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"The Battle of Two I's" (posted November 1, 2022)

   For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.
   - Romans 7:15

Study carefully the battle between the two "I's": the old Saul and the new Paul in Romans 7:14-25.

It is an experience like this which so discourages and perplexes young converts. The first joy of conversion has subsided, his glowing expectations become chilled, and the convert is dismayed to find the flesh with its old habits and desires within himself as before his conversion, and he is led to doubt his acceptance with God.

This is a time of discouragement and danger. Paul in this crisis cries out for deliverance, calling his old nature a "body of death." The law only intensifies his agony (although a converted man), and he finds deliverance from "the flesh," not through effort, nor through striving to keep the law, but "through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 7:24-25).

The presence of the flesh is not, however, an excuse for walking in it. We are taught that "our old man is crucified with Christ" (Romans 6:6); that, in that sense, we "are dead," and we are called upon to make this a constant experience by mortifying ("making dead") our members which are upon the earth (Colossians 3:3-5).

The power for this is that of the Holy Spirit who dwells in every believer (1 Corinthians 6:19) and whose blessed office is to subdue the flesh. "I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish" (Galatians 5:16-17).

"For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live" (Romans 8:13). Therefore, instead of meeting the solicitations of the old nature by force of will, or by good resolutions, turn the conflict over to the indwelling Spirit of God.

Romans 7 is a record of the conflict of regenerate man with his old self and is, therefore, intensely personal. "I would," "I do not," "I would not," "I do," is the sad confession of defeat which finds an echo in so many Christian hearts.

In chapter 8 the conflict still goes on, but how blessedly impersonal! There is no agony, for Paul is out of it; the conflict is now between "flesh"-- Saul of Tarsus-- and the Holy Spirit. Paul is at peace and victorious.

Cyrus I. Scofield

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