For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am fleshly, sold into bondage to sin. For I do not understand what I am doing; for I am not practicing what I want to do, but I do the very thing I hate. However, if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, that the Law is good. But now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I do the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin that dwells in me.
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully agree with the law of God in the inner person, but I see a different law in the parts of my body waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin, the law which is in my body’s parts. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
Romans 7:14-25

Are we good people who do bad things, or are we bad people who do good things?

I think that is the question Christians are often faced with from outside and from within ourselves. Who do we think we are, trying to act like we know right and wrong when we do sinful things ourselves?

Paul saw the Roman church struggling with this and he used himself as an example to answer the question. He saw the struggle between the sin in the flesh and the Spiritual guidance in the law not as opposing things but as two parts of a problem solved in Jesus Christ; where as the Law could only judge the shortcomings of the sinner, Jesus could make reconciliation by making up the things we lack in the Spirit. “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. (8:10)”

So here is the vocabulary word for the day: righteousness. It does not signify an absence of guilt but a commutation of a sentence. The evidence was there, the testimony was given but when the gavel came down, the judge said not guilty. So when we struggle with sin, we know we have forgiveness because of Jesus, not because you or I are a good person. That’s more than enough assurance.

Ethan Kirl

Originally Published March 19, 2021