#DailyDevotion Christians Are Simultaneously Sinners & Saints
Romans 714We know the Law is spiritual, but I am flesh, sold to be a slave of sin. 15I am doing something strange, because I don’t do what I want to do, but I do what I hate. 16And if I do what I don’t want to do, I agree that the Law is right. 17It is really no longer I who am doing it, but sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. I’m willing, but I’m not doing what is right. 19I don’t do the good things I want to do, but I do the evil I don’t want to do. 20Now if I do what I don’t want to do, it is no longer I who am doing it but sin living in me.
Christians are in a bit of quandary. You think it’s confusing to us, you should what the world thinks about us. Here we are. We have been justified by faith, declared righteous for Christ’s sake, been made friends of God, died to sin and death and made alive through the waters of holy Baptism and yet here we are still sinning. It’s enough to drive a man crazy. How can this be?!
So, yes the Law is spiritual, i.e. it is from God, good and holy. I am spiritual. I have been born again of the Spirit in baptism in my inner man, according to the spirit. But I still have this albatross hanging around my neck called the flesh. These mortal coils of ours have been sold to be a slave of sin. The flesh, while the material is good, just as iron in rust is still good iron, is totally corrupted. It needs to undergo the purge of fire on the Last Day and be purified. Our sinful flesh is still with us after our regeneration, our rebirth by the Holy Spirit.
What is the result of that? We do something strange. We don’t do what we want to do according to the Gospel, the Spirit, which doing good and avoiding evil, which is what we love to do. No, our flesh receives the commandment and rebels. We do what we hate, i.e. breaking the commandment. We don’t want to sin. Our sinful flesh sometimes overcomes us. As our LORD Jesus Christ said, “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” We want to do the good and so the Law is right but we don’t. Instead we do what we hate. St. Paul concludes then it is no longer I who am doing the sinning but sin living in me.
Our flesh is totally corrupted by original sin. Therefore Paul says there is nothing good in me, that is my flesh. Unfortunately, my flesh is still part of me. I am sinning. But because my spirit is alive in Christ it isn’t I who am sinning but the sin in me overcoming me and expressing itself. It is so because God wants the sin in me to seen as it truly is, utterly sinful. Otherwise, while in this body, we might start thinking that we are good enough. Paul says in 2 Cor. 127 “To keep me from feeling proud because such wonderful things were revealed to me, a thorn was put into my flesh, Satan’s messenger to plague me and keep me from feeling proud. 8Three times I begged the Lord to have it leave me alone, but He told me, ‘My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, My power is doing its best work.’”
As a result, we can never, ever, never, ever rely on our good works or our ‘sanctification’ or anything we do or are according to our natural self as our standing before God. Even our good works we do, wrought by the Holy Spirit become tinged by sin as we do these works in and through our sinful flesh. No, we may only rely upon the grace of God in Christ Jesus for our standing before God. We must always stand before God humbly in the righteousness of Jesus. Jesus alone and solely his righteousness is our boasts before the LORD of hosts. Jesus alone and solely is our confidence. It is only in his merits that can give us comfort on this side of the veil.
Heavenly Father, while we are still in this sinful flesh have mercy upon us and do not count our sins against us, but for the sake of your son Jesus Christ let us stand in your grace and be comforted and strengthened by the forgiveness of sin. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.