My son’s black lab, Blackberry, recently had 11 puppies.
I remember when she was a puppy herself, and Josiah was teaching her to do things like fetch and sit. At that age, there was always something new to learn.
One night, Blackberry tried to eat a toad, but it turns out that toads secrete something that makes the puppy’s mouth foam up and then makes the puppy puke.
As defense mechanisms go, this one is flawed, since the toad is dead … but lesson learned, right? Don’t eat toads. So naturally, Blackberry found another toad and repeated the whole thing just a few minutes later.
I have to admit that sometimes I have the same problem. I’ll make stupid choices and then have to deal with consequences – but then turn right around and do it all again, as if I’ve already forgotten. This isn’t just me, I know. It’s such a part of the human condition that even the Apostle Paul admitted to it:
Romans 7:21-25a NIV
So I find this law at work: Although 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 me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
What’s really interesting to me about what Paul says is, well, what he doesn’t say. Wouldn’t you expect Paul (an Apostle, remember) to say “so here’s how I licked that sin problem that I used to have.” That’s how our sermons and hymns and Christian hit songs have usually dealt with this touchy subject. We’ve all sinned (past tense) but “now I am happy all the day.”
But no. Paul actually admits his own struggle with sin is ongoing (whoa!) and further admits his own helplessness to fix that problem. He’s not saying that we should just give up and have a sin free-for-all (he’s already addressed that in Romans 6). Just a couple of verses later, he tells us “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 NIV).
Yet again, I’m reminded of how much I need Jesus.