I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. … What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Yet Another Reason to Give Thanks
Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. If you live in the United States, you probably will spend time today cataloging the things you are thankful for. I doubt you’ll have any difficulty compiling your list. In fact, if you are able to gather with family and friends today, around a table loaded with food, you’ll have all kinds of things to be thankful for.
In our Bible passage today, the apostle Paul gives us yet another reason to give thanks—a reason that perhaps we don’t often think about.
Paul candidly talks about a struggle that he—and every Christian—must deal with every day of his life. It’s the struggle between the old self that he is by nature and the new self that he is through faith in Jesus. The old self only wants to sin. It only wants to separate itself from God. What God loves, it hates. What God hates, it loves. The new self, on the other hand, only wants to please God and draw closer to him. What God loves, it loves. What God hates, it hates. These two selves lived inside of Paul—and they live inside of us. Every day they fight against each other in constant battle.
This constant battle frustrated Paul and it frustrates us. Paul hated to see himself doing the things that he knew he shouldn’t do. He also hated to see himself not do the things that he knew he should do. Finally, Paul throws up his hands and cries out, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” The answer is: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
The solution to the constant battle between Paul’s old self and new self was Jesus. In Jesus, Paul was washed clean of his sins and made into a new person. In Jesus, he was holy in God’s sight and given the strength to live as the new self that he was through faith in Jesus. In Jesus, Paul had reason to give thanks. He knew that in Jesus, he had the ultimate victory in this war between his old and new selves.
We have the same reason to give thanks. Yes, we daily are frustrated when we see ourselves doing what we know we shouldn’t do. We are equally frustrated when we see ourselves not doing the things that we know we should do. Yet, when we feel as if all is lost and are tempted to give up, Paul reminds us that in Jesus, we have been washed clean and made into a new person. In Jesus, we are holy in God’s sight and given the strength to live as the new selves that we are through faith in Jesus. In Jesus, we have the ultimate victory in this war between our old and new selves. That truly is yet another reason to give thanks!
Heavenly Father, today I give you thanks for all the blessings you so richly pour out on me, including the victory you have given me over my old self. Help me always to live as the new self you have made me. Amen.