“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.”
Did you recognize the quote? If you had to guess who said it, who would you choose? A strung-out addict who has had her children removed from her home? The locked-up, orange-suited prisoner whose weathered faced betrays a heart bombarded by depression and guilt? The honored pastor of a local church?
What about yourself? Do you struggle with thoughts that depress you and steal joy from your life? Are you ashamed of how selfish you can be and how little you have really loved those closest to you? Do you become anxious and overwhelmed when you consider how others perceive you and what their estimations of your worth would be? Do you sometimes wonder if you are wretched? Do those thoughts keep you from exploring and engaging in a church? Do they make you feel as if you don’t belong there?
The quote is from nearly 2000 years ago. It was said by a man named Paul, an inspirational and instrumental leader of the earliest Christian churches. It has been echoed by the confessions of many Christians since. Right before he said that, Paul explained what else he knew about himself: “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.”
Yes, even Christians struggle with depressing thoughts, guilt over their failures to love, and the fearful knowledge that their worth is tarnished by wrong. Yes, even Christians stumble and do things their hearts, made new through Jesus, don’t want to do. It frustrates them too! Yet, Paul asked an important question, one that Christians also ask: “Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
To that there is an answer full of good news! “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Though we struggle each day, each day God forgives because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice that was complete payment for all our wrongs. When God brings people to faith in Christ, he covers them with Christ’s forgiveness and counts them as completely holy – right with him. He creates in them a new heart that loves him and wants to walk in his ways. As we live in this life, the old, sinful self we have carried around since birth clings with tenacity and desires to do what is evil. It fights against the good desires of the new heart God creates within us. Even though you struggle now, you can look forward to when Jesus will come and take you to be with him in heaven. Then there will be no depressing thoughts, no shame and guilt, no anxiety over your worth – not around you nor inside of you.
If you struggle now, keep asking the question to which you God has given an incredible answer: “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Jesus Christ is your Savior. Jesus Christ has covered you with his mercy and forgiveness. If you struggle now, find a place filled with those who also struggle, but cling to that wonderful answer. Find a group who put their trust fully in Jesus Christ and give thanks to God for his gift.
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