The Struggle

Brothers and sisters:
I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh.
The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not.
For I do not do the good I want,
but I do the evil I do not want.
Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it,
but sin that dwells in me.
So, then, I discover the principle
that when I want to do right, evil is at hand.
For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self,
but I see in my members another principle
at war with the law of my mind,
taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
Miserable one that I am!
Who will deliver me from this mortal body?
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Romans 7:18-25)

Scripture Study

7:18 good does not dwell in me The weakness of people prohibits them from doing what is good. the willing is ready at hand People may have the desire or wish to do what is good, but they lack the empowerment without God.

7:20 sin that lives in me Paul does not deny personal responsibility for sinful behavior, but he recognizes that sin is an indwelling power. In ch. 8, Paul declares that believers are filled with God’s Spirit—the antidote for sin.

7:21 principle The Greek word used here, nomos, could refer to the fundamental pattern of sin’s oppressive influence. Normally, this word refers to the Jewish law.

7:22 the law of God Refers to the law of Moses. in inner self The phrase kata ton esō anthrōpon may refer to the mind since “know” is repeatedly used in this passage (vv. 14, 18). If the apostle describes his own struggle against sin, the phrase may describe the new nature of the Christian.

7:23 members The Greek text refers to a person’s natural faculties.

7:24 mortal body Refers to the deathly existence in the body.

7:25 Thanks be to God Paul expresses gratitude for the provision of Jesus Christ. Through his death and resurrection, He gave people an alternative to the ineffective law, empowered people to overcome sin (as He did), and provided them with a relationship with God that sin previously prevented.

Scripture Reflection

For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” Romans 7:19

Here we have a vivid description of the interior struggle which many experience, Christians included. In our bodies, there is a “law” as Paul refers to it, an inclination, which fights against the law of our spirit, that is, against the spiritual good which God’s grace causes us to desire. This inclination to sin is referred to as concupiscence, this internal struggle that drives us to act awfully.

Here are some reasons from author Eve Tushnet, why we do ‘awful things’:

Someone told us to do it and we trusted them
Our vanity
Our hunger for things not good for us
Addictions
Lack of rest

We all battle this internal struggle. Paul knew this all too well. Loving Jesus did not stop him, and does not stop us, from making wrong choices and behaving badly. We need to have a daily discipline that allows us to honestly reflect on our choices and actions, a discipline that helps us forgive others and seek forgiveness for our actions.

It is only through God’s grace and our attentiveness to the Spirit’s direction, that we can be made whole. This will also allow us to effectively center ourselves on Christ, thereby minimizing our internal inclination to stray off the narrow path.

 

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

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