Hey wonderful people!
I have a special surprise for you today! One of my close friends, Liz, has agreed to do a guest post on my blog! Liz and I met about three years ago, our freshman year of college, and I am so blessed to have her in my life. She is a great friend and wonderful sister of Christ. She has encouraged me so much for the past few years, and I hope she encourages you with her words.
I want you to try an experiment. Pick an image – it can be your dog, your breakfast, whatever – and try to focus on it for the next minute. Don’t let your mind wander!
How did it go? If you’re normal, it probably wasn’t easy. In theory it’s very simple: just think about something, like an ice cream cone, for sixty seconds. But in practice, we have so many things to distract us, both outside and inside our heads.
I have this struggle every day in so many ways, things that are simple in theory but difficult in practice. I want to wake up early enough to do my personal devotions before class, but instead I sleep for an extra fifteen minutes. I want to go for a run in the afternoon, but instead I rewatch my favorite episode of Sherlock. I want to work on my research paper, but instead I check my social media. I want to eat an apple for a snack, but instead I eat the KitKats in my candy jar.
Every time I fail, I beat myself up. I feel weak and inadequate. It shouldn’t be hard if I want to do it. Why do I lack the discipline to do what I want? Surprisingly, Paul speaks of this same struggle in Romans 7:
For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. Romans 7:15 HCSB
Apparently Paul the apostle had the same trouble with doing the right thing. Sometimes I think of Paul as a spiritual superhero, enduring persecution and imprisonment, all while holding firm to his faith. And he did. But he wasn’t perfect. He also struggled against himself, the paradox of wanting yet not wanting to do what is right.
Paul says we are at war within ourselves: the sinful flesh and the Spirit of God. We are sinners, prone to darkness – it’s in our DNA. We can’t help it. It’s like trying to escape gravity or decay. It’s not possible on our own strength. Sure, we can fight it for a while by ourselves. I can jump away from the pull of gravity, or I can use makeup to cover up a zit, but it’s only a temporary solution. The only way we can escape the force that keeps us doing wrong is to rely on the Spirit that lives within us.
And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you. Romans 8:11 HSCB
The strength we have to do the right comes from outside of ourselves: the Holy Spirit. When He lives inside us, He empowers us to overcome our dead sinful nature and live a new life. In Galatians, Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit, and the last one is – guess what? – self-control. In Him we can have the discipline to do what we want, contrary to our sinful nature. He is living inside us, helping us to follow in His ways.
So next time you mess up, don’t get frustrated. Remember that you’re fighting against your sinful nature, but it’s not hopeless. If you are in Christ, His Spirit is empowering you do what is right. Whether it’s something small like eating an apple over a Kitkat or something big like doing your personal devotions rather than sleeping in, He can give you the strength and discipline. Don’t try to do it on your own. Trust and seek Him!
Again, a huge thank you to my friend Liz for writing this post!! Give her some love by liking this post!! Thank you so much for reading!!