I started this post over a month ago - looking into what makes up "I". This stems from the Paulline quandry of the Spirit vs the Flesh - Righteousness vs Sin. The key section of Scripture for this perusal is in Romans 7:14ff:
14. For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
15. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.
16. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.
17. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
18. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
19. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
20. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
21. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.
22. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,
23. but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
24. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
25. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
Gotta tell ya, this one's tough. Each time I think I've got it neatly figured out, some verse or idea comes to mind that throws a wrench in the works. The big question has to do with the flesh. I am not, nor will I ever be, Armenian in my theology - lets get that straight first. Now, the question comes as to the Flesh and sin. The verses above seems to indicate that sin dwells in the flesh - flesh in which we are confined.
Through other scriptures, this perception of self is upheld (as when Paul says "I buffet my body and make it my slave"). The flesh does not appear to be who we really are, but we are, nonetheless, responsible for the actions of the flesh.
Here are some quandries I face with this: v. 17 & 20 refer to "sin that dwells in me." This seems to correllate "me" (or "I") with the sinful flesh.
If sin is in the flesh - then what did Christ die to redeem? If it is not in the spirit, then the spirit had no need for redemption as it was not in sin. If it is in the flesh, what do we do with "Od things are passed away, behold all things have become new"?
These are not faith-breaking issues - they are just questions that, if answered, may help us better understand our relationship with God. For now, I view it thusly:
"I" am neither the flesh nor the mind, "I" am Spirit. Once "I" was dead, another "I" was alive and enslaved to sin - a willingk, even eager prisoner of the flesh that encases me. Then, God whispered my name and called the dead me to awaken (sort of like the Lazarus thing, only strictly in the spiritual sense). When I obeyed, the old me was killed. The new me - alive to righteousness - is imprisoned in, but not enslaved to this flesh, which is thoroughly infused with sin - so much so that, without sin, this flesh would not hold together (hence the new bodies in the rapture). The new me has as much, if not more, of a desire to do righteousness as the old, now dead me had to do evil.
Though imprisoned, I have been given the power to dominate my flesh and cause it to do righteousness (II Peter 1:3 "seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.).
**What follows just hit me as I was typing - this is new to me and really enlightening - dunno why I haven't seen it before!**
But note - that power comes "through the true knowledge of Him . . ." This is why prayer and study of the Scriptures is so essential. Without knowledge - TRUE knowledge of Him, we are too weak to master the flesh and its desires. The more true knowledge we have of our Lord, the stronger we are and the more able to "buffet my body and make it my slave" as Paul said. ** This is maturity **. Wow. Lightbulb just went on for me . . .
Would love to hear your thoughts on the matter!