Psalm 97 • Jeremiah 17:19-27 • Romans 7:13-25 • John 6:16-27
I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Wretched captivity to physiological compulsion to misbehave. Rescue coming from God through Christ.
I think St. Paul pretty much sums up the problem of the mortal condition, and points toward the solution, right there, in three verses.
Why do we think of the techniques of admission of powerlessness, surrendering to, or admitting defeat by, the forces of the body, and of crying out to God to rescue us as novel inventions of 20th century self- help programs? Paul knew all about these things 2000 years ago.
Paul’s self-revelation is of enormous comfort once one has experienced the human condition, that mere delight in God’s law, and mere desire to do what is right and healthy, are insufficient military hardware in the battle against bodily compulsion. But, it seems to me, Paul’s teachings, on our by-nature wretched captivity to bodily sin, and on the possibility of rescue by God through Christ are not once-and-for-all discoveries like, say, geometric theorems, such that an adolescent might be taught the fact, and then have that knowledge to hand the rest of her life.
For the very reason that it is the mortal condition, that even heartfelt delight in God’s law cannot, in and of itself, free one from bodily compulsion—for that very reason, the fact that rescue by God is available to us is a meaningless abstraction to each generation, until we experience that other law . . . the one at war with God’s law, and are driven to cry out for “rescue . . . from this body of death”.
— Patsy Goolsby