A reflection on Romans 7:21-25
“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”
I love this statement, question and answer by Paul. “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Paul knew something about himself that is true about all of us. As religious as his life had been, seeking to do the right and avoid the wrong – he knew that his own heart was full of wrong in the eyes of God, who knows all.
His wrong motivations and self-seeking heart were never far away. In fact he says elsewhere, ‘by works of the of law no one will be justified’. No person on earth will stand before God and be righteous – or right in God’s eyes – by their own performance. Not you, not me, not Paul, not the Pope. Our deeds are like a polluted garment in God’s eyes.
The problem for us is that God sees our heart and he knows all the actions, words and thoughts that we would not want repeated to our best friend. He knows everything about us. And so who will deliver us from this body of death? What hope is there for me if there is no hope for the most religious to be made right with God by all their ‘good’ works?
Paul answers his own question with the most beautiful words… “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”…. “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”The only hope that we have for full forgiveness and peace with God, for relationship and eternal joy in God. Our only hope is Jesus Christ.
Jesus died for our wrongdoing, our ‘polluted garments’. All of it… everything… He died so that by faith in Him we are given His own perfect righteousness as our garment to put on. In Christ the sinner is forgiven, freed and found righteous in Him.
All of God’s unmerited gift. All of grace.