“For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.”
Romans 7:15b-17 (NKJV)
God’s inscripturated revelation, the Bible, gives us His infallible interpretation of all things, including ourselves. “Knowing this first,” wrote Peter, “that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20-21). Because the Bible is the word of One Who is maximally great and morally perfect, we should expect its teachings to conflict with our own opinions and sensibilities. We are, after all, prone to error, being severely limited in terms of wisdom, insight, and experience. Even when we reason to the best of our abilities, we often draw wrong conclusions. When we start appealing to our subjective feelings as an avenue to truth, we are really asking for trouble! In today’s verse passage, Paul speaks candidly about his own personal struggle with sin. Saved and born-again, he laments that his outward conduct is still not what it ought to be. Many of us feel the same frustration. Instead of relying on our feelings, which would lead us to conclude that we are still wretched sinners, we ought to listen to Paul, who gives us God’s perspective on the matter. Despite what we may feel, we who are regenerate have been made spiritually perfect and fit for heaven. Peter explains that we have been “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Peter 1:23). In this connection, John agrees with Peter and Paul when he writes that “whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John 3:9). The locus of sin in the life of the believer is his sinful flesh. Paul explained, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find” (Romans 7:18). Paul concluded, “with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:25). Paul draws a definite line between the regenerate, inward person and his sinful flesh. When sins are committed, it is laid to the account of sinful flesh, not the regenerate inward man. Though we ought to take sin very seriously, we must not lapse into bitter self-condemnation. “And hereby we know that we are of the truth,” wrote John, “and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things” (1 John 3:19-20). Though we do bear some responsibility for what is done in the body (2 Corinthians 5:10), we are forever free of condemnation (Romans 8:1). We are saints, dear friends, not sinners. By the grace of God, may our outward conduct reflect this wonderful inward reality.
God bless you, dear SAINTS,