Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
Romans 7: 24, 25
Paul is agonizing over one of the greatest challenges that all followers of Christ face. This is something that impacts each of us in a deeply personal way in that we engage with this struggle of our old flesh verses the new person that we are in Christ internally and we are confronted with it in other people that we encounter. No one that I know has escaped from the challenge of this conflict. Although we are newly born into righteousness through relationship with Christ, our bodies still carry around with us the brokenness of sin, and its impact upon us does not fully cease in this life.
Although many things that we can do will help to minimize and to control the urges, drives, and desires of this old self, nothing that we do will fully prevail against them. Even the Law that God gave to Moses was weak and insufficient for this purpose. In fact, God knew that this would be the case; so, that law truly served as a form of beacon that led people to more fully understand our need for something more, for something that was beyond our own strength and that was out of our control. Paul had personally encountered the enormity of his own need, and God had stepped into the void of Paul’s false perfection with the filling of His Spirit.
This transition from service to sin and control by the flesh was gained through Christ and was made effectual by His sacrifice. Paul had encountered the miracle of redemption in a moment, but then he lived in the moment-by-moment reality of surrender to His Lord. We each personally go through a similar process and so do the other followers of Christ who we meet along the way of life. In these times of collision with our own un-Christlike thoughts and actions and with those of others in His body, we are granted the opportunity to engage in this process of change and growth. For these are times when love, grace, mercy, and a desire to be a peacemaker need to prevail. These are times when Christ alone is the answer to my own need as His Spirit pours truth and grace into my thirsty flesh.