“For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” —Romans 7:19, 20
“For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do” (Romans 7:19). My nature is flesh. I am a human being. I am a sinner because I am a descendent of Adam. Yet, by God’s grace, through faith in the righteous life, crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, I am a new creature, or creation, in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Although this has happened, I still believe I only have one nature; that is, my humanity, which has never changed, and will not change until Christ come again, as we who are in Christ are told: that we “shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). I HAVE a nature, but it is no longer “natural,” meaning unsaved and reprobate (1 Corinthians 2:14). My nature, now abides with a new truth because I have been saved by God’s grace. Regeneration has given me a new heart and a new spirit; but I hesitate to call it another nature. My new nature is spiritually divine because it comes by heavenly origin, through the regenerative work of the very Spirit of God, and therefore, I must call it supernatural. You may perhaps refer to it as a “divine nature” just as other preachers and expositors have in the past. So, now, as a saved man, I have my flesh, my humanity, my nature, which has sin and is filled with sin and is full of sin, as we read last time in Romans 7:18,
“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.”
Yet, that notwithstanding, I also HAVE that “divine nature,” or rather, that supernatural quickening that has made me alive in Christ by the regenerative work of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:16, 17). Again, let us tread lightly. Let’s not suppose that it is the same as Christ having two natures, being both fully Man and fully God. Jesus is fully Man, yet sinless and wholly righteous; our human nature is full of sin. Christ’s divine nature is deity because He is very God of very God. Our divine nature is a soul that is alive unto Christ through regeneration by God the Holy Spirit, whereas we were in the past children of disobedience who were dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1, 2). We should endeavor to remember that God’s indwelling presence and empowerment do not make you and I God. There is only One. Because of the real nature of humanity that exists, and also this new creation that I am, by regeneration and the indwelling Spirit, there is not only a struggle between the doctrine of sin and law in our minds, but also spiritual warfare between flesh and Spirit. In Galatians 5:17 it is written,
“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”
Just as we saw a few articles ago that Galatians 3 runs parallel with our understanding of law and grace in Romans 7:1-13, Galatians 5 runs parallel with our understanding of our warfare between flesh and spirit.
“Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me” (Romans 7:20). We are not suffering from some sort of schizophrenia here (although sometimes it may feel like it). It’s not two people at war within or some kind of Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde episode taking place within our existence. To suggest that would be almost imply a removal of our accountability and responsibility. Paul does not do that. He is only expressing the wrestling between flesh and Spirit in a way that could be understood by our finite minds. The apostle expresses the same thought in Galatians 2:20,
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
As the apostle continues to use the first person pronoun, “I” he takes responsibility for his actions. He is held accountable to the Lord for his every wrong; yet, he realizes that the origin is within the nature of his fallen humanity: “but sin that dwelleth in me.”
I am accountable with God for my every thought, word and deed for He is holy, just and good. We must not cast off our culpability before God, nor shirk our responsibility to Him, neither avoid our accountability with Him; yet, we rejoice in the sufficient sacrifice of Christ, embracing His beloved grace, for I am not condemned— we are not condemned. Because sin, still dwells within the humanity of fallen flesh, I must ever surrender to Christ, coming confidently “unto the throne of grace [to] obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
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Read the previous article in this series, “My Reality: Hating My Actions.”