Sin patterns are ways in which we repeatedly partake in certain sins, and, as many of you have come to know, they can be incredibly difficult to break off. We all know "sin = bad", but how come we always fall into the same sins over and over again? And why does overcoming these sin patterns feel so impossible? These are questions Apostle Paul answers for us in today's passage.
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do" Romans 7:15
You can sense the amount of frustration in Paul's words when he describes how enslaved we are to sin. If we were to condense this passage to one sentence, it would be: "human beings are helpless", which, although harsh, is entirely true. By only our own power and our own strength, we are, indeed, helpless.
Paul often alludes our relationship to sin to slavery or imprisonment. He states in verse 14, "but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin". To understand why we sin, we must understand the meaning behind being a slave. Slaves are forced to obey their masters and adhere to their every command. Today, I want you to ask yourself: who is your master? Is your master insecurity? Is your master lust? Is your master pride? Or is your master the Spirit of God who lives in you? Don't just glaze over these questions assuming you have yourself all figured out. Really think about what drives your decisions, and don't be afraid to be honest with yourself. #SELFAWARENESS!
Overcoming sin patterns doesn't happen in a day. Our mind, body, and soul are all interconnected, so even if your mind is set on overcoming sin, your soul and body also need to follow through, which is why you may find yourself falling into the same exact sin you rebuked last winter retreat or whenever you decided to turn to God. That's why Paul emphasizes that, although laws are good, they cannot SAVE you from sin. Simply doing all the right things won't make you invincible towards sin. Trust me, I've seen (and experienced) a lot of people hide behind leadership positions, serving the church, attending service... and all of these things are good, but they don't mean you're "in the clear". It's not your good deeds that will save you-- it's God.
All in all, the emphasis of this passage is our sinful nature. But understanding WHY we sin and WHO our masters are will only lead you to walk in the fruitfulness of Jesus' victory on the cross. And so, today, if you want to cut off whatever sin patterns you may be struggling with, ask the Holy Spirit to take a hold of your thought life and guide you through this journey. However, don't let it stop there. Seek out accountability, whether that be in a close friend or mentor, and bring your struggles to the surface. You can't fight a battle in the dark, and your community will serve as your flashlight to shine a light on things you could not see for yourself.
(P.S. if you have any further questions about this topic, ask the pastoral staff or your leaders!)