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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 (Romans 7:19).
Alcoholics Anonymous, also known as “AA,” is a worldwide movement that attempts to help alcoholics break free from their addiction to drinking. One of the first things AA leaders tell those who “can’t lay off the sauce” is that they have to come to the end of themselves. In order to break free from their addiction, they have to admit that they are powerless to stop—no matter how hard they try.
Some have felt uncomfortable with this aspect of AA’s approach because they believe it downplays personal responsibility. But that’s not the point. AA is rightly emphasizing that a person can’t get free from the addiction through self-effort.
This is precisely one of the points Paul was conveying when he wrote of his personal struggles with his sin nature. In his letter to the Christians in Rome, Paul described himself as a “slave to sin” (Romans 7:14). He wrote, “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” (Romans 7:19).
Paul had a big problem with sin, something we can all relate to. We have the issue. But the apostle doesn’t seem to tell us how to deal with it—a reality that can leave us feeling confused and frustrated.
But that’s his point! No matter how hard we try, we can’t get out of it on our own. We need Jesus! He’s the only one who can free us from sins that dominate us (Romans 7:24-25).
Do you have an addiction or obsession that is taking over your life? Stop trying so hard to get free. Surrender! Wave the white flag and admit defeat. Then run to the only One who can meet your need—Jesus.
Read 2 Corinthians 12:9 and consider what it says about our weakness and the power of God’s grace.
Do you view God as “condemning” or as “merciful”? Why? What does it mean for you to know that you are a new person in Christ? (2 Corinthians 5:17).
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