Struggling with the flesh is a common battle all Spirit filled Christians encounter! Paul the apostle was no exception to this struggle and addresses his battle in a letter he wrote to the church at Rome.
In the 7th chapter of Romans, Paul expresses his desire to do what God wants, but something is causing him to do evil. What could possibly cause Paul to do evil? He calls it the “law of sin” that dwells within him. This law of sin has its hold on Paul for a time, even after his conversion to Christianity.
He explains what is happening to him by drawing a distinction between serving God’s law from his mind and the law of sin in his flesh. The scriptures teach if God’s spirit dwells in us there is a warfare between the Spirit and the flesh. After we are converted it takes time to be delivered from this law of sin that dwells in our flesh. Our longtime indulgence of sin leaves lasting effects for us to contend with.
One of the greatest revelations a child of God can receive is knowing God looks at our motive more than our action. Serving God comes from within! During this struggle Paul said he “delighted” in God’s law and “wanted to do good”! God is well aware of our sinful nature and our inability to subdue it by restraint alone. He is more interested in our mindset of wanting to do good and delighting in his word! The day we understand it is our “want” God is looking for more than our “works”, will be the day we can rest in him and let God do his work in us.
There is confusion among some Christians about Paul admitting to his struggle with sin in Romans the 7th chapter while taking a strong stand against sin in the previous chapter. He clears up this confusion by saying he serves God’s law from his mind and hates the evil he is doing! His position on God’s law and sin are the same in chapter 7 as they are in the previous chapter. If we serve God’s law from our mind but lack the ability to defeat this law of sin by our own effort why do we think Paul’s conflict is strange? Paul said in chapter 6, obedience comes from the heart! God see’s our inward stand against sin and our desire to serve his law from our mind which brings deliverance in God’s time as we believe!
The road to spiritual growth is embracing God’s word and believing him for the outcome! If the fruit of God’s word has not come to fruition in our own life it does not mean our stand on his word is any less firm. Even if we have the ability to restrain from some outward actions of sin we do not have the ability to defeat sin at its source the heart. Paul said it is God’s grace that delivers us from sin! He also warns us not to use God’s grace as an excuse to sin. If we serve the law of God from our mind we will hate the sins we do!
How can this conflict benefit us? It gives us a greater appreciation for God’s grace, brings about humility and teaches us to put our confidence in God and not ourselves. I can say with certainty if I had not struggled with sin after becoming a Christian, the worst of all sins would have manifest itself … Spiritual Pride!
Paul comforts us near the end of chapter 7 with these words… “Who will deliver me from this body of death, I thank God through Jesus Christ”. A Child of God who continues to follow Christ will be delivered from this body of death!
There are some who question if Paul is writing about himself as a Christian in Romans chapter 7, he makes it clear he is speaking of himself when he says “I myself will serve the law of God in my mind but the law of sin in my flesh”, and as a Christian when he cries out “who will deliver me from this body of death, I thank God through Jesus Christ”.