“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”
Romans 7:18, KJV
THE APOSTLE PAUL: THE POWERLESS MAN
Here is the great mistake made by many Christians; they think that when there is a renewed will, it is enough. But that is not the case! This regenerate man tells us:
“…For to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”
How often people tell us that if you set yourself determinedly, you can perform what you will! But this man was as determined as any man can be, and yet he made the confession:
“To will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not.”
But, you ask: “How is it that God makes a regenerate man with such a confession, with a right will, with a heart that yearns to do good, and a passion to do its very utmost to love God?”
Let us look at this question. What has God given us our own will for? Had the angels who fell, in their own will, the strength to stand?
Absolutely not! The will of the creature is nothing but an empty vessel in which the power of God is to be made manifest. The creature must seek in God all that is to be.
We have it in the second chapter of the epistle to the Philippians, and we have it here also, that God’s work is to work in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
Here is a man who appears to say: “God has not worked to do in me.” However, we are taught that God works both to will and to do. How is the apparent contradiction to be reconciled?
We will find that in this passage (Romans 7:6-24) the Name of the Holy Spirit does not appear once, nor does the Name of Christ appear. Paul is wrestling and struggling to fulfill God’s law. Instead of the Holy Spirit and of Christ, the law is mentioned nearly twenty times. In this chapter, it shows a believer doing his very best to obey the Law of God with his regenerate will. Not only this; but we will find the little words, I, ME, MY,appear more than forty times.
After CONVERSION, a man begins to do his best, and he fails; but if we are brought into the full light, we need to fail no longer. Nor need we fail at all if we have received the Holy Spirit in His fullness at CONVERSION.
God allows failures in our lives so that the regenerate man should be taught his own utter POWERLESSNESS. It is in the course of this struggle that there comes to us a sense of our utter SINFULNESS. It is God’s way of dealing with us. He allows failures that we may strive to fulfill the law that, as we strive and wrestles, we may be brought to this:
“I am a regenerate child of God, but I am utterly powerless to obey His law!”
See what strong words are used all through the chapter to describe this condition: “I am carnal, sold under sin” (Romans 7:14b); “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Romans 7:23); and last of all, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
THE BELIEVER WHO BOWS DOWN HERE IN DEEP CONTRITION IS UTTERLY UNABLE TO OBEY THE LAW OF GOD.