Do versus Done
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.”
Romans 7:18-19 (NKJV UK)
Have you ever tried to lose weight? It’s a lot harder than it seems. You fight hard to eat healthily only to slip up at dinner and order a slice of cake. How does this happen? Paul talks about it in Romans: “For what I want to do I do not do; but what I hate, that I do” (Romans 7:15 NIV UK).
As long as we inhabit mortal bodies, we experience the push and pull of our conflicting desires. We try to “just will ourselves through it”. But it’s not that simple. Our wills are only as strong as the desires driving them. When this dynamic is applied to our spiritual lives, the results can be frustrating and confusing. We might want to spend more time in prayer, to serve more, or to act more lovingly to our friends or spouses in an effort to be more like Christ, but our sinful nature influences our will—resulting in a lot of conflict.
But there’s good news. A wise man once told me that, when it comes to the problem of sin, the difference between Jesus and religion is that religion says “do”, but Jesus says, “done.” In his sacrificial work on the cross, the question of our sin has been answered forever. Now, this doesn’t mean the process of becoming more like Jesus won’t be difficult, or that we won’t mess it up. But it does mean that we can wage this battle daily in full confidence of its outcome: Jesus wins, every time. In fact, he already has! We remain his beloved children and he has promised “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
As Calvin used to say, it takes perseverance and patience, repentance and renewal, mortification and vivification. But when we stand firm in God’s completed work for us, and realise that the impossible task we must “do” has already been “done”, we truly begin to walk in his resurrection power and life. What Christ has done for us, the Holy Spirit will work out in us and in his time and in his way, God will bring it to completion.
Merciful Father, always you are ahead of us, making possible what we find impossible. Thank you for your mercy, your patience with us. All you ask of us to begin with is the willingness to change, to repent. Later comes the realisation that your Son completed everything necessary for us to be able to begin to walk forward with you towards that completion you call us to. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Study by Joseph Tkach
You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.