This meditation is Part 2 in a three-part series of meditations on Romans 6-8.
As Christians, we live life in parallel universes. Our old self has been buried with Christ in His death and He has given us a new self: “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which i now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, NASB).
In Christ the new self is now the real self, but the old self is still there. It’s like it hasn’t been completely subdued in spite of one’s surrender to Christ. In Romans 7 the Apostle Paul provides a firsthand description of this inner struggle with one’s old self, this duality dilemma.
What causes this duality dilemma is that each of these ways of life, the old self and the new self, are exclusive of the other. You can’t be both–you have to be one or the other.
Unfortunately, as Christians we often try to assimilate these mutually exclusive realities into one way of life, our new self. One of the first attempts at assimilation we make is to try to be good, to be righteous, so we can stay “saved.”
And it just doesn’t work!
We’re not able to conduct ourselves in a way “good enough” to maintain our salvation and we end up behaving badly: “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate…for I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present with in me, but the doing of the good is not” (vs. 7:15,18).
Then, when we can’t be good enough to be saved, we try to sublimate, rationalize or justify our bad behavior: “For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man. But I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin, which is in my members” (vs. 22-23).
Before you become a conflicted Christian, you should remember that this battle is for your mind, not for your salvation, though you may think it is. While Christ’s work of salvation in us is complete, it’s not completely actualized in our lives because our old self still tries to dominate.
So, this inner struggle is about how you live out your salvation. And that starts in your mind. “So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:25, NASB).
Christians are citizens of both a present and future life. With our lives in this present world we are preparing for participation in eternity. Through the continual action of faith and obedience to Christ, our old life and our own will is supplanted by God’s Divine Life and Will. George Eldon Ladd says that a Christian is a person of two worlds who is destined to inherit the future Kingdom of God because he or she has already experienced its life and power in this present world!