Romans 7:19, "For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing." This is the cry of Paul, the apostle as well as of every true child of God. Frustrating it is, but not despairing. Though we cry out, "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (v. 24).
It is this very persistent and unavoidable battle that throws us outside of ourselves and onto the mercy of God . . . HOPEFULLY! I say "hopefully" because it can also have the adverse effect of driving us farther away from God IF we listen to Satan's deception. He suggests, "Oh what's the use? Just give in and go with it! Too much guilt, too much of the time!" But we resist and prefer rather to suffer the conundrum--saved but sinful. And it has a humbling effect upon us when we are properly trained by it. The Puritan, Thomas Brooks, comments on Psalm 51:3, 'My sin is ever before me.'
A humble soul sees that he can stay no more from sin, than the heart can from panting, and the pulse from beating. He sees his heart and life to be fuller of sin, than the firmament is of stars; and this keeps him low. He sees that sin is so bred in the bone, that till his bones, as Joseph's, be carried out of the Egypt of this world, it will not out. Though sin and grace were never born together, and though they shall not die together, yet while the believer lives, these two must live together; and this keeps him humble.
Humility forces total dependence on Jesus Christ to save us. After asking, "Who shall deliver me from this body of death?" Paul blurted out the answer, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:25). We freely admit that we need outside help. Madeline L’Engle intones, "If we are forced to accept our evident lack of qualification, then there’s no danger that we will confuse God’s work with our own."
Amen to that!