But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
-Romans 7:21-25 The Message
So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin.
-Romans 7:25b HCSB
We are dual natures. Christians are supposed to be slaves to Christ – following His will all the time because we have given ourselves over to Him. But we, at the same time, are also still slaves to sin. This is the duality that Paul speaks of in Romans 6 and 7. It explains how Christians, who are supposed to be full of love and righteousness, continue to live lives of sinfulness.
In reality the hypocrite may not be one, even though they look like one. They may be someone with the best intentions and the greatest desire to follow Christ but find that they are completely and utterly failures at doing so. And those of us who jump on them for failing are showing just how we also suffer from this dual nature.
This is not to say that Christians should remain in the same state of duality as they were from the time they first gave their lives to, that is became slaves of, Christ. At that time, that small spark of righteousness and right thinking that rebelled against their sinful nature at the behest of the Spirit left Christians with a nature that may be best understood to be 99% sinful and only 1% righteous. Over time those percentages should change in favor of righteousness.
That is called conforming to the likeness of Christ, or becoming more Christilike. Hence the name Christian.
The real question then is where are we at? Are we, after years and years, still only 20% righteous and 80% sinful? If our move towards holiness is stunted even after time maybe we need to look at what we have done with that time. Have we spent it actively pursuing holiness? Reading the Word? Praying for help from the Spirit? Worshiping with believers? Studying and discussing the Word with others?
Where are you at?