I am carnal

Frequently a Christian may act in a very unchristian manner.  Rom. 7, 18 Paul says: I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not.  It is plain that in this passage the apostle describes a Christian.  How a person becomes a Christian he had described before.  Next, he proceeded to show how a Christian ought to walk and to please God.  In the section of his epistle from which the above passage is taken he begins to discuss the doctrine of spiritual tribulations in which Christians frequently are merged, in order to comfort them.  He describes a Christian as a double being.  The true Christian, he says, always desires what is good, but frequently he does not accomplish it.  Now, then, if a preacher describes a Christian in such a manner as to deny that, unless he accomplishes all that is good, he does not really will what is good, the description is unbiblical.  To will what is good is the main trait of a Christian.  Frequently he does not progress beyond the good will to do something.  Before he is aware of it, he has gone astray; the sin within him has come forth, and he is ashamed of himself.  But for that reason he has not by any means fallen from grace.


Rom. 7, 14 Paul says: For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin.  He means to say: “Who would not gladly be rid of sin?  As for me, I am like a slave sold to a master.  I cannot get away from him; I am always being tyrannized by him.”  That is the condition of a Christian: he feels like a slave, with this difference, however, that he does not obey his master gladly as a Christian slave must obey.  He renders obedience with the utmost reluctance.  Accordingly the apostle cries in v. 24, “O wretched man that I am!  Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”  Remember this, partly for your own comfort, partly for the task of comforting the members of your future congregation.  The prevailing spiritual malady of our time is lack of assurance on the part of Christians.  This is because they are not given any reliable teaching.  Now, when a real Christian is shown what a miserable sinner he is, he clings to Christ all the more firmly and spurns the whispering of the devil, who tells him that he is fallen from grace and has lost God.


CFW Walther, Law and Gospel, p. 309.


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