One of the vivid memories I have while sitting shotgun in a sheriff patrol car (I did chaplaincy work for a number of years) has very little to do with cop work. The deputy with whom I was riding had a call at the mall. I don’t remember what the call was nor do I remember that we even went into the mall. What we did was park the car at the curb at one of the lesser used entrances to wait. What we saw was a parade of incredibly beautiful women using that particular entrance in and out of the building. I suppose one of the reasons this incident stands out to me was that the deputy later commented to another deputy about how stunning the women we saw were. But who am I kidding. I remember it well because they were stunning. And here was I, the chaplain, experiencing the same reaction the deputy had and being embarrassed by it.
There is a whole other discussion here about the beauty of the God created female form and the masculine response to it, but the fact remains that I was torn. I wanted to ogle. I wanted to savor. I wanted to completely enjoy what I was watching. And I did. At the same time I am so acutely aware of the need to protect myself and my marriage against lust (thus the embarrassment). To look and be tempted and fall to lust or to glance away and protect: this was my dilemma.
It is the dilemma of all humanity but particularly of the saved soul. Paul wrote, “For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” One of the outcomes of salvation is falling in love with the “law.” It has done it work of condemnation, it has done it’s work of driving us to Christ, and now it takes on a new role. It, the perfect and good law of God, now becomes the beloved way of the Godly life. So I know what I want to do, I want to obey the law. But I continue to live in this world where the forces of sin continue to entice and tempt and lead me to do that which is against the law and that which I want to do and that which I love. I find that I am but a wretched man, freed from sin yet tempted and oh so often sinful. And I know Paul’s anguish, because it is anguish that the freed would self-imprison, that the forgiven would sin, that the raised would fall; and I cry out with Paul, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
Then it is that I cling to the words that follow, the only words I need to hear, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”