“I do what I don’t want to do, and don’t do what I want to do.”
“Oh wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?”
Romans 7 & 8
We’ve been taught in the church that we are at a war within our flesh and mind that cannot be overcome. Man has taken such verses as above and either used them to continue in his sin or he believes that he can’t help it, therefore feelings of hopelessness and defeat enter in. Did you know Paul overcame this place? Did you know he overcame this place by the Holy Spirit? See here…
THE FLESH = It is evil and does no good thing. It was brought forth from Adam and it’s bent is towards sin.
“For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but to do that which is good is not.” (Romans 7:18)
THE LAW = It cannot be fulfilled, its end result is to bring us back into captivity to the law of sin.
“For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members.” (Romans 7:22-23)
THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD = The ONLY thing that will make us free from the law of sin.
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death. 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: that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:2-4)
You cannot conquer sin in the flesh. You cannot conquer sin through the law. Now what is the law? The law is works apart from the Holy Spirit. Trying to fulfill a commandment on your own is following the law. While the effort is there, it is defeating because it cannot be fulfilled by oneself. You must ask the Lord to help you overcome through His Spirit. But, this one thing must first be fulfilled in order for the Holy Spirit to guide you. You must have a love for the Lord to want to hear and obey Him. This is critical. Without this, there is nothing. Do you hear personal commands from the Lord, tailored just for your life and circumstances? If so, you are not far off. If you do not understand what I mean, let me share an example.
My husband and I bought a home that was over our heads. We had sinned and cried out to God about it. We put our home up for sale and had a long drawn out close call with some potential buyers. It just broke my heart that we couldn’t move because “I could taste it.” My husband reminded me of something that the Lord had shared with us the year before, that He wouldn’t move us until we were finished paying off our debt.” We got serious about getting out of our home and circumstances and obeyed God. We pulled on the reins (like with a horse) with our spending and payed off $14,000 in nine months. The very last payment we made, we had a buyer and only a couple weeks left in our home.
While the Lord may not have you do something quite like that, the Lord knew our circumstances and knew just what we needed to grow and learn our lesson. We knew that He would come through on His end because He told us He would and we had faith so we put our faith into practice – works – but through what He had told us personally through his Holy Spirit. If you do not know the Holy Spirit, pray that the Lord will reveal Himself to you through His Holy Spirit.
If you do hear from the Lord and listen to the Spirit of God and listen FOR Him on matters, you will be as Paul and overcome the wretched man place that he was in previously. A man who does not want to lust anymore but is surrounded by temptation goes to the Lord about it. He implores the Lord to share with him by His Holy Spirit to make available what he is to do or not do, to go or not go. Before he is finished praying, he knows the Lord wants him to get rid of his television. He does this quickly while in the Spirit. He is strong for the moment as he’s in the Spirit and he obeys. Days later he goes in to his regular stop for gas and a cup of coffee. He sees the woman behind the counter who is not a woman the Lord would want him to get close to. He asks the Lord while walking out to his truck, “Do you want me to come back here anymore?” Before he is even finished praying this prayer, the Lord lets him know “No.” The man agrees to obey…. this is the start of his purification from the bondage of sin, the flesh and the law. This man is following the Holy Spirit. If he were to follow the flesh, he simply wouldn’t obey God. In fact, he probably wouldn’t even pray about it. If he were to follow the law, he would have done as taught by men in the church to look down at the ground when a promiscuously dressed woman approaches but never would have heard from the Holy Spirit who knows his personal circumstances to a T, and he would have never got rid of the television, his biggest stumbling block in the home that should be a place of refuge from the world. Nor would he have ever known to quit going to that one gas station for gas.
The Lord knows our personal struggles with sin more than we do and he knows what we love most and knows what is best for us. His Holy Spirit that He gave us will guide us to get out of sin in ways that our flesh cannot and will not, and in ways that the law which seems good, cannot do as an effective job as when we seek the Holy Spirit.
If you have read this far and your spirit is awake in you, take this time to pray to the Lord as led by the Holy Spirit. Next, read chapters 7 &8 in Romans. Keep your eyes opened to the fact that Paul was free through Christ Jesus who left with us a Comforter, the Holy Spirit:
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:26-27)
Paul went from this: “For that which I do I know not: for not what I would, that do I practice; but what I hate, that I do.” Rom 7:15
To this: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.” Rom 8:2
The church often stops teaching about Paul in Romans 7, not passing into Romans 8 where Paul shares how he has become free from the bondage of sin – and how!
Many years ago, my husband and I had planned on having only 1 or 2 children. But when I was pregnant with our first child, I came across a book by Pastor, John R. Rice. I brought it home and in time my husband happened to pick it up and read it. I then decided it was time to read it after him. When I got to a chapter in which Rice described the beauty and blessings of having a large family, I got excited in my spirit. The Lord kept working on my heart so much throughout the night that I had to share with my husband the next morning my excitement about the thought of having a large family. He shared that he felt convicted in a beautiful way too when reading that. We were both so excited, we prayed together and then went for a long walk. We stayed in this place that the Holy Spirit brought us in all day long and were eager to see what lay ahead for our future together.
Had I not been open to praying to the Lord, we would not have had eight children. I was 35 years old, almost 36 when we prayed together that day for a large family. We believed we were going to have five (but later my husband prayed for eight). If I were to follow my flesh which did not want to go through multiple pregnancies and painful labors, I would have maybe had one or two. If we would have followed law in trying to have a large family, there would have been very little joy. But the Lord told us through His Holy Spirit that we would have at least five. A few years later the Holy Spirit whom we recognize when He is prompting us to pray or seek Him, led us to pray for eight children and that’s what we have at this time so far.
Blessings, peace, righteousness and things that we know not will abound in any person’s life who seeks the Holy Spirit through Christ Jesus and obeys. Sins that once seemed like mountains will become memories behind you if you follow the guiding of the Holy Spirit who knows you and wants to teach you good things.
While following the leading of the Holy Spirit, does this mean you will never sin again? No, but we won’t be bound to a sin or sinful lifestyle any longer. If you follow the Holy Spirit, you are following Christ and He will not lead you anywhere you aren’t supposed to go. When my husband and I bought the home we weren’t supposed to buy, looking back, we could see all the red flags (and there were many) and ways in which the Holy Spirit was trying to tell us not to buy it.
How do you know you are following the law? There is no joy in it or it’s to seek the approval of man. You may pray and it may feel empty or dry. Ask the Lord for the Holy Spirit to teach you what and who to pray about. You will come to love where He leads you in prayer and what He discloses to you. When we leave our home, we should ask the Holy Spirit to be with us, to keep our eyes and ears opened to anything He wants us to say or do. In our homes, we should ask the Lord what He wants us to read, how much Bible does He want you to read? Maybe the Holy Spirit doesn’t want you to read it from cover to cover for a time. Have you asked Him? Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. He will change your life, your walk, your thoughts and what you talk about. He will give you strength to go places and do things you don’t want to do because you will know He led you there and has a purpose and that He is with you. What a Comforter we have! Men who have been led to be burned at the stake, their flesh weak with sweat and trembling with fear, were able to go forth with the name of Jesus on their lips because of their place with the Lord. They were able to overcome the flesh even here.
How did so many Christians before us become so great and accomplish so much? They weren’t great on their own account, for their flesh would have failed them. They followed the Holy Spirit; first to be rid of their own sins that entangled them so they could be used for the greater matters in life. What about Spurgeon, the Wesley’s, John Calvin or A.W. Tozer? What if Spurgeon had never sought or listened to the Holy Spirit in getting rid of his menial sins? He would have never been used by God in the manner that he was. He may have been known but never a man with a great name with over 3,000 quality sermons, books, writings and commentaries. He could have preached in following law (remember, works without the Spirit), but, he wouldn’t have pressed on as he would have going off of his own strength. He would not have stayed up late to continue in prayers and writings. The Spirit overcomes the flesh.
There are so many who preach the Word of God who do not even consult with the Holy Spirit today on what the needs are of the congregation. Only the Lord knows what the people really need to hear. Any man who preaches from his own sermon without having gone to the Lord is not worthy to preach and he cannot love the people who are entrusted unto him or know them intimately. The Holy Spirit should be our guide in all things.You don’t know where God will take you if you do not subject yourself to the Holy Spirit to cleanse you and rid you of your sins. He only wants them away so He can use you for His purpose that He has called you unto. Don’t let your flesh be your dictator any longer. If you are into dead works where even reading the Bible seems dry, call upon the Holy Spirit and He will guide you away from those things that are evil to many good things. Trust and obey for there’s no other way than to be happy with Jesus…..
I have just a few more things I want to share with you:
- The Holy Spirit will often have you focus on something greater than the sin you are trying to overcome. He will give you a vision, something to look ahead to to help you overcome.
- The Holy Spirit won’t have you do anything that goes against Him.
- The Holy Spirit is the greatest gift Christ left for us. You cannot live a Christian life apart from the Holy Spirit.
Below is a beautiful song our family has sung for many years now. I want to share this with you.
I’ll Go Where You Want Me To Go – Mary Brown 1892
1 It may not be on the mountain’s height,
Or over the stormy sea;
It may not be at the battle’s front
My Lord will have need of me.
But if by a still, small voice He calls
To paths I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in Thine,
“I’ll go where You want me to go.”
I’ll go where You want me to go, dear Lord,
Over mountain, or plain, or sea.
I’ll say what You want me to say, dear Lord.
I’ll be what You want me to be.
2 Perhaps today there are loving words
Which Jesus would have me speak;
There may be now, in the paths of sin,
Some wand’rer whom I should seek.
O Savior, if Thou wilt be my Guide,
Tho’ dark and rugged the way,
My voice shall echo the message sweet,
I’ll say what you want me to say. [Refrain]
3 There’s surely somewhere a lowly place
In earth’s harvest fields so wide
Where I may labor thro’ life’s short day
For Jesus, the Crucified;
So, trusting my all to Thy tender care,
And knowing Thou lovest me,
I’ll do Thy will with a heart sincere,
I’ll be what You want me to be. [Refrain]
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death. – Paul the Apostle