Paul expressed in the first century the paradox many of us have experienced: “We know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my body another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my nature. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Then he answers: “We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.”
Our Maker made us part of his only Son so that he could have other children who would live with Him forever. To give us the chance to freely accept his will, he allowed us to express or repress his son’s Spirit in us so that we could see in this world what life without him is like and what life with him is like.
Thus we see day by day what happens to the world and us ourselves when we live as if there’s no God and as if we know best. So we miss badly our maker’s love and approval and we try to make up for them by getting them from the world of people and things around us. This whole attitude is known as sin – living as if there’s no God. The result is a deep perversion of our own natures which become more and more like “bodies of sin” – personalities – minds, emotions, wills that are twisted to get from the world what we’re meant to get from God. This corruption is so complete that only the Maker can remake us – and this is what God did in eternity outside this time-space world – in his Son’s death and resurrection. Here is set forth the reality of God maintaining his own integrity by bearing in himself the parody we have created as part of his son.
This perversion of our psychological and spiritual natures is worked out daily in our practical lives; it is part of the temporary unreality in which most of us live, but which all of us can replace with the new version of ourselves that has already been made in Jesus Christ. Our own frustrations and failures come from thinking they stem just from our own weak wills rather than the total corruption of our natures that only our Maker can rectify. This also explains why our endless self-help techniques are always unable to bring us total deliverance or change. The problem is not just our wills or our minds or our environment or our heredity – the problem is the radical perversion that has occurred in our original nature. We have to be changed deeply – really destroyed and remade by our Maker. But this can occur only if we see the need for it – and only if we want it! These are the two factors that we confront day after day on this earth.