So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. -Romans 7:21-25
Paul speaks of the "war" within. This war is between the old nature and the new nature (the divine nature as Peter calls it in 2 Peter 1:4). This leads Paul to "groan" in this body as he longs for his new, resurrection body. In the passage above we see that this is the only hope for relief from this struggle. I
The body we inhabit is "subject to death." It carries with it the "sin nature" of Adam. Let us look at the verses wherein Paul references this "groaning" (agonizing over the conflict).We will see that the only final solution is found in resurrection.
we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. -Romans 8:23
For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. -2 Cor 5:4We have covered previously the ubiquitous misquoting of 2 Cor 5:8, but in looking at the context of 2 Cor 4 and the opening verses of chapter 5, we can see clearly that Paul's ultimate hope lies in resurrection. In 1 Cor 15, Paul tells us that only in resurrection will "the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality."
It is in resurrection that anyone is truly given a "new heart" as the flesh of dust (terrestrial body) is replaced with an immortal body (celestial body). If we believe the old stony heart was done away with at salvation, we my begin to doubt if we have eternal life at all. We can become trapped in misery, failure, doubt, and shame.
But what about living in the new nature in this life?
That is where we will venture in our next short study. What we have established thus far, which is central to finding victory, is that when we come to faith in Christ and find the new and the living way in Him (that moment we are given the free gift of life we will experience in resurrection)... at THAT moment, we STILL have our old nature. Therein lies the conflict.
You have come to faith in Christ and you still struggle with sin? Your experience is common to all before you (it just may take a different form). You will carry that struggle with you to the grave, but we can find victories along the way and free ourselves from the slavery of the flesh.
We will examine these ways as we press forward. And we will go humbly and with fear and trembling knowing that the way may not be smooth or comfortable. In Pilgrim's Progress, Christian and Hopeful follow Vain-Confidence down the smooth path and end up in Doubting Castle as slaves of Giant Despair. Let us not despair. We can start where we are and prayfully seek the path of righteousness, no matter how hard it may appear from our limited view.
We serve a gracious, loving, and forgiving God who wants us to succeed.