15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.
17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
18 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.
19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.
20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. – Romans 7:15-20
This well known passage is often quoted as the best example of our Christian lives now. But what Paul is describing is what life is like under the law. The law tells us how we should behave but does not give us the power to change. We want to do good but the more we want to the more we do bad. But that is not the current state we should be experiencing. We are not under the law but under grace.
Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, – Romans 5:20
Paul will go on to say we are more than conquerors:
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. – Romans 8:37
Christians are not perfect. We fail, we fall into temptation, we sin, we rebel, but in an instant when the Holy Spirit convicts us that we are walking in disobedience we can repent, change our minds, seek forgiveness and be restored. Not because we deserve it but because of the precious blood of Jesus shed to pay for our sins and because of the free gift of grace, from God.
Paul says that “it is no longer I that do it”. What does that mean? I just lied, I just swore, I just hated that person, how can it not be me? We are responsible for our actions, we will have to give account of our lives before the Lord. But He will deal with us not on the basis of our old nature, the flesh, the body of sin but on the basis we have been redeemed, our sins paid for, the body of sin crucified on the cross. God has the eternal perspective. He sees us as we will be. Perfect, glorified in Christ, seated in the heavenly places. We see ourselves as we are now, imperfect more inclined to do the things we hate, having the desire to live a godly life but going the very things we do not want to do. God has dealt with the flesh, on the cross, our old man is crucified:
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20