Wednesday, 19 June 2013
If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. Romans 7:16
This verse is an obvious truth. If the thing that I will to do, which is based on the law (see the previous verse’s example concerning the people of Israel at the giving of the law), is the thing that I don’t practice, and the thing that I do is the thing I will not to do (which is something contrary to the law), then “I agree with the law that it is good.”
To get this straight, because the wording can be hard to grasp, just think of a law which is good and reasonable – say for example, keeping the posted speed limit of 40 mph. I want to keep the law, and probably for more than one reason. For example, I know the law is there to protect others. I certainly don’t want to run over other people. The law is there to protect property. I don’t want to skid out of control because I am driving faster than what is prudent (and road engineers are always right…). The law is also there to protect me. I don’t want to end up in the hospital or in a wooden box. For these and other reasons (like maybe getting a speeding ticket), I will to do the law.
However, this is the thing that I don’t practice. I don’t pay attention sometimes; I go 45 without realizing it. Maybe I’m late for an appointment and so I speed, promising myself that it’s just this one time. Or, I may have a broken speedometer and my guesswork is faulty concerning the rate I’m travelling at. I’m not doing what I actually will to do in each case, even in the “late for the appointment” thing. This is true because I wouldn’t have otherwise “promised myself” anything.
In all three of the instances, I had something bad happen. When I wasn’t paying attention, I ran someone over. When I was late for the appointment, I lost control and took out four mailboxes and a yard gnome. When my speedometer was broken, I got a $250.00 speeding ticket by the local sheriff. The thing I willed to do, which was to obey the law and avoid all of these things, is the thing I failed to do. And the thing that willed not to do, which was to break the law and have all these terrible things result, well, that is what I did and I suffered the consequences.
Because of these things, I have to agree that the law is good. This is exactly what Paul is telling us. God gave Adam and Eve a law and He had His good reasons for doing so. When they broke that law and received the just penalty for their violation, I guarantee they agreed that the law was good. In fact, one premise of the Bible after that point is that we have been trying to get back to “Eden” ever since. Regardless of whether we’re doing it the right way or not, everyone is looking for something better. We know this world is a world of fault ending in death and we have to agree that the law was, in fact, good. Every law introduced by God since that time has contained the same over-arching truth.
Life application: Far too often when we break a law, we attempt to divert the blame elsewhere. It is so much easier to do this, but if we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit our faults and agree that if the law was a good and just law, that we failed. This is particularly true with God’s laws. When you fall short of His requirements, confess it and ask Him to redirect you toward obedience.
Heavenly Father, You know where my thoughts about You are wrong. Just because I think I’m right doesn’t mean I am. And so Lord, search out my life and those things that I have placed my faith in, and open my eyes to the areas which are misdirected. Let me not be so stubborn as to ignore the truth of a matter, but help me to be open and willing to change in order to be pleasing to You. Guide me, O God. Amen.