I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. (Romans 7:17–23, NIV 1984).
My Musings – This weekend I watched the movie Shane for what must be the umpteenth time. One of the all-time great classic movie western from 1953, starring Alan Ladd. I can never watch that movie without recalling a fond childhood memory. The movie was re-run in our local theater in the early sixties, and I remember my dad taking my two brothers and me to see it with him. It was one of the few times, perhaps the only time, that it was just us “boys” going to the movies. Mom didn’t care much for westerns, I think she stayed home and watched Lawrence Welk.
The movie is about a gunfighter who wants to escape his old way of life and find a new one, to “break the mold” so to speak. But the homesteaders he settles down with are up against a cattle baron who wants to intimidate and drive off the “squatters” from what he considers to be his range. Shane knows that the homesteaders are seriously outmatched in a game they cannot win. In the end, Shane must return to his old ways, his “old brand,” and strap his guns back on in order to rescue the homesteaders from the cattle baron and his hired gunman. As he tells his homesteader friend, “this is my kind of game, Joe.”
In one sense, Shane was right. A man (or woman) cannot break the mold of the old man (or woman). Left to their own devices, no matter what they try, or how hard they try, the “brand sticks.” But in another sense, he was wrong. There is one way of going back from it. That’s why Jesus came. He knew we were seriously outmatched in a “game” we could not win on our own. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation [the mold is broke]; the old [man] has gone, the new [man] has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:16–17, NIV 1984).
My Advice – Perhaps you’ve tried many ways to break the mold of your old way of life. But of course, none of them worked for you. Perhaps you think there is no way of going back from it. Perhaps you are thinking, “what a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24, NIV 1984). Who indeed. There is someone. The only one. “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25, NIV 1984). He will break the mold. His brand will stick.