I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.…
There is no word with which we are more familiar than "conflict." We see strife everywhere; amongst the elements of nature, the beasts and birds, nations and families. On the arena of political, mercantile, and social life there is ever a ceaseless conflict between opposing interests and wills. But there is no strife so severe as that which is carried on between the principles of good and evil in the soul.
I. THE GROUND OF THE CHRISTIAN'S COMPLAINT. "The law in his members," which —
1. Prevents him from attaining that standard of excellence which is presented before him in the Word of God. He "cannot do the things that he would." His desire is to be perfectly conformed to the law of God, but it is thwarted by corrupt inclinations, and often he is betrayed into acts which he bitterly deplores.
2. Hinders the full development of his spiritual life. Every Christian has the outline of Christ's image. Just as the oak is folded up within the acorn; just as the first beam of light is the sure precursor of noon; just as in the child there is the man, so in grace are all the elements of glory. The imperfection of Christ's image in the Christian arises solely from the corruptions of his nature; hence it is like the sun obscured by a mist, or a plant whose vitality is impaired by a poisonous atmosphere. The brightest light burns but dimly if the atmosphere is impure, and an instrument that is out of tune will give forth discordant notes, even though the hand of a master should sweep the chords. It is this corrupt nature that weakens your faith, contracts your knowledge, and damps your zeal.
3. It produces much mental distress. How can there be peace when there is constant warfare within? How can "a holy God" look with approval on beings so sinful? Hence doubt, discouragement, and fear. Moreover, anxiety is sometimes felt as to the result of the conflict.
II. THE SOURCE OF THE CHRISTIAN'S HOPE.
1. Deliverance from the power of evil comes to us from without, not from within. Sin never works its own cure, nor does the sinner ever release himself from its miserable bondage, A poison may lose its virulence, and for a broken or a wounded limb nature has a healing art. But who ever heard of sin dying out from the soul?
2. This deliverance is vouchsafed to us by God through Christ. In no other way can deliverance from the power of sin be achieved. A man who has nothing to oppose to temptation but the power of his will, or his fear of consequences, is like a man walking on thin ice. Christianity finds an infinite evil and proposes an infinite remedy. Beholding us under the dominion of sin, it provides for us release, for "if the Son make you free, ye shall be free indeed." And He does so through His Spirit. What we need is no external reformation, such as law or moral precepts effect, but an inward and spiritual change. And God alone can do this. It matters not what is the evil that you dread, by the grace of God you can overcome it.
3. This deliverance will be progressive and eventually final. There may be many an alternate victory and defeat; but courage, the work is begun, and perfect freedom will come at length.
(H. J. Gamble.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.