"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone.
18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
I often have been called a good man, a good father, a good friend and so on. There also was a time in my life that I thought so low of myself that I really tried to do anything as long as I would appear good and acceptable (read worthy of love, care and respect). As a natural people-pleaser this was not that hard to do but the truth remains that no matter how well people may think of us, by nature no-one is fully and consistently good. No human being, not even one is truly good and without flaw. We are all contaminated by evil as Romans 3:12 reminds us. Ever since Adam took from the tree of good and evil both have been present in us. We are truly a mixed bag of sin and righteousness. This means that at times we suffer what Paul describes here in Romans 7:18-25.
We try so hard to be good and set ourselves high and lofty standards of good behaviour or worse allow others to set these for us. But no matter how hard we try sooner or later we run out of energy and fall down hard in all kinds of sin. The truth is that Jesus is right: No-one is good, only God.
So what then is the solution? How do we avoid going from bad to worse and change from glory to glory? It is when we admit our own failings, our own inability and look upon God to change us. It is when we fix our eyes on Jesus in faith and drink in His love, praying and expecting Him to inspire us from within to live right that this happens:
17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
2 Cor. 3:17-18
God wants to set us free from trying so hard in our own strength to be good, worthy, acceptable and lovable. He wants us to accept the fact that although by nature we are flawed and unable to e good all the time, He loves us and wants to help us grow in righteousness. This happens when we look upon Jesus with the eyes of faith, hope and joyful expectation that where our own strength fails, He is our strength amidst our weakness. Not only doe she bring forgiveness and healing to our hearts, but He also makes us grow into His likeness: As we look upon Him more and more in faith, expecting it only from Him and not our own strength, then our lives start to reflect Him and radiate with His glory as by faith we allow His love to fill our hearts (Romans 5:5).
Then we will experience what Paul exclaims in joy in Romans 7:25 “Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord….”
And we may live in the wonderful liberty that Paul describes in the next chapter knowing that our sins have been forgiven and done away with, not once, not twice but continually for in Christ there is no condemnation. He is always our advocate before the father.
My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.
1 John 2:1 (ESV translation)
Clothed with His righteousness we are given a brand new start every day:
1Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
No more living under external laws that bring condemnation and punishment but living out of the law of love which he puts into our hearts. Now we can live authentically, being good because God is good and He lives within us by His Holy Spirit, filling us with His love and goodness.
Then truly the word of the prophet Jeremiah 31:33 is fulfilled in us:
33"But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34"They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."