Summary: What’s wrong with us? Why do we keep sinning, even if we hate sin? Let’s take a spiritual "x-ray" and let the Apostle Paul diagnose what’s wrong with us. Then the great physician will heal us!
Who Will Rescue Me from this Body of Death?
By Stephen H. Becker, M.Div., Ph.D(c)
Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran—Yuba City
July 6, 2008
Have you ever thought to yourself – "something is wrong with me...what should I do?" Maybe you’ve fallen on a wet slippery floor, like I did in my kitchen about a month ago, and after a few days, your ankle is still swollen and really hurts. Something is wrong. You really don’t want to go to the doctor, but you might have to. Maybe you get a headache—maybe even a migraine—and after a day or two it still hasn’t gone away and it seems like it won’t go away. Or maybe a series of headaches that plague you. After awhile, you will probably have to go the doctor. He may even take x-rays of your head to see if there is an underlying cause to your headache. In both of these scenarios, you think to yourself, there’s something wrong with my ankle, or there’s something wrong with me that I keep getting these really bad headaches. The pains are signs of a physical ailment. Well, have you ever thought to yourself – “there’s something wrong with my soul?” For example – I know that God wants me to be really involved in the Word, studying my Scripture on a regular basis. That means God wants me to be in church on a regular basis. He wants me to do embrace the Great Commission he has given me, to do missionary work for Him, spreading the Good News of Jesus to all. I know what God wants me to do, and I want to do it. But I don’t. It just seems like I can’t. So, what is my problem? There must be something wrong with my soul. I know that God wants me to pray. And not just pray for fifteen seconds a day. God wants me to be a man of prayer, like Jesus was…to actually spend time away from work, away from family, away from everything, and really pray, working toward the goal of being in constant prayer. That’s what God wants me to do. But I don’t. So, what is my problem? There must be something wrong with my soul.
I know that God wants me to love other people. I’m supposed to forgive other people, and be patient with other people, and be generous toward other people and make sacrifices for other people. As a minister, I’m supposed to be the nicest guy on the street, all the time. But I’m not that way. Sometimes I force myself, but really, it seems easier to be selfish, to hold grudges, to not make sacrifices. I don’t do what God wants me to do. What is my problem? What is wrong with my soul?
Today, we’re going to visit a spiritual doctor, the Apostle Paul. Through his writings in our Epistle reading today in Romans, he is going to help us better understand what is wrong with our souls - what the symptoms are, and—more importantly—what the cure is. Let’s open pray…
Spiritually, there are two basic symptoms that all of us struggle with. Symptom number one, is that we don’t do what we want. Verse 15, says “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do.” Same thing in verse 18: “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” Deep down inside, there are certain things we want to do. We want to hear God’s Word and pray and show kindness toward others. We have that desire, but we cannot carry it out.
Imagine if you were driving your car, and suddenly your foot fell asleep. No matter how hard you try, you can’t use your foot to push on the gas or the brake. You want to stop, but you can’t. You’re heading toward that red light, and you try to push on the brake, but your foot is asleep - it’s not working. You see the danger to your life dead ahead and you desperately want to stop the car, but you can’t do it. Friends, that’s how it is for us spiritually – instead of there being something wrong with our ankle or our bodies, there’s something wrong with our souls – we want to do good, but we can’t. We are spiritually handicapped – our spiritual arms and legs aren’t working the way we would like them to work. That’s symptom number one.
And then there’s symptom number two – we do the bad things that we don’t want to do. Look at the rest of verse 15: the apostle says, “What I hate, I do.” Paul hated to sin, but that’s what he did. Verse 19: “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.” I keep doing evil, even though I don’t want to. Sounds kinda like a drug addict, doesn’t it? The drug addict knows that drugs are bad. He knows that drugs are evil, that they are insanely expensive and complete waste. He knows that the drugs are the reason he can’t keep a job. Drugs are the reason he’s broke, the reason his family has left him. He knows that drugs are evil, but he keeps doing them – he’s addicted; he can’t stop. Friends, this is symptom number two – you and I are addicted to sinning, and we can’t stop. We know that certain things are wrong. We know that it’s evil to neglect the Word of God in our personal lives. We know it’s evil to worry about money all the time. We know that it’s evil to do even the slightest thing wrong. And yet, we do those things, don’t we? The evil we don’t want to do, this we keep on doing.