I do not practice what I want to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate....
Did you ever catch yourself doing something you knew full well was wrong, but you just went ahead and did it anyway?
That is the story of my entire life.
Time to be brutally honest:
Irresponsibility with money and in parenting, fighting, yelling and screaming, striking out at others, manipulating, drunkenness, sexual immorality, lying, sneaking around, stealing. Outcast, victim, victimizer, rebel.
All of that and more........................................................me.
My past is the stuff of gossip magazines, horror stories, and crime dramas all rolled into one.
A child of anger coming from a broken home that was filled with alcohol and abuse. Teenager who lived as rebelliously as she could in every way that she could find. Young adult who lived to only please herself - no matter the cost. All me.
In future posts I'll share specifics, but let's just sum up this one by saying, there is not much you could have done that would shock me or that I can not relate to.
Some would say that it is understandable - given my home-life when I was young - that I would act out in these ways. Actually, I used to say that myself.
But that only holds a little truth to it for so long.
We can't help or control what happens to or around us when we are children, but when we are old enough to know that the reasons we are acting out is because of our surroundings and the people in it, then our actions become choices.
And I was all about making the wrong ones even when I knew they were wrong...even when the choices I made were the exact OPPOSITE of what I wanted to do!
Maybe your background isn't as severe as mine but have you ever been there? Have you ever done the wrong thing knowing it was the wrong thing all the while wishing you would have just done the right thing and not knowing why you didn't? It's so frustrating isn't it?!
There isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish I would have done things differently. That I would have curbed my tongue and reigned in my actions, that I would have used wholesome common sense and self-control. Do you have regrets that you carry from your past, too?
It's part of our human sin nature to want to call all the shots, to want to be in control of every situation, to want to dictate how others around us behave so that our actions can be justified. Especially when we are living for ourselves and putting ourselves first. We want 'our way' so that we can have comfort, even if it means making those around us uncomfortable or sometimes even down right miserable.
One thing I've learned is that when we try to do what it 'right' and 'good' while still making it all about ourselves, when we compare ourselves to others that seem to have it all together and try to follow societies 'rules' or even God's Laws.....we will continue to fall terribly short. It's just not in us no matter how hard we try.
The Apostle Paul wrestled with this very thing as seen in this passage from Romans:
Romans 7:15-20 Amplified Bible (AMP)15 For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled and bewildered by them]. I do not practice what I want to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate [and yielding to my human nature, my worldliness—my sinful capacity]. 16 Now if I habitually do what I do not want to do, [that means] I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good (morally excellent). 17 So now [if that is the case, then] it is no longer I who do it [the disobedient thing which I despise], but the sin [nature] which lives in me. 18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh [my human nature, my worldliness—my sinful capacity]. For the willingness [to do good] is present in me, but the doing of good is not. 19 For the good that I want to do, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want to do, I am no longer the one doing it [that is, it is not me that acts], but the sin [nature] which lives in me.
That is a lot to take in, isn't it?
He goes on to further struggle with himself by saying:
21 So I find it to be the law [of my inner self], that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully delight in the law of God in my inner self [with my new nature], 23 but I see a different law and rule of action in the members of my body [in its appetites and desires], waging war against the law of my mind and subduing me and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is within my members. 24 Wretched and miserable man that I am! Who will [rescue me and] set me free from this body of death [this corrupt, mortal existence]? 25 Thanks be to God [for my deliverance] through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind serve the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh [my human nature, my worldliness, my sinful capacity—I serve] the law of sin.
Wow. If I were to stop right there, it would seem that my past filled with all my wrong doings, evil choices, and hate-filled actions against myself and others would define me and my future. It would seem like there is no hope for me...even though I know in my heart I am no longer the person I used to be, that even though I came to accept Christ as my Lord and Savior, that I now place Him before all others and all things...it would still seem like wrong choices are inevitable and that there is flat out just no hope.
I mean, if Paul...chosen to be an Apostle had this issue what chance would there be for ME?!
Thankfully...there is more to Paul's story...and to mine and yours!
8 Therefore there is now no condemnation [no guilty verdict, no punishment] for those who are in Christ Jesus [who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior]. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do [that is, overcome sin and remove its penalty, its power] being weakened by the flesh [man’s nature without the Holy Spirit], God did: He sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful man as an offering for sin....
....12 So then, [a]brothers and sisters, we have an obligation, but not to our flesh [our human nature, our worldliness, our sinful capacity], to live according to the [impulses of the] flesh [our nature without the Holy Spirit]— 13 for if you are living according to the [impulses of the] flesh, you are going to die. But if [you are living] by the [power of the Holy] Spirit you are habitually putting to death the sinful deeds of the body, you will [really] live forever. 14 For all who are allowing themselves to be led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading again to fear [of God’s judgment], but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons [the Spirit producing sonship] by which we [joyfully] cry, “[b]Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies and confirms together with our spirit [assuring us] that we [believers] are children of God. 17 And if [we are His] children, [then we are His] heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His spiritual blessing and inheritance], if indeed we share in His suffering so that we may also share in His glory.
Again...just WOW! Right there....for each and every one of us....HOPE!
Don't you just love that God the Father knew that this would be our struggle - that no matter our backgrounds, circumstances, wrong choices - that He provided for us, even in THIS.
Friends, we all to some degree struggle with self. We struggle with 'should nots' and 'should haves' and yet we 'did not.' We all have pasts filled with some sort of regrets. With mistakes, with 'wish-we-could-go-backs,' with 'if -I-could-do-it-over-agains.' But that is not who were are meant to be.
As children of God, we are not to be slaves to our past sins - no matter how big or many. Our past wrong choices do NOT need to define us or our futures.
In Him there is no condemnation (which is not to say that we should willing continue doing wrong and use the excuse of a Grace covering, no way!!!).
But we can take a fresh breath of hope...right there where we are at.....and make each future moment one that is filled with thankfulness for His provisions, gratefulness for His protections, appreciative for His forgiveness.
And we can be free to forgive ourselves.
Thank you, Abba, thank you.