Monday, January 23, 2012

Romans 7: Will vs Reality

The problem, Paul says, is that you forget you are free. The law exists, which is good because it shows us our sin. Paul is explicit that the law does not cause sin, but the sin in us reveals itself through the law. The law shows us what is right, but we cannot do right.

This distinction between knowing what is right, but doing wrong is an essential reality for Paul. Knowledge is not enough. We know, but we sin. As Paul now famously says in verse 15: 
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
This understanding of sin and will resonates with our modern sensibility. In our minds we know what is right, but we fail to act. As I kid in middle school one of my classmates of was being made fun of. I knew this was wrong, but I did not say a thing. To my shame I kept quiet and my nose clean. I was a slave to sin. The will is not enough. I see this in the mundane, finishing off those brownies even though my mind says, you’re full. You see this in the paternalistic projects of today, if only people know that “smoking is bad for them,” “that junk food isn’t healthy,” “that bullying is mean.” We equate knowledge with action, even though knowledge often does not lead to action.

Paul’s solution, not surprisingly is Jesus Christ. We’ll talk about that in chapter 8.

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