“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”
It is the law that the flesh serves sin
How is your life of faith? “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Are you not like this?
The Bible also tells us, “So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” And those are the laws that dominate us. Our hearts are made to love God and to love the truth, but it is only natural for the flesh to serve the law of sin. The Word of God tells us that the heart serves the gospel and His righteousness, while the flesh serves only sin.
Do you know what the law of sin is? We want to lead faithful lives, so we, the saints and the servants of God, feel as bold as lions when our flesh actually does not serve sin. But we have no power when our flesh serves and is indulged in sin. We may think that we will be happy and full of courage by not sinning anymore, but in reality, we do not really have the confidence not to sin any longer. The hearts of saints and the hearts of the servants of God are shrunken because of this.
“♫All my sins are gone! ♪ Through the grace of Calvary! ♫” Though we have redemption and praise God like this, we have no self-confidence to live when we think of our future lives of faith. We think about the weaknesses of the flesh and come to this conclusion: “I shouldn’t live this way in the future; I shouldn’t sin anymore.” But when we depend on the Lord once again and stand firm on the righteousness of God again, we make promises to God, saying, “Lord, thank You. Hallelujah. I will follow You until my dying day.” We then powerfully serve the Lord in a blaze, but that does not last long because we soon become disappointed again with ourselves when we sin again. In fact, all the saints and the servants of God who have been saved are like this. We thus come to be repressed by the fact that the flesh serves only sin.
I know the Lord does not want us to be bound by the weakness of the flesh. This is also the reason why Paul separated the spirit from the flesh. “So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” Our flesh cannot be improved. The flesh serves only the law of sin. Paul says that this is the law. The flesh is made to follow and serve only sin. Do you understand this? It’s the law. Who can change the law? Neither you nor I can. Whom should we serve with our hearts then? We should serve God. We should love God, the truth, the souls and His righteousness with all our hearts.
Do not expect much from the flesh
The flesh wants to amplify carnal pleasure, comfort, peace, joy and its pride, not the righteousness of God. The flesh wants everything to be done as it pleases.
Do not expect much from the flesh, saying, “Listen flesh, I want you to do a good job.” Give up your expectations that the flesh will get better. Don’t assume that our flesh loves God and His righteousness, or that it wants to serve God’s righteousness and suffer for Him.
Those who expect something good from the flesh are foolish. What, then, should we do? Everything is done according to the law of the Lord. Can we change God’s law, even if we know it? Of course, we cannot change it, for it is the law of the Lord.
It is God’s law that makes the flesh serve sin. If we feel depressed and our face is dark, this is because we are serving the flesh. Our flesh wants to live well, so the flesh always justifies itself. Let us not justify ourselves; rather, let us leave the flesh as it is. I want you to live by the faith in the Lord with your heart. The flesh cannot escape from sinning until it dies, because the flesh serves only sin. We cannot escape from sinning by ourselves. You may think, “The flesh may become better.” But this is never the case. Or when you unconsciously commit sins, you may think, “It’s due to the bad environment.” No! It’s not due to the circumstances at all—the flesh was meant to serve sin form the very beginning!
The flesh never does anything good. The flesh sins until it dies. “Will the flesh get better?” Do not expect such a thing, for you will be thoroughly disappointed. No matter how frequently you make up your mind and tell yourself, “I will not act as such,” the flesh cannot help but to do evil things, even against your wishes. Who among us have not resolved in our minds not to sin? Everyone has! But it is the law of God for the flesh to serve only sin.
Catholic priests and nuns as well as the monks and hermits of every religion try to live holy lives with their flesh. But it is impossible for the flesh to live a life without blemishes. They live their lives as hypocrites. It is impossible for us to do good with our flesh. The flesh serves the law of sin. This is the law that God has established. Just as a maggot cannot fly while a cicada enjoys flying in the sky, this is the law. Just as a maggot likes to eat dirty mud, human flesh likes to commit sins. Can you honestly say that there is something that you can expect from your flesh? Of course not. This is why the Apostle Paul said, “So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:25).
Our flesh sins until we die. It cannot help but sin. Would the flesh not sin anymore after a long period of training? No! The flesh cannot be improved. Is it then okay for the flesh to sin as much as it wants? No! That is not what I am saying here. I just mean that the flesh cannot help but sin. Our sins do not depend on our wills or abilities. We cannot help but sin, even if we do not want to sin, and we sin even more if we try harder not to sin.
“But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:23-24) It is impossible for the flesh to do good because the flesh brings us into captivity to the law of sin.
People hate to say this truth and they are ashamed of this. They say, “How can you openly say this?” But was it not Paul himself who said this so blatantly? The flesh serves the law of sin. We serve sin, regardless of our will, until we die. We are not born just to sin. Still, it is undeniable that the flesh is an instrument of sin.
The Lord enabled us to serve Him sufficiently
Beloved saints, what do you think? Do you think that you can serve the Lord with your flesh if you keep on trying? Is it possible? No!
Who saved us from all our sins? Jesus did. Did Jesus Christ, then, deliver us from all the sins of the flesh that serves the law of sin? Did Jesus Christ really save us, who serve the law of sin and commit sins all our lives, from all the sins of the flesh? Did the Lord really save us from all our sins? The answer is an emphatic yes! Of course He did! It is impossible for the flesh not to sin, and it is impossible for you to be forgiven of your sins and be delivered from the condemnation of God through your flesh. But the Lord made it possible. The Lord made us righteous and He saved us from all our sins, even if we constantly sin.
Jesus Christ our Lord has saved us. Who is the Lord that has saved us? It is Jesus Christ. Who is Jesus then? He is the Son of God and the Lord of all believers. He is the Lord who has saved us. Jesus Christ our Lord made us perfect from all sins. Jesus Christ enabled us to serve Him.
The Lord enabled us to live without sin. The omnipotent Lord who created us saved us from all our sins. Our Lord wholly saved us and made us righteous, even though the flesh serves the law of sin until it dies. This is why Paul the Apostle thanked God through Jesus Christ the Lord. We also cannot thank God enough for sending Jesus Christ, our Lord.
We must know how amazing the salvation of the Lord is, just how great and gracious it is. We cannot but give thanks to the Lord for His almighty power that has saved our corrupt flesh that does nothing but sin until it dies. The Lord saved us with His power and made our members His instruments to serve Him by faith. The Lord perfectly saved us so that we would no longer be servants of sin anymore.
Has not our Lord perfectly saved us? Of course He did! He has wholly and perfectly saved us. He enabled us to serve Him sufficiently. Who did this great thing? Our Lord did! Who turned those who cannot help but commit sin with their flesh to become righteous and to serve God? Our Lord did! The Lord saved us, who sin throughout our lives, from all our sins. He also changed us so that we could serve His righteousness.
The Lord has saved us from all our sins
We must think this over because we are human beings. I think of how amazing the salvation of the Lord is because I am a human being. Had I not known that the flesh serves only sin, I would always have been disappointed with it. I would probably have given up the life of faith because of my sins, even though I had already received the forgiveness of my sins.
“Before I was saved, I could stand, even if I sinned. But if I still sin now, it makes no difference whether I was saved or not. What’s the use of being born again?” You may think that you should become better than before. You might feel that your flesh would be, now that you have been saved, better than when you were not. Those who have not been born again yet cannot understand what I am saying.
We can thank Jesus only when we know and believe that all the sins of the flesh have been forgiven. I give thanks to the Lord, who took away all the sins that I commit until I die.
In the previous edition of the Korean hymnbook, there was a hymn that went: “♪Hallelujah! Praise Him! ♫All my past sins have been forgiven! And I walk with the Lord Jesus, then everywhere I go is the Kingdom of Heaven♪” What does this mean? If the Lord took away only our past sins, what are we to do next? We should not sin with the flesh anymore; we should thoroughly pray for forgiveness whenever we commit sins, and we should live well anyway. But this is only Satan’s awful trick.
Nothing is sweeter than this trick. Satan beguiles us, saying, “All your past sins have been forgiven. So, if you walk with Jesus, and if you don’t sin anymore, you can enter the Kingdom of Heaven. But whenever you sin in the future, you must offer prayers of repentance to be forgiven, so that you can enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Do you understand?” Most people then believe this when they read the Bible. They sing hymns, weeping, “♪Hallelujah! Praise Him! ♫All my past sins have been forgiven! And I walk with the Lord Jesus, then everywhere I go is the Kingdom of Heaven ♪”
But they cannot stop sinning. It is God’s law on flesh. The flesh cannot help but sin again and again. So they think they have to pray for forgiveness. They diligently say prayers of repentance to receive the forgiveness for their daily sins. They sing hymns after the prayers, “♪Hallelujah! Praise Him! ♫All my past sins have been forgiven! And I walk with the Lord Jesus, then everywhere I go is the Kingdom of Heaven ♪” But does it last even for two or three days? They sin again in a manner of hours, not even days. They may pray and fast for forgiveness, but they cannot escape from this unchangeable law of God while living in their flesh.
Are the words of the hymn true? Are only your past sins forgiven? Our Lord has taken away all our sins, not only our past sins. We can praise Him now, “♪Hallelujah! Praise Him! ♫ALL of my sins have been forgiven! And I walk with the Lord Jesus, then everywhere I go is the Kingdom of Heaven♪”
Those who have been saved may be confused after sinning again, when they do not know that it is God’s law for their flesh to sin until they die. They easily lose the peace of their mind whenever they find the evilness of their flesh just like those who are not born again. They are peaceful only when they do not sin. This is the phenomenon that can be found in every Christian’s life who has not received the forgiveness of their sins yet. They may just sing with their lips, “♫All my sins are gone. ♪All your sins are also gone. All our sins are gone! ♫” But if they sin again, they think that they have to ask for forgiveness once again. The more frequently they sin, the softer they sing, “♫My sins are gone, ♫your sins are gone...,” and they come to be disappointed with themselves as time goes by.
Our Lord has perfectly saved us from all our sins. Our Lord has saved us from all the sins so that we could praise and thank Him anytime and in any situation. We can enjoy peace with Him and pray to God for help at all times through Jesus Christ.
If we know that the flesh only serves the law of sin, we can escape from sin by faith
Why is your life of faith so hard? You are beset by the hard life of faith because you do not know the truth, that the flesh serves only the law of sin? We must lead spiritual lives by knowing this truth.
We come to know God’s truth and change when we diligently listen to His Word and have fellowship with each other. “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” The Lord has perfectly saved us from all our sins so that we can thank God all the time. Do you believe this? The Lord has saved us from all our sins.
Never be overwhelmed and closed down by your own thoughts—they will lead you to nowhere. We can follow the Lord, thank Him, and live a life of faith only when we are not under the yoke of sin. If our faith is correlated with our deeds, and if we know we will sin again, we cannot always rejoice and follow the Lord. If the Lord’s salvation were even a little imperfect, we would not be able to follow the Lord with much assurance.
We thank the Lord because He took away all our sins. We praise and follow Him with power. If I cannot solve the problem of my own sins, how can I save others from their sins? How can I preach the gospel to others? How can a drowning man save other drowning men? If we admit that our flesh cannot help but sin, we can escape from sin. But if we do not admit this truth, then we would be influenced by the false doctrines of a religion called “Christianity.”
There is a funny story, and you may know it. Once upon a time, a young Catholic priest got on a carriage with two nuns from his church to visit a dying believer in a remote village. He came to sit between the two to drive the horses. The pretty young nun was sitting on the right side of him and the ugly old nun was sitting on the left side of him. There was no problem when the carriage was on the smooth and wide road of the town, but as soon as they were on the narrow and rough road in the mountains, the carriage began to sway terribly. Guess what the Catholic priest was thinking in his mind. When the carriage inclined to the right side, he prayed “Oh, God. Please, do as you please!” But when it inclined to the opposite side, he cried out in his heart desperately, “Oh, Lord. Don’t lead me into temptation!” He prayed two things: “Oh, Lord. Do as you please” and “Oh, Lord. Don’t lead me into temptation.”
We are all the same as him. Our flesh only serves the law of sin, but we must know the Lord’s will and follow Him with faith according to His will, because we have nothing to expect from ourselves. We are dead and there is no possibility for our flesh to be improved.
We follow the Lord because He has perfectly saved us
How heavy would we feel if we entered the Kingdom of Heaven by doing good deeds, or if our salvation depended on how much we did good deeds or committed sins? The Lord says to us, “You are committing sins all your life. But I had taken away all the sins that are to be committed until you die. I made you righteous. I made you a righteous person who has no sin. I have perfectly saved you. Do you thank me?” What is our answer? “Yes, we thank You, my Lord!” He asks again, “Will you follow me?” How do we answer? “Yes, we will.”
Do you want to follow God? Of course, we want to follow the Lord, because He has taken away all our sins. Had the Lord taken away only 90% of your sins, you wouldn’t be able to follow Him. You may complain to God saying, “You should also have taken away the remaining 10% of my sins! How can I solve the problem of these sins by myself? How can I follow You while I have to wash away my filthiness?” Then, because of these sins, we come to quit following God.
However, now we want to follow the Lord voluntarily because He has perfectly saved us from all our sins. “Yes, You’ve saved me perfectly. I can follow You from now on! Thank You, Lord! I praise You. I glorify You. I love You!” We come to dedicate ourselves to serving the Lord because we love Him and we want to follow Him. We want to follow the Lord from the bottom of our hearts because He has saved us from all our sins, and because we have been touched by His love.
The same goes for attending church. Attending Sunday services is infinitely easier if we have the desire to attend; if we do not feel like attending for some reason, then even going to church once a week becomes a chore for us. If you have to listen to the same tragic words during every worship service— “Ladies and gentlemen, repent all the sins you committed during the last week,”—you would quit going to church after a couple of years. Those who have a strong will might last longer, perhaps a decade or even two, but they, too, will eventually quit. Many false prophets force people who suffer from their sins to repent. This is why many people quit going to church, as they think it is too arduous and difficult to believe in Jesus.
We follow the Lord, being impressed with His love. We cannot help but praise the Lord, singing, “♪I love Jesus! I can’t change Jesus with anything else in the world♪” We follow Jesus because we really love Him.
How amazing His salvation is. The Lord enabled us to serve Him without the slightest bit of sin. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2). The Lord blesses us to always thank and praise Him. He wants us to rejoice and follow Him all the time. He saved us. Do you believe this?
Do not be beset by your own weaknesses. The Lord took away all the sins of those whose tempers are uncontrollable. He also took away all the sins of the lewd and ill-natured people. Now, doesn’t this just make you want to follow the Lord? This is why we love our Lord. Our Lord does not force us to follow Him or coerce us to worship Him either. God has blessed us. He became our Father and we became His children, and God tells us to follow Him. He tells His servants to serve Him.
All those who have been saved by God are His servants. God blesses all His workers and tells them to follow Him. The Lord does not call us for our deeds. The Lord tells us, “I perfectly saved you from all sins. Your temper is intolerable. You have lewdness within you. You are beyond description. You are foolish. You should be cursed because of the sins of your forefathers. But I saved you and I don’t care about the other things. You can’t help but sin all your life, yet I took away all your sins. I had suffered for you and rose again from the dead to blot out all your sins. I did these things because I love you. I love you. Do you love me?” What is our answer? “Yes, I love You, my Lord. You know that I also love You. Thank You, Lord!”
“Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father,” said the Lord. Do you believe this? How ill natured we are! How many sins have we committed before God? Don’t pretend not to sin.
We sin countless times throughout our lives. But the Lord has eternally taken away our all our sins, even when our sins are as many as the stars in the sky. The Lord Jesus has completely and sufficiently taken away all our sins.
God made us His workers by clothing us in His righteousness
At times we may think that we cannot follow God anymore when we observe ourselves. Our hearts sometimes seem as bright as sunny days, but quite gloomy other times. And from time to time, we find ourselves in darkness while following the Lord after being born again. We change as if we were going through the four seasons. God gave Noah eight kinds of seasons when Noah went out of the ark. God said, “While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22).
The ups and downs of our faith do not cease, either. We praise Jesus joyously on some days but turn angry in no time when we face difficulties.
“Then He adds, ‘Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’ Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.” This is what the Lord said (Hebrews 10:17-18).
The flesh cannot help but sin until it dies. It is the law of the flesh. The flesh serves the law of sin. This means that the flesh can only sin. But God made those who can only sin His own servants. How does God make us His servants? Surely, He cannot make those who have sin His servants.
God made you His servants by taking away all the sins that your flesh commits to your very last day and paid off all the wages of your sins to make you perfect. He sanctified and called you to become His holy laborers. He made us His servants. Though we are weak, we now have the power. “What power,” you may ask. We have the power of His righteousness. We have the perfect power by putting on the righteousness of the Lord. We have been made perfect, in other words. Though we are weak in the flesh, we are strong in the Spirit.
Who can serve the Lord?
“As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (2 Corinthians 6:10). We have no sin, even though we look sinful. We have no sin, though we sin. We can therefore help many people to be saved with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. This is the mystery of Christ and the secret of the Kingdom of Heaven.
I praise the Lord who has wholly saved us. Who can serve the Lord? Those who want to serve the Lord by trying not to sin, or those who believe that the Lord took away all their sins that are committed in their lifetime? Only the latter can serve the Lord and pleases Him. Only those who believe that the Lord perfectly washed away all their sins can serve Him. They willingly devote themselves to the Lord and invest all their belongings in His works. They are proud of being His workers, for being able to do something, however small, for the Lord.
Some people are afraid of their own righteousness being broken, so they never get angry, even when they are in a situation where they should be angry. Their self-righteousness should be broken. We should throw away our righteousness in trashcans as we throw our wastes away. Our righteousness must be broken. We must stamp and cut it out and throw it away in a trashcan. We can give thanks to the Lord and exalt His righteousness only when we discard our own righteousness.
Such people can praise and thank the Lord singing, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His name” (Psalms 100:4). Those who have their own righteousness, though they may be saved, cannot serve or love the Lord to the end. Those who know that the flesh serves only sin throughout their lives and believe that the Lord took away all their sins, including those to come, want to love and serve the Lord patiently. In their hearts is found an urge to love the Lord.
Do you have the heart that loves and wants to serve the Lord? Do you have the heart that thanks Him?
The Lord enabled us to live happy lives without sin
We, the servants of God, live in affluence and are happier than those who make a million dollars a year. We eat watermelons in the summer and eat peaches and grapes when they are in season. We can eat anything we want. We are not poor. Have you ever lived poorly after being redeemed? We have lived in affluence.
We can live in abundance if we walk with the Lord. One who walks with the Lord shall not want. Do you believe this? We live without shortage, even though we are not rich by the worldly standard. Do you believe this? Do you have unmet needs and desire after things even after you met the Lord? We lack nothing. We live more richly now than we ever did in the past. I, for one, have lived and slept better now than I ever did.
Our Lord has perfectly saved us. Words cannot express this blessing. Our Lord has wholly saved us and has enabled you and me to thank God through Him. How great His grace is!
“O wretched man that I am!” Paul said, seeing his flesh. “Who will deliver me from this body of this death?” We sin throughout our lives. Who saved us from all the sins that we commit with the flesh? The Lord Jesus Christ has saved us. As Paul did, I, too, thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Thank You, my Lord. Thank You for taking away all our sins.
The Apostle Paul did not live with his own righteousness after he obtained God’s righteousness. He confessed many times that his flesh was sold under sin. Some people claim that Paul wrote chapter 7 before he was saved and chapter 8 after he was saved. That’s just not right.
The Word of God is applicable to both those who are saved and those who are not saved. It is applicable to everyone. Most theologians, not knowing the Word of God, are apt to separate chapter 7 from chapter 8, and apply the former chapter to those who are not saved and the latter chapter to those who are saved. They arbitrarily separate the Word of God into paragraphs, even though they do not know how to separate the paragraphs. There are many smart and yet deceitful men in this field.
The Lord has absolutely and completely taken away all our sins. I want you to live by faith, by thanking God. I want you to iron out the wrinkles on your face. The Lord has taken away all the dark sins from your heart. I give thanks to the Lord who has saved us from all the sins of the flesh.