Any Christian who has read Romans 7 can resonate with what Paul is saying: “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (v. 7). Living the Christian life is hard, not only because we live in a sinful world surrounded by other sinful people with Satan prowling around like a roaring lion, but also because sin still dwells within us. Therefore, sadly, we find ourselves in situations where sin gets the better of us. This is a reality that we have all faced and will face again in the future, but we must not be content to stay in that place where we allow sin to get the upper hand.
To help with this, at our church we have purposefully woven spiritual accountability into some of the different ministries we offer, so that our people are regularly asked questions about their time spent in God’s Word and the areas of their spiritual life where they need prayer. Over the years, in these accountability settings, I have consistently heard people (and myself) say, “I’ve been struggling this week with (fill in the blank with some active or passive sin).” I’m glad that people feel comfortable enough to open up and confess these things so that the church can help, but I have also found that a confession like this can often be followed by weeks or even months of the same admission: “I’m struggling”. My question when this happens is, “Are you really struggling?” Are you fighting to put sin to death… or are you just letting sin take you over? The word “struggling” can often serve as a blockade in confession so that your Christian brothers or sisters won’t ask you any deeper questions and discover that you haven’t been doing anything to make war against sin. To say you’re “struggling” makes it sound as if you are working hard to overcome sin only to just fall short, when “struggling” to you means that you simply feel bad about what you have or haven’t done all the while you continue in the same pattern.
We can resonate with Paul in Romans 7 because we feel the inner struggle, but we must remember that Paul didn’t give up at the realization of the power of sin within. No, Paul was a fighter. He knew that the God was working in him so that he could choose and do the things that were right (Philippians 2:12-13) and he cultivated self-control, discipline and focus so that he could run the race God set out for him to run (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). Let us be like Paul who actually struggled, and though he failed at times like the rest of us, kept pressing forward (Philippians 3:12).