So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!Romans 7:21-25 NIV
In this passage, Paul describes a war that is going on within himself. On one side is his inner being, his spirit. This side loves God and wants to live in obedience to him. On the other side of the battle is the flesh, his human nature. This side wants to gratify its own desires and passions. And the two sides are in conflict with each other, with the flesh seeming to be the stronger.
Some folks see this as a battle that was in Paul’s past, before becoming a believer. But he describes it in the present tense rather than the past. And his delight in God’s law is something that would seem inappropriate for an unredeemed person. I believe Paul is describing the experience of many, if not most, believers. I want to serve God wholeheartedly, but I seem unable to do that. Other competing desires and priorities constantly distract me and keep me from that wholehearted devotion. Sin is an ever-present reality in my life. Is there any hope for me?
On my own, there is not. But thankfully, God has not left me to live the life he called me to on my own. The Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised to us (John 14:16-17), will enable us to have victory over our old nature. The battle will wage on as long as we live in the flesh, but Christ has delivered us from bondage to it, enabling us to live for him.