William Hulme was a wonderfully insightful, biblical, thoughtful, gospel-dominated man who taught pastoral counseling at a Lutheran seminary fifty years ago. In a 1981 book on pastoral counseling that incorporates the gospel, he wisely writes--
Paradoxically, the pursuit of the power to effect change ends in the acceptance of our powerlessness. . . .
It is hard on one's pride to admit defeat. We prefer to say that we could succeed if we really wanted to--or if we really worked at it--and these illusions may hold us together. . . .
Yet the illusion of the omnipotence of the will overlooks the obstacle of the divided will. The end of doubleness does not come through willpower but through reconciliation with our divisions. The Good News which Paul extols is that God has reconciled us to himself through the life and death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ so that we might be reconciled also within ourselves and with our neighbors. As we bottom out--'O wretched man that I am!' (Rom 7:24)--the old self that was kept alive by illusions, dies. In Pauline terms we are crucified with Christ. . . .
The will that emerges is not the old, locked into an immobilizing polarity, but a new will which is empowered by faith. Since this is a repeated experience in the dynamic of personal development, and not a once-for-all overcoming, the death of the old is more proleptic than final, for it is still present to harass the new. But the relationship that we have with the Spirit of God through our reconciliation is a dynamic support for continuous renewal.
--William E. Hulme, Pastoral Care and Counseling: Using the Unique Resources of the Christian Tradition (Augsburg 1981), 25-26; italics original