But if I do the very thing I do not want [to do], I agree with the Law, [confessing] that the Law is good.
There is this paradoxical element to the Christian walk. We see the commands of God — to love Him with everything we are and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves — and we cheerfully agree that it is the right and proper thing to do. We want to do it; we ache to do it; we step out our door with every intention of doing precisely what our God has commanded. Then someone cuts in front of us in the line at the coffee shop and we are ready to put a beat down on them.
It is one example and not even a very good one, but it illustrates just how fickle I sometimes feel as a believer. I determine that I will do as God bids me and look around only to find that I have done precisely what He told me not to do. I facepalm at my failure (usually accompanied by a groan at how fickle I am), agree with God that I have messed up (confess), and determine to do what I have been commanded to do (repent). Sometimes … sometimes it goes well and God is given His way in me and I actually do the thing I determined to do: I obey Him. More often I find myself back in the cycle of facepalm-confess-repent.
I am grateful that God included this part of Paul’s letter to the Roman believers, as I know I have company in that cycle. And august company, at that. What I take away from Paul’s statement in this morning’s verse is simply this: The cycle of facepalm-confess-repent is a constant reminder that The Law is good and perfect and holy and that I agree with that, because face and palm would never meet due to my actions if I did not feel I had come short in some fashion. This does not excuse me from working out my salvation or permit me to exit the cycle if I feel like it, but reminds me that The Law is inflexible and the standard of perfection will not move one iota on my behalf. I am reminded that I am in desperate need of grace.