I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. (Rom. 7:18)

PERHAPS YOU KNOW someone with an illness that affects his or her body but not the mind. The mind knows where it wants to go or what it wants to do, but it simply cannot get the body to do it. You may have had a tiny taste of that experience after having your mouth numbed by a dentist. Your mind knows how to talk, but you may find it difficult to make your lips cooperate. That experience makes you feel that you are not fully in control of yourself.

The word translated as “sinful nature” in our key verse is actually the Greek word for flesh. The body is not evil in itself, but the “flesh is weak.” Without the Holy Spirit to empower the actions we take with our bodies, we repeatedly find ourselves doing wrong. We cannot do good things by trying harder any more than a car can lift itself.

Doing God’s will is never a matter of willpower. This is not something we can do simply by trying harder. We need help from outside ourselves. It is possible for several people to lift a car, even a heavy one. So with the Holy Spirit on our side, our weak flesh can rise above repeated spiritual defeat. If we depend on God, He will lift us above temptation.

Offer yourself—body, mind, and spirit—to God.

Ken Schenck is dean of the School of Theology and Ministry and professor of New Testament and ancient languages at Indiana Wesleyan University. His publications include The Early Church: Reaching the World (WPH) and more.

© 2018 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.