Reflection on Rom 7:24-25Post date: 2019-09-07
Reflection on Rom 7:24-25
O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God (for doing so) 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.
At the end of chapter seven, the Apostle cries out: “O wretched man that I am!” He says it in the light of God, aware of the law of sin which is at work in us as well as of human powerlessness when we want to do good by our own efforts. Saying this, the Apostle also asks: “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” And he gives the answer at once: “Thanks be to God (for doing so) through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” cried the Apostle Paul. There is nothing more musical in the ears of the Lord. This cry is the most spiritual cry a man can utter. He only utters it when he knows he can do nothing, and gives up making any further resolutions. Up to this point, every time he failed he made a new resolution and doubled and redoubled his will-power. At last he discovers there is no use in his making up his mind any more, and he cries out in desperation: “O wretched man that I am!” Like a man who suddenly awakes to find himself in a burning building, his cry is now for help, for he has come to the point where he despairs of himself. Have you despaired of yourself, or do you still hope that you will change and be a better Christian by your own efforts? Happily the “wretched man” does not merely deplore his wretchedness; he asks a fine question, namely: “Who will deliver me?” Who? Hitherto he has relied on himself; now his hope is only in Him! Hitherto he has looked within for a solution to his problem; now he looks beyond himself for the Saviour! He no longer puts forth self-effort; all his expectation is now in Christ.
The cry: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me?” changes to a song of praise. He has found the answer to his question. “Thanks be to God (for doing so) through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom 7:25)
Dying on the cross, Jesus said: “It is finished!” He has done everything on the cross for our forgiveness and He will do everything in us for our deliverance. In both cases He is the doer. “It is God that works in you.” “Thanks be to God!”
The main characteristic feature of our old self is that it always puts God aside. We de facto automatically ignore God in everyday life and, moreover, we subconsciously want God to serve our pursuit of honour and glory, to help us be perfect and content with ourselves. The old self remains on the throne and wants God to bless us and to make us prosper. What is more, we are often so blind that we think we work for God. We completely forget that God gave His Son that we may live through Him and receive daily in faith and gratitude what He has done for our sake. It is always true that: “He – Jesus – must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn 3) Deliverance and victory begins with losing our soul for the sake of Christ and His Gospel (Mk 8:35). This is the essence of pure love for God as well as the condition for the power of God to work in us and in our lives. Otherwise we do not allow His power to work because we are flooded with our own activities.
In the first stage of our faith, when we come to believe in God, we are guided by the principle: “Help yourself, and God will help you.” Then comes the stage of conversion and self-knowledge, and hence the path of repentance and purification. It is here that we come to understand the essence of Romans 7, which is expressed as follows: “I keep on doing the evil that I do not want to do…” and “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” If Jesus really is to be our Lord and the King of our hearts, He must reign in us! The old self, however, competes with Jesus, does not want to give Him the first place and does not allow Him to reign. The old self has its own plans and its own activity “for the Lord”.
What about so-called cooperation with God? There is cooperation which can be expressed by the following saying: “Work as if everything depends on you and pray as if everything depends on God.” It means the maximum effort and maximum trust, which is not easy. God then usually shows the next stage: “Do the will of God, but do it in His way rather than your own!” And this final stage requires self-renunciation and walking in the Spirit.
It might seem that chapter seven leads us to total inactivity or even laziness. We are tempted to reach an erroneous conclusion: “Everything I do is saturated with sin, so it isn’t worth the effort! Anyway, whatever I do I always sin.” On the contrary, in every new situation we must seek God’s face, learn from our mistakes and trust in God with ever greater zeal. We will then know what to do, and we will even receive the strength or rather God Himself will work in us and through us. God does not desire our external activity; He desires our heart.
There are situations in life when we have to choose between two or more options. But one way or another, it is always associated with a problem or an evil. In the world where we live there is nothing absolutely clean; everything is soaked with evil and our soul is affected too. Nevertheless, we have to choose some option and thereafter we can only repent: “Lord, although I chose this option according to my conscience and in the belief that it was Your will and the best solution, I see that it was not completely clean.”
Walking in the Holy Spirit means first to unite to Christ and His powerlessness on the cross, and then to sincerely seek God’s will in the given situation. If it is necessary to seek the will of God in a serious matter and to make a responsible decision, it requires a longer prayer. Sometimes it is a painful process of seeking and we need to consult people who have the experience of the life with God. Often the problem is that we sincerely desire to do God’s will but we do not know for a long time what God’s will actually is. God permits even this darkness for our purification. But even if we know and do God’s will, we have to take into account that apart from the blessing God will also give us a lighter or heavier cross to carry. Why? We will see later in life or only after the book of our life is closed and we will enter into eternity.
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