November 11th 2010

The Prison Of Sin

“What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then act another, doing things I absolutely despise. … I realise that I don’t have what it takes. I can will [to do ] it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. … Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.”
Romans 7:15-20 (The Message)

My father managed his mother’s public house in Islington back in the 1930s. Every evening two elderly widows would come in and order a pint of porter and two pint glasses. They would then retire to the warming fire at the back of the small saloon bar, and, when no one was looking, mix methylated spirit with the porter to make what is known as Biddy. In those days meths was colourless and odourless—only later was it modified to stop people drinking cheap wood alcohol. At closing time they would both leave contented, weaving slightly as, arm in arm, they proceeded home.

Now, wood alcohol is a poison. Did these ladies know that? Probably, but perhaps not. It destroys internal organs, impairs sight and eats away the digestive system. If they knew it, they carried on regardless; and if they didn’t, anyway they preferred the short-term buzz of being slightly inebriated every night to forget their troubles. Sin is like that. We know that it destroys us, but we often find we can’t stop. Paul experienced the same thing.

Sometimes we know that the sin we are involved in is destroying us; other times we go ahead in ignorance because it gives us a similar buzz. It’s doing no one else any harm, we rationalise. Paul talks about being in a sort of prison thanks to sin (verse 15). He was helpless and hopeless. “It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebels, and just when I least expect it, it takes charge” (verses 21-23).

Isn’t that encouraging? If the great apostle Paul, decades ago, in his walk with God had these problems, little wonder little ol’ you and me have them too. And the answer to our dilemma? Jesus Christ (verse 25). Because Jesus overcame all sin for all, on our behalf, we can and must claim that gift of his grace. So often we try to overcome our sins in order to be right with God, when all the time Jesus has made us right with God, and therefore we can set about living a sinless life knowing that, when we trip ourselves up, Jesus is there to set us back on course through his grace.

Most merciful Father, thank you for taking care of sin for us. Of course we carry on trying to live the sinless life but now not to be right with you, but because we are right with you; not in fear of you, but in awe of your overarching love for us. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by John Stettaford 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Print This Article


Got something to say?