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Romans  ◦   Chapter 7

1Since I am speaking to those who love the law, let me use a legal analogy: Don't you realize that law has authority over someone only if they are alive?2For instance, a married woman is legally tied to her husband as long as her husband is alive, but if her husband dies, marital law no longer binds her to him.3If she were to marry another man while her husband was alive, marital law would make this action illegal, and she would not be recognized as the wife of the new man, but as an adulteress to her husband. But if her husband were to die, marital law would no longer bind her to her husband–she could then marry another man in harmony with marital law.

4Therefore, your selfish, fear-ridden heart died when you accepted the truth revealed by Christ's death, and you received a new heart from him who was raised from the dead, in order that you might grow in character–to be like Jesus–and live to honor God.5For when we were controlled by the infection of fear and selfishness — which resulted from distrust — the destructive passions revealed by the law were ravaging our bodies, we were terminally ill and spreading death wherever we went.6But now, as we die to the distrust, fear and selfishness that once bound us, the law no longer diagnoses us as infected and terminal. In fact, the law now confirms that we have a new heart–not by observing rules, but created within by the Spirit. We are now healthy and loving like Jesus.

7What shall we say then? Is the law evil and selfish because it increases the amount of evil and selfishness we see? Absolutely not! I would not have known what evil and selfishness looked like if it wasn't for the diagnostic efficacy of the law. I would not have realized that coveting was evil and selfish if the law didn't say, "Don't covet."8But selfishness, taking advantage of the fact that the law is only a diagnostic instrument–and not a Remedy–magnified every covetous desire within me. For apart from the diagnostic ability of the law, sin is unrecognizable.9Once I thought I was healthy and free from the infection of distrust, fear and selfishness, but then the commandment examined me, exposed how utterly infected I was, and diagnosed me as terminal.10I discovered that the very commandment given only to diagnose my condition I had unwittingly attempted to use as a cure, and thus my condition only worsened.11For selfishness, taking advantage of the fact that the commandment could only diagnose and not cure, deceived me into thinking that I could be cured by working to keep the commandments; but instead, my terminal state only worsened.12So understand this: The law diagnoses perfectly, and the commandment is the standard of what is right and good, set apart by God to reveal what is evil and destructive.

13Did the law, which did good by diagnosing what was wrong with me, become the source of my terminal condition? Of course not! It only exposed what was already in me, so that I could recognize how totally decayed, putrid and near death I was, and so that through the lens of the commandment I might become utterly disgusted with evil and selfishness, and long for a cure.

14We know that the law is consistent, reliable and reasonable; but I am inconsistent, unreliable and unreasonable, because the infection of distrust, fear and selfishness has warped my mind and damaged my thinking.15I am frustrated with what I do! For having been restored to trust, I want to do what is in harmony with God and his methods and principles; but I find that even though I trust God, my old habits, conditioned responses, preconceived ideas and other remnants of the devastation caused by distrust and selfishness are not yet fully removed.16And if I find an old habit causing me to behave in ways that I now find detestable, I affirm that the law is a very helpful tool revealing residual damage in need of healing.17What is happening is this: I have come to trust God, and I desire to do his will, but old habits and conditioned responses — which present almost reflexively in certain situations — have not yet been totally eliminated and thus cause me to do things I do not want to do.18I know that my mind was completely infected with distrust, fear and selfishness, which totally perverted all my desires and faculties, so that even when distrust has been eradicated and trust has been restored, the damage caused by years of distrustful and selfish behavior has not yet been fully healed. So, I find that at times, I have the desire to do what is right, but do not yet have the ability to carry out the desire.19For the old habits and conditioned responses are not the good I want to do: No! They are remnants of my selfish, unconverted mind.20So, if I find myself doing what I no longer desire to do, it is not myself that acts, but the vestiges of old habits and conditioned responses that have yet to be removed. And through God's grace, they will soon be removed.

21So I find this reality at work: When I want to do good, my old selfish habits and residual feelings of fear are right there with me.22In my mind, I rejoice in God's methods and principles,23but I recognize that I remain damaged from years of being infected with distrust and practicing Satan's methods, so that even though the infection of distrust has been removed, the old habits of fear and self-promotion tempt me from within.24What a damaged and corrupt man I am! Who will deliver and heal me from a brain and body so diseased and deformed?25Praise be to God–for he has provided the healing solution through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I find that in my mind I am now renewed with trust in God and love of his methods, but my brain and body remain damaged by years of self-indulgent behavior.