“We know that the Law is spiritual, but I’m made of flesh and blood, and I’m sold as a slave to sin. I don’t know what I’m doing, because I don’t do what I want to do. Instead, I do the thing that I hate. But if I’m doing the thing that I don’t want to do, I’m agreeing that the Law is right. But now I’m not the one doing it anymore. Instead, it’s sin that lives in me. I know that good doesn’t live in me—that is, in my body. The desire to do good is inside of me, but I can’t do it. I don’t do the good that I want to do, but I do the evil that I don’t want to do. But if I do the very thing that I don’t want to do, then I’m not the one doing it anymore. Instead, it is sin that lives in me that is doing it.

So I find that, as a rule, when I want to do what is good, evil is right there with me. I gladly agree with the Law on the inside, but I see a different law at work in my body. It wages a war against the law of my mind and takes me prisoner with the law of sin that is in my body. I’m a miserable human being. Who will deliver me from this dead corpse? Thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then I’m a slave to God’s Law in my mind, but I’m a slave to sin’s law in my body.” (Romans 7:14-25 CEB)

Go ahead, take minute. Pick one word with which to fill in the following blank that best describes you. Just one. Choose it carefully.

“I am a _____________ human being.”

What word did you choose? Did you pick a word that honestly describes who you are in reality or one that defines the person you want to be in your heart of hearts? Is it the word others who know you well would have chosen? Is it the word God would have chosen?

Paul picked a word to described himself. As a strong, passionate, mature, exemplary, consistent – not to mention, inspired – Christian selected the word “miserable” as most fitting.

I resemble that remark, and not just because my middle name is “Paul.” And it seems to me that God can do no real good with anyone until they reach this point, the point where they conclude that “good doesn’t live in me.” Then, and only then, can God work some real good in us and through us.

God my Father, you know the war that rolls within me always. “I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” – these are my words, too. They truly reflect my ways. For your continued deliverance through Christ from this miserable state, I pray, I thank you for and rejoice in. Amen.