Published: 15 January 2001

By Neil Phelan

"For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I ... .O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord"- Romans 7:15,24,25 Have you ever tried to live up to the law only to find that you can't? Have you found yourself trying to get good enough to merit the blessings of heaven only to realize that if you were given a thousand lifetimes you could never get to a place that you could say, "I have attained, I am ready to stand before the judge of all the earth." As hard as you try, there are still doubts, fears, struggles and frustrations within. If this is your case, you have great reason to rejoice for this is where the apostle Paul finds himself in Romans 7 as he describes "The Christian's Inner Conflict." CONFLICT Over one-hundred years ago, Spurgeon said, "Conflict is the principle part of Christianity this side of heaven." I believe every Christian, to a degree, experiences conflict. Yet, even here, we find great consolation. Where there is conflict, there is feeling and where there is feeling there is life. I remember the story of the doctor and the patient who was thought to have lost all feeling in his lower extremities. The doctor probed the foot with a sharp needle to find signs of life only to feel a crutch land upon his head. His conclusion: life in the foot and the head. Where there is conflict there is life. If we will notice the apostle's language, we can identify with his struggle: "For that which I do I allow not". In other words, "I do things that my conscience does not allow. I am not always in control of my mind and my actions". Paul is not saying that he is totally out of control. But he is saying that the perfection he knows to be true he can not attain. That is why it becomes so frustrating and many give upon on religion. They think others are living these sinless lives when in reality there is only one who has: the Lord Jesus Christ. Even the Christian mind can think ungodly thoughts, lose control of the tongue, allow pride to rise up in the heart, look upon things that they should not look upon and find themselves cold and indifferent towards God and His people. Conflict. Paul goes on to say, "for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I". What is Paul now saying? He is explaining his former statement. He is saying that he did not do the things that he would or should do and some things that he wished to stop, he found himself doing. He could not find perfection. Frustration. Conflict. Certainly, Paul is not giving us an excuse to sin. But he is giving us some consolation for our inability to gain our own righteousness by keeping the law. WHEN IT BEGAN- There was a time that Paul could say, "touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless"-Phil. 3:6. He was perfectly satisfied with his religion, his friends and himself. He had no inner struggle then, even as he put Christians to death. In his eyes, he was blameless. When did all of this come to an end? When he met Jesus! That is when he saw himself in Christ's light. That is when his conflict started. That is when he start to get better. WHY IT BEGAN- There is a reason for the conflict. The born again Christian is a two-fold creature. He has the Spirit of God abiding within a sinful frame. It is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Paul refers to the flesh as the "old man" and the Spirit as the "new man"(Rom. 6:6, Eph. 4:22 and Col. 3:9). They are like a dog and a cat in a box. What one loves the other hates and what one hates the other loves. That is why we find conflict. CONSOLATION In his experience, Paul goes from Conflict to Confession to Consolation. In his inward struggle, Paul came to the place that he must confess, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?". I can't keep the law to a jot and a tittle! I have great inward struggle in trying to do so! He was honest. He could not attain(see Phil.3:12,13). Where did he find his consolation? In the person of the great law keeper, Jesus Christ, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Though he could not keep the law, his faith and hope was in One who kept the law for him. His writing and preaching was centered around this great truth. Salvation is by the grace of God in the person of Jesus Christ. Have you found Him? Come and worship with us at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church, in Donaldson, where God is sovereign, and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Visit our web page at www.primitivebaptist.org/donaldson/ Singing begins at 10:30 each Sunday morning followed by preaching at 11:00. By His mercy and grace, Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor