For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. (
Someone has described the typical church member’s spiritual experience as an old iron bedstead—firm on both ends, and sagging in the middle! We may be firm on the side of salvation—we have heard and responded to the Gospel. Then, we are firm on the side of glorification—we believe and look forward to heaven. Now, however, concerning sanctification—our daily walk of holiness in this wicked world—we often seem more like victims to sin than victors over it. It might surprise us that so great a champion of faith as the Apostle Paul had a similar struggle. He defines his frustration in
identify. I genuinely want to obey God, but
despite my best effort I find myself falling.
I know better than to yield to temptation—that its fruit so sweet at
first bite will become a bitter poison—then I reach out and do it anyway. With the Apostle, I cry out, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” ( Romans
7. I Rom.7:24)
What many Christians conclude is that we must try harder! We need a deeper commitment, more prayer, spend more time in church, give more money, serve in a ministry, read the Bible more consistently—and the list goes on and on. Our outward activity may change, but the inward disposition seems much the same. A good intention has taken us down a dead end of frustration. The reality is that we cannot be saved by keeping rules. The law can point out our flaws, but it cannot correct them. If we understand the Gospel at all, we will acknowledge that salvation is only by grace through faith in Christ. It is no different concerning sanctification! Only God’s grace operating by faith—the life of Christ within—that can enable us to rise above being a wretch to being a winner in this war within. You cannot overcome the flesh by the flesh. It is the Spirit of God, who makes us new men and women, and gives us the power for triumphant living.
Paul answered the question of
Romans 7:24 in the next verse, “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law
of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” (7:25) He speaks of two different laws that are at work:
I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (7:21-23)
The law of sin is like the law of gravity—ever present and pulling us down. Flap your arms all you want, and you will still crash. Yet, a jet, weighing tons, can fly! There is a higher law in operation—aerodynamics—that is akin to the law of the Spirit. Let Christ pilot your life. His Spirit will provide the thrust that raises you up. You can’t beat the flesh, but Christ has already conquered, and makes us more than conquerors through Him. Don’t stop in
Romans 7—move on to Romans 8!