21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:21-25 (ESV)
“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.”
One of the things I love to do is read biographies. It isn’t too often that your average Joe has a biography written about him. Great people have things written about them. People who have managed to change the shape of the world, to motivate others, to change the way the world thinks about an issue, these are the things of biography. But then one of the things that make so many biographies great is how ordinary the subject really is. People are people. People are sinners. They want to do great things, yet even when they do, their lives are often marked by the annoyances, and sins of everyday life.
The other day, as I was meditating upon the reading of a biography of “Phillip of Hesse” who was at the center of the maelstrom known as the Lutheran reformation, I began to think of all the biographies I read, and started to think great men fall victim to great sins. But that isn’t really true. They fall victim to the same sins everyone else falls victim to, the same sins that tear apart the average family in America, the same sins that so often go unnoticed when an average joe does them. And perhaps that is the shock of it. This man, this woman who we think of as being so above average, suckered by the average. Sort of the talking dog in reverse.
It is actually, one of the things that makes the Bible such an interesting read. To see all these men that God puts before us as being great, and then seeing their sin. It’s shocking at times. It makes us shake our head. How can they be guilty of this and still be called great, by God!
Paul explains that here. When I want to do good, evil lies close at hand. It’s true of your life isn’t it? How often have you wanted to do the right thing, only to find yourself too weak to do it? How often have you wanted to do the right thing, and it blows up in your face? You find out it wasn’t the right thing to do at all? And who knows our weaknesses better than the devil? Why should we be surprised then to find that people in the spotlight fall for such stupid sins when they are trying to do good? No, the sins aren’t great, that would give too much credit to them. The sins are ordinary. And if evil was laying close at hand when Paul was trying to do good, we shouldn’t be surprised when we find the same to be true for ourselves or the great leaders of the world. And all the more can we take comfort that God is much greater than all of this he has overcome the world, he sets us free, and even uses our weakness to shame the strong, but in the end he is victor and works all things for good for those who believe in him.