Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (NRSV Rom. 7:24)
No matter how much we humans think we have overcome some indulgent habit or addiction or moral failing, it usually doesn’t take much for us to fall back into it. This vacillation can be particularly unsettling for Christians. We are always so quick to claim victory-something church practice even encourages. What should we do when our victory over immorality or addiction or illness falls from victory back into defeat? Is there anything we can do? What has helped me is the realization that I’m not the one waging the battle.
When we treat moral flaws and physical weaknesses as something within us, as a part of our identity, we end up just fighting with ourselves. And, no matter how mentally tough we think we can be, our brain is never going to reject permanently its own natural selfishness and willful tendencies. That’s why Christ healing is about more than self-discipline or mental toughness. It must, instead, be about daily and hourly yielding, the self-abandonment that gives everything to the Lord.
C. S. Lewis wrote that this surrender has to begin each morning, when our “wishes and hopes for the day rush” at us “like wild animals.” He continued: “… the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in” (Mere Christianity 154).
How comforting and helpful these words have been for me! I think of them every day. When spiritual healing has occurred in my life, in physical and moral ways, the change took place as I yielded, as I let Christ’s “larger, stronger, quieter life” win the day, the hour, and the moment. What a blessing that is! “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:25)