An internal disease

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes, Revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

November/December 2013 Issue – ‘Love Came to Bring us Home’

Today’s text for reading and meditation:

Romans 7:7-25 (NIV): ‘What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.

Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognised as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

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.’

This is a difficult text, and I think many people are unable to grasp the full message – mainly, because they fail to see that while we were once slaves to our sinful nature – we are given the power – through God’s Spirit – to be free from the bondage of sin, in Christ. If this wasn’t the case then we could never be transformed (an active and on-going process that starts in this life but reaches its conclusion, in heaven), into the image of Jesus.

Paul answers his question – who can set me free? By saying – Jesus Christ, can deliver the sinner from eternal death and enables all His children to live as ‘slaves to righteousness’.  That is, as Christians we can – with God’s help – do what is right. Paul is not saying here, that we can’t do what is right, although some ‘learned’ people suggest that’s what he is saying. (Such people don’t appear to understand the rabbinic teaching technique, that I think, Paul is employing in his letter to the Romans.)

Selwyn writes: ‘As we continue looking at some of the hard things we are called to bear, we come to the issue of our fallen human nature. … The truth is that every one of us has a bias towards ungodliness and independence – a legacy passed on to us by the first human pair.

Generally people don’t appear to be depraved or corrupt because most of us to a masterful job at covering it up. But never doubt that underneath, deep down inside, there is this corruption that eats away at us, polluting our thoughts, our words, our actions, our relationships and even our will.

We hear he same cry from the apostle Paul in the passage before us today. He knew that is he was going to have control over the inner corruption then the answer lay in part outside of himself.’ The answer, as I stated in my earlier comments – is Jesus!

Let us look at another area of Scripture, John 14:15-24a (NIV): ‘‘If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you for ever the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will bein you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me any more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.’

Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, ‘But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?’ Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. …

Clearly, with the help of God’s Spirit – we (those who love God) can keep His commands because we have been set free from the bondage of sin and we have God living in us. Before, we gave ourselves over to Christ – it was impossible to please God – it was impossible for us to break free from sin’s bondage through our own efforts. Yet, it is now possible – with God within! [Our sinful nature will still cause problems, but we can overcome its corruption on our will – through Jesus.]

I hope this aspect is clear – it’s an extremely important truth to get right – if, you are still perplexed by what Paul has written in his letter to the Romans – please, persistently pray to Jesus for  a clear insight into this issue.

To Follow Jesus, Shayne McCusker, 2013