Friday, September 29, 2017

The Struggle of the Christian

"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 7:21–23).

In verse 21, Paul states a “law,” by which he means an axiom or proverbial truth. He says whenever he wants to do something good, evil is right there to trip him up. It seems in our most dedicated moments, in our times of greatest personal devotion to Christ, that’s when the most wicked of thoughts will creep into our minds. It seems such horrible temptations are cast up out of our hearts right when we are serving Christ most intensely.

Verse 22 is the proof that Paul in Romans 7 is not describing a pre-conversion experience, or even an experience of being backslidden. Paul states that he delights in God’s law in his inner being. The unbeliever hates the law of God, so Paul must be describing his present condition, a condition of true spirituality. Notice that it is Paul’s innermost self that delights in God’s law. There is another inner self that is at enmity with God and delights in sin. Which self is the deepest? It is the innermost self, and this is the self that has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit.

The law of sin, Paul says, is at work in his “members.” Paul is not saying that his physical body is evil while his mind is good. Rather, he is using this language to contrast the innermost regenerated self with the peripheral aspects of his personality. Sin is still raging powerfully in the peripheral parts of his person, and these “members” go pretty deep. But at the bottom, at the core of his being, there is love for God and His law.

Only the redeemed man really hates sin and his sinful tendencies. Only the redeemed person will cry out “What a wretched man I am!” as Paul does in verse 24. Do you ever feel this way about yourself? Much of what Paul is describing concerns his sinful motives, intentions, and desires, all of which give rise to sinful behavior. Do you ever experience the kind of moral anguish and brokenheartedness Paul displays here? If so, rejoice, for it shows that you are one who loves God and His law. It was our Lord Himself who said, “Blessed are they that mourn (their sin); they shall be comforted."