Winning the Battle

Do you struggle in your Christian walk? Do you get discouraged because you see the great difference between your character and the character of Christ? Do you feel that you can never “win” the battle?

Recognizing our sinfulness is a good sign, because it demonstrates that we have some understanding of the beauty of Christ’s character. And it seems that if we struggle, we are in good company for Paul writes in Romans 7:14-23:

Battle for the mind

Image © Lars Justinen from

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.

“Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”

While some see this as Paul sharing the struggle of every sinner before conversion, I’d like us to test that thesis. It seems to me that a good interpretation of a text must not only be consistent with the rest of the Bible, but it must also meet the practical test of experience. So let’s check it out against experience: Is the struggle with sin and self magically resolved at conversion?

Rather than the struggle being won at conversion, it seems to me that the struggle begins or intensifies, partly because Satan increases his efforts and partly because we are more aware of our sins. (Also see 1 Cor 9:27 and 1 Tim 6:12)

The Christian’s Two Natures

Paul writes in this passage, “I delight in the law of God according to the inward man,” (Romans 7:22). Who “delights in the law of God” − a converted person or an unconverted person?

Perhaps the key lies right in the beginning of the passage: “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” (Ro 7:14-15) Here Paul refers to the contrast between “carnal” and “spiritual.” At conversion, Christ implants a “new heart” or a new principle in the sinner, and this is what we call the “spiritual nature.” Thus the converted person lives with two natures which are in opposition to each other − the spiritual and the “carnal” or sinful nature.

Even as followers of Christ, when we look at the holy Law of God and try to obey it, we fail miserably, because of the natural “law” in our nature that tends towards sin. The “law in our members” (Ro 7:23) resides “in the flesh” (Ro 7:32), according to Paul. “The flesh”(KJV) is also translated as “sinful nature” in the NIV and other versions (Ro 7:32 NIV). So the struggle Paul is describing is the one between our spiritual nature, implanted by Christ, and our sinful nature which is naturally at war with the spirit of Christ. This natural tendency towards sin is a “rule” or “law” within us (Ro. 7:23).

I know what that’s like from experience. How about you?

And that’s why we struggle. The struggle begins when we are first drawn to Christ and sense the requirements of His Law and the holiness of His character. And it continues even after conversion, because conversion does not remove our sinful nature, since that would take away our opportunity to grow through choosing to obey. Instead, He gives us power to obey. Thus the sinful nature is with us till Christ returns to take His people home. (See 1 Cor 15:51-53)

Now a continual struggle and a continual failing does not make for a joyful Christian life, and it’s not what Christ designed for us. He said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11) If our joy is supposed to be “full” in Jesus, why is it that so many Christians go about with long faces while they struggle to become more like Jesus?

Solution in Christ Jesus

I think Paul gives us the solution to this dilemma in Romans 8:1 and on: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

While we all know this text, how do we put it into practice?

I believe it’s a matter of focus.

When we focus on the Law and seek to keep it, even “with the help of Christ,” we find ourselves failing so much that we get discouraged. A focus on obedience is a focus our performance − a focus on self. And yet, “The warfare against self is the greatest battle that was ever fought. The yielding of self, surrendering all to the will of God, requires a struggle …” (Ellen White, Steps to Christ, p. 43) It hardly seems possible to fight against self while looking at self. In His own life, by contrast, Christ modeled self-forgetful love. To be “self-forgetful” we need to focus on something other than ourselves and our good or bad deeds.

By not focusing on our performance, but focusing on Christ and asking for His mind to be in us (Phil. 2:5), we experience the joy of the Lord, as we allow Him to live out His law in us.

Focusing on Jesus actually produces the change in us that makes us more like Him, while focusing on perfecting character does not. Christ wants to “abide” in Him (John 15:4-7), because we can do nothing without Him. “Abiding” has the sense of staying in relationship with Him.

Focusing on the law is like focusing on the mirror. Now, looking in the mirror once in a while to make sure we are presentable is normal. But to keep standing in front of the mirror would brand anyone as a lunatic. By contrast, Paul counsels us to “examine ourselves” (2 Cor 13:4) to make sure we are still “in the faith” − that is, in relationship with Jesus. When we fall into sin − in thought, word, or action − we need to check our relationship with Jesus, rather than trying harder to keep the Law.

Abiding in Christ

I believe that an “abiding” relationship with Christ is nurtured as we nurture any other relationship. We set aside time with Him to talk to Him in prayer and listen to Him through His Word, as we keep our minds open to the Spirit’s direct impressions. Just as working on a common project is one of the best ways to grow a human relationship, so it is in our relationship with Christ. As we do the things He wants done on this planet, our relationship with Him grows, and we become more like Him. This counsel has been a great help to me:

Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. You cannot control your thoughts, your impulses, your affections. … What you need to understand is the true force of the will. … The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. (Ellen White, Steps to Christ, p. 47)

Whichever nature we choose to feed will become stronger.  If we spend the week feeding our “carnal” nature and feed our spiritual nature only on Sabbath, it’s no wonder that the sinful nature remains strong.

We need to choose to nurture our relationship with  Christ every day. Paul wrote that we are saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8). And faith is a relationship word, because it means full and complete trust − enough trust to allow Christ full control over our lives.

When We Fail

Does focusing on Christ and nurturing a relationship with Him mean we never fall again? No, but when we fall, we look right back to Christ, and while we confess our sin and helplessness, knowing He will forgive us, we reach out a hand to let Him pick us up again. He does not forsake us when we fall, but is ever read to pick us up again – just as mothers and fathers do with their own children.

We shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes, but we are not to be discouraged. Even if we are overcome by the enemy, we are not cast off, not forsaken and rejected of God. No; Christ is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (Ellen White, Steps to Christ, p. 64)

The more we practice focusing on Christ, the more constant our walk with Him will be, until we see Him face to face. But the struggle does  not end until our corruptible bodies are exchanged for incorruptible ones (1 Cor 15:52-54).

So long as Satan reigns, we shall have self to subdue, besetting sins to overcome; so long as life shall last, there will be no stopping place, no point which we can reach and say, I have fully attained. (Ellen White, Acts of the Apostles, p. 560)

He who knows the end from the beginning is more interested in our attitude of trust towards Him than in the individual good deeds or bad deeds. It’s the direction of our life that counts. While the minister in the pulpit may look good to his congregation, he may be heading away from Christ, and the drug addict may look hopeless, but he may be in the process of responding to the redeeming love of Christ. In such a case, God can save the drug addict but not the minister because the minister is harboring doubt or self-confidence while the drug addict is crying out to Jesus for salvation. (See Steps to Christ, p. 57)

The difference between a focus on self or on Christ is profound. When we look at self, there’s no way we can be saved. When we look at Christ, there’s no way we can be lost. (Ro 8:39)

Looking at Christ, we can have a joyful Christian experience which is a source of strength for witness and for overcoming temptation. What Nehemia said to his people is still true today, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Neh 8:10) That’s why it is one of my favorite Bible texts.

May we all learn to walk joyfully with Jesus!

Note on 2014-05-21 at 11:07:57 AM: The discussion under this post is closed to arguments regarding at what stage in his experience Paul wrote about the conflict in Romans 7. Theological argumentation is not the purpose of this post.

But we welcome comments on the topic of “Winning the Battle.” Please share what has helped you win the battle in your life. The thesis of the blog article is that keeping our primary focus on Christ is the secret to overcoming sin in our lives and walking joyfully with Jesus. Focusing on Law, sin or perfection won’t do it.

What has been your experience? 

For further help see, the chapters, “Faith and Acceptance” and “Rejoicing in the Lord” in the book Steps to Christ, by Ellen White. (You’ll also find help in surrounding chapters.)



Winning the Battle — 74 Comments

  1. I support the view that the man of Romans' 7 is post-conversion. Support of this is found in Steps to Christ p. 19:"It is not enough to perceive the loving-kindness of God, to see the benevolence, the fatherly tenderness, of His character. It is not enough to discern the wisdom and justice of His law, to see that it is founded upon the eternal principle of love. Paul the apostle saw all this when he exclaimed, 'I consent unto the law that it is good.' 'The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.' But he added, in the bitterness of his soul-anguish and despair, "I am carnal, sold under sin." Romans 7:16, 12, 14. He longed for the purity, the righteousness, to which in himself he was powerless to attain, and cried out, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death?" Romans 7:24, margin. Such is the cry that has gone up from burdened hearts in all lands and in all ages. To all, there is but one answer, 'Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.' John 1:29." {SC 19.1}
    I have a serious problem however, when Anderson says that it is not until our corruptible vile bodies changed then we are free from sin. The problem with sin is not biological but spiritual. From the day we were born we inherited the spirit of disobedience (Ephesians 2: 1,2.) Though Paul talks about there is a law of sin in his flesh which wars against the law in his mind (Rom. 7:18, 23), flesh here does not mean the biological man. The same writer says those who are in the flesh cannot please God(Rom 8:8). If flesh means the physical man then not even Jesus could please God. Flesh just means the sinful nature.
    Jesus came in the same flesh and blood as we have it (Heb. 2:14-18). He had a mortal body and a body subject to corruption. But coming in the likeness of sinful flesh/sinful nature (Rom. 8:3) never made Jesus a sinner. A sinner is one who has spiritual nature that is not subject to the law of God and is at enmity with God (Rom. 8:7). Jesus never had that nature though He came in the LIKENESS of sinful nature.
    So sin is not a problem of the flesh, the mortal corruptible vile body, but it's a problem of the mind. Yes sin has warped our biological nature but that's the effects of sin. Jesus had a weakened biological nature making Him subject to hunger, weariness, mental exhaustion, etc. but those were only the effects of sin. Having the effects of sin upon Him this did not make Jesus a sinner but only an excellent example of One who is touched with the feelings of our infirmities.
    All our praise, our prayers, our worship, our best of works need the sweet perfume of Jesus' grace to mediate so that they can be accepted before God (1SM 344). It is because of our corrupt spiritual channels through which they come why we need a mediator. Jesus never need a mediator because His nature was pure, holy harmless, and undefiled (Heb. 7:26). But when Jesus ceases His work of mediation then we must have the character of Christ perfectly reproduced in us (which will be done by the Latter Rain power of the Holy Spirit) before we can stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Jesus will present His church spotless, without wrinkle and without blemish. This is the purpose of the pre-advent judgment--to take away the dominion of Satan and for God to bless us with the blotting out of sins

    • Thank you for your comment, Patrick. I am glad we are in agreement on my foundational thesis. However, I would not be comfortable basing my conclusion mainly on the quotation from Steps to Christ. Others appear to conclude that Paul was referring to his pre-conversion experience.

      While I am in general agreement with most of what you say, I am wondering where you see me saying "that it is not until our corruptible vile bodies changed then we are free from sin." (I re-read my post and cannot find such a statement.)

      I do say that our "sinful nature" will be with us till Christ returns, but I don't see having a "sinful nature"/carnal nature as the same as continuing to sin. Do you?

      I am wondering what you think Paul means by "I am carnal, sold under sin."

      And what do you think he means by "the law of sin which is in my members"?

      • Thanks Inge for your response. Maybe I lack the clarity of your statement. Base on what you wrote it would seem that our sinful nature, the nature we were born with which makes us sinners, remains until Jesus comes. Now let me respond to the question ask about sinning. We will not be still sinning when Jesus comes. I think we are on the same page with that. But stop sinning is not enough for Jesus to complete His intercession in the sanctuary.

        If we possess the carnal nature up to Christ coming then we would still need His mediation to purify all our good works. We are sinners not just because of committing sin. We sin because we are sinners by nature. When will Jesus cease His mediation? It is after the blotting out of sin and the sealing of God's people. Then they will have the spotless robe of Christ righteousness. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, the Latter Rain. The saints will stand in Christ righteousness. It is gift from Jesus as is seen in the vision of Joshua and the Angel (Zech. 3.)

        So having the saints with spotless characters does not mean they are standing in their own strength in their own righteousness. Just as how when they are in heaven with spotless characters they will be following the Lamb wherever He goes. Their eternal perfection is dependent on their close relationship with God whether on earth or on in heaven. Only God alone is holy on His own as how only God alone is immortal on His own.

        Let me emphasize this point: sinful nature means the carnal nature that is at enmity with God. This must be removed before Jesus comes. It is the final atonement, the complete removal of spiritual rebellion from our heart, the complete fulfillment of the new covenant of God's law fully inscribed in our minds, the seal of the living God, God's charater. This sinful carnal nature is with us right through our conversion. But in the end-time judgment of those alive before Jesus comes this nature must be removed for the saints to stand in the awesome time of trouble without a mediator. This not the case for those who in die in Lord before the time of trouble of Daniel 12. As James White says to die in the Lord is not the same experientially to be alive in the full blast of the 7 last plagues and to be without a mediator. The saints will still need grace in the time of trouble in their spotless state. But this is not forgiving grace but sustaining grace even that grace the spotless Son God needed to grow in character (See Luke 2:40; Heb. 5: 7-9).

        • Patrick, when you say the carnal nature must be "removed", do you mean "overcome"? Nothing is removed until Jesus appears and we are changed, but we can gain the victory that Jesus gained. When did He gain it? While in the garden of Gethsemane, in the judgement hall, being nailed to a cross and up until He said "It is finished!" Satan will tempt the people of God until the voice of God announces their deliverance. Temptation to doubt will be more than we could ever imagine now, but faith will meet these temptations and the final victory gained by those who were once sinners. This is the promise of God.

          Jesus was not glorified in body and mind until His resurrection, and God's people will be glorified when Jesus appears, and not before. The sinful nature, though subdued, will remain until that glorious moment, but will have no power over the faith and patience of the Saints.

          Jesus makes specific promises to "those that overcome", not those who are glorified. Yes, we are sinners because of our nature, but through God's grace, we are only guilty if we sin. Sinners can overcome the sinful nature they were born with through the Gospel, "which is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes".

        • Thank you for your reply, Patrick.

          I particularly appreciate this paragraph:

          "So having the saints with spotless characters does not mean they are standing in their own strength in their own righteousness. Just as how when they are in heaven with spotless characters they will be following the Lamb wherever He goes. Their eternal perfection is dependent on their close relationship with God whether on earth or on in heaven. Only God alone is holy on His own as how only God alone is immortal on His own.

          That's how I see it. Our relationship with Christ in heaven will not be less than it is on earth. If we are fully dependent on Him here - and that's the only way we will be saved - we will still be fully dependent on Him in eternity.

          As I see it, it was by looking to himself and seeking to develop his independence that Lucifer became Satan.

          You also wrote:

          This sinful carnal nature is with us right through our conversion. But in the end-time judgment of those alive before Jesus comes this nature must be removed for the saints to stand in the awesome time of trouble without a mediator.

          I would appreciate your sharing where you got that idea, because I cannot think of any Scripture that teaches this.

          The way I see it, the saints will depend so completely on Christ, that the world can offer nothing that will entice them. They have "starved" their sinful nature and nurtured their relationship with Christ to the extent that they reflect His character. But I don't see God doing anything supernatural to "remove" the sinful nature.

    • Patrick, I also wonder whether you believe that at the end of time the saints will have to stand in their own righteousness without the power of the Holy Spirit?

      • Inge,
        Your article was right on target! Thank God for Romans 7. Romans 7 provides honesty for the Christian. There are those who struggle and those who, in my humble opinion, lie about it. God accepts me in my struggle and that's why Romans 8:1.

        Romans 7: Pre-conversion, post-conversion. Let each man be convinced in his own mind.

      • Please let me respond to the issue of the removal of the carnal nature. I am going run the risk of repeating myself but please bear with me.It is because of the carnal nature, our spiritual nature why our prayers, praise, all good works do not ascend spotless before God. For these to be pure Jesus must apply His blood, His merits. It is because of our sinful nature why all our best works are contaminated. (Please see 1 Selected Messages 344.)We need the intercession Jesus because of our sinful nature. Our sinful nature contaminates everything we do (1 Selected Messages 344; Isa. 64:6) If the sinful nature is not removed then the ministry of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary will be forever. Now the text to prove our sinful carnal nature will be removed is in Zechariah 3:1-7. This passage is applicable to our daily experience. But Ellen White says Zechariah is applicable with peculiar force to the end-time church in the judgment (5 Testimonies to the Church, p. 472). Joshua comes to the tribunal with filthy garments. After the Angel of the Lord's mediation the command is given to take away (remove) filthy garments (Zech. 3:4-5). The filthy garments is best of our deeds, our righteousness which are filthy rags (Isa.64:6). It is in the judgment this happens. This is the blessing of the latter rain (yet to come) This is the work of the final atonement Jesus must do before He comes. This work of final atonement is not understood by the vast majority of Christians, unfortunately many Adventists also. This is what sets us apart from the vast majority in Christendom. Many do not understand that the three angels message is to prepare a people to stand in the sight of God without mediator. What does this mean? I am repeating myself: we must have our characters spotless so that our prayers, our praise, our worship and all our best deeds will go to throne room of God during the time of the plagues, the close of probation, without a taint of sin. At the coming of Christ there will be no change in our character, no moral change. The only change will be in our body (1 Cor. 15:53-54). We cannot come up to the coming of Jesus subduing our sinful nature otherwise we will not be able to look in the face of God at His coming. We will not be able to bear His glory. The change of our moral image will be an act of grace as in the parable of Joshua and the Angel of the Lord. God's seal, His character which will be stamped in the minds of His people (Rev. 14: 1-5). The saints of God will still be tempted, they will still grow in grace as Jesus but their characters will be sinless. Ellen White says:"Those only through faith in Christ obey all of God’s commandments will reach the condition of sinlessness in which Adam lived before his transgression. They testify to the their love of Christ by obeying all His precepts." {6 SDA Bibe Commentary, p. 1118} It is after Jesus purifies His church then He will come back. Again the same writer says: "The Christian life is constantly an onward march. Jesus sits as a refiner and purifier of His people; and when His image is perfectly reproduced in them, they are perfect and holy, and prepared for translation." {1 Testimonies to the Church, p. 340}It is the latter rain that will complete the perfection in the souls of God's people. Mrs. White remarks: "Unless the early showers have done their work, the latter rain can bring no seed to perfection." {Testimonies to Ministers 506} The finishing work of perfection is God's act not man's. This is righteousness by faith, the third angel's message in verity. Only those who overcome by faith in their daily walk with God will receive the blessing of the judgment, the blotting out of sin, the refreshing from the presence of the Lord, the latter rain (Acts 3:19). Then Jesus will come (Acts 3:20).

        • There will always be a tension between faith and works in the Christian life. The two form a line that is not always easy to define. To me the crux of the matter lies in the purpose for which we do what we do. If the purpose of our works is to gain favor with God so that He will be happy with us and in turn save us then we are involved in working (buying) our way into Heaven which Paul condemns as useless. It fails for several reasons.

          If on the other hand we choose to do what Jesus asks us because we love Him and want to be like Him then that is different. If we have that mind set then we will also realize that we can't do it on our own and will choose to yoke up to Christ (have a relationship with Him) to do in us what we would like to become.

          The problem is that the closer we come to Jesus the more of a difference we see between what He is and what we are. What we need to know is that God is infinite in all dimensions including love. That He is something we will never fully become because He is unique in the universe with a character that can be imitated to a degree but never duplicated. If it were not so then we could become God which is something that can never happen.

          As I said earlier if we are justified we are considered sinless and accepted in Heaven. We do the good works not to be saved but because we are saved and want to fit into the kingdom of God as good citizens.

        • Tyler, you present two options that are identical. Working to please God or working out of love for Jesus...both are us working. Either is impossible. We surrender and the Spirit "works in us to will and do of His good pleasure". We can take no credit. It's "not by might nor by power, but by [God's] Spirit" who works out God's will in the surrendered soul.

          We, of ourselves, can do nothing. We must surrender before anything good can happen in our lives. No motive is sufficient that would lead US to do anything good. This is the focus of Paul in Romans 6-8. The flesh is weak and erring, period. Only by the Spirit will we do anything righteous as Paul writes: "that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

          No tension between truth faith and the resulting works. They are in perfect harmony. The faith that leads to justification will lead to sanctification.

        • Robert, I don't think anyone is arguing whether or not we can do anything on our own. We all know that we can't, don't we?

        • That might seem a safe assumption Tyler, but if it's not stated clearly, other conclusions could be made. You don't know who is reading these comments or what their understanding or experience is.

          The only "argument" I would make is that our works must be the results of a Spirit-filled life and experience, as the result of a transformation wrought by the power of God in all who receive Jesus. (John 1:12)

        • Patrick, I would like to address your comment on the removal of the carnal nature from us prior to being glorified at Jesus' return. You cite Zechariah 3 as evidence of this, yet what is the subject of that vision? It seems to me that Joshua's rags were removed and replaced by a "change" of clothes, with a miter placed upon his head. None of those symbols refer to the carnal nature, only the works of the flesh that result when the carnal nature is allowed to rule our lives. Until we die, we cannot remove our nature, but by God's grace we can overcome it.

          What is presented in Zechariah is justification/sanctification (they are a package deal, not separate options) which show victory over the carnal nature we are born with by the power of God's Spirit (Zech 4:6) and not by God removing our choice through the removal of our natural nature. Notice what Jesus says AFTER the new clothes are placed on Joshua: "Thus saith the LORD of hosts; IF thou wilt walk in my ways, and IF thou wilt keep my charge, THEN thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by."

          Yes, I emphasized the IF's and THEN to help see the conditions of the promise being made to a man who still had the power to choose. The carnal nature remains until the final change comes to all who are fixed in their faith and remain unshakable in the final test of their faith in Christ. Though this nature remains, we can have complete victory over it. This is the meaning of passages such as Gal 2:20, Phil 2:5-8, Eph 4:2,3, and so many more. All the "IF's" in God's word show the choice remains, which means the carnal nature is not removed. Even in heaven, with a glorified body and restored character, choice will remain, and the carnal nature is one choice away from living again.

  2. Woooooow !
    thank God for letting you post this comfort words. I am sure and felt it was directly wrote for me. I really needed this words at this moment, for i was imprisoned and chained, thinking i could release myslef but how was i going to do that if both hands were chained?
    I needed the only One holding the key. The man, friend, comforter, creator and Redeemer Christ ........ Focus on the One who died not only for the sins you have done but for the sins you will do!

  3. The following is anexcerpt from E J Waggoners "Articles on Romans".
    A Slave. "But I am carnal, sold under sin." One who is sold is a slave; and the evidence of the slavery in this instance is very plain. Free men do that which they wish to do. Only slaves do that which they do not wish to do, and are continually prevented from doing what they wish to do. "For that which I do, I allow not; for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I." A more disagreeable position can not be imagined. Life in such a state can be only a burden.
    Convicted, but Not Converted. "If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good." The fact that we do not wish to do the sins that we are committing shows that we acknowledge the righteousness of the law which forbids them. But conviction is not conversion, although a very necessary step to that condition. It is not enough to wish to do right. The blessing is pronounced upon those who do his commandments, and not upon those who wish to do them, or who even try to do them. Indeed, if there were no higher position for a professed follower of the Lord than that described in these verses, he would be in a far worse condition than the careless sinner. Both are slaves, only the latter is so hardened that he finds pleasure in his slavery.
    Now if one must all his life be a slave, it is better for him to be unconscious of his bondage than to be continually fretting over it. But there is something better; therefore it is a blessing that we are convicted of sin, and that our slavery is thereby made as disagreeable as possible.
    Two "Laws." "I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man; but I see another law in my members, waring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." Compare this with verse 5.
    Remember also that all this is written to them that know the law. It is not addressed to the heathen who have not the law, but to those who profess to know God. While knowing the law, we are united in marriage to sin. This sin is in our flesh, since they who are married are one flesh. It is the law that witnesses to the fact that we are sinners, and that will not grant us any escape from it. But we are slaves. Whosoever commits sin is the slave of sin. John 8:34. Therefore it is that the law that will not let us be anything but what we are, is really holding us in bondage. While we are in that condition, it is not to us a law of liberty.
    A Body of Death. We are joined in marriage to sin. But sin has in it death; for "the sting of death is sin." Sin is that with which death kills us. Therefore the body of sin, to which we are joined when in the flesh, is but a body of death. What a terrible condition! Joined in such close union that we are one flesh with that which is in itself death. A living death!
    And "the strength of sin is the law." It witnesses to our union, and thus holds us in that bondage of death. If there were no hope of escape, we might curse the law for not allowing us to die in ignorance. But although the law seems to be pitiless, it is nevertheless our best friend. It holds us to a sense of the
    Articles on Romans by E.J Waggoner
    dreadfulness of our bondage until in anguish we cry out, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?' We must be delivered, or we perish.
    There Is a Deliverer. The pagan proverb has it that God helps those who help themselves. The truth is that God helps those who can not help themselves: "I was brought low, and he helped me." No one ever cries in vain for help. When the cry goes up for help, the Deliverer is at hand; and so, although sin is working death in us by all the power of the law, we may exclaim, "Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 15:57. "There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob." Rom. 11:26. "Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities." Acts 3:26. "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift."
    A Divided Man. "So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." That is, of course, while in the condition described in the preceding verses. In purpose he serves the law of God, but in actual practice he serves the law of sin. As described in another place, "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye can not do the things that ye would." Gal. 5:17. It is not a state of actual service to God, because we read in our next chapter that "they that are in the flesh can not please God." It is a state from which one may well pray to be delivered, so that he can serve the Lord not merely with the mind, but with his whole being. "The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it." 1 Thess. 5:23, 24

    • Brendan, thank you for the article by E.J. Waggoner. Theologians have wrestled over Rom 7 for centuries, it is one of the most difficult things in Paul’s writings.

      To me there are several things I need to ask myself. First, am I now without sin? Obviously not! Has anyone in the Bible ever claimed to be without sin? Not that I am aware of and Ellen White didn’t know of any either. Did Ellen White unconditionally agree with everything Waggoner and Jones said? Not that I can find, what she did agree with was the general thesis of righteousness by faith as presented at the 1888 Minneapolis Convention. As for the entire convention she was very deeply disappointed with the lack of Christian love displayed in that meeting. Her main concern wasn’t so much over theology as it was over how people were disagreeing.

      Here is a quote from EGW that tells me a lot about her understanding of perfectionism:

      Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, or a day. It is a continual growth in grace. We know not one day how strong will be our conflict the next. Satan lives, and is active, and every day we need to earnestly cry to God for help and strength to resist him. As long as Satan reigns we shall have self to subdue, besetments to overcome, and there is no stopping place. There is no point to which we can come and say we have fully attained.{Review and Herald May 6, 1862, par. 25}

      I think what she says is exactly what Paul was saying.

      • Tyler I appreciate your response Brendan article. What I found interesting is the quotation from Review and Herald, May 6. 1862. I want to comment on the statement:
        "As long as Satan reigns we shall have self to subdue, besetments to overcome, and there is no stopping place. There is no point to which we can come and say we have fully attained." It is correct to say as long as Satan reigns we will have besetments to overcome. Contextually the statement is worded to say as long as Satan reigns. That's the context: the reigning of Satan. Will there be a time when Satan is no longer reigning in the lives of God's people. Yes! One of the purposes of the judgment of Daniel 7 is for the saints to take away Satan's dominion (Dan. 7: 26). This is the blessing of the judgment. This is the final atonement, the blotting out of sin. If the this statement is not properly understood then this means we will still have sin in our lives up to the time of Christ Coming. But we must conquer all sin in our lives before we can stand in the time of trouble such as never was and to stand in the 7 last plagues without a mediator. Man needs a mediator because of his overt and covert sins. If we are familiar with the statement that the in last day the saints will be living without a mediator in the time of trouble then it means they cannot still have besetting sins. Let me quote the servant of the Lord:
        "Those only through faith in Christ obey all of God’s commandments will reach the condition of sinlessness in which Adam lived before his transgression. They testify to the their love of Christ by obeying all His precepts." {6BC 1118}. This is not perfectionism which teaches that we will have holy flesh up to Christ coming. The doctrine of perfection as believed and taught by the Seventh-day Adventist is perfection of character and not perfection of the biological man.Permit me to leave one more quote:
        "The prince of this world cometh," said Jesus, "and hath nothing in Me." John 14:30. There was in Him nothing that responded to Satan's sophistry. He did not consent to sin. Not even by a thought did He yield to temptation. So it may be with us. Christ's humanity was united with divinity; He was fitted for the conflict by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. (DA p. 123)

        • Patrick, in focusing on the first part of the EGW quote you argue that there will be a point in a person's life when Satan no longer reigns but is she referring to the individual or to this world? I think we should also consider the rest of the quote. "There is no point to which we can come and say we have fully attained." That was Paul's experience during the last part of his life, "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:12-14 NKJV). Peter also tells us, "but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Pet. 3:18 NKJV) which is essentially what Ellen White says in the same page as her quote above, "Jesus considered as a man was perfect. Yet he grew in grace. Luke 2:52: 'And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.' Even the most perfect Christian may increase continually in the knowledge and love of God" (Review and Herald, May 6, 1862 par. 22). And as she says in the next paragraph, "Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, or a day. It is a continual growth in grace."

          Anyone who has looked into the royal law and has discerned the immense depth to which it goes is not fooled in thinking that he is anywhere close to being perfect. Those who do will usually end up as Isaiah did exclaiming, "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts" (Isa. 6:5 NKJV). Or like Peter, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" (Lk. 5:8 NKJV). Usually they are trembling because they realize how sinful they really are and see the great gulf that lies between them and the perfect, righteous God.

          The question is, how perfect is perfect especially when Jesus said, "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48 NKJV) and God is infinitely so. Because of all of this to me the only way any of that will happen is by justification that imputes the righteousness of Christ to us and the indwelling Spirit who works in us sanctification. As Peter said, "through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Pet. 1:3-4 NKJV). "I have been crucified with Christ; 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. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain." (Gal. 2:20-21 NKJV)

        • Patrick, you also refer to Christ as the mediator as scripture says, "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2:5 NKJV). Now I would like to ask what the obvious purpose is for mediation as presented in the Bible.

          I ask this not to be cute but as an honest question. What relation does Jesus have to the Father? When He said, "I and My Father are one" (Jn. 10:30 NKJV) and told Philip, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (Jn. 14:9 NKJV) are they not together on everything? But what is mediation? Isn't it a third disinterested party that brings two other parties together? But isn't Jesus essentially one of the other parties being of the same mind as the Father and part of the Godhead?

          I am, therefore, wondering if the subject of the mediator isn't a literary vehicle to reconcile us to God, the one who we as sinners usually fear and run from. If it is then when we stop fearing and "come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:16 NKJV) there will be no need of a mediator, a friend that introduces us to the Father (Jn 16:27) that tells us not to fear but to have faith in God's love toward us.

          In my view there is yet another function for a mediator. It is the same reason we are judged by the inhabitants of Heaven even though God has already judged due to His perfect foreknowledge of us before we are even born. Those in Heaven have questions about us with respect to the security of their homes. They are being asked to accept people who have murdered, raped, coveted, and stolen from others. So God must mediate between us and those beings who are fearful that we may do to them what we have done to others here on earth.

          When probation closes all the decisions will have been made and the saved will be accepted in Heaven because they have been convinced that we are actually safe to save. So, at that point there is no need to convince anyone, thus no need of a mediator.

          To me it is not a matter of Jesus holding back the wrathful hand of the father as though the Lord loves us but the Father doesn't. They both are operating on the same page and are unified in their love and care for fallen humanity. In my opinion, therefore, the mediation is really not about one hand holding back the other but about love and acceptance among God's created beings in a controversy that has really messed up relationships.

    • Thank you, Brendan, for bringing us Dr. Waggoner's views on the subject. I would love to engage him in conversation on this, since the main emphasis in most of his writings is the same as mine, as far as I understand it - that the answer to the sin dilemma is found only in trusting completely to the righteousness of Christ, not by focusing on keeping the law. In fact, he wrote a couple of books specifically on the topic, "Christ and His Righteousness," and "The Glad Tidings."

      Since Dr. Waggoner is not around to answer some of the questions I posed, and you have posted what he has written, perhaps you can supply the answers:

      Does an unconverted person "delight in the law of God according to the inner man"?

      Does conversion result in an end to the struggle?

      Who or what is "another law in my members"?

      In actual practice, what brings about the joy that Christ promised to us?

      • Inge, your questions on the issue of being converted suggest that conversion is about acknowledging truth. To conclude that God's word is right.

        Won't every sinner confess this at the end? Are they converted or simply convinced? Could someone desire and hope to be a Christian without ever really becoming one? Is it possible to be won by argument and not be converted?

        So what then is true conversion?

        I have another comment in progress and will share it soon. I will suggest some ideas about conversion as well.

        • No, Robert, I do not mean to suggest that conversion is intellectual assent to the truth of God's Word.

          I believe that conversion is synonymous with the new birth which implants a new heart (new desires, new preferences) in the sinner. The natural mind is not in harmony with the God or His law. (See Ro 8:7) Thus I see "delight" in the law of God as evidence of conversion or evidence of this transformation of heart.

        • To me conversion is a change in direction, a decision to accept Christ as Lord of one's life that he/she didn't do before. It is not a matter of fearfully admitting that God is right while yet rebelling against His government at the same time. At the end the lost will know that they are wrong but will have no desire to change.

          In my opinion that is the difference, the repentant sinner chooses to change while the confirmed sinner does not.

  4. I find myself troubled by some of the thoughts shared in this commentary, and for several reasons:

    For starters, to equate the dilemma of the man depicted in Romans 7:14-25 with the daily struggle of the converted Christian, runs counter to a number of other statements made elsewhere by the apostle Paul. The following points would seem to make this evident:

    1. The man of Romans 7 declares himself in "captivity to the law of sin which is in my members" (Rom. 7:23). Yet in the following chapter Paul writes, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8:2). What is more, Paul writes in another epistle of how the Christian's weapons of warfare result in "casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (II Cor. 10:5).

    2. The man of Romans 7 cries out, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (verse 24). Yet Paul writes in another epistle, "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection" (I Cor. 9:27). In Roman 7 the body and the law of sin are clearly IN control, while in Romans 8, First Corinthians 9, and Second Corinthians 10, the body and even one's thoughts are UNDER the control of Christ and the principles of sanctified obedience.

    3. Galatians chapter 5 uses the same language as Paul uses in Romans 7, in at least one verse: "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would" (Gal. 5:17). Yet Paul continues, as he does in Romans 8, by offering a way of escape from otherwise unavoidable defeat. He goes on to list the fruits of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21), then the fruits of the Spirit (verses 22-23), and then he writes:

    "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts" (verse 24).

    The flesh is clearly not crucified in Romans 7, but most assuredly it is in Romans 8 and Galatians 5, as well as in the other passages we have noted.

    It helps to keep in mind that the man of Romans 7 is not just struggling, as all Christians do. He is losing, constantly. There is no victory in Romans 7, only bondage. If the man portrayed here were stated to be experiencing spiritual victory and progress interspersed with occasional defeat, we can fairly say it was a description of the struggling but advancing Christian. But there is no victory in this chapter at all. The flesh and the law of sin are in total control. That is not the experience of one who is fully surrendered and empowered by the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Yes, Ellen White speaks in a statement cited in this column of how struggle in the Christian life will be constant till the coming of Jesus (AA 560-561). But this does not imply, as some allege, that she envisions occasional defeat to be the inevitable lot of the Christian so long as life shall last. As the Allied armies learned the hard way in World War II, constant battle doesn't necessarily mean occasional loss. From the invasion of Normandy in June 1944 to the surrender of the Germans on May 7, 1945, from the aftermath of Stalingrad to the conquest of Berlin on the Russian front, it was a series of uninterrupted victories. But it also involved the heaviest fighting of the war. The same is true with the Christian who nears the end of time.

    Finally, the phrase "even with the help of Christ," as a reference to Christian victory, enclosed in dismissive quotation marks, causes me the greatest concern of all. The implication is that victory remains impossible for the believer even when fully surrendered to Jesus and claiming His power for the struggle against temptation. The difference, according to inspired counsel, between struggling in our own strength and struggling through God's strength, is like night and day. Which is why the apostle Paul declares in still another passage:

    "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (II Cor. 7:1).

    All of us, at one time or another, have met victorious Christians---persons once addicted to hurtful substances, sexual immorality, racial hatred, and much more, who through God's grace have left such practices and ideologies completely behind. If indeed God can give men and women such triumph over these obviously destructive practices and worldviews, surely He can do the same for those who struggle with the more "fashionable" sins of pride, impatience, irritability, gossip, and a whole lot more.

    • Kevin, thanks for your comment. I do wish you'd read to the end of the post to see the solution to the dilemma posed in the introductory texts.

      I would ask you, as I asked others: What is "the law in my members"?

      How can an unconverted person under the control of sin truly "delight in the law of God according to the inward man"? The description of "delight in the law" describes the incarnate Christ. (Ps 40:8) How can it also describe an unconverted person?

      Do you agree or disagree with my main thesis that a focus on the Law does not bring victory - that only faith (i.e. full trust) in Christ brings victory? On what basis do you agree or disagree?

      It seems to me that "faith" is relationship language. And relationship is what Christ modeled in His own life through His unbroken connection with the Father.

      You wrote, "Finally, the phrase "even with the help of Christ," as a reference to Christian victory ... causes me the greatest concern of all. The implication is that victory remains impossible for the believer even when fully surrendered to Jesus and claiming His power for the struggle against temptation."

      The implication you find is not what I wrote or implied. In fact even the title of my post is "Winning the Battle." The context of the words you quote is on "When we focus on the Law and seek to keep it, even 'with the help of Christ,' we find ourselves failing." That is not language that focuses on Christ, but language that focuses on individual effort "with the help of Christ," and since it is a focus on human effort, it is ultimately a focus on self, and not a focus on Christ.

      A believer who is "fully surrendered to Christ" trusts in Christ and His righteousness, and not on his/her own efforts. It is not obedience "with the help of Christ," but it is "Christ in me, the hope of glory." (Col 1:27) It is "not I but Christ." (Gal 2:20 KJV. See also Eph 2:10) The ongoing relationship is what brings victory, because Christ works out His righteousness through the believer. The difference may seem subtle, but it is the difference between a failing and fault-finding Christian and a faith-filled joyful Christian.

      Or so it has been in my experience, and that's what I see Paul sharing in Romans 7 and Romans 8.

      Because of my own experience, I tend to think that we cannot truly appreciate the grace of Christ unless we have first spent some time in the wilderness of legalism, which is "dry as the hills of Gilboa which see neither dew nor rain." After such an experience, learning to have a faith relationship with Christ that focuses on His righteousness, rather than my own efforts has been truly liberating and the source of genuine peace and joy.

      Perhaps you can share how you experience the fullness of joy Christ promised to His followers?

  5. Very interesting thoughts that everyone has shared. I'd like to add the following for everyone to consider as we seek to understand this topic better.

    Faith comes by hearing Romans 10:17 - Faith comes from a relationship with God through His Word.

    "He who has not sufficient faith in Christ to believe that he can keep him from sinning, has not the faith that will give him an entrance into the kingdom of God." – {RH March 10, 1904 Par. 26}

    Jude 1:24
    "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy..."

    My little children, these things write I unto you, that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:"
    (1 John 2:1)

    "...forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
    (Philippians 3:13-14)

    May God help each of us to better understand Him as we continue to learn about this topic.

  6. Dear Inge:

    As it is late already, and I am in the midst of a revival series in one of my former New York districts, my time is limited. But I will offer a few thoughts in reply to your recent post.

    First of all, there are multitudes of unconverted, non-Christian people who "delight in the law of God after the inward man,"---that is, they know it's wrong to do what they do and would love to find a better way. But without Christ, they are helpless. How many users of alcohol, tobacco, pornography, and much more know they should change, but lack the power because they don't make a full surrender to the grace and mercy of our Lord?

    Regarding "the law of sin in my members," this is---at least as Paul is using the term here---a nature that has learned to practice and expect to sin, and knows no other course. This is the chosen condition of all who choose not to follow Christ, as Paul failed to do prior to his trip to Damascus. I do not believe the "law of sin in my members" in Romans 7 refers to the inherited fleshly nature, as that nature by itself does not constitute sin (James 1:14-15).

    Regarding the relationship of faith and human effort, I do not believe the Bible presents these as mutually exclusive. Effort in our own strength will not save. But effort combined with faith, as in Hebrews 11, is the Biblical means of salvation. If we are converted, focusing on the law will be as David did in Psalm 119, where he declared, "O how I love Thy law! it is my meditation all the day" (verse 98). Conversion makes all the difference here. It's like bending over backwards to please the person you love in a romantic relationship. Effort ceases to be a legalistic drudgery. God's converting power enables us to execute the law's demands, and they become a delight.

    I do not find Biblical support for the theory that God does all the work of saving and overcoming, while we simply strive to keep out of His way. This is not the message of so many Bible verses which speak of proactive human effort in the saving process (e.g. II Cor. 7:1; Eph. 6:12; Phil. 2:12-13; Heb. 12:4; James 4:7-8). It's like Ellen White says: "Man is to work out that which God works in" (6T 130).

  7. My Dear Brethren,
    I read your articles and realized we have different views on what was the spiritual condition of Paul when he was writing Romans 7 in connection with Romans 8. Many suggested it was before he was converted, many stated it was after he was converted and showed one can still struggle with sin though converted.
    As we study the Disciples of Christ (followers), and the Apostles (12) many of us can say we knew when conversion came to the Apostles. We examine the Pre-Pentecost and Post-Pentecost period and knew all the Apostles were not converted while Christ was with them on earth. It was at Pentecost the Holy Ghost came and baptized them with himself. Conversion came about and their speech and action was changed (sanctification). One thing bothered me though, it was about Peter. As we read Acts we see a Peter blazing with the gospel; healing the sick, raising the dead (Tabitha) and doing all the good works for Jesus. He was the preacher who preached about repentant and being converted.
    Then I see another Peter, a struggling Peter. An incident took place after Pentecost. Was Peter converted when he was eating with the Gentiles? My brethren let us read Galatians 2:11-21. Paul had to correct someone who the spirit of God was supposed to be living in. Peter caused Barnabas also to be carried away with dissimulation because of his behavior.
    But when I read Rev 22: 10-14 at the end of the Pre-advent judgment (investigative) Jesus will come to get his people. Before Jesus comes to get his people Judgment will already be pronounce on all humans. Jesus said he that is unjust, let him be unjust still, he that is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
    My question is: would God save anyone and take him to heaven while he cont. to live in sin? Is it possible for humans to live a holy, perfect and righteous (in Christ) life? Would or could we say Enoch and Elijah was still sinning before they were taken to heaven and was free from sinning while they were in the air?

  8. A question or two for anyone who believes the kind of conflict of Romans 7 (last part) only takes place before conversion – What is Paul’s main point? What is the take away message, if any, for us who believe and accept Christ?

    One is not sure of all the reasons some prefer to believe the battle of Romans 7:13-24 was that of the unconverted Paul, especially considering the preceding texts. However one possibility is the fear the passage makes an excuse for sin in the life of the believer. It does not. In fact it cautions against self-dependence and makes clear that self is an ever present enemy to be dealt with until the end. It is for the very reason that some do not realize they have a problem with self that Paul uses his experience to make the point.

    One thing to note is that Paul never remained at the same level in his battle. Over time as he depended more on the Lord, submitted to Christ and died daily to self the will was strengthened, character developed and there was less transgression. The spiritual mind overcame the flesh as he partook of the divine nature.

    Another possibility is the fear that the passage might give the impression it is impossible to live above sin. Remember though this is the experience of a believer at a certain time in his life. The common features to all believers are the existence of self (human nature) and the need to fight.

    The outcome for various believers at different stages of the journey may not be the same. The point is take heed and lean on Him who is able, because we are not. As well the passage underscores the need for effort, for God will not do for us what He has already placed in our power to do, such as making choices about what we behold/practice.

    • Perhaps "before or after conversion?" is the wrong question. This fight in Romans 7 is clearly fought BY self. Notice all the "I"s! The battle of Romans 8 is WITH self. Romans 8 is the battle of surrendering self so the Spirit can prevail in our lives and not self. So is this surrender the result of conversion? Is the battle fought alone possible after conversion? Can we become unconverted again, or do we show we were never converted in the first place, only convinced of what was truth?

      Can we be converted and fall out of faith? Perhaps that would help to see if our understanding of conversion is correct or not. God's grace can keep us from falling though faith. So if we are falling, what does that say about grace, faith, conversion, will....etc? Who is to blame? God's promises or our faith/conversion?

      Do we see how that again, God is placed on trial here if we don't understand these things as they are defined in God's word? If we misunderstand, the fault is with us since God is clear in promising to make it clear. Only by lack of faith will we fail at anything concerning salvation.

      I believe it was Charles T. Everson that wrote: "Without Jesus we cannot hope to succeed, but with Him failure is impossible!"

      As long as he was with Jesus, Peter could walk on water. Notice that Peter walked on water before his conversion!

      • Perhaps you could clarify, Robert:

        Do you believe that a converted person cannot sin? (By your comment, I'm wondering whether you have a different concept of conversion than I'm familiar with.)

        Do you see any act of sin as falling out of relationship with Christ?

        • Inge, Lucifer, his angels, Adam and Eve, all sinned in their created state of perfection, so how could a converted sinner be free of being able to sin? Sin is unbelief, which means out of relationship with God, His Word/Law or Christ.

        • Exactly, Robert. But your implication that I promoted a different concept of conversion in the post above could be read as implying that a converted person would not sin. (For instance, "Can we become unconverted again, or do we show we were never converted in the first place, only convinced of what was truth?")

          In other words, from your collection of questions and quotes, it was not possible to discern whether or not you subscribe to the usual definition of conversion which is a change of heart/direction/purpose.

          May I assume from your second paragraph that you believe that any act of sin causes us to fall out of relationship with Christ?

        • The point that Robert made regarding Lucifer, his angels, Adam and Eve and the fact they sinned even though they were created perfect brings up something interesting.

          While free choice exists, there will always be the potential for sin. There is no magic in the conversion experience that inoculates a person from sin. But there is strength in relationships. There is divine strength in a relationship with Christ.

          Could it be then that the value we have on the relationship with Christ has something to do with how often we fall?

          Now this is something I struggle with.

        • Owen, precisely! In all those cases, there was a departure from the Creator, and in our fallen state, a departure from our Creator/Redeemer.
          Peter's walking on the water is a valuable lesson for remaining in Christ at every step, every day. Nothing else will work. Enoch walked with God as do all who are in agreement with Him.(Amos 3:3) How can we fall in that position of perfect trust? (Jude 24)

      • Bro. Robert,
        In addition to the clarification sought by Inge would you also indicate if your use of conversion refers to a point of no return, a kind of sealing?

        Most of us seem to be applying conversion in the sense of accepting Christ as Savior and turning from the life of sin to start the walk of faith, as opposed to some untraceable point of attainment later in the Christian experience.

        • Hugh, conversion means being converted or changed. In the life of faith, it's a change of loyalties and focus, among other things. The experience described in Romans 7 is a focus on (carnal)me vs the law, a battle that will never be won by (carnal)ME. In Romans 8, the focus is on "not I, but Christ": being conformed (changed/converted) to HIS will and no longer my own will. Here, the focus is the promises of God.

          If we examine the losing struggle of Romans 7 and understand the meaning of the concluding question: "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?" and the meaning of the answer: "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!", we see the conversion point don't we? Self has recognized the only solution and become hid in Christ, the only hope. Apart from Christ we can do nothing, but we can do all things through Him. This is the result of taking His yoke upon us, thus changing our whole approach to this problem of WHICH fight to fight. Notice that Christ is absent in the fight of Romans 7, which leads to seeing the need of Him.

          We either fight to control our nature, or we fight to surrender to Jesus who alone can control it. This is the "good fight of faith" and not the fight of works.

          Conversion may lead to the sealing IF we hold fast our faith to the end. There is always an IF involved isn't there? The scriptures are filled with IFs, as many as there are promises. No one is sealed without constant warfare against the natural desire to follow our sinful nature. Keeping this nature surrendered is our fight, the fight of Romans 8. God does the rest, and this gives us Rest in Him.

          For those who wish to know what Ellen writes on this point: "The warfare against self is the greatest battle that was ever fought. The yielding of self, surrendering all to the will of God, requires a struggle; but the soul must submit to God before it can be renewed in holiness." SC 43

  9. I only have one question,and an obsevation or opinion, even though there are many more. The question of whether Paul's statements in Romans 7 were pre, or post conversion? What do we think occured on the road to Damascus? In light of Paul's revelation of his past and what he has comitted his life to do, since then. The answer is pretty clear to me. He says he considers himself the worst sinner of all time. That may have had a dual purpose of humility, plus a sense of guilt that is indelible on his mind.

  10. Isaiah 4 speaks of 7 women taking hold of one man, eating their own bread and wearing their own clothes, wanting only to have His name to take away their reproach. I have come to see this as speaking of Christians in name only, not walking in the light of God's Word or having the righteousness of Christ by faith, yet they would consider themselves as "converted". This posture could lead us directly to the Romans 7 experience if we believe God's law still stands.

    Now, about Romans 7; doesn't Romans 8 bring the thoughts of Paul in Romans 6 & 7 to a clear conclusion? If so, doesn't that answer the question of Romans 7? I have no desire to get caught in the debate, but invite every student of God's word to allow the Holy Spirit to teach them personally. For me the "puzzle" is solved quickly when nothing is separated out of the context of the presentation that the Holy Spirit inspired, and other key scriptures are brought into consideration. We might accept or reject another person's opinion, but can we reject the clear instruction of the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised would lead every sincere seeker into "all truth"? How will we know if the conclusion we find is of the Holy Spirit or our own ideas? Perhaps that would be a good point to investigate, seeing we are promised to "find the knowledge of God". Are there conditions to these exceeding great and precious promises? Do I meet these conditions? If so, the promises are sure.

    There are many quotes from Ellen to attach to almost any scripture passage we might wish to attach them to, but her own instructions are to let the Bible interpret itself. I find her messages to be very uplifting and meant to guide us to scripture, not to an interpretation of it. Never was that God's intention through her. If we quote her to make a point stick, what have we actually done?

    Also, if we have different conclusions, are we being led by the same Spirit of Truth?

    There is a variable in this presentation that needs to have a fixed definition, and that is the term "conversion". Until we know exactly the meaning of that term, we won't all have the same conclusion.

    Let's ask some questions: What is the result of the "struggle" in Romans 7, success or failure? What is the result of the struggle in Romans 8? “Wait...!” you ask; "What struggle in Romans 8?" If you don't see it, you have missed the truth being given by the Holy Spirit. You see, Romans 7 is the wrong struggle and not the "good fight", yet a struggle must exist with the 2 natures that clearly exist within each soul that accepts the truth and believes. Is Jesus our Example? Did Jesus struggle? Did He ever fail? (Rev 3:21, John 16:33) Did Jesus fight the fight of Romans 7 or Romans 8? Which did Paul fight? If you say "both" you are correct! Which fight did he fight before the Damascus road incident and which one did he fight after? When was he converted? What then is the meaning of conversion in this study? Can we see how he could write what he did in Hebrews 4:10,11? Can we understand now the invitation of Jesus in Matt 11:28, 29? This is the point of true conversion; being converted from the hopeless fight to the “good fight of faith”.

    Just some thoughts that must be considered to answer the "puzzle" of Romans 7 that many seem perplexed over. Yet, there really is no puzzle presented, only the truth. I would suggest two other scriptures to consider in this study of Romans 6-8; 1 Tim 6:12 and 2 Tim 4:7, from the same writer of Romans 7! Did he fail or succeed?

    • In 2Peter 3:14-16, Peter mentions that some of Pauls epistles are hard to understand. Especially by those that are untaught and unstable. I may fit the catagory, but then everything is relevant isn't it. It was mentioned by one of the contributors that this subject has been debated for a hundred years or more. That would suggest that some of Romans 5-8 are difficult to apply in agreement with everyone's understanding. I try to be careful in searching scripture to prove a point. It is not that difficult to find somthing, somwhere that seems to work.

      • Paul, you are quite right and we are dealing with a very difficult subject. There are many ways to look at the salvation issue and the writers of the Bible used many different metaphors to explain things in an attempt to make it all understandable.

        The only caution I would give is that we don't use 2 Pet 3:14-16 in an attempt to table discussion. We need to understand the issues at stake concerning our salvation. Besides as Peter counseled, "sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed" (1 Pet. 3:15-16 NKJV). We need to be constantly digging into Scripture in order to find the gems that lay below the surface. We need to know God's Word.

        • Tyler I agree. What I was driving at, was the use of texts out of context. Some find it difficult to correctly apply those type of references. I think that correct understanding is difficult in many cases, because it is intentional, to keep us constantly serching the scriptures for answers, and hopefully a closer relationship with our God.

        • Tyler, is this really a difficult subject, or has the thinking of men made the waters muddy with speculations and interpretations that turn others on a wrong course of thought? The simplest of truths has been made difficult for many due to subversive teaching by many who are popular. Could this subject be no different? Do you imagine Satan might wish to work over-time to make sure most are confused? However, none need to be confused according to the promises of God's word, if the sayings of men are shunned and God's word allowed to speak for itself in the clear manner which it is given.

          We are told that the wicked will not understand, but the wise will understand. So if we focus on obtaining the wisdom needed, we will understand. We need only ask in faith; meaning that we will follow the choices and practices that we are taught lead to obtaining wisdom and understanding. So this rests with us and leaves us dependent on no other human.

      • Yes, difficult to understand in our own wisdom, but the promise is that we will be taught of God Himself through the Holy Spirit, who inspired these passages so they could teach us. Understanding truth is for all who will meet the conditions of these promises. We cannot fail to know it except we fail the conditions. It is that simple.

        The same writer urges us to examine ourselves. We can easily become our own roadblock. Peter's ladder (2 Peter 1:5-11) will help to guide our understanding and application of God's Word. This word does not err and was not given to confuse.

  11. Hi Kevin,

    Perhaps your limited time explains why I get the sense that you have not understood what I wrote. 😉

    I seriously doubt that there are a "multitudes of unconverted, non-Christian people who 'delight in the law of God after the inward man.'" The natural man does not "delight in the law of God." As I suggested, "delight in the law of God" was a descriptor of the incarnate Christ.

    However, what matters more than whether or not the struggle Paul described is pre- or post-conversion is where the Christian's focus ought to be.

    I agree that the inherited fleshly nature, by itself, does not constitute sin. And Paul does not equate "the law of sin in my members" as being sin. He just indicates that there is a "law" in his being that pulls him towards sin. To me, that perfectly describes our sinful (fleshly KJV) nature.

    I agree that the Bible does not teach "that God does all the work of saving and overcoming, while we simply strive to keep out of His way." Quite the contrary. I suggested that to win the battle over sin, we need to stay in very close relationship with Christ - not to stay out of His way! I specifically mentioned that a relationship with Christ includes doing "things He wants done on this planet. And the accompanying quote tells us that, in order to overcome, we must "choose to serve Him" and "give Him your will."

    As I understand it, salvation is all of Christ and none of man. Justification by faith is Christ's work for us, and it is a matter of laying our pride in the dust and recognizing our nothingness. Sanctification is Christ's work in us. It is a transformation of character that flows from a daily relationship with Christ. And, because of that, our focus needs to be on maintaining that relationship.

    I think William Earnhardt does a good job of explaining the meaning of justification and sanctification in his post, "Justification and Beyond."

  12. What I am seeing in many of the comments is the idea that we will be absolutely perfect at least before the Second Advent but as I have always heard that will actually happen before probation closes, that is, before the seven last plagues.

    As I see it there is one giant piece of the puzzle missing in all of this. When a person accepts the provision for his/her salvation accomplished on the cross and accepts Jesus as Lord of his/her life and is truly sorry for committed sins God justifies that person. At that point that person is considered sinless as though he/she never sinned. As far as Heaven is concerned that person is perfect, not in a literal sense but in a legal, spiritual sense. That is what happened to the thief on the cross. He didn’t really have time to straighten up his life but he did accept salvation and repented of his sins. He made a turnaround in his thinking which is conversion and because of that he was justified the same as Abraham was justified.

    For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin." (Rom 4:2-8 NKJV).

    The word “accounted” means to put to a person’s credit. It is the gift of righteousness that makes him perfect. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor 5:17 NKJV).

    Therefore, if I am justified and in Christ because I have been sanctified then I am already perfect! If the worst gangster on earth accepts Christ and repents (which is also a gift) and someone shoots him in the head two seconds after he makes the choice to accept he is saved, period. He may have a lot of things to clean up and lot of bad ideas to get rid of but he accepted the promise just like the thief on the cross accepted the promise that he would be in paradise with Jesus (Lk 23:43).

    Those thousand years in Heaven will be years for healing and growing especially for those who never had a chance to change their lifestyle, who died before they could do anything. As Revelation says, “The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Rev 22:2 NKJV).

    • Tyler, what if no one shoots the newly converted gangster? What will his life reveal if he is truly converted? That might depend on your idea of conversion.

      Have you read the beautiful descriptions of God's people at the time of the sealing? Isa 60:1-3, Ezekiel 9:4 and Zeph 3:12, 13. Read also their description in Revelation 7:3,9,14 and Rev 14:1-5, 12. I would also consider Titus 2:11-14.

      We are also shown will NOT enter the city of God. Only those who have overcome are promised anything in the letters to the Seven Churches.

      I'm not sure how you mean sanctified as you use it, and within the context of your thoughts.

      • Robert, you raise some interesting questions. The texts you use cover a wide range of things so I will just say a few things to clarify what I said.

        The point that I was making is that justification accounts us righteous in an instant, (That is so even though it usually is repeated many times during our life because we tend to fail and ask for forgiveness quite often.) That is the reason a person can be saved even though he doesn't have the time to change his lifestyle. It is the main point that Paul was making in his letters to the Romans and the Galatians. We are not accounted righteous by anything we do but obtain righteousness by faith in God's grace as a gift.

        On the other hand, when we are justified we are instantly sanctified (set apart) the same as members of the rather corrupt Corinthian church were (1 Cor 1:2; 1 Cor 6:11) as a past act. Then throughout our lives, that is, what is left of them, we are continually under the process of sanctification which is an ongoing thing that literally changes us as a matter of training and habit forming. It is a further separating from the world, a growing up into Christ.

        The question I was addressing was about being perfect in this life and my conclusion was that through justification we become perfect when we accept Christ because of the imputed righteousness that is given us. As long as we have a relationship to Christ we are accounted perfect in spite of the fact that we still need to grow and that there are things in our lives that need to be cleaned up. Think of it this way, does a newly baptized person do everything correctly? Does he understand the depth of the law - do any of us, really? That is what sanctification is for but while we are being changed we are considered perfectly righteous because of justification so the idea of having to work on being righteous in order to be saved is worthless (just plain legalism) - we are already there.

        • The Bible speaks of overcoming, gaining the victory, living "sober, righteous and Godly in this present world", etc. It also speaks of a people sealed and facing the last events without a mediator, meaning no chance to repent or be forgiven.

          Together this tells me that God truly expects to create clean hearts and renew a right spirit within fallen people who will be presented "faultless" before Him. The Bible does not say they will be counted as IF they had not lied, it says they will not speak lies.

          The only problem that can occur is if we focus on anything other than faith. Otherwise, this is all possible and will happen to those whom the Bible has foreseen in beautiful prophetic language which should encourage all who might be tempted to doubt the promises of God.

          With God, all things are possible.

        • Tyler, as for the definition of perfection, we don't need to measure any thing but our faith which is observed by our level of surrender. We can only surrender our will completely (the fight of Romans 8)and the rest is God's work in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. To measure our works is a wrong focus except for me to examine myself to know whether I have true faith. The Bible defines this so we can know and not deceive ourselves. Being "perfect" in every case can be different due to different experience, advantage, opportunity, etc, but I need only be concerned with my own perfect faith. If perfectly yielded to the will of God we will walk as fast as He reveals His will to us, which He does if we truly desire it. Any drawing back is unbelief, and no longer perfect in faith. I am speaking of drawing back after conviction comes to me. This is something I cannot measure in another, or another in me. God only asks us to be perfectly submitted to Him, as He is perfectly committed to saving us at such a cost to Himself. I believe the thief on the cross was perfectly surrendered and would have demonstrated this with a sanctified life. Actually he WILL demonstrate it!
          Perfect trust will lead to perfect obedience. It cannot be avoided.

        • Tyler, you wrote something profoundly important to our Christian walk:

          "As long as we have a relationship to Christ we are accounted perfect in spite of the fact that we still need to grow and that there are things in our lives that need to be cleaned up.:

          That is the essential truth of the teachings of Waggoner and Jones at the 1888 conference. When we really grasp this truth, it will change our focus from self to Christ, and the freedom that imparts will give us more victory over sin.

          As I write this, I would like to emphasize that a "relationship" is not maintained without effort. That is demonstrated by our current high divorce rate. People don't put effort into the marriage relationship, and it fails.

          In the same manner, if we do not put time and effort into our relationship with Christ, it will fail, and we will fail in our Christian walk. We need to invest time to spend with Jesus - not just reading our Bibles and praying, but also doing what He tells us to do. We need to obey that "still small voice" through which He speaks to us directly. If we fail to do that, we are only fooling ourselves about our relationship with Christ. And that's where the mirror of the Law comes in. When we fail, we need to recognize that we need to put more effort into our relationship with Jesus.

  13. Tyler, I am not so certain about your last paragraph. Can you give more insight from scripture about that. Jesus and the apostles clearly stated in passage let us not be deceive but to study for ourselves. Bearing in mind what Jesus said in Rev 22:10-14. and cont reading, and as we read on, see who will be on the outside.
    We, God's people are at different level of our spirituality therefore what God had reveal to some, he had not reveal to all. Let us cont to study and pray and fast for a clear understanding of his word.

  14. I like what Jesus said love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as your self. That's the example my savior said and did. Jesus is the truth the way and the life. I hope as Christian's we agree on that.

    • John, isn't that easy to agree on, but although it is easy many may misunderstand the true meaning. The scriptures are living and true. The have the power to meet us where we are whether you are a child, a high school drop out or a scholar. Isn't that wonderful

  15. Hello again. Some very interesting insights from all. I thank God that I am more perfect today than I was yesterday. Sounds weird? Yes, but I believe it is a reality. Our perfection grows as we grow in Christ. So long as we are growing, we are "being perfected". We are perfect when converted, when we are declared righteous and justified, and we are 'more perfect' each stage of our sanctification.
    Throughout the NT we find expressions such as "walk as He walked'..."Changed into the image of Christ"... "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ"...."And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth"....."that they may be one, even as we are one"...." that they may be made perfect in one"...".bear the image of the heavenly"...."changed into the same image"...
    and many others the like. The point being is that we are to have Jesus not just as our example, but we are to be so united in/with Jesus that we become eventually inseperable.
    Ro 1:3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
    Ro 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
    Jesus walked in precisely the same path that we must walk in order to be saved.He came in the likeness of sinful flesh, yet did not sin. He did not sin because He did not walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit. All His life. Paul calls upon us to do the same. We accomplish this by being "In Christ". Our conversion from the bondage to the flesh we are born with comes as we surrender our lives to Jesus that He may carry us through. As we focus wholly on Him, starving the fleshly lusts of everything that tends toward its wellbeing, and feeding the Spirit with everything that tend toward the Spirit's wellbeing, we will find ourselves winning the battles over sin by default...overcoming in areas wholly without our effort...our only effort is in our walk with our Savior. The battle isn't with sin, but with ourselves.And Jesus has already won that battle on our behalf and promised that as we abide in Him, His victory becomes ours.

    • Brendan, I take your thoughts to mean your faith is more perfect. This, after all, is the victory that overcomes the world. It is only by faith (since the flesh is unreliable and corrupt) that we become perfectly surrendered to God's will and power. Are we then more "perfect"? How can we not be, though never feeling it or measuring it. We just follow God's will by dying to self as Jesus died to self and reputation, accepting His Father's will over His own. If the flesh lives a moment, God's Spirit steps back, grieving.

    • Brendan, it might be worth the challenge to check our vocabulary and linguistics for more appropriate language than to quantify categories or stages of perfection in a human being whose nature is sin. Perfection for the saved person is not a testimony of our nature. Faith accepts the perfection, the righteousness of Jesus Christ as mine, and on that basis I receive salvation, the right to the tree of life.
      The life of an overcomer is testimony that "it is God who is working in me both to will and to do of His good pleasure." God bless

  16. "I have fought a good fight; I have kept the faith."
    "I know my Redeemer lives... and in my flesh I shall see God."
    He "Looked for a city whose Builder and Maker is God."
    We don't keep on struggling. We surrender the struggle now, and accept grace as the thief on the cross who fully surrenders all in a moment. That is our call: to surrender the flesh now, letting go the struggle between flesh and spirit, for a grace that accepts the victory of Jesus Christ now, perchance we die long before the endtime sealing.
    The Apostle warns us that the internal pressure of a live carnal nature will respond compatibly to the external pressure of satan's attacks; and therefore testifies of his desire for the Spirit, and of the surrender of his will---- resulting in "victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
    The point of Romans 7 is not the understanding of the pyscholgocial state of battling natures; but of desire being reinforced by the energy of the will -- which is the necessary surrender for us to have victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

  17. Inge, you wrote a great, insightful article that generated a significant amount of discourse, weighing various understandings.
    You are right about post-conversion, considering Paul was converted on the road to Damascus. In Rom 7 he writes: "Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God." This is a man who knows Christ, and knows the victory in Christ Jesus. He knows the warfare, and he fights the battle through Christ. And wins.

  18. A general comment: the struggle in Romans 7 is a sinner fighting against sin under the condemnation of the law. His fight is in his own strength as it is clearly stated with the many "I's". Whether or not he was converted previously is irrelevant, as he is clearly on his own in this position of constant failure. This is not a converted state of living, but a self-generated effort to be righteous by works, or at least an effort to quiet the conscience from the condemnation of the law. No one who is truly converted would attempt such an futile effort.

    As I have always read these chapters (Rom 6-8) this part is where Paul is showing the response of a sinner, when convicted by the law, to try and measure up with the carnal nature still in control. Conviction is not conversion, though it can lead to that. Paul then leads to the inevitable conclusion that such a person is doomed to death (by the unchanging law) and needs help. This help, Paul tells us, is found in Christ. This is the conversion point in Paul's explanation of how sin is overcome. If the law is taught apart from the gospel, many, if not most, will fall into this "Romans 7 trap" of saving themselves.

    Bible conversion is about receiving Jesus as Savior, and becoming fully surrendered to Him, and by this means alone one becomes a new creature/creation. Even one point not yielded willingly will prevent victory in our lives. (I'm not talking about incomplete knowledge, but a willful withholding while convicted on that point) Conversion brings change, but the struggle in Romans 7 shows no change, only constant failure and eventually, death though convicted of the truth.

    Conversion is daily, not a one-time experience.(Yes, even moment by moment if need be) So it is possible to become un-converted and fall again into this futile effort to save ourselves. This happens to the formerly converted (and usually to the merely convicted) when sin is harbored in the soul against a clear conviction.

    Perhaps more could be said to make this comment complete, but that is how I have come to see it generally speaking.

  19. I know this question has been asked before but before Jesus'coming, will our character, our hearts be perfected? If, sin starts with our hearts then in our converted hearts then, sin would not be an option because we would hate sin , and love God before everything.

    I believe in the belief that we will overcome every sin by faith before Jesus coming back. The main goal of the plan of salvation is for God's people to learn not to sin, all in the spirit that it restores our relationship with God, the love and peace we had before Adam fell.

    As Patrick Barett pointed, at the end of time, in Last Day Events, at the close of probation, after Jesus finished the investigative judgement, and is on his way to earth, God's people will stand without mediator. But let me say that God's people will already be sealed, which is a mark of loving God and living for him through all persecutions and opportunities to sin (incl. the Sabbath). Their case will already be done.

    "When Christ shall cease His work as mediator in man’s behalf, then this time of trouble will begin. Then the case of every soul will have been decided, and there will be no atoning blood to cleanse from sin. When Jesus leaves His position as man’s intercessor before God the solemn announcement is made, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still” (Revelation 22:11). Then the restraining Spirit of God is withdrawn from the earth.—Patriarchs and Prophets, 201 (1890)."{LDE 253.1}

  20. Robert, your position, differing that from Inge's (which I supported above) is the ongoing debate, isn't it?
    We likely have some common understanding, since I agree with some of the arguments you put forward; and we likely will at least for a while still differ. Which keeps us studying.
    I noted as did Inge the context of Paul's writing.
    Early in Romans 7, before the discourse of struggle, Paul writes: "Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God."

    Paul continues the same discourse in Romans 8, claiming victory in Jesus Christ. This is the testimony of a converted man who knows Jesus Christ. Our question for understanding is why the Apostle Paul chose to insert the discussion of his struggle in the middle of that discourse.

    The writer of Romans, Chapters 1 - 7:15 and continuing from Chapter 8 - 16, is a converted man who knows Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in his heart. The personal experience of struggle in the latter part of Romans 7 is an inserted aberration from Paul's pre-conversion days that misrepresents the man of God as he writes the Book of Romans during his very last days of ministry and life as a prisoner of Rome. If not an inserted aberration, Paul must have had some good reason for writing this short but lucid statement in the middle of his most profound and impacting theological treatise. Only the Holy Spirit can offer us an understanding, as Paul himself wrote; and certainly not our opinions.

    My mother, a true daughter God whose prayers were the narrative of the Holy Spirit, on her sick bed at 79 yrs of testified that she was still overcoming sin in her life.

  21. Note on 2014-05-21 at 11:07:57 AM: The discussion under this post is closed to arguments regarding at what stage in his experience Paul wrote about the conflict in Romans 7. Theological argumentation is not the purpose of this post.

    But we welcome comments on the topic of "Winning the Battle." Please share what has helped you win the battle in your life. The thesis of the blog article is that keeping our primary focus on Christ is the secret to overcoming sin in our lives and walking joyfully with Jesus. Focusing on Law, sin or perfection won't do it.

    What has been your experience?

    For further help see, the chapters, "Faith and Acceptance" and "Rejoicing in the Lord" in the book Steps to Christ, by Ellen White. (You'll also find help in surrounding chapters.)

    • In a beautiful Psalm I have read: "Commit your way unto the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will bring it to pass". It also states; "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desire of your heart".

      From this I have learned how to fight the good fight of faith. Also, I found a wonderful book I had never heard of before in a used book store back in the early 1980's, and found it was written by a woman who was a contemporary of Ellen White. Her little book is called "Alone With God", which describes the life of victory by drawing near to God continually. If you have not seen or read this little book, I would recommend it highly. You can google it and download the PDF version to read. A beautifully written and inspiring book about the power of living a devotional life. It makes this practice simple to understand and follow, and shows how vital it is and how real and powerful the promises of God.

      Perhaps it is back in print again, but since the 1970's has been out of print. It should be required reading in our schools and churches. At least highly recommended. It is one of the very few "non-inspired" books I can recommend to anyone.

      Among the 9 chapters: "Living the Life than Counts", "Jesus and I are Friends", etc.

      • Robert, currently there are more than half a dozen books available in ebook format and entitled Alone With God. (Probably many more.) Thus it is difficult to determine which book you mean. (The chapter titles are not listed before buying or downloading the book.) Some are currently popular books. One is recommended on a Catholic site and has a preface by Thomas Merton. (Think the "contemplative tradition" of the "desert fathers.") By the looks of things, I would think that some of these books would be misleading, and I would again encourage our readers to read further in the chapters, "Faith and Acceptance" and "Rejoicing in the Lord" in the book Steps to Christ, by Ellen White. In fact, I recommend reading or re-reading the whole book. The help regarding a walk with Christ is down-to-earth and balanced.

        (When mentioning a book, it is helpful to indicate the author.)

        • I apologize for not including the name of the author; Matilda Erickson (Andross, after marriage). Also, the PDF is available on our church website here:
          I just saw it is also available at the ABC again! You will want to share this book with others.

          Yes, Steps to Christ annually! Get a hard cover so it will hold up with the many readings, highlights and notes it will accumulate. Precious book that heralds the subject of Christ our Righteousness in the clearest possible way.

  22. I believe the before-or-after-conversion is the wrong discussion focus. I think it may be more beneficial to understand what God has sought to communicate regarding what is His dissatisfaction with the state of all humans since Adam, excluding Christ. Changing our focus from human behavior, good and bad, to what GENERATES human behavior will be of greater benefit. While we may all be in agreement that Scripture condemns bad behavior, we should be mindful that Christ taught that good behavior holds no guarantee of God’s favor (Mt 7:22-23).

    Only a chapter apart, is it possible to reconcile the statements in 1 John 2:1 and 1 John 3:9? If I’m involved in a catastrophic accident and lose a limb but afterwards father a child, that child will not also be missing a limb, even if by coincidence the mother and grandparents were limbless on the exact same side! For a child to have parental characteristics, natural laws governing heredity and learning through association should come under scrutiny. So when Adam sinned something that should be of great interest to all humans occurred, “through one man sin entered the world, and thus DEATH SPREAD to ALL men, because ALL sinned” (Rm 5:12). The human sin problem runs far deeper than most of us understand or may even be too scared to acknowledge. Christ taught that sin is the result of evil thoughts which originate in the heart (the brain, NOT the pump in the chest called the heart!). Jesus told an audience that they had the devil for their father (John 8:44). They angrily rebutted His truth and sought to stone Him (John 8:33, 45, 59). Interestingly, Jesus wasn’t engaged in a confrontation with His usual nemesis, the scribes and the Pharisees, but with “Jews who believed Him”!! (John 8:30-31). They claimed paternity in Abraham, Jesus revealed paternity in the devil. “Adam, the son of God” (Lk 3:38), because he was made in God’s image, chose to exchange his paternity only to become a son of the devil when he chose to believe the serpent’s lie over his Creator’s truth. Rm 5:14 reveals this to be a life-changing choice affecting all humans, while also revealing it to be different from the sin of other individuals. Rm 7:23 is describing the typical manifestation of the natural law of heredity in all individuals (Christ excluded) born after Adam’s disobedience. Human behavior is the product of the complex collaboration of our DNA, brain and hormones passed along from one generation to the next.

    Breaking free of things stamped in our DNA and that are passed from generation to generation, becomes impossible without a Creator’s intervention (Jer 13:23). Whether we care to admit it or not, Scripture declares ALL descendants in Adam captives of “the LAW OF SIN which is IN MY (our) MEMBERS.”(Rm 7:23). What is the only antidote?...”For the LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS HAS MADE ME FREE FROM THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH.” (Rm 8:2)

    Scripture helps us to understand how God’s plan to salvage humanity unfolds. Those who are Christ’s are heirs to a new life-reality and are rigorously prepared for the Father’s service (Heb 12:5-6). However, “as long as he is a CHILD, does not DIFFER AT ALL FROM A SLAVE, though HE IS MASTER OF ALL, but is under GUARDIANS and STEWARDS UNTIL the TIME APPOINTED by the FATHER.” Gal 4:1-2. This period of the salvation plan aligns with 1 John 2:1, “My LITTLE CHILDREN, these things I write to you, so that YOU MAY NOT SIN. And IF ANYONE SINS, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” During this period, though never encouraged, allowance is made for sin. The salvage of every child has been carefully provided for and overseen by the Father (Rm 5:9-10). The process has predetermined objectives and periods for their accomplishment set by the Father, so Paul also writes, “My LITTLE CHILDREN for whom I labor in birth again UNTIL CHRIST IS FORMED IN YOU.” (Gal 4:19). He also expressed this same model in Eph 4:11-13. The procession of the ministry in the wilderness Tabernacle also parallels this model, which begins with the sacrificing of an animal (symbolizing Christ) in the courtyard, followed by the ministry in the Holy Place by multiple common priests (symbolizing the guardians/stewards phase) and terminates once each year inside the Most Holy Place where Christ is symbolized a second time through the High Priest (Heb 9:28; Eze 16:5-8).

    I believe Scripture’s revelation that the roots of sin run deep within the human family, requires the work of a capable and empathetic Creator to remove the tangled roots. To focus on behavior, bad and good, is to minimize the magnitude of the miracle of real deliverance promised to all men through Christ (Lk 2:10; Rm 8:2; 1 John 3:8).

  23. Paul in his letter to the Philippians says this, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7 KJV)

    The power of divine intervention in my life I have found to be in the words "with thanksgiving." The continual asking of God for victory in overcoming any particular sin or shortcoming is good, for importunate prayer is what Jesus taught us to do, but thanking Him for the victory we seek is better. It is the evidence that I have, by faith, acknowledged the reception of that victory. Believing that I have the victory I stop fighting with sin and selfishness, and instead, in peace, believing that what God promises He is able to perform in me, I go about living for Christ by ministering to others. As I keep my eye of faith on Christ and praise Him for the victory I seek, I am changed from glory to glory as by the Spirit of the Lord. The law of faith overcomes the law of sin and death. Faith reigns and sin is starved to death.


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