What Is Wrong With Me

It often happens that our very best intentions sometimes lose their strength and fail to achieve the victory we had initially hoped for. This is a shortcoming that besets all people, including Christians. And because this is such a universally experienced issue the apostle Paul gives us his personal testimony in the matter in chapter 7 of the Book of Romans.

It is significant that, beginning with verse 7 and continuing through to the end of this chapter, Paul used the first person singular (I, me, my), presenting
his personal experience. Up to this point he had used the third person, the second person, and even the first person plural. But now he described his own experience, allowing the Holy Spirit to apply the truth to his readers.

In Paul's testimony of his own struggles, beginning with verse 14, he reveals that the sin nature is not eradicated at the new birth. In relating his personal experience in 7:14–25, Paul consistently used the present tense whereas he had previously used the past tense. Obviously he was describing his present, personal conflict as a Christian with indwelling sin and its continuing efforts to control his daily life. As a result, indwelling sin (Sin Nature) continues to seek to exert mastery over what it considers its property even after one has become a Christian.

Paul confessed…

I do not understand what I do (literally, “what I am producing I do not know”).

He was like a little child whose honest answer to the question why he did something wrong is, “I don’t know.”

Paul continued to present the predicament he faced:
For what I want to do I do not do
(literally, “For what I am wishing, is not what I am doing,”) and conversely,
What I hate I do

Paul was a man who learned from his experiences, so now he concluded…

I find this law at work.

This law or principle is the reality of ever-present evil in an individual whenever he wants to do good. Paul held fast to the fact that, as he said,

In my inner being I delight in God’s Law (cf. 7:25).

Delight in God’s Law was the very response of the psalmist stated repeatedly in Psalm 119 (e.g., vs. 16, 24, 47; cf. Psalms 1:2).

Because of regeneration (New Birth), every believer has a new nature or capacity for loving spiritual truths. Yet, recognizing the facts of experience, Paul said he saw another law or principle at work within him. This is the principle of sin.

Paul called it “sin living in me” (Romans 7:17, 20), “evil” right there with me (v. 21), and “the sinful nature” (vs. 5, 18, 25).

This principle is continually doing two things:

  1. Waging war against the law of the believer’s mind, and
  2. Making him a prisoner of the law of sin (Sin Nature) at work within his members.

The indwelling principle of sin (sin nature) is constantly executing a military campaign against the new nature, ever attempting to achieve mastery and control (cf. “slave” in vs. 14, 25 and “slaves” in 6:17, 19–20), of a believer and of his actions.

Thus, despite a believer’s identification with Yeshua Messiah’s death and resurrection, and his efforts to have God-honoring attitudes and actions, he cannot use his own power to resist his indwelling sin nature.
In and of himself he repeatedly experiences defeat and frustration (Galatians 5:17).

Paul expressed that frustration in his exclamation…

What a wretched man I am!

Now we come full circle, "What Is Wrong With Me?" Nothing! That is to say not in the sense that you are any different from other believers. You know what is good and right, and you want to do exactly that. But rather than being patient, you erupt with frustration; rather than showing compassion you deliver condemnation; instead of acting spiritually you act in a carnal, fleshly manner.

What you and I are experiencing is our ongoing need of sanctification; that ongoing work of the Holy Ghost in our lives that more and more separates us not just FROM the worldly elements, but TO our heavenly Father.

Paul's question is something of a rephrasing of our initial question:

Who will rescue me from this body of death?

Paul’s answer to these questions (yours and his) was both triumphant and immediate:

Thanks be to God—through Yeshua Messiah our Lord!

In this answer, Paul shows that he was looking to the final triumph of Yeshua Messiah for his people. Just as believers are identified with him in his death and resurrection by faith here and now, on that future day they will join their resurrected and exalted Lord for all eternity in new bodies, free forever from the presence of sin (8:23; Philippians 3:20–21).

Romans 7 does not describe the totality of Paul’s spiritual life and experiences. In fact, chapter 7 is the springboard for what follows, setting the stage for the triumph of chapter 8.

It probably is true that in the lives of most sincere Christians, the two conditions Paul described exist in a sort of cyclical exchange. Recognition of our inability to live up to our deepest spiritual longings (chapter 7) leads us to cast ourselves upon God’s Spirit for power and victory (chapter 8).

Sanctification is a gradual process that repeatedly takes the believer through this recurring sequence of failure through dependency upon self, to triumph through the indwelling Spirit.

So, in the ultimate sense, the answer to the question, "What is wrong with me," is simply that we are a work in progress. Our sanctification will never be complete while we are in this body of flesh. In much the same way that a pearl continues to be formed while it remains in the oyster, so, too, the Holy Ghost will continue to form and shape us into the image of the Savior (Romans 8:29).