By Norman P. Grubb
A DESPERATE DISCOVERY
Have not I, like Paul, vainly thought there should be some way in which I could combat and overcome this evil bias in myself? Does not the whole world operate by doing its own stuff? Isn’t “I must,” “I can,” “I will,” or “I’m going to,” the sole, absorbing incentive of human living?
Yes it is. That is humanity’s vast, lost, blindness, even though sin is not imputed when law hasn’t yet confronted us (Rom 5:13,14). All of us in this fallen world, with no exceptions, really live by that Satan-lie, with which we were inoculated at the Fall: that self by itself, in its apparent independence, can run its own life.
While in our deceived, self-relying state…”living in pleasure being dead while we think we live” (1 Tim 5:6)…we have to be confronted with the law and the standards by which the universe was created to function.
These laws were first embodied outwardly for our enlightenment in those Ten Commandments, from which any deviation finally brings total destruction. We are forced to accept the realization that first we didn’t (conviction of sins), and second, we cannot fulfill it…which is the final discovery of this Romans 7 chapter.
Why are we not able to keep the law? It is because we created humans can only function by the deity-self who manifests his nature through our forms – our Creator-Father’s “divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4), or alternatively (so that we might experience and get the opposite into focus) Satan’s self-for-self nature (Eph 2:1,2). Always, we humans are vessels, branches, slaves, body-members; or in modern terms, we are computers, who can only develop what is programmed into us. There never was such a thing as a created selfhood which could operate by itself.
Paul, recounting in this Romans 7 crisis statement his former experience, was compelled to discover that he could not manage himself. And now we all, with whom Paul links himself, are compelled to discover that we cannot manage ourselves. “To will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Rom 7:18). Precisely. Yes, I am a slave, “sold under sin” (the nature of self-for-self) with no escape. However much I want to, resolve to, or try to keep God’s law, I CANNOT because I was never created with the ability to manage myself. I am a managed person.
Through the law’s impossible demands on me, I have to discover that I started my human life in sin. “In sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps 51:5), as a slave, a branch, and a vessel. Of whom? Of that false upstart “god of this world,” that “spirit working in the children of disobedience” (Eph 2:2). He is that “spirit of error,” that “father of lies,” that devil “who sinneth from the beginning”; and it is his lusts I have been doing and can’t refrain from doing (Jn 8:44).
Then at last, as Paul says in Romans 7:14-25, I am driven to my limit. I am finally among the desperate ones who seek the highest and then I find I can’t reach it. The poet Browning wrote, “A man’s reach must exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” But in my desperation, at last I can see my deceived limitations. A tremendous seeing!
I see plainly now that the disrupter is not the law, for the law is “spiritual” (Rom 7:14). And it is not “me,” because I hate these things I do. It is the intruder: the sin that dwells in me! Paul says that twice (Rom 7:17,20). This is a radical revelation, because all my trouble and the whole world’s trouble is the deception that we are the operators of our lives. We are not! We are the containers, the manifesters, the vessels of wrath or mercy (Rom 9:22,23).
A vast weight, which burdens every believer in his false self-condemnation, lifts off us when this understanding comes. In our former delusion we would say: “I’m the culprit. I’m the trouble. I’m ashamed of myself. I should be better.” No. That is a lie, and a delusion; it never was I. The whole intent of the cries of “I, I, I,” in Romans 7:14-25 is that I don’t like myself. I hate what I’m doing, when actually I am a God-made, beautiful self (Gen 1:26-28). At last I see it; and I had to be brought to my limit to be able to see it.
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