"We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 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. 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. 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. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 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." Romans 7:14-23
A funny thing happens when I am preparing to hit my tee shot and looking down the fairway I see a water hazard. If my last thought is, "Don't hit it in the water!" Guess where the ball goes?
It is the same thing that happens when someone tells you, "Don't do that!" It makes you want to do it!
That is the nature Paul describes in Romans 7. He makes the argument that knowing the law causes you to break the law because the law says what you can't do. The does and don'ts in the law runs afoul with your rebellious sinful nature. His basic argument is "the law can't save anyone." It can't save the pagan (7:7-14), nor can it save the one trying to live by the law (7:15-22), nor can it even save the man with a new nature (7:23-25).
This explains why you or I cannot save ourselves. We cannot manage sin. We cannot regulate sin or control sin. We cannot escape the power of sin.
Paul describes it this way, "You are married to sin. Like a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives, so you are bound to sin as long as it lives in you."
Says who? Says the law!
Living with sin is like living in a bad marriage. You can't be happy and you can't get out. The Christian can be the most miserable because there are two natures warring within. He is double-minded and unstable.
So, what's the answer? Death of that tyrant is the only way out.
How many times have you heard someone try to justify their own goodness by claiming that they "keep the commandments"? Maybe you have said that.
How many religious people try to save themselves by doing good works? The hope is to tip the moral scales in their favor by doing more good things than bad things. Is that you?
A desperate problem requires drastic action. Your sin nature has to die. The spiritual nature must live and grow. Nothing else will work but complete surrender to the Holy Spirit of God.
Are you ready to empty yourself to be filled with Him?