“For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am a flesh sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand for I am not practicing what I would like to do but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the thing I don’t want to do, I agree with the Law confessing that the law is good.” – Romans 7:14-16
During my sophomore year of college, I was going through a very unsettling time. I didn’t really understand why at the time, but I was overwhelmed with fear. There was fear of the future, feeling unsettled, not knowing what I was supposed to do with my life. I felt like I had gone from a much too confident young man to that feeling of total loss of confidence and fear about the future. During that time, I became fearful that I might commit the unforgivable sin, even though I didn’t know what that was. It was not a happy time.
Then one day, I came to this passage, Romans 7:14. It was like the words of God jumped off the page. It was so incredibly encouraging to see that this great man of faith, the Apostle Paul, was confessing his struggle with sin even late in life. After all those years of growing in Jesus Christ, Paul is confessing, “Look. I know what I’m supposed to do. I know what I’d like to do but I’m failing. I’m struggling in that.” [My interpretation] I can surely tell you what a difference it made for me! I read the passage over and over. It gave me strength and encouragement in learning that the more we grow in Christ, the more we are aware of our sinfulness. It also helped me realize that the further we are from Christ, the less we’re aware of our sinfulness. It finally made sense to me! Boy, did that relieve me. I realized I wasn’t regressing in my relationship with Christ, but growing closer to Him!
It was during that year of college, of struggling with all kinds of fears, but mostly the fear of committing the unforgivable sin, when God ministered to me very personally. He said, “Bryant, whatever you do, whatever you have done, whatever you will do in the future, you are not condemned. I love you. You are my child.” When we really understand God’s grace – His offer of no condemnation for our sin through what He has done for us on the cross – that He gives us the desire to want to live in a way that is pleasing to God. It frees us from the fear of messing up or doing something unforgivable to the joy of living in gratitude for what He did for us. That really sets us free from fear, which is really not trusting God, to relishing in His love, no longer defeated by sin!