CAUGHT IN THE SPIDER'S WEB!
"Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognised as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful. 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. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me." Romans 7:13-17.
The path of understanding how helpless we are without the Lord Jesus Christ is quite a tortuous one. Paul was obviously aware of his own spiritual journey from thinking that his law-keeping efforts were quite successful to realising that he fell very far short of God's standards when he was honest enough to evaluate himself against the inward requirements of the law.
Paul came to realise that the law of God was only a measure, like a ruler, which accurately measured God's holy standards. Therefore the law had no power to do anything else but show him whether his life measured up or not. Therefore the law had no power to kill him. It only showed him whether he was worthy of death or not.
Sin is a factor of human life, but different religions define sin in different ways. For most, sin is defined by the values people attribute to their gods. If we keep in mind that people who reject the one true God create gods in their own image, the character and requirements of their gods depends on how they want to live their lives...which, of course, accurately reflects Adam's rejection of his Creator in the beginning.
Satan offered him the alternative - you don't have to obey God because He is short-changing you, keeping you from partaking of the fruit of that one tree. If you listen to me, you can make your own rules. But Satan did not tell him to read the small print, the part that said, "If you follow my way, you will be my slave. You won't really be free because you will be in my power and I will see to it that you utterly destroy yourself!" So Adam fell for the devil's little scheme and lost the freedom he had, to become a slave of sin.
God's standard did not change. What changed was Adam's ability to live up to it because his Helper, the Holy Spirit, had left. He was on his own and helpless, like an insect caught in a spider's web. The more he struggled, the more he became entangled in its death grip. He knew what was right because God's law was written within his conscience, but he could not do anything about it.
All the law could do was to show him how far away from God's ways he really was. Like the insect in the spider's web, he could see the big wide world out there but he was powerless to get out of the web and fly free as he was created to do. Release from the silk's sticky grip could only come if someone intervened and set him free.
A battle raged within him. He knew what was right because his conscience spoke loud and clear, but he could not do what was right because his natural bent towards sin was too strong. Like a bowling wood, he always veered off the straight path towards satisfying the demands of his selfish nature. He could neither silence his conscience by defending himself, nor appease it by living the right way. The very fact that his conscience accused him was an indication that he knew and agreed with what was right.
Guilt and self-loathing tormented him. But most of all, he was in despair because no amount of law-keeping could undo his past or give him hope for his future. Like the insect, he could only wait to be devoured. The same law that showed him how holy God is, would judge him and condemn him to eternal death. His problem was on the inside and no amount of trying to do good things would change his heart.
That's the problem with man-made religions. Every ritual people perform, every regulation they adhere to cannot change their hearts. Washing their bodies, wearing special garments, eating or not eating certain foods, offering animal sacrifices, putting food in front of idols, bowing down to wood or stone, being nice to animals - are all in vain because none of these things can pay the debt of sin or change the heart.
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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