The inner conflict of every Christian is the tension between your already-redeemed spirit and your not-yet-redeemed body. Yes, it’s that simple. Unfortunately, too many Christians don’t understand this dynamic of their changed state. Even more unfortunate is the reality that most Christians are never told upfront that this tension is going to exist after they are born again.
The True Experience
Some have read Romans 7:13-25 and wrongly concluded that Paul is describing his life prior to becoming a Christian. However, this cannot be the case for several reasons:
- The major theme of chapters 6-8 is the Christian life – how grace and law work together in the life of the redeemed
- Paul clearly uses the present tense and this should be taken at face value, as his First Century readers would have done
- Paul’s description of the God’s law and his own inner life is incompatible with the heart and life of an unregenerate person
- The struggle described exists only the hearts of the redeemed
- The assurance of deliverance is something only a Christian can have (v. 25)
- All Christians can relate to the struggle Paul describes of himself
Additionally, all other descriptions of this passage that suggest Paul is discussing something other than his own, at present, experience fail for many of the same reasons. The inner conflict is the real and legitimate experience of every Christian.
Flesh Against Spirit
The inner conflict, described as battle and war – and make no mistake, the war-language is intentional – is the same for every believer. Each will experience it to varying degrees, of course, but experience it we all do.
The unredeemed and still-tied-to-this-world flesh (which is the reason it dies and goes back to dust) resists and wages war against our new inner man. Our new spirit is young, naive, and in great need of growing up. And, just like children, this process will take time and will at times, be painful. But grow and mature we must. We must educate and train our new inner man to “be the boss” of our flesh.
This is part of the reason why sanctification is a necessarily part of the salvation process. In fact, it is for the purpose of obeying God’s law that we have been redeemed and remain in this life. There is no biblical process for moving from justification to glorification that does not include regeneration and sanctification. It just doesn’t exist.
Victory Is Assured
Reading this passage (7:13-24), one might conclude the battle is lost but nothing could be further from the truth. We are, in fact, already saved and our victory over sin and death is already assured. Christ has conquered both sin and death and we are equal participants in that (see 6:5; 1 Corinthians 15). This battle we face against our own sin/flesh is the “daily cross” Jesus spoke of (Matthew 16:24ff).
Our motivation to “keep the faith” and “fight the good fight” is the assurance of our salvation. We WILL be raised up and receive new bodies at the resurrection. These new bodies will match our already-new-spirit and will inherit eternal life in the very presence of God.