But since my strength will nevermore suffice me
To crucify desires that still entice me,
To all good deeds O let Thy Spirit win me
And reign within me!
LSB 439 st. 11
“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”
When we fail in our endeavors, sometimes the only thing we can say is, “I did my best.” Yet in the end a failure is a failure because a sin is a sin. As Christians in this present reality we find within ourselves a battle going on between the sinful flesh and the Holy Spirit. No matter how hard we try, there is no escaping this remnant of sin. It clings to us and will remain as long as we have flesh and bones this side of Christ’s return.
Yet we do not wallow in despair. We who have been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection have been given the promise of eternal life and the power of the Spirit to wage war against the desires of the flesh. In this battle between the flesh and Spirit there is no stalemate. The Spirit rules and the flesh is subordinate. In this way we can gain comfort from knowing that when the flesh pushes us to sin, we are prompted and encouraged by the Spirit to seek forgiveness through Christ and to embrace His righteousness. In this way we take comfort in the fact that the Spirit keeps us from despair by leading us to the only source of righteousness: Jesus Christ and His cross.
Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, through Your Word we know that we are by nature sinful and unclean. We ask that You forgive us of our sin and strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit so that we may ever look to Christ and His saving work for our salvation. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
(Garrett Buvinghausen, Sem. IV)