Romans 7:21


Monday, 24 June 2013

I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. Romans 7:21

A few points to consider about this verse. The first is that this is speaking of a war which can and does rage within believers. The second is that the war can be won; victory can be obtained in the battle and the way for it to happen is coming in just a few verses. Third, this war rages in all people, but the victory in the war is only available to those who follow the path which is given in those verses. And fourth, these verses do not speak of every person in every sense. In other words, though this premise is true and it exists in the unregenerate soul, it is not all-encompassing in its effect. Too often Christians, particularly those in Calvinist circles, look at these verses and use them in the absolute sense –

Evil is present in humans;
The remedy is only available to Christians;
Therefore, non-Christians are absolutely evil.

This is not right thinking, nor does it take into consideration the obvious truth that people all around the world do good stuff all the time. The problem isn’t in their good deeds, but rather the problem is in them. Good deeds don’t lead to a right relationship with God. However, a lack of a relationship with God doesn’t mean someone is entirely evil. It does mean that the evil in them is a barrier between them and God so that the good deeds they do are temporary and ultimately futile – they are as rags before His infinite holiness.

The “law” that Paul speaks of here is not a written law. He is stating that this is a force within us, which he is calling a law because it is as true as if it were written (just as gravity is a law even if it isn’t written down; it simply is what it is). This law is that evil is present with “me.” The “me” like the “I” and “me” earlier is a truth which is applicable to humanity in general, not just Paul specifically. This evil is in fact present even though our will is to do good.

This is the war which is raging in us and the battle lines move as we yield ourselves to God. In other words, when we run the show, the lines move in one direction and when we allow God to do so, the battle lines quickly move in the other, but as long as we are in this body of flesh, we are subject to this evil which is present in us.

In his ever-consistent manner, Paul speaks this same truth in Galatians 5:16-18, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”

Life application: It is one or the other – fulfill the lusts of the flesh or walk in the Spirit. The lines move in one direction or another as we yield to the Spirit. Stay in constant contact with the Lord; speak to Him continuously; and read His word frequently. Live in a way which allows His presence full control of you always.

Lord, this day I want to set myself aside and just praise You. You are infinitely worth of glory, honor, majesty, and praise. I lift up my soul to You in delight and I raise my arms and my voice to You in acknowledgment of Your surpassing greatness. Be exalted O God. Dwell in the worship I offer, and revel in the praise of my lips. How great You are. Amen.

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