A Big, Hot, Wretched Mess

I’ve probably spent more time disciplining my son in the past month than I have in all the other collective months of his life. Genuinely, there is no exaggeration in my previous statement.

I stand by it; the past month has been hard!

I’m not sure if our son is just making up for the anti-climactic “terrible twos” that never came to fruition in our household, or what, but they have absolutely NOTHIN’ on the “ferocious fours” that we are now experiencing. Seriously, folks…it’s not been pretty, and I’ve grown a tad- bit big-lot weary.

I’ve grown weary of his inability to follow the rules.

I’ve grown weary of his unwillingness to heed my instructions.

I’ve grown weary of repeating and rehearsing the expectations for his behavior.

I’ve grown weary of disciplining, correcting, and admonishing.

I’ve grown weary of trying to encourage, promote, and draw-out the expected and obedient behavior that we want from our son.

In short, I’ve grown weary of a battle that seems to have no end. 

“Why won’t he just do what he’s supposed to do?” I’ve thought it a hundred times over and maybe even begged for it a thousand times over.

For crying out loud, kid, “Do what you know is RIGHT because your Mama’s gonna lose her stinkin’ mind!!!”

Folks, I’m weary.

And because I’m weary, and because the weekend seems like a light-year away, and because I was slightly concerned about what would happen if we spent another morning in our brick-laden house, I decided that I would take the kiddos to an indoor play-area while I sat quietly and regained some sense of self-control and peace of mind.

After removing shoes and reminding them to play “nicely” and “keep their limbs to themselves,” I made a bee-line for the table farthest away from the chaos. Opening my Bible to the next chapter in my Bible study. I took a deep breath and started in on Romans 7.

Friends, I don’t know how to say this in a thoughtful or eloquent way, so I’ll just go ahead and say the first thing that comes to mind.

Jesus met me at a play-area table on a Thursday morning.  

Because as I read through the verses of Romans 7, I got more than a sense of self-control and peace of mind, I got a glimpse into MY heart, and MY sin, and MY utter inability to “follow the rules.”

So what exactly do I mean? Well, let me start by sharing a quick overview of Romans (based on my limited understanding).

-In Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome (both Jews and Gentiles in this congregation), he’s reminding them of one, over-arching BIG IDEA and that is as follows: Their unity in Christ doesn’t come from their adherence to the OT Laws (a following of commandments and rules given to the Jewish people) but rather in their collective belief that salvation comes by faith in Jesus Christ and in His death and resurrection.

-Paul has reminded them earlier in the letter that they have ALL sinned; that they have ALL been declared unrighteous; and that NO ONE can boast in following the Law (Romans 1-3).

-Paul has reminded them that when God made a covenant with Abraham, it was based on Abraham’s FAITH, not in his ability to keep the Law (Romans 4).

-Paul reminds them that because of God’s gracious gift of Jesus, they have been justified by grace and given a righteousness that is based on God’s sacrifice of a sinless savior and not by their abilities to keep the Law (Romans 5).

-Paul reiterates that they are no longer slaves under the Law of sin, but rather they are new creations under a new master, GRACE, which brings life and freedom (Romans 6).

In short, Paul spends the first six chapters of Romans outlining why the Law is not our salvation.

But it wasn’t until day, when I read the verses of chapter seven at that germ-infested table in that chaotic play area, that God opened my eyes to a new way of viewing the battle I’ve been facing with my son. 

So what happens in chapter seven?

-Well, Paul reasserts that the Law itself is NOT sin but rather it points out the sin within our hearts.

What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.” (v.7). 

-Paul reminds the believers that attempting to follow the Law (apart from the work of Jesus) leaves us in a sad and hopeless battle with sin…always striving to do good but never achieving.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. (selections from v. 15-23)

-Paul then poses a question to the Roman believers about their hopeless condition apart from Christ’s saving work in their lives?

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? (v. 24)
-And then Paul summarizes his entire argument with one, simple solution to their absolute inability to keep and follow God’s Law.
Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! (v. 25) 

There it was…as plain as day–my state, my son’s state, and all of EVERYONE’S state apart from the saving work of Jesus Christ.

Just like my son will never be able to always obey the rules…neither will I and neither will you. 
Just like my son will never be able to perfectly follow the guidelines and adhere to the expectations…neither will I and neither will you. 
Just like my son will never be able to always make good choices and always heed the instructions…neither will I and neither will you. 
Just like my son will never be able to do what he knows he is supposed to do…neither will I and neither will you. 
Apart from Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, NONE of us will ever be able to OBEY ENOUGH.
We just can’t.
We just won’t.
We just don’t.
In simplistic terms, we are ALL in a big, hot, wretched mess!
And though the Law and Rules are good to point out our mess, the Law and Rules can’t save us from our mess. The problem is sin, and we (Caden and I both included) need a desperate, life-changing, miracle-working intervention because WE just can’t do it on our own. 
And where is the ONLY place we will ever find that?
In the Messiah…in the Savior…in the ONE who was lying in a manger.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:11
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