“So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.”
Romans 7:14-20 NLT
Paul is perplexed. In fact, he is so perplexed that he repeats his dilemma twice in these 7 verses. He says, “I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it”. But is this really the case? Is it a valid excuse to say before a judge, “I haven’t done anything wrong – it’s the sin living within me that is at fault”? Of course it isn’t but, superficially at least, that seems to be what Paul is saying.
The picture emerges in Paul’s mind that within him there are effectively two people. One person who loves God’s ways, who wants to spend all his time with Him, and who really, really, wants to do what is right. And to help that “man” inside of him is God’s Law, which “is spiritual and good”. The other person inside him is the “old man”, his sinful nemesis, a part of him determined to continue in the ways of evil. Perhaps an internal battle that never seems to subside. The Godly part of him mourns and grieves over the thoughts and actions of the sinful man, leading to frustration and conflict. At least Paul doesn’t blame the devil, as some have done, for his sinful man. Personable responsibility is never avoided, in Paul’s life.
Does all this sound familiar to us pilgrims? Are we too caught up in this internal battle that never seems to end? Of course we are. And in the days ahead, we will, with Paul, journey into a place where God has provided a remedy. What a wonderful Saviour!
Dear Lord. Thank You for Your salvation, a gift so freely given. Help us to grasp it and grow in the nurturing soils of Your grace. In Jesus’ name.Amen.