Paul is basically reminding us that we all make short-term decisions that sacrifice our long-term goals all the time. His long-term goal is godliness, but his short-term reality is constantly falling short and being filled with regret.
- You’re trying to lose weight, but you can’t stop eating that ________ or exercise always gets trumped by _________.
- You’re trying to get out of credit card debt, but you can’t stop ________.
- You’re trying to change the way you talk to people when you feel hurt by their comments, but instead you still respond by _________.
- You’re addicted to _______ and you tried to stop, even do for a while, but eventually you keep doing __________ again anyway.
- You have a set of friends who you need to change because of their influence on your story, but even if you stop seeing them, the pattern repeats in a different genre with a new set of bad friendships.
You get the picture.
Paul says what every troubled teen and every one of us struggling with patterns to overcome in our lives needs to hear. “Get to Jesus. He’ll empower you to win this thing. But apart from God’s presence and power in your life, the patterns of sin will destroy you daily.” Period. That’s it.
Every time I read this passage with a student, light bulbs go on, spiritual truth enters the story, and they’re reminded that this ancient book is not irrelevant or old, but alive and needed for daily living today. And in the process, I’m reminded too. Oh, how desperately we all need God to be working in us, with us and through us all daily.