We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
I’ve often thanked God for Paul’s transparency. So, I’m not alone. As they say “misery loves company.” Wanting to do the right thing but, in the end, doing what I hate. Wanting to seek repentance from my wife for my passive aggressive tendencies but instead throwing up self-deflecting justifications. Wanting to meditate on the Scriptures but wandering to email instead. Wanting to give more and love the poor but spending more on myself, my own entertainments, my own investments. I could go on. I am so full of failures. “I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.”
In our own power we can’t overcome our own sin. In this text Paul’s not trying to paint a picture of perfection, he doesn’t minimize his condition, and he doesn’t compare his condition with others. He states it like it is and in a way that we can relate. So what can we do? The only thing left to do—deny self, turn to God, and be honest about your helplessness.
Use this time to ask yourself some hard questions about your spiritual life, your spiritual maturity. The following questions taken from Outgrowing the Ingrown Church, by Jack Miller, are a great place to start:
Is God working in your life?
Have you been repenting of your sin lately?
Are you building your life on Christ’s free justification or are you insecure and guilt-ridden?
Have you done anything simply because you love Jesus?
Have you stopped anything simply because you love Jesus?
If you’re married, ask your spouse to give you his or her evaluation of your spiritual health. Many Christians have a Christian friend, or a small group of fellow believers, who provide an opportunity for spiritual inquiry. If you don’t have these kinds of relationship, Lent might be a good time to initiate one. Parents—especially fathers—could use Lent as time to spend more time with their children individually, trying to understand their particular spiritual struggles and providing them encouragement.
– Pastor Hartman