Second Looks are daily devotionals that continue the theme from the previous Sunday’s sermon. We hope you find these writings to be uplifting and edifying to your spiritual walk.
The Struggle Is Real: We Don’t Always Do What’s Right
“For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” -Romans 7:19 (ESV)
In the article, A New Year–A New Life, Steve Shepherd gave his idea of a perfect world. He said: “In a perfect world you would feel as good at 60 as you did at 17. And you would be as smart at 60 as you thought you were at 17. In a perfect world professional basketball, baseball, and football players would be complaining because school teachers were signing multi-million dollar contracts. In a perfect world potato chips would have calories, but if eaten with dip, the calories would be neutralized. In a perfect world, mail would always be early, and the check-in the mail would always be for more than you expected it to be.”
Well, we don’t live in a perfect world, and we aren’t perfect people. The Apostle Paul was greatly utilized by God to write over half of the New Testament. However, Paul also knew what it was like to battle with his own fleshly desires and be imperfect. Because of his flesh, Paul wrote, “For I do not do the good I want.” “Good” describes the kind of “good” framed in a deed that you do for someone else. Examples of this type of “good” would be loving others, telling people about Jesus, giving, forgiving, and being humble. There were times when Paul failed to do good things.
According to 1 John 1:8, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” We all struggle with doing the right thing. None of us are perfect. Jesus, in fact, came to die for our imperfections. Can you recall a “good” deed you failed to do recently? Do you find comfort in knowing you’re not alone in struggling to do good?
Praise God for loving you in spite of your imperfections.
The Struggle Is Real: We Sometimes Repeat The Wrong
“For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep doing.” – Romans 7:19 (ESV)
A church bulletin had the following prayer: “So far today, Lord, I’ve done all right. I haven’t gossiped; I haven’t lost my temper; I haven’t been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent. I’m very thankful for that. But in a few moments, Lord, I’m going to get out of bed. And from then on, I’m going to need a lot of help.”
We all need help living out our Christian faith from the moment we get out of bed. The Apostle Paul explained his own struggle against evil when he wrote, “but the evil I do not want is what I keep doing.” In fact, in Romans 7:15, Paul says he keeps doing the things he hates. The phrase “keep on doing” implies a habit or something performed repeatedly.
Have you ever dealt with the same sin repeatedly? Have you said to yourself, “I will never do that again,” only to end up doing it again? We all have been there. The fact that it’s an everyday struggle doesn’t make it okay. But it does help us know we are not alone in the struggle. We also need to know God has a plan to one day ultimately destroy the power and destruction that sin brings.
Praise God for His promise to one day destroy all evil and give you victory over sin.
The Struggle Is Real: We Can Never Earn God’s Approval
“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” – Romans 7:24 (ESV)
A conscientious wife tried hard to please her critical husband but failed regularly. Jack was especially disagreeable at breakfast. If Jill prepared scrambled eggs, he wanted poached; if she poached eggs, he wanted scrambled. One morning Jill poached one egg and scrambled the other, and placed the plate before Jack. Anxiously, she awaited what surely this time would be his unqualified approval. Jack peered down at the plate and snorted, “Can’t you do anything right? You’ve scrambled the wrong one!”
The Apostle Paul understood that in his flesh couldn’t do anything right. He concludes in Romans 7 that he is a “wretched man.” He then asked, “Who can deliver me from this body of death?” Paul visualized his old sinful nature as a dead body that He was dragging around.
The Bible says in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The pressure to try and impress God is off. Jesus died for us knowing that we are all imperfect sinners.
Praise God for showing you love when you were separated from Him in your sin.
The Struggle Is Real: We’re Dependant On God’s Grace
“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” – Romans 7:25 (ESV)
Someone wrote, “Swimming to rescue someone drowning should be the last resort; it requires swimming skills and a lot of training before doing it. This is because a drowning person is violent and may pose a danger to the rescuer. They may try to climb on the rescuer to breathe, which may cause him to drown too. However, if you have to swim out to rescue a drowning person, carry a towel with you or any object that the victim can hold on to as you tow him to safety, ensuring that you are at a safe distance from him.” They concluded by writing, “A drowning man cannot be saved until he is utterly exhausted and ceases to make the slightest effort to save himself.”
The same is true of Biblical salvation. We cannot be saved until we realize that we cannot save ourselves. Paul writes in Romans 7:25, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” The word Paul used for “thanks” is often translated as “grace” in the New Testament. Grace can be a loving gift from God. And that’s precisely how Paul saw God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Paul saw his own forgiveness and life change as a gift from God.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:57, “Thanks (grace) be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Everything we have is a grace gift from God. And we achieve victory over the struggle with sin by depending on God’s grace.
Thank God for the gifts of His grace in your life. Thank Jesus for the gift of dying for your sins.
The Struggle Is Real: We Have A Choice
“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.” – Romans 8:1-2 (ESV)
There’s a story about a little girl who walked to and from school daily. One morning, the weather was questionable, and clouds were forming, yet she made her daily trek to the elementary school. As the afternoon progressed, the winds whipped up, along with thunder and lightning. The little girl’s mother felt concerned that her daughter would be frightened as she walked home from school. Full of concern, the mother quickly got into her car and drove along the route to her child’s school. As she did, she saw her little girl walking along, but at each flash of lightning, the child would stop, look up, and smile. Another and another were to follow quickly, and with each, the little girl would look at the streak of light and smile. When the mother’s car drew up beside the child, she lowered the window and called to her, “What are you doing? Why do you keep stopping?” The child answered, “I am trying to look pretty. God keeps taking my picture.”
Max Lucado wrote, “If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.” Surely, this little girl believed God loved her and wanted her picture. In Romans 8, the Apostle Paul reminds us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. He also reminds us that nothing can separate us from the love of God. One of the other benefits of being “in Christ” is that we are free from the law of sin and death. We get to choose how we want to live our lives.
God desires His love for us to be the motivating factor in our lives. He wants us to do what we do for Him because we love Him and not fulfill the law’s requirements. How would it make you feel if you knew God had your picture on His refrigerator?
Thank God for His unconditional love in your life. Ask God to grow your desire to show your love for Him by the way you live.