Abilities… And Our Stunning Lack of Them

27 Aug

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 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. (Romans 7:14-18)

If doesn’t have the ability to obey the law, than who does? Paul was a Jew of Jews, the most zealous of the zealous, he says as much in Philippians (3:4-6), and he didn’t have the ability to carry out the law? Then it must be impossible! How can anyway be saved if even Paul doesn’t have the ability to obey the law?

First, we need to know how we can be saved! … Is it even possible, if no one can obey the law?

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)

Does it really matter if we obey the law inwardly but not outwardly? No, it doesn’t matter how much we want to do something, so long as we don’t. And vise versa. So why is Paul saying things like, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”? He seems to be reveling in his inability to obey the law!

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)

And that, is how we’re saved. Not by trying and completely failing to obey the law, but by believing in God’s son, Jesus’, ability to obey it on our behalf.

Second, what now?

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6)

Now, we set our mind on the Spirit. And how do we do that? As it happens, we don’t actually set our minds on the Spirit, instead, the Spirit sets our minds on himself.

Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. (Ephesians 4:23)

Finally, there is one more point I would like to make: What now? Now, we are sons of God!

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, (Romans 8:12-16)

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland


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