I’ve met a lot of “good people” in my life. Generous people that always seem eager to give. Kind people that welcome strangers with open arms. Forgiving people that would have every right to be bitter. Joyful people that never seem to be grumpy. People with self-control that keeps them from making choices they regret. Peaceful people that don’t get into useless arguments or petty bickering.
Many “good people” do not see their need for Jesus and are fully confident in their own merit to save them from hell, if they even believe there is a hell. So what about those of us who have turned to Jesus and know that it’s only by his shed blood on the cross that we are saved? Are we allowing the Spirit of God within us to make us better? Are we “good people”, too, or do we see the fact that we’re redeemed and forgiven as just a “get out of hell” pass?
When we’re faced with the choice to sin, even a little, do we turn and run? Or act now – repent later? Do we join in on gossip? Do we swear? Do we drink just a little too much at Happy Hour? Do we bicker and fight? Swear? Turn our backs on those in need? Hold on tightly to our wallets when the offering plate makes its way past us?
Do we take our salvation and the fact that we’re forgiven for granted?
In Romans chapters six and seven, Paul does a great job of acknowledging the very real battle between our sinful nature and the Holy Spirit within us. I encourage you to read it for yourself, but here are some highlights.
…should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? (6:1 & 2)
We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. (6:6 & 7)
Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. (6:12)
I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. (7:15)
I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. (7:19)
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord… (7:21-25)