I’m still a young Christian by my reckoning and only just beginning to study the basic Christian doctrines. All too often, I find things in scripture or hear things from my teachers that I disagree with. It’s funny because I know so little and they know so much and it usually ends up that they were right and I was wrong.
The topic of sin has been one of those things. I understand so little about it. I believe, as the Bible says, that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but I don’t understand it very much. I suppose it means that we’re all bad people but I’m not sure how this is the case. It has something to do with Adam and Eve, but it’s still our fault.
I know that I’m a bad person – it’s not very hard to see. I’m rebellious and sin is after all rebellion against God. Therefore, I am a sinner. But up till now, I’ve still had trouble seeing that children are sinners. It just didn’t sound true. It might have stemmed from not being around very many of them. This spring break, however, I took a small trip to Bastrop, Texas where I helped watch four little kids during the Sunday worship service.
And there I saw it.
I was to give them half a banana each, but one of them began throwing a tantrum as soon as he realized that he could not have a full one.
They refused to stay in their seats, and kept running around the room.
When it was time to play in the sandbox, they refused to share and fought over whose sand it was.
They refused to follow simple instructions – “sit down”, “don’t spill sand on the floor”, “Listen to Tracy when she tells you to do something”, “Close your eyes when we’re praying”, etc. etc.
I realized that they were just smaller versions of me. I react to God’s instructions in much the same way they reacted to mine. Sometimes I obey, but sluggishly. At other times, I groan and complain. I make excuses, I throw tantrums (with a lot less noise, of course, but lots of tears) and sometimes, I just flatly disobey.
It’s not that I do not know. I know what right is and what wrong is. I just like the wrong better. I do want to do the right thing, and I will, when I find one instance in which I prefer it to the wrong. In short, I want to do what I want to do regardless of God’s wishes. This sickens me, because deep down, I do want to do God’s will. It is at this point that I echo Paul’s words.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 7:21 – 8:4)