Why is it so hard to be good? Or to put it another way: Why is it so hard to obey and do what we know God wants us to do? We understand from both the Old Testament law and the teachings of Jesus and the rest of the New Testament what is good and what is not. And yet we keep on stumbling on the same sins over and over at times. It’s enough to make a person become discouraged in even trying. We wonder why we can’t just be good!? Or we ask God to simply change us and make us good. And, again, when it doesn’t happen, we get disheartened, which is exactly what the devil is hoping we will do.
So what can we do? I was thinking of this recently after I watched a bird by our house a couple of weeks ago. This bird, a robin I believe, kept trying to fly into our house through our closed kitchen window. I don’t know if he saw his reflection or if the sight of food drove him, but he kept on flying and bumping into the window. Needless to say, he didn’t get in and he finally gave up. We can do that in our lives. We can muster courage, steel our spiritual nerves and try over and over with ever greater determination to be good or at least better! But the fact is that it won’t work. We will be like the bird flying into the window over and over. We aren’t going to become good on our own. It is impossible regardless of how hard we try.
We could also just give up and say that’s the way I am and nothing will change it! “I am who I am and so I’m just going to be this way.” That’s not the answer either, for the Scriptures say that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12) Giving up isn’t an option either.
What we can do is read the words of Romans 8:9-11. Listen to what Paul writes to the Romans: You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
Read that passage again more slowly this time and let the powerful truths soak into your mind. “We are not in the realm of the flesh” and so we can’t just give in and say that’s who we are. We are instead in the “realm of the Spirit” and that means we have the Spirit of God working in us and changing us to be better! And if we doubt how powerful that is, then read that last part again. The same Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead will also raise our mortal bodies from the dead. And if the Holy Spirit can do that, he can also change us.
We have a source of power that is unfathomable! And that powerful Holy Spirit is making us, slowly and sometimes imperceptibly, better people. We won’t be perfect, but we can be better but only through the Holy Spirit’s power.
At our annual Spring retreat, April 11-13, we are going to be looking at the gospel stories of Jesus after his resurrection. We will take note of the power of the resurrection and how that changed everything. My word of encouragement to us is that we have that same power in us, changing us now. So without any question, we are in a battle! The point is to keep on fighting. As long as we are fighting and not giving up, we are going to succeed. The power of Jesus’ resurrection guarantees us that victory.