You have most likely heard the Native American legend about every person having two wolves living within them, one good and one bad. The Apostle Paul expressed something similar in Romans 7. He speaks of a constant struggle between his carnal self and his spiritual self, and it is one that has upset him beyond description. In fact, he finds himself tongue-tied trying to describe it. Paul is known for eloquence in writing. He was a master of the Greek language, and likely spoke Aramaic as well. In Romans 7, however, he talks in circles. Considering the problem on which he elucidates, talking in circles may be the only way to describe it. It is the problem of two natures battling within one mind. We are talking about What We Believe. Today, We believe in Sanctification, on Christian Holiness Daily.
Here are part of his words from Romans 7, as translated in the ESV Bible:
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.24 Wretched man that I am!
Many people skip right over this section because they cannot understand it. Here it is in a nutshell: Because of my sinful nature – “my flesh” – I always do what is wrong. Why? Because there is nothing good within me. My spiritual nature wants to do right, but is too weak.
He then calls himself wretched.
In the next verse, he asks himself, “Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Who can help Paul? Only Jesus.
Ask any addict – whether addicted to pornography, drugs, tobacco, alcohol, or video games, and they will tell you that they cannot overcome it without help. According to the popular school of thought, alcoholics are never free of the addiction, and even a single drink can hook them again. We are weak, and must rely on a higher power. Even Christians cannot easily overcome their addictions.
What we speak of, though, is not just addictions. We speak of the bondage of sin. Satan puts us in chains and never lets us go. The vast majority of Christians go through life, still struggling against the chains by which Satan had bound them. The sad part is, it is not necessary. Christ stands with his hand outstretched, and in his nail-scarred hands, He holds the key to your chains. He is ready to free you. All you must do is allow Him.
To be clear, I speak of Christians who are still bound by sin. The reason so many Christians still live a carnal existence is that they have believed on Jesus enough to accept Jesus as Savior but refuse to believe enough to accept Him as Lord. Do you hear how silly that is? We believe that He can bring us back to life after we die, but He cannot free us from sin while we live. That is a sad statement.
He can, though. He can free us of sin. After salvation there comes a point where we must submit our will to Him, and follow Him with all our heart and mind and strength. Once we submit, He will infill us with His Spirit and free us from our sin nature. We then will have within us the nature of Christ, not the nature of sin. We call this sanctification. We are not, then, perfect, as some think. But we do become filled with His perfect love. This is called sanctification, and what I prefer to call perfect love. More on this on tomorrow’s Christian Holiness Daily.
Holiness is, perhaps, the most misunderstood concept in Christianity. Anyone who has striven to follow the life of Christ can likely tell you that it is impossible to do. No one can match His love, His grace, or His compassion. For no one but Jesus is perfect. Once the believer is filled with and empowered by the Holy Spirit, though, he or she is filled to the brim with the love of Christ, and desires nothing more than to please God and follow in Christ’s steps. The love of sin is gone. In its place is a love and passion for others. That is Christian Holiness. This is Christian Holiness Daily.