Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2
The press called it, "Sunday a Hero, Monday a Bum!" It is the strange story of a man who risked his life one day to save an eleven-year-old boy from certain death, his clothing aflame, while at least fifty people stood by and did nothing. The next day the same man was charged with burglary.
John Dennis, an auto mechanic, was called a hero when he rescued young Ronnie Perez – who will forever thank Dennis for saving his life. The boy had been playing on a fence that protects pedestrians from a freight yard where a dozen 12,000-volt power lines overhang the yard. When Ronnie fell from the fence, he brushed one of the high voltage lines and by the time he hit the ground, his clothes had burst into flames. Dennis, hearing the screams, rushed outside and saw the boy. "There were about 50 people staring at this poor little screaming boy," he said, adding, "Nobody made a move. I guess nobody wanted to go to the trouble."
Sustaining burns himself, Dennis ripped off the clothing of the little boy and then took him to the hospital. Yes, that's the stuff heroes are made of, but the story doesn't end there.
From his hospital bed where he was recovering from his severe burns, Ronnie asked his mother to "thank Mr. Dennis for me" adding, "God bless him!" His picture made front page news, which may have had something to do with the fact that police recognized him as the man they had been looking for--a "break and enter" thief who had burglarized a local gas station.
When he was finally brought before the court, the judge was baffled. He wasn't sure what to think of this man who was both a hero and a heel. When the judge asked him to explain his actions which were so contradictory, the man could only hang his head in shame.
It's the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story, the often-told tale of a person greatly respected who was something totally different at times. How explain this? Paul confronted the spiritual schizophrenia which confronts us all when he wrote, "I don't understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can't. I do what I don't want to--what I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience proves that I agree with these laws I am breaking. But I can't help myself because I'm no longer doing it. It is sin inside me that is stronger than I am that makes me do these evil things" (Romans 7:15-17, Living Bible).
The reality is that there is something of John Dennis in every person, myself included. It's the ongoing struggle of good versus evil, of right versus wrong, of my old sinful nature which is in rebellion against my spiritual nature.
When you take time to read about Paul's struggle which is recorded in Romans 7, you find there is but one way to find deliverance from the struggle and that is through the indwelling power of God's Holy Spirit.
And does this eliminate the tendency toward doing what we know is wrong? No, in spite of the fact some have taught that. It does, however, give you strength to resist that downward pull, to chose the right when the wrong looks so inviting and harmless.
Thank God, there is a greater force which lifts us toward heaven than the downward pull of our own nature. As Paul put it, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life sets me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1-2).
Resource reading: Romans 7:1-8:2