been deceiving yourself and have been playing good and repentant this whole time, which you obviously are not? how do you know you really mean what you say when you say you want to leave this thing behind? how do you make yourself do what you need to do in the face of what you think you must want to do but don’t really want to but do anyway because you want to even though you don’t.

(if that last sentence just hurt your brain, don’t worry — it was supposed to.)

i don’t know if any of that stream of consciousness syntactical nightmare made sense, but what it was getting at was this:

self-sufficiency.

it’s an ugly thing.

self-sufficiency is the attitude that i can do it, i can behave, i can be good. that i need to do it all myself. that i will close myself off to God until i fix my problems and get them right — until i make it up to Him somehow — then i can come back to Him.

well isn’t that just idiotic.

there is no “making it up” to God.

He paid for my pride, my arrogance, my stupidity, my selfishness, my self-centeredness, my coldness, my laziness, my meanness, my contempt, my whatever else. all of it. once. He destroyed that endless list of cosmic treasons against His infinite perfection. and He never makes a new one.

there is no “making it up” to Him when there’s nothing to make up. Jesus filled that gap up completely.

God doesn’t wag His finger at me and say “hey, look what you did, you little squirt!” nope.

so that means that this thing called “guilt,” which we all hate but seem to love hanging onto … doesn’t exist anymore for God’s children.

when we sin now — which of course we will, our mortal selves being what they are — there is no fee we have to pay to get back into God’s good graces. He never takes His love from us. never ever ever.

God has made us alive in Christ. He wants us to live, not mope around feeling sorry for ourselves because we aren’t perfect. part of being truly alive, i think, is actually repenting. repenting isn’t just saying “i screwed up again — sorry, God!” nor is it prolonged melancholic depression over your own shortcomings. it is acknowledging to God that you were wrong and that He is right, thanking Him for His unwavering love and forgiveness, and choosing deliberately to make a 180-degree turn away from whatever it was that you have to repent of.

self-sufficiency is not the cure for sin, and guilt is not the solution to sin.

God is.

why do i forget that so easily?

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