Life’s “Catch 22” Is Really Quite Simple

We often think of a “Catch 22,” named after the book, as a situation in which we are wrong no matter what we do. Sometimes there seemingly is no answer for the problems we face, but do not despair, because in Christ there is always an answer.

In reading the Bible we learn that God has established his covenant with man and that there are laws that govern that relationship. The trouble is, as humans, we can’t follow that Law. That seems rather unjust because perfect obedience to the Law is the absolute requirement for being with God eternally. So what’s the “Catch 22?” Actually there isn’t one at all. The Apostle Paul explains in Romans 7 how it all works.

Slave to Sin

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.

17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.

18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

20 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.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.

22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;

23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.

24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?

25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7: 14-25)

Sinful state of man

In verse 5, the Greek word for flesh is “sarx,” which refers to the sinful state of man. Paul is describing this “tug-o-war” between sarx and living in the spirit.

Absent the grace of God, there is no hope, but as he concludes by the end of the passage, it is Christ who is our hope and our redeemer.

Paul explains the problem in verses 15-20, but he quickly goes on to encourage us by saying that God has implanted the love of His Law in our hearts, even though our sinful nature is warring against that Law.

At the end of the chapter he thanks Jesus for what He has done for us, but the real conclusion is actually the beginning of Chapter 8 when Paul writes:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.” (Romans 8:1-3)

God is awesome!

Our God is an awesome God. We are given the opportunity to rely solely on Him for our salvation, our well being and our every need. We cannot do it ourselves, but in our absolute helplessness, we are given great power in Christ. No “Catch 22” at all.