Nick Lowe, Johnny Cash's former stepson-in-law, wrote “The Beast in Me”. The English singer-songwriter originally recorded the song on his 1994 The Impossible Bird album, but he had the song in his locker for years previously.
Instrumentally, the song is carried solely on the back of Cash’s acoustic guitar as his world-weary voice sings the melody alone. Yet the honesty of his pain invites the listener to identify with his experience.
He writes about an inner beast that has been with him his entire life. Perhaps this inner beast is the inherent darkness of his nature as a human being and he has struggled with it through pain and redemption for decades.
Inevitably, the lyrics and Cash’s performance go beyond his own experience, identity, and destiny. It is a reflection of the experience of every human being in the world. While the struggle with self may be uglier in Cash’s case than it is in the case of other individuals, it remains a universal struggle.
The War Within
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.
Paul describes in the Book of Romans a much deeper frustration—one with which only Christians can identify and one with which all Christians can identify. The Christian’s agony comes from realizing that our sinful flesh refuses to respond to the requirements of God’s Law. Those things, which we as Christians despise, we find ourselves doing. Those things, which we as Christians desire we fail to accomplish. No matter how much we may wish to serve God in our minds, we find ourselves sinning in our bodies.
God help the beast in me
Cash acknowledges in this particular song that it is beyond his own power to help the beast in himself, so he calls on a higher power in the form of God. The beast is the spirit of sin trying to corrupt our soul.
Sin is beyond our comprehension. We do not understand it. We cannot understand it. But we do not have to understand it in order to solve the dilemma it poses.
The solution to sin is not to be found in understanding it. The biblical solution to sin is not to be found in any other provision than that of the cross of Calvary. The teaching of God’s Word and the enablement of His Spirit leads us to ultimate freedom. Let us look for no other solution but to receive that which God has provided, in Christ.
Salvation is to be found through Him alone; in all the world there is no one else whom God has given who can save us.
If you, my friend, are reading this and your struggle ultimately is not with sin but with God, I pray that if you do not know Jesus Christ personally you will today acknowledge your sin. Acknowledge that there is nothing you can do to earn eternal life. And that you will have to trust in Jesus Christ who has been punished on your behalf and who offers to you the righteousness which God requires.
Whether your struggle is with God as an unbeliever dominated by sin, or it is a struggle with sin as a Christian, the cross of Christ is God’s provision. I urge you to accept it.
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