Monday, November 29, 2010
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. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.
What I know about my real inner self comes from Paul's descriptions about the inner battle to do right. I am not naturally equipped to do what is right. I am born a depraved sinner and very quickly depravity will assert itself in me. There is nothing good dwelling within me. Because of this natural bent toward sin, I am incapable of pleasing a holy God. There is no way I can do it on my own.
But as a Christian, I have the desire to do right. And even those who are drawn to Christ will find themselves drawn by the guilt of sin and the overwhelming holiness of God to want to be right. The problem is that depravity makes us totally incapable of carrying out what the mind may truly desire. Our best efforts while depraved are still marred horribly by sin. We lack the ability to be holy outside of any action on God's part in our behalf. That is what Paul is saying here. He personally could not do anything truly good because he was born a helplessly rotten sinner.
Reality check: Sinners will do sin, even if they want to do something good. That is the final conclusion on the matter. Sin is at work in sinners. We live in it, we die because of it. We swim in an ocean of iniquity every day, sometimes without even realizing the pollution we are constantly at home with!
The result is that we often have to wrestle with an inner conflict. Now Paul has said all of this to lead to a marvelous solution yet to be unfolded in chapter eight of Romans. But for now, the reality is that sinners need Someone greater than themselves to rescue them. And Jesus has the solution for this inner conflict. Thank God, it does not depend upon me!
- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13