The Experience of Paul after Conversion
How disappointed we often are to find that sin still dwells within us after we have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ. What a riddle we are to ourselves and what a struggle we have seeking to get the victory over our old nature.
Paul is here telling us of his experience after conversion and you notice how often he refers to himself. There are about forty “me’s” and “I’s” in this chapter and it is no wonder the story is one of defeat and closes with a deep groan.
We learn in these verses that the believer is made up of two persons, two individuals, the old man and the new man, one absolutely evil and the other absolutely good. It is no wonder that a new convert exclaimed, “I have two beings living in this body house of mine, one a devil and the other an angel, and they both want the control of the place.” Paul tells the story of this
Struggle with Self
in these verses.
As a believer I am identified with the “new man”; that is, the “I” that desires God’s will is myself and the “I” that opposes the will of God is not myself although he dwells in me. There are three distinct “I’s” in these verses and I am sure it will be a great help to us just to read these verses and put in the different words
“That which I (the old man) do, I (the new man) allow not, for what I (the new man) would that do I not, but what I (the new man) hate that do I (myself). If then I (myself) do that which I (the new man) would not, I (myself) consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I (myself) that do it but sin that dwelleth in me.” (vs. 15-17).
Here then we have the apostle occupied with himself and discovering that the old man is too strong for him. He finds himself unable to do the right thing.
In vs. 15-17, it is a question of what he does.
In vs. 18-20, it is a question of what he is.
In vs. 21-23, it is a question of what he finds.
In vs. 24-25, it is a question of what he needs.
We have already seen that Paul was not subject to the will of God, not because he would not be but because he could not be. He was like a captive compelled to do what he would not.
This leads to the discovery of what he is and in vs. 18 he says, “I know that in me that is in my flesh dwelleth no good thing.” What a humiliating discovery this is, and he is compelled in vs. 21-23 to admit defeat in this conflict between the old and the new natures. “The inward man” delighting in the law of God but another law holding him a captive. Listen to the groan of despair, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
What does the apostle discover that he needs? Why it is deliverance and for this we need a Deliverer. We will consider this deliverance more in detail in our next lesson.
1. How many times does the apostle use the personal pronoun I, me, and my, in our portion?
2. Some Scripture references to the “heart” are like the references to “I” in our chapter. Read Jer. 17:9, Ps. 51:10 and Acts 15:9 and tell which refers to the old man, the new man and myself.
3. What humiliating discovery does the apostle make in vs. 14-18?