Tuesday of the Week of Lent V
Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:13-25)
Additional Daily Bible Readings: Exodus 9:8–35; Psalm 75; Romans 7:7–25
Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2Dg9nUZ
What would we do if we didn’t have Paul and his writing in Romans?! He speaks to us in these verses about our shared human condition. Often, we know God’s will and want to do it. Yet, we “yield” to temptation and do the opposite. We may even “delight” in the law of God, down deep inside, but we have an inward struggle between doing God’s law and will and doing what, in our sinful humanity, we would like to do.
Does this speak to you? Does Paul describe you and your experience? No wonder Martin Luther experienced an inner conflict that shook him to his core. As a monk, he did everything a faithful monk was supposed to do to curb the flesh, remain pure in thought, word and deed, and attain God’s favor. He was more passionate about disciplining himself than other monks, only causing himself greater grief as he continued to sin. No wonder Luther connected so powerfully with the writing and theology of Paul. They shared the same inward struggle. Both speak deeply to our experience of frustration with our own sinfulness and the ever-present temptation to do what we want rather than what God desires.
Some people reject Paul and his understanding of sin, hearing it as too negative, dark and depressing. It would be if we were left with our wretchedness, our body of death. But Paul continues, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” He continues, saying in the next reading, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!” But we are getting ahead of ourselves. The good news is that in spite of ourselves—our flesh, our carnal desires, temptations always with us and our tendency to sin—Christ Jesus saves us!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for saving me from this body of death and giving me life. Amen.
Lenten Response: In what law of God do you delight? Give thanks for one or two of God’s laws.
Video Devotional: From Ashes to Easter
Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.