I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.…
A "law" here means an habitual thing: as we speak of the laws of nature, the laws of electricity, etc.
I. THE LAW OF THE NEW MAN.
1. The Christian "would do good," etc. The desires are an index of the affections. If a man loves a thing he desires that thing. The mother parted from her child desires her child again; the patriot, far from his country, desires and seeks to return to it. The child of God would do good, not merely to escape hell, but because he has a love for holiness.
2. He delights in what is good (ver. 22). "O how I love Thy law!" is the language of all the children of God. What excites the repugnance of the unrenewed mind is delightful to the new mind. "I love it, though my utmost efforts only show me how far I come short of its perfection; I welcome it, though it condemns, and I long to wake up after its perfect image."
3. He actually does good. We have no right to use a lower language than God uses; and therefore every child of God is called upon to do good, and may do good, and God is well pleased with the good he does. God hears the prayers and praises of His people, and has complacency in them. God marks the labours of love of His people, and will reward them. As far as anything we do is of the new nature it is good, for whatever is of the Spirit is spiritual, and whatever springs from the new nature is of God; "for we are His workmanship, created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works." And not only so, but being a law, it lasts, and being lasting, he will persevere in doing good. "He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved."
II. But that the Christian may know the conflict he is to maintain, let us look at THE LAW OF THE OLD MAN. "I find a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me."
1. Now this is not the mere sense of natural conscience that now and then reproves and then evil inclinations rise and burst like the waters when they are dammed up; for the spiritual conflict issues in habitual, I do not say invariable, victory. If a man were all holy, as he will be in heaven, there would be no conflict; but if a man is a heavenly scion grafted by the Spirit upon the old nature, so that the old stem is still corrupt, whilst the new branches of the new tree are holy, and therefore their fruit good, then there will remain the old stem. Still in the old man the imaginations, desires, affections, motives, are always downward, earthward, sinward; the desires, aspirations, affections, hopes of the new man are pure and heavenward and Godward: so you have the man as he was, and the new man as through grace he is. No man this side of heaven is out of the reach of sin and out of the danger of temptation. Opportunity acting upon sinful inclination may lead the best of men to fall into sin.
2. Then we have an evil world. This world which is ever about us, in our families, relationships, business; the world with all its show and pride, tempting some with its pleasures, baiting the hook for others with its riches, how tempting a world it is — when the Christian would do good it is present with him.
3. And when the believer would do good, the evil spirit is present with him. Satan with his emissaries is trying to hinder, harass, and destroy.Conclusion:
1. Does not this teach us that we have constantly to watch and pray, that we enter not into temptation? If you have not looked upon your Christian life as a conflict, you have not taken a right view of it.
2. And then, is there not in all this an encouragement to go continually to Him in whom we have righteousness and strength? "If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father," etc.
Parallel VersesKJV: I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.