Paul was probably as determined as any man could be, and yet he confessed: "I want to do the things that are good, but I do not do them." (NCV) You may be asking the question: then why has God given us our will? We as created beings are only to be empty vessels for God to demonstrate His power? It is our part as created beings to seek God's will whatever that might be. That is what it means to die to self! You remember that in Philippians two it tells us that God's work is "to work in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure." And yet it appears that Paul is saying, "God has not done His work in me." But we are taught that God works both to will and to do. How do we reconcile this apparent contradiction?
If you have read through this passage of Romans 7:6-25 you may have noticed that the name of the Holy Spirit and Jesus do not occur even once. This man is wrestling and struggling to keep the law. And the law on the other hand is mentioned nearly twenty times. We see the believer doing everything in his power to obey God's law with his will.
You also may have noticed that the little words, I, me and my, occur more than forty times. This struggling regenerate man is still all about what he can do - self! This regenerated, impotent man, seeking to keep the law without being filled with the Holy Spirit. And if we are willing to be totally honest, this is the experience of almost everyone of us! After we are converted we begin the battle, and we fail; but the good news is that we do not have to continue to fail at every turn. Will we make mistakes? Yes! Because we do not continually allow the Holy Spirit to have His way with us. If we received the Holy Spirit in His fullness and self stayed dead - we would never fail!
But, if we will allow the Holy Spirit to do so, through this failure He will teach us that we are utterly impotent. Through this struggle He will show us our utter sinfulness! This is God's way of bringing us to the end of ourselves! He allows us to fight and struggle to keep the law, and if we don't give up on ourself, or on Jesus, we finally come to this: "I am a regenerate child of God, but I am utterly helpless to obey His law."
Notice again what strong words Paul uses all through this passage to describe this condition: "but I am not spiritual since sin rules me as if I were its slave."; "That other law working in my body is the law of sin, and it makes me its prisoner."; (NCV) and then this cry for help: "What a miserable man I am! Who will save me from this body that brings me death?" (NCV)
This believer that Paul is describing is utterly unable to obey God's law - "What a miserable man I am."
Next week we will look at the Miserable man!"