Friday, December 1, 2017

"From now on..." is a phrase that should be removed from the English language and banished into antiquity. "From now on, I'm going to exercise three times a week and stick to my diet." Uh huh. Because that works, right? For maybe 30 seconds.

New Year's Resolutions are a perfect example of this conundrum. We want to change, we really do, but somehow...we always give up, within the month, or the week...some of us even within the first day. "Oh, but we can't let the Christmas candy go to waste!" Or, "It's too cold outside!" "I'll do it tomorrow." (My husband likes to point out that "tomorrow," by its very definition, never comes.)

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, speaks to this same problem.  The New International Version can be a bit confusing. "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." (Romans 7:15) Anyone else have to read that one a few times to get it right? It's like the meme I saw the other day, "The only time the word incorrectly is spelled incorrectly is when it's spelled incorrectly." Umm...yeah. Moving on...

The New Living Translation clarifies that verse. "I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate." It goes on to say in verse 19, "I want to do what is good, but I don't. I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway." Sounds pretty much the same, right? Here's another: "I have discovered this principle of life-that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. " (verse 21) Paul liked to repeat himself. Maybe the Romans needed it drilled into their heads more than once. Maybe we do too.

His frustration with himself abounds, "Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?" (24) Good question! And Paul gives us the answer: "Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord!" (verse 25 a)

Thankfully, He too, like Paul, is willing to do whatever it takes to drum this fact into our heads. We don't have to "be good." We can't be good. Not in our own strength. Not in our own power. Every time we turn from ourselves, our sins, and our frustration, He is there. EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. "From now on." All we have to do is ask, and keep asking, every time we mess up, every time we "do what .

Now that's a "From now on" I can believe in.

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