"For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I" (Romans 7:15).
Show me in the Bible where there is any solution other than The Cross. There are many hundreds of Bible references to The Cross. That should settle it.
FOR THAT WHICH I DO I ALLOW NOT
These are not words of some unsaved man as some claim, but rather a believer who is trying and failing.
In the Greek, the word allow is ginosko, and it means "to know by experience; to understand." In effect, Paul is saying, "For that which I do, I do not understand." He does not understand the reason or the cause of his failures as a Christian, considering that he is trying so hard to do and be otherwise.
It is clear that Paul is recounting his experience as a saved man and not before his conversion, as many preachers contend. He desires to do good but hates sin, as all Christians sincerely do. To be frank, no unsaved person does that; they love their sin. The failure to achieve his purpose is found in his attempt – in his own strength – what can only be accomplished by the supernatural power of The Holy Spirit.
Many Christians are presently in this state. They simply do not understand what is happening to them. They are trying so hard to overcome, to live the life they know they ought to live, and what they ought to be. Instead, the problem – whatever it seems to be – gets worse instead of better.
FOR WHAT I WOULD, THAT DO I NOT
In other words, Paul is saying, "What I want to do is live an overcoming life free of failure, at least on an unending basis, but no matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to make it work." The word would could be will. We are speaking of willpower that is woefully unable to perform the task. While the will is most definitely important – whosoever will – still, it begins and ends with the choice we make as to whether we obey The Lord regarding the placement of our faith, or try to do this thing by our own strength and ability, which of course is impossible.
The truth is that the choice is not made of deliberation; it is made of ignorance. The far greater majority of modern believers – and we speak of those who truly love The Lord – simply do not understand at all what Paul is giving us. In all of my years of living for God, coming up in a particular church, I never one time heard a message on what we are discussing here. I never picked up a book (and I have read hundreds of books) that dealt with this subject – not a single one. Even now, outside of the SonLife Broadcasting Network, there is no ministry or outreach giving to the people what The Lord gave to the apostle Paul, and what the great apostle gave to us. What they want to do, exactly as Paul said, "that do I not."
BUT WHAT I HATE, THAT DO I
This statement refers to sin in Paul's life – sin that he does not want to do, and in fact hates doing it, but finds himself unable to stop. This is a plight of virtually the entirety of modern Christendom. Why? The reason is really simple: the modern church has no understanding whatsoever of The Cross of Christ as it regards our sanctification, how we order our behavior, how we have victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil; or how we grow in the grace and knowledge of The Lord.
They understand The Cross as it regards salvation, at least to a degree. "Jesus died for me" is perhaps the greatest statement that anyone could ever make. But when it comes to how we live for God on a daily basis and the part The Cross plays in this tremendous experience – that is totally unknown by most modern Christians. As a result, what they hate is what they do, which is to fail.
It is attempting to carry out in one's own strength that which The Holy Spirit can do. So how do we come to the place that we are depending on The Holy Spirit and not ourselves?
To be frank, an untold number of Spirit filled believers are in this same category, which leaves them exactly as Paul – they do not understand their predicament. They are saved, and they are baptized with The Holy Spirit just as Paul was at that time, so shouldn't that take care of the problem? Within itself, no, it will not work.
OPERATING IN ONE'S OWN STRENGTH
The Cross gives The Holy Spirit latitude to work within one's life, and He always works within the parameters of The Cross of Christ. Therefore, if one is not operating in Christ and The Cross, then one is operating in one's own strength.
The idea is that The Holy Spirit works totally and completely by and through The Cross of Christ. It is The Cross of Christ that gave and still gives The Holy Spirit the legal means or the latitude to work. It is The Cross that has made it all possible.
The Holy Spirit demands that our faith be exclusively in Christ in The Cross and maintained exclusively in Christ and The Cross. That being done, He can work. But if our faith is in anything else other than The Cross of Christ, this greatly hinders The Holy Spirit. If that is the case, thank God, He does not leave us, but we are left with Him doing much less than He is capable of doing. Anything and everything other than The Cross brings glory to the person, which God cannot accept. Faith in Christ and The Cross brings glory to Christ Who alone deserves the glory.
I am not exaggerating when I say that the greatest problem of the child of God, especially the one who seeks to do the will of God, is operating in his own ability rather than in the power and ability of The Holy Spirit. It is so easy to do that whenever we load up our efforts with Scriptures, good intentions, and the doing of good things such as prayer or fasting. While all of these are extremely commendable and helpful and even necessary in their own way, neither those things nor any other attributes of the Word of God will bring about the victory that one seeks. It is simply because The Holy Spirit will only function and operate in that which is truth as it relates to the subject at hand, and that truth is The Cross.
Too often our problem is if it is Biblical, such as prayer and fasting, then it is right. While this is certainly true, we must ask ourselves the question: right in what capacity?
There is something in man, even believing man, that wants to contribute something, as small as it may be, toward his victory. We like to feel that we have contributed toward accomplishing the task, which makes us big or greater than others in our own eyes. Doing these things, whatever they might be, ministers to our self importance. Cover it up with Scriptures, but the truth is, God cannot accept anything that we do in this capacity. He can only accept what his Son, The Lord Jesus Christ has done and is doing, that is The Cross.
All of this, of course, is nothing more than pride. It is also an insult to Christ because the very thought, in essence, says that what He did at Calvary and the resurrection is not enough and needs our little effort added to make it complete. Such is nothing short of crass, an insult, and above that, a studied insult.
Other than the true plan that The Lord laid out for the apostle Paul in Romans Chapters 6, 7, and 8, one could carry out any type of program he likes respecting the overcoming of sin, if it's not The Cross of Christ, it is doomed to failure.
THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit guides only into truth (John 16:13-15). That means truth respecting the need at hand. Prayer, fasting, our study of the Word of God, witnessing to the lost – are all true things within themselves and will benefit one greatly. Still, one cannot set oneself to pray so much and think that such will overcome sin; it will not! It will certainly help in other ways, but it will not give the victory that one desires, as Paul addresses here. The same goes for any other biblical attribute or quality. In their own way, these things definitely help the believer, but again, if we attempt to promote these things other than what Jesus has done as an answer to this problem of sin, then we have turned these great qualities into works, which God cannot recognize or bless.
I am not saying, by any means, that the believer should not pray, fast, or do any of these things that we have named, but rather do them for the right purpose.
To be what we have to be and do what we ought to do – we can only do so by the power of The Holy Spirit. So the great question is, how do I get The Holy Spirit to work within my heart and within my life?
THE MANNER OF THE SPIRIT
Romans 8:2 says, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." In essence, this tells us how The Holy Spirit works.
Let us go back to the old covenant for a moment. Before The Cross, The Holy Spirit was greatly limited as to what He could do with believers, simply because the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins. Therefore the sin debt remained. This greatly curtailed The Holy Spirit (Hebrews 10:4).
While The Holy Spirit could come into the heart and lives of certain ones such as prophets to help them carry out their mission, when that mission was completed, He would leave. As it regards ordinary believers, so to speak, He was with them, He was not in them (John 14:17).
Before The Cross, when believers died, their souls and spirits did not go into heaven, but down into Paradise, which was referred to in Luke 16:22 as "Abraham's bosom." Again, this was because the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin.
But when Jesus died on The Cross and atoned for all sin, the picture changed altogether. Now, the moment a person comes to Christ, The Holy Spirit comes into his heart and life, and abides there forever (John 14:16).
As it regards how we are to do the work and service of God, such a believer should go on and be baptized with The Holy Spirit, which is always accompanied by speaking with other tongues. So in as much as I have The Holy Spirit living in me, I want Him to be able to do all that for which He is assigned to do, which is to give me victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Everything The Holy Spirit does in our hearts and lives is because of what Jesus did at The Cross. The Cross of Christ is the means by which all of this is carried out. The Holy Spirit does not demand much of us, but He does demand one thing, and on that, He will not bend – He demands that our faith be exclusively in Christ and what Christ did at The Cross, and maintained exclusively in Christ and The Cross (Romans 8:1-11; 1 Corinthians 1:17-18, 23; 2:2; Galatians 6:14; Colossians 2:10-15). With that being done, The Holy Spirit now has legal latitude to work within our hearts and lives and to carry out what only He can do.
The problem with believers is that they oftentimes try to do what only The Holy Spirit can do. This happens because they don't know or understand how The Holy Spirit works. Consequently, they live a defeated life despite trying to do otherwise.
THE DOUBLE CURE
The believer must understand that, according to the Word of God, Jesus not only satisfied the terrible sin debt that hung over the human race due to Adam's fall, but He also broke the dominion of sin in the heart and life of the believer. It is the double cure.
As it deals with the breaking of sin's dominion, the believer must understand that he was and is literally in Christ when Christ died on Calvary. Paul used the term "baptized into his death" (Romans 6:3). So it is proper to say that we were literally in Him, at least by faith, when He did this great thing.
Paul also said we were "buried with him by baptism into death" (Romans 6:4). Please understand that when he uses the word baptism here, Paul is not speaking of water baptism but rather our being immersed in Christ, which took place when we were born again. It is a spiritual work, not a physical work.
Understand that the word baptism can be used in a literal or figurative sense. In Matthew 3:11, John the Baptist used it both ways, in a literal sense and a figurative sense. He said, "I indeed baptize you (literal) with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you (figurative) with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." We must also know and understand that it was our old man who was crucified with him (Romans 6:6), which pertains to what we were before giving our hearts to Christ. It speaks of the time we were dominated by the sin nature – a slave to sin and ungodly passions. We must know that all of that was buried with Him.
We must also understand that when He was resurrected, we were resurrected with Him, and, in fact, in Him. It was not the old man who was resurrected, but rather the new man walking in "newness of life" (Romans 6:4). We now have a new life.
ENTIRELY FOR US
All of this was done for us. It was not that He merely allowed us to accompany Him in this great transformation, but that it was done exclusively for humanity in totality, and above all for all sinners. We must also understand that He wants us to have the great victory that He has paid for at such a price.
Knowing that we were not really there when Jesus died on Calvary and was resurrected from the dead, we are to have faith in what Jesus did, and it must be a continuing faith. However, it is impossible to have faith in something that is unknown. In other words, if the believer does not know and understand the second part of what Jesus did at Calvary and the resurrection regarding the breaking of sin's dominion, it is quite impossible for him to have faith in such a thing. The Holy Spirit through Hosea said, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge..." (Hosea 4:6). To have faith in what Jesus did, one must have some knowledge about what He did.
Along with one's faith, one must reckon oneself as being "dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:11). Such is the proper confession. In the past several decades concerning confession, we have heard almost nothing as it regards that we are"dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord,"yet that is the confession that God will honor. Anything else is superficial to say the least.
Please understand the following: The Cross of Christ is the means, and the only means, by which all of these wonderful things are given to us. Everything comes by and through The Cross. We must ever understand that everything is made possible by The Cross.
As well, the believer must understand that what Jesus did in the breaking of sin's dominion includes every single type of sin that one could ever think of; nothing is left out – all is included.
When Jesus died on Calvary, the Scripture plainly says what He did: Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us (pertains to the law of Moses, which was God's standard of righteousness that man could not reach), which was contrary to us (law is against us because we are unable to keep its precepts, no matter how hard we try), and took it out of the way (refers to the penalty of the law being removed due to Jesus satisfying its curse), nailing it to his cross (the law with its decrees was abolished in Christ's death as if crucified with Him); And having spoiled principalities and powers (Satan and all of his henchmen were defeated at The Cross by Christ atoning for all sin; sin was the legal right Satan had to hold man in captivity; with all sin atoned he has no more legal right to hold anyone in bondage), he (Christ) made a shew of them openly (what Jesus did at The Cross was in the face of the whole universe), triumphing over them in it. (the triumph is complete, and it was all done for us, meaning we could walk in power and perpetual victory due to The Cross) (Colossians 2:14-15).
Paul's problem – and the problem for all others in the same predicament – was his attempt to carry out by his own strength that which only The Holy Spirit could do. So how do we come to the place of dependence on The Spirit and not on ourselves?
To be frank, an untold number of Spirit filled believers are in the same category, which leaves them exactly as it left Paul – not understanding their predicament. They are all baptized with The Holy Spirit, just as Paul was at this time, so shouldn't that take care of the problem? Within itself, no, it does not.
The moment the believer accepts Christ, he has victory and is an overcomer. While there is a struggle, which we will address next, it is not from a position of triumph to gain victory, but from the position of maintaining victory.
The believer is thinking wrong when he thinks of himself as trying to gain something, especially considering that The Lord has already won the battle, and His victory is our victory. If we are fighting sin, we are fighting the wrong battle at the wrong time, and in the wrong place. That battle was fought and won some 2,000 years ago at Calvary's Cross, and it was a complete victory in every capacity.
Admittedly, we do fight, and ferociously so, but it is the good fight of faith, not a fight against sin.
Satan will definitely attack us as it regards our work for God. We only have to look at the apostle Paul as the example. So do not be surprised if Satan hits you in every capacity possible as it regards your work and labor for The Lord, whatever that might be. But fighting with sin? No!
Satan is very successful at getting all of us to fight battles that we do not need to fight. But The Lord has already fought these particular battles and won them at a great price. The very reason He fought them is because we could not hope to win them. Our victory is only in His victory, and it can only be in His victory. There is no other recourse, nor is there a need for any other recourse.
Whenever the believer comes to Christ, even though the sin nature has its power broken and is isolated, it still remains in the heart and life of the believer. The Lord does that for a purpose. The believer must understand that the sin nature is not physical, but rather spiritual, and, in a dark way, it is actually a product of the fall.
The sin nature is allowed to remain to teach us trust, obedience, and confidence in The Lord with dependence on Him. In other words, The Lord allows it to remain in our lives as a disciplinarian purpose.
Man's greatest problem, even for believers, is self dependence, and it is probably the hardest thing for the believer to break. God wants the believer to depend totally and exclusively on Him for everything because we simply cannot carry out the task that is needed. This situation is of far greater magnitude than any of us realize as none of us are capable of coping with the powers of darkness on our own. We must look to The Lord for all things.
THE FLESH AND THE SPIRIT
Even though we do not like it, and irrespective of the believer knowing every single thing that Paul has taught in these chapters, there will still be occasional times of failure. To some that would seem like a bad confession, but it is the truth. This is what constitutes the tension between the flesh and the spirit (the regenerated spirit of man and The Holy Spirit in opposition to self will).
It could be said that technically the dominion of the sin nature has been broken in the heart and life of the believer. However, if the believer does not understand The Cross of Christ as it regards our sanctification – how we live for God on a daily basis, which constitutes how The Holy Spirit works – then such a believer is going to see the sin nature once again ruling him.
This is why Paul did all the teaching he did in Romans Chapter 7. He gives his side of the conflict before understanding this great truth. And then he gives his side of the conflict after he understood this great truth.
It is true that the believer can live a life of total and complete victory as an overcomer. However, this does not mean sinless perfection, for the bible does not teach that. It does mean that sin is not to have dominion over us. The believer is an overcomer only as he understands his place and position in Christ and properly walks after The Spirit, which can only be done by the believer placing his faith exclusively in Christ and The Cross (Romans 6:1-5; 8:1-11; 1 Corinthians 1:17-18, 23; 2:2; Galatians 6:14; Colossians 2:10-15).
It is not the will of God for the believer to live a life of failure, constantly sinning and repenting. While God will always forgive (1 John 1:9), It is the will of God that we walk in victory. The work of Christ and Calvary was and is a finished work. This means that He did all that He set out to do, and He did it totally and completely, which guarantees victory on every hand – if the believer properly understands what Jesus actually did at Calvary. Regrettably, many do not understand.
The victory of Jesus Christ is complete. Our victory is meant to be complete as well. Christ is a complete overcomer, and we too, are to be complete overcomers. We obtain this position of complete overcomer by faith, and I mean faith in Christ and what Christ did for us at The Cross, not by our works. It is not what we do as much as what we believe. If we believe incorrectly, we are going to do incorrectly. If we believe correctly, we are going to do correctly.
IF THEN I DO THAT WHICH I WOULD NOT...
"If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good" (Romans 7:16). Again, everything that Jesus did at The Cross was complete, total, and absolute. His work, being a finished work, means that His work in our hearts and lives is to be a finished work. That leaves no room for failure.
Romans 7:16 presents Paul as doing something wrong that he does not want to do – something against his will – but he does it anyway. Many could conclude that if Paul, or anyone for that matter, was doing something against his will (trying not to do the thing that is wrong) then surely God would not hold that person responsible for such an action, would He?
The answer is yes. God did hold Paul responsible for these failures, and He holds all other believers responsible as well. The accountability comes in by man refusing to accept God's plan for salvation or sanctification, which He has provided in the atonement. God has the antidote for man's problem of sin, but most men refuse to accept it. This is where the condemnation comes in.
It works identically with the believer. The fact that the believer has a sin nature is not his fault; he was born into the world with this condition.But The Lord has provided a remedy for the situation in what Christ did at Calvary. The Cross of Christ is always the answer for anything and everything. Again that's the theme of the entire Gospel. The believer who does not take advantage of that, whether through ignorance or self will, is the problem. It has been said that people never reject The Cross on the basis of theological reasons, meaning that it is too difficult to understand, but rather on moral ground, and I speak of pride and self will.
If the believer wants the solution, the solution is there. The problem is that most of the church world – almost all of it – is ignorant of the truth that Paul gave us, despite the fact that this is the gist of the entirety of the Bible, with some small exceptions. In other words, the entirety of the Word of God is given over to telling believers how to live for God. Of course there is a scripture here and there that tells people how to be saved, but we must understand that the Word of God was not written for the unredeemed, but rather for believers. The unredeemed do not understand it, they know nothing about it, and, furthermore, they have no interest in it. The Bible was written for believers. Considering that the entirety of the Word of God is given over to this all important subject, still, most believers cannot have the foggiest idea of what Paul was speaking about.
In all of my years of living for God and coming up in a good church, I never heard one single message on what we are teaching you now. I never read one single book, and I have read hundreds, that even remotely addressed this all important subject. The truth is, most believers simply do not know how to live for God. They do not understand at all what Paul taught, which is actually the meaning of the New Covenant. In fact, Jesus Christ is the New Covenant, and The Cross of Christ is the meaning of the New Covenant, which was given to the apostle Paul, and he gave it to us. It is The Cross, The Cross, The Cross – always. As with every child of God, there might be quite a few failures before the truth is reached, but the remedy is available. If the believer earnestly seeks God, as Paul did (which should serve as an example for us), then The Holy Spirit will see to it that the remedy is found. We are given the remedy, which is available to all, and that remedy is The Cross and The Cross alone! We must understand that sin is the problem. We may label it other things, and we may refer to it as other things, but the problem is sin, and the only answer for sin – and I mean the only answer – is The Cross of Christ.
In any case, the believer is accountable. So, no matter how hard he tries in the flesh, or how sincere he may be, or how well motivated, if his efforts are misplaced, he will not find victory that only truth brings.
I CONSENT UNTO THE LAW THAT IT IS GOOD
This phrase from Romans 7:16 means that the law of God is working as it is supposed to work. In other words, my wanting to do the opposite of what I do proves my acceptance of God's law as good. The idea is that the law has pointed out the sin in the believer's life and shown its terrible wrong. However, the law gives no power to obey the commandment, because it was never meant to give such power.
In the Greek, the word consent is sumphemi, and means "to speak together with; concur with." Paul is saying, "I do not want to do this thing that is wrong, and the law does not want me to do this thing that is wrong." Consequently, this whole scenario proves that the law of God is performing its intended purpose.
Paul is also saying that it is not the law's fault that he is failing, but rather his own fault. Men have a tendency to want to blame the law of God instead of their own evil and wickedness. No, the commandment is not wrong, in fact, it is good. It is the sin in us and our approach to that sin in all the wrong ways that is wrong.
NOW THEN IT IS NO MORE I THAT DO IT
"Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me" (Romans 7:17).
The only answer for sin is The Cross of Christ. If men reject The Cross – in any way – then there is no other way or means left, and we should understand that.
Romans 7:17 has been grossly misunderstood by many who think it is a license to sin. Twisting and perverting Paul's words, many claim that they are not responsible for their sins. But they are responsible for their sins, as Paul will soon explain.
Whenever an individual comes to Christ, his whole world changes. Every true believer in the world hates sin. We hate failure in any capacity. While the flesh may want something that is wrong, and it often does, the inner man does not want it. We know the terrible results of sin, the destruction and death that it causes, but the flesh is something else again.
In this verse, Paul is actually saying, "Now then, it is no more I who wants to do this," whatever it was of which he spoke. Some have claimed that whatever Paul was talking about was rather insignificant, perhaps a little white lie. I beg to totally disagree.
A small mendacity is not going to cause a man to say, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:24). No, sin is sin, and all of it, whatever it is, is wrong in any case. Actually, all sin is a form of insanity. While some sins are worse than others, much worse, Paul was not speaking of some small thing. But rather if continued, it would have destroyed him, as sin will destroy anyone.
BUT (THE) SIN THAT DWELLS IN ME
This phrase from Romans 7:17 does not really refer to particular acts of sin, but rather the sin nature which dwells in every believer. As Paul already said, he does not want to do these things which are wrong, and neither does any true believer. Again, these are not the words or thoughts of an unsaved man. This is a person who wants to do right, and is actually trying to do right but failing, and not really understanding the reason why. Paul's Christianity is somewhat of a mystery to him, at least before the great truths of victory in Christ were given to him, which is actually the New Covenant (Galatians 1:12).
Paul is activating the sin nature within himself, which is causing all kinds of problems, and he really does not know how it is happening. He fights it very hard even as Romans 7:18 portrays, but instead of the situation getting better, it actually gets worse.
Paul is not speaking here of the right or wrong of the situation, but rather the cause of what is taking place, which is the work of the sin nature. When this problem was taking place in Paul's life, which was immediately after his conversion, he did not really know or understand any of the things he is now explaining. Looking back, and considering that The Holy Spirit has led him into this great truth with its resultant victory, he can now explain what was taking place at that time, and what brought on the failure.
FOR I KNOW THAT IN ME (THAT IS, IN MY FLESH) DWELLS NO GOOD THING
"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).
Without an understanding of The Cross of Christ as it regards sanctification, what happened to Paul will happen to you. Here the great apostle opens himself up as few have ever done, which helps us immeasurably.
This phrase from Romans 7:18 speaks of man's own ability (or lack thereof, at least when it comes to spiritual things), in comparison to The Holy Spirit. Paul found out that all of his struggles by his own self efforts, even as dedicated or sincere as those efforts may have been, brought about no victory whatsoever. As the sinner has no solution to his spiritual dilemma within himself, likewise, the believer has no solution within himself regarding these problems. The truth has to be preached to such a person, and the answer in all cases is always Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
The truth is, flesh in the believer is just as ugly as flesh in the unbeliever. Actually, in the mind of God, it is more ugly because it is so unnecessary.
The flesh speaks of man's personal education, motivation, talent, ability, self will, and efforts. Above all, it speaks of the absolute futility of depending on such things to bring about a spiritual change in one's life. Please understand that if it is not faith in Christ and what Christ has done for us at The Cross, then whatever it is, no matter how religious, it is flesh – at least this is the way that God looks at it.
We have come to the place where we understand that salvation is all of The Lord – and that means all. Man does not need to add anything to this great plan. If he attempts to do so, which all of us have done at one time or another, it only tends to frustrate the grace of God (Galatians 2:21), which means that our efforts hinder The Holy Spirit from doing what He alone can do.
Likewise, many also misunderstand Romans 7:18. They conclude that Paul is saying that the flesh is weak and therefore it is going to sin, and there is nothing the believer can do about that. That is not what Paul is saying. He is not referring to a sinning salvation, but rather the futility of trying to overcome sin in the flesh by one's own efforts. The entirety of this scenario is actually a portrayal of what causes failure and how to have victory over failure.
FOR TO WILL IS PRESENT WITH ME
Paul is speaking here of willpower. He is saying that the will, although important, is not strong enough within itself to overcome sin. This may come as a shock to most Christians, but it also means that Satan can override a believer's will, that is, if the power of God does not accompany the will.
While it is true that the believer has to will that which God wants, which is absolutely necessary, his will is only the trigger and not the actual power. Consider the trigger on a gun – the trigger is not the power of the gun; the explosive charge is. Likewise, it is the Holy Spirit Who is the power, but His power is triggered by the will of the believer.
However, that within itself is not enough. While the trigger for the gun is necessary, it must be pointed in the right direction to be effective. The truth is, the explosive power of The Holy Spirit will not work on our behalf unless we are pointed in the right direction – in the way of truth. This pertains to the believer knowing and understanding the truth about what Jesus has done for us at Calvary (John 8:32) and how, in effect, we were in Him when this was done.
THE WILL OF MAN
So while the will of man is very important, of itself it cannot effect what needs to be done. Man's will is important only as it is used to desire and obey the will of God. If any believer thinks that he has the strength through willpower to say no to Satan, he will find that defeat will ultimately be the case every single time.
The will comes into play when the believer makes a decision to go with The Lord and His way. The sadness is that most believers do not know God's way, so they keep trying, and they keep failing.
In the Greek, the word for the phrase to will is thelo, and it means "being constantly desirous." Paul was constantly desirous of doing God's will; but it was not being done.
The word present in the Greek is parakeimai, and means to "lie beside." This came from his divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) – the nature of God that was in Paul which made him desire God's will, as every true Christian desires.
The truth is, almost all of Christianity today is trying to live for God by the means of willpower alone. While the will is definitely important ("Whosoever will"), if it stops there, the situation will become negative very quickly. It is not our strong willpower that gets us through, it is our faith in Christ and what Christ did for us at The Cross, and The Cross alone.
When we say The Cross, we are not speaking of the wooden beam on which Jesus died, but rather what Christ there accomplished. Please understand, The Cross was strictly for sin. Jesus atoned for all the sin – past, present, and future – at The Cross. There is no way to deal with sin except by The Cross. When we try to do it otherwise, we fail. It is The Cross, The Cross, The Cross!
BUT HOW TO PERFORM THAT WHICH IS GOOD I FIND NOT
This part of Romans 7:18 presents the problem. The will was there but not the ability to do so. The two words how and find – are not in the Greek text concerning this phrase. The word how was added by the translators to complete the thought. The word find one could probably say is a bad translation.
The literal Greek reads, "But to perform the good, not." Paul is saying that while the desire to do God's will was always with him, the ability or power to perform it was not. Ignorant of the truth, at least at that time, he was depending on his own efforts to do God's will, which is never sufficient.
You might wonder why The Lord so constructed the situation in this manner. As well, you might think that leaving the sin nature in the believer after conversion seems to be unnecessary, especially considering that, in a sense, it caused so many problems. Allow me to quickly add that one denying the presence of the sin nature really does not change anything. It is somewhat like the law. The law need not cause the believer any problem, and the sin nature need not cause the believer any problem. But both do, because of the problems that are in man.
Man is so constituted – even believers – that if we experience too much blessing (in the slightest degree), we respond with spiritual pride. We become puffed up easily and very quickly.
Allowing the sin nature to remain in the believer, although isolated, has a tendency to constantly warn the believer of his obvious frailty, whether he thinks so or not. We are made to know and realize, quickly, just how vulnerable we are, and consequently, how we must constantly depend upon The Lord. The moment we cease to look to Him is the moment we veer off track and the sin nature springs to life letting us know that the situation is going wrong. As a result (at least if we want to walk close to God), we find that we must constantly seek His face and depend totally on Him ever learning more about trust and faith in Him. Again, allowing the sin nature to remain in the believer was done for a purpose and for a reason.
CHRIST AND THE CROSS
While Paul ultimately did find a way to perform that which was good, he did not find it within himself, which is what the test in Romans 7:18 actually means.
Let the believer understand that nothing is easy as it concerns this life and living. Even the great will of God, which is Christ and The Cross, does not present itself as something simple, quick, or easy. Once the believer has his faith anchored squarely in Christ and The Cross, and he maintains it accordingly, he will fail at times, but the goal desired will ultimately be realized.
Most of the time it will not be quick or easy, but the believer does have this consolation: he is on the right track when his faith is in Christ and The Cross, and there is only one right track. Ultimately, there will be victory, and I mean total victory. That does not mean sinless perfection, but it does mean that sin shall not have dominion over you (Romans 6:14).
Jesus is all the world to me,
My life, my joy, my all;
He is my strength from day to day,
Without Him I would fall:
When I am sad, to Him I go;
No other one can cheer me so;
When I am sad, He makes me glad,
He is my friend.
Jesus is all the world to me,
My friend in trials sore;
I go to Him for blessings, and
He gives them o'er and o'er:
He sends the sunshine and the rain,
He sends the harvest's golden grain:
Sunshine and rain, harvest of grain,
He is my friend.
Jesus is all the world to me,
And true to Him I'll be;
Oh, how could I this friend deny,
When He's so true to me?
Following Him I know I'm right;
He watches o'er me day and night;
Following Him by day and night,
He is my friend.
What I Hate, That Do I
I Don't Understand