There are few that know that the author of the famous hymn, Amazing Grace, was written by a former slave trader.
There are fewer still that know this slave trader became a priest.
Only a sparing few may know that this priest became a mentor to William Wilberforce who was the member of the British Parliament who was eventually successful in abolishing the slave trade in the United Kingdom in 1807.
God's hand working through time to transform a "wretch" and use him to push back the darkness.
We have thus learned three things:
Deliverance is what I then must seek and deliverance is what is found in Christ Jesus! Deliverance is found only when are convicted by the Holy Spirit and illuminated by His light to the fact that we are incapable of self-deliverance and are in great need of His power to deliver us. The new world order is now in effect (Jesus in my heart). The old world order is Sin, the very headwaters of my fallen estate.
It would be good here to reiterate that Paul is explaining what it is like to try to obey the law of God in the power of the flesh. This is the place where we daily live as long as we have breath and a pulse. The question then becomes then where is the victory? This will become apparent in Romans 8:1. For now it is good to see that even the Apostle Paul struggled. However, he also gave us a great many important ways to overcome this struggle with the victory that is ours in Christ Jesus! As I have said before, the fact that we struggle is a good sign that we belong to Jesus. If we had no struggle it would be because we were the unrighteous and ungodly against whom the righteousness of God is revealed (Romans 1:18). Our eyes have the power to see but without light they are rendered absolutely useless. Only in Christ's light may we see the threat that endangers us. Only in Christ's light may we find the victory!
"I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does." (Jn 5:19 NLT 3rd Ed)
With Christ as our example, we should follow the same pattern of activity—that we can do nothing by ourselves. But is that how we live our lives? Were it true I think the world around us would be enjoying an abundance of Grace instead the cumbrance of sin. How do we move this from the theoretical to the practical of our daily lives? Perhaps the answer can be found in our surrender to the will of the Father.
Once again we see our sinful selves in practice under the law. The obstacle to doing good is me even though my desire is willing the evil propensity overshadows because it was enraged by the righteous law. It demonstrates what Paul now exclaims in no small way, "nothing good dwells in me!" How then do we see ourselves. Can we begin to see the total debauchery of the flesh in which we make our abode in this life? Only because the Spirit of Holiness now lives in us and enables us to see that which beforehand was invisible to our reprobate minds. Present [in with] me (παράκειται parakeitai) "that is, it was constantly before him; it was now his habitual inclination and purpose of mind. It is the uniform, regular, habitual purpose of the Christian’s mind to do right." (Dr. Albert Barnes) However, it must be noted that, though it looms large in our view, the dynamic tension between the two natures is not the subject at hand but rather the effect of the law! The point then becomes NOT condemnation, even though the holy writ does leave us under judgment, but rather the total absence of the required energy to fulfill it righteous standards to avoid condemnation.
"Yet we expect to be Christians
without labor, study, or inquiry."
Sensual gratifications and illicit affections have debased our
nobler powers, and indisposed our hearts to the discovery of God, and to
the consideration of his perfections; to a constant willing submission to his
authority, and obedience to his laws. (Chapter 2 page 23)
The diligent perusal of the Holy Scriptures would discover to us our past ignorance. We should cease to be deceived by superficial appearances, and to confound the Gospel of Christ with the systems of philosophers; we should become impressed with that weighty truth, so much forgotten, and never to be too strongly insisted on, that Christianity calls on us, as we value our immortal souls, not merely in general, to be religious and moral, but specially to believe the doctrines, and imbibe the principles, and practice the precepts of Christ….Bountiful as is the hand of Providence, its gifts are not so bestowed as to seduce us into indolence, but to rouse us to exertion; and no one expects to attain to the height of learning, or arts, or power, or wealth, or military glory, without vigorous resolution, and strenuous diligence, and steady perseverance. Yet we expect to be Christians without labor, study, or inquiry. This is the more preposterous, because Christianity, being a revelation from God, and not the invention of man, discovering to us new relations, with their correspondent duties; containing also doctrines, and motives, and practical principles, and rules, peculiar to itself, and almost as new in their nature as supreme in their excellence, we cannot reasonably expect to become proficient in it by the accidental intercourses of life, as one might learn insensibly the maxims of worldly policy, or a scheme of mere morals. (William Wilberforce)
There is a saying in the information technology community: "Garbage in, garbage out; information in, information out; nothing in, nothing out." We would never assume that professional excellence could be achieved in any endeavor without much effort. Yet in the post-modern Christian world the masses bask in the glow of delusion that being connected to the root is the same as bearing fruit.
Here we have some figurative language expressed because we know that it is the person who commits sin. However, Paul is illuminating the hidden motivation of reprobate hearts. The power of sin that dominates us so that even our acts that are righteous in our sight fall woefully short of the mark because of this inward dwelling dysfunction. Perhaps the NLT 1st Edition adds to the idea:
Dr. Albert Barnes explains well this tension between our new nature and our old self:
We also see here that sin dwells in our hearts (makes itself at home) which (according to Dr. Barnes) is where the expression "in-dwelling sin" originates. This is in contrast to:
It is important for us to see the origin of our rebellion against God that darkens our ability to understand rightly and also perverts our judgment. Dr. Adam Clarke describes this "principle" that "acts in it, (our soul) as its lord, or as a tyrant."
Now contrast this with John's words:
Now we begin to see the battle that is present in us each and every day! But we shall soon see that there is victory already one in this daily battle because of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Perhaps James gives us the insight into this struggle:
Tyndale's Commentary tries to, as concisely as possible, clarify the possible observances of this passage:
The fact that we are wrestling with our sin give us a sign of our ownership. If we did not have God's light within us we would be at peace with our falleness and would be trying to encourage others to join in our fallen lifestyle (Romans 1). Matthew Henry pretty well encapsulates this (see quote below) when he describes this as being sold to a hated master. We serve sin unwillingly (that is we hate what we are doing) yet we find ourselves unable to extricate ourselves from the conflict. But when we are rescued by the comforter (the Spirit of Christ who lives within) we begin to discover the victory planned for us. Kenneth Wuest says that "To be saved from sin, a man must at the same time own it and disown it; it is this practical paradox which is reflected in this verse." We are responsible for our own sin (we own it) but must repent of it (disown it) and turn away from our dead self and toward Christ (our new life). The honest place to begin is to confess to our Heavenly Father our conflict that we might be partakers of the life He has planned for us. If our failures are the result of the sin that lives in us, then our victories must be the result of Christ in us. The "I" in us must die to see the victory assured.
The only way to be kept from falling is to grow. If you stand still, you will fall. Read Prov. xi. 28, “The righteous shall flourish as a branch.” Remember you are not a tree, that can stand alone; you are only “a branch” and it is only while you abide in Him, as a branch that you will flourish. Keep clear your sense of justification; remember it is not your own natural goodness, nor your tears, nor your sanctification, that will justify you before God. It is Christ’s sufferings and obedience alone. Seek to be made holier every day; pray, strive, wrestle for the Spirit, to make you like God. Be as much as you can with God. I declare to you that I had rather be one hour with God, than a thousand with the sweetest society on earth or in heaven. All other joys are but streams; God is the fountain: “all my springs are in Thee” (A.A. Bonar, Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert. Murray M’Cheyne, 206).
It is clear to our mind's eye that it is normal for a tree to grow. But how often do we think about the branches. If you spend anytime at all tending trees you will notice that not all branches are the same. Their size seems to be dependent on their proximity to the root. It is very much the same with us as believers. We grow based upon our closeness to the Root of Jesse. It is the "fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel's veins" that is our life and our sustenance. If for some reason we are not in the midst of this flow, then we wither and die.
Children, in simplicity, believe what you tell them of the Lord. These are the ideal members of the kingdom, who simply take Him at His word. “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.” That used to trouble me. Though I knew I was saved, yet when I came to that verse and the kindred one in Matthew, I used to wonder if I had qualified in this way: I am not like a child; I am not as innocent as a little child; I have not the same hopeful attitude toward life as little children. How can I, a sinner by practice, ever get back to the comparative purity and goodness of a little child? Then I noticed that “Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children…” He called and the child came. That is what He means when He says, “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”
It is when we heed His blessed call and come to Him in unquestioning faith that we enter the kingdom. It is this alone that puts us on praying ground and entitles us to bring all our troubles and perplexities to Him, and He has promised to undertake for us. (Harry Ironside)
In these words Jesus was stating that a person must come to Him in humility in order to enter the kingdom. Children come with expectation and excitement. They come realizing that they are not sufficient in themselves. They depend totally on others. If these same attitudes are not present in adults, they can never enter into the kingdom. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, J. Walvoord, R. Zuck)