“If then I do that which I would not, and consent unto the Law that it is good”

“If then I do that which I would not”
Literally:  “But if I do what I do not desire.”–If he sins, against his purpose and   inclination, he condemns his sin, and acknowledges that Law, which he has disobeyed, to be just and good.  

            I WOULD NOT:  (Grk.–ou thelō)–Literally:  “I do not will.”  Knowing that the law condemns it, and that therefore it must be evil. I consent unto the law; I show by this circumstance that I acknowledge the law to be good.

“consent unto the Law”
Literally: “I agree with the Law.”  The very struggle with evil shows that it is not loved, or approved, but that the law which condemns it is really loved. By disapproving and hating      all violations of it, and condemning myself on account of them, I show that I approve the law as wise, holy, just, and good.

Christians may here find a test of their own piety. The fact of struggling against evil–the desire to be free from it, and to overcome it, the anxiety and grief which it causes–is an evidence that we do not love it, and that therefore we are the friends of God.  Perhaps nothing can be a more decisive test of piety and sincerity than a long-continued and painful struggle against evil passions and desires in every form, and a panting of the soul to be delivered from the power and dominion of sin.

            AGREE:  (Grk.–sumphēmi)–“I delight; I rejoice.”  Literally:  “speak together   with; concur with.”  “Agree of moral sympathy” (Vincent).  Used only here in the N.T.  Knowing that the Law condemns it, and that therefore, it must be evil.   I consent t the Law;

By disapproving and hating all violations of it, and condemning myself on account of them, I show that I approve the law as wise, holy, just, and good. “The judgment of my inner man going along with the law.”

            “that it is good”
            Literally:  “that {it is} good”–

                        GOOD:  (Grk.–kalos)–That is, morally excellent

“Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.”
Paul is bearing his soul and telling us of an experience that lies at the heart of the human situation.  He is telling us that he knew what was the right thing to do, and that he really wanted to do what was right, but yet somehow he never could seem to do it.  He knew what was the wrong thing to be doing and it was the last thing that he wanted to do, but yet somehow he ended up doing just that. 

            “Now then it is no more that I do it”
            Literally:  “But now I now longer work it out.”-This is evidently figurative language, for it is really the man that sins when evil is committed. 

                        NOW THEN:  (Grk.–nuni di)–Better:  “so now.”  A logical contrast, “as the case now stands.” 

            That is, my renewed self.  Not Paul as a freeman who sins, but Paul as the bond-servant (slave) of sin (see v. 15), and hence it is sin who reigns over him, who sins in him, as the instrument. He describes the sinful state as one of bondage. How often a man does what he  “would not!”
            By the former (sin) he evidently means his corrupt nature; by the latter (what he intends) he refers to his renewed nature, or his Christian principles.  What Paul means to be saying is that he does not approve or love it in his present state, but that it is the result of his in-born desires and passions. In his heart, and conscience, and habitual feeling, he did not choose to commit sin, but abhorred it. Thus every Christian can say that he does not choose to do evil, but would wish to be perfect; that he hates sin, and yet that his corrupt passions lead him astray.

                        NO MORE:  (Grk.–ouketi)–Literally:  “no longer.”

          That is, now in my renewed self.  Not Paul as a freeman who sins, but Paul as the bond-servant (slave) of sin (see v. 15), and hence it is sin who reigns over him, who sins in him, as the instrument. He describes the sinful state as one of bondage. How often a man does what he  “would not!”
         It is not I which constitutes reason and conscience, but sin, corrupt and sensual inclinations that are in me, that have the entire domination over my reasoning, that darken my understanding, and pervert my judgment. For such there is condemnation in the Law, but no cure for it. So we find here that there is a principle in the unregenerate man stronger than reason itself; a principle which, properly speaking, is not of the essence of the soul, but that acts in it as its lord, or as a tyrant.  This is inbred and indwelling sin by which the whole soul is darkened, confused, perverted, and excited to rebellion against God.

            “but sin that dwelleth in me”
            Literally: “But the sin dwelling in me.”  My corrupt passions and native propensities dwelling in me as its home.  

            It is not my habitual inclination or my prevailing desire to break the Law. I do not love transgression, but abhor it; but through the power of temptation and the strength of my own evil desires and tendencies I offend, and in all come short desires and tendencies of perfect obedience, because of the power of temptation and the strength of my own evil tendencies. This is not my true self (not my higher personality) but my lower self because of my slavery to my indwelling sin.
            Paul’s pagan contemporaries knew this same feeling that Paul was feeling.  The Roman philosopher Seneca wrote of, ‘our helplessness in necessary things.”  He spoke of how people hate their sins and love them at the same time.  The Roman poet, Ovid, wrote:  “I see the better things, and approve them, but I follow the worse.” There were rabbis who believed that the evil impulse was present in the embryo in the womb; that it was there even before birth; that it was a ‘malevolent second personality.”

            It seemed to Paul that two men were inside his one skin, pulling him in different directions.  This is a strong expression, denoting that sin had taken up its habitation in the mind, and abode there. It had not yet been wholly dislodged. This expression stands in contrast with another that occurs, where it is said that “the Spirit of God dwells” in the Christian (8:9; I Cor. 3:16).  The sense is, that he is strongly influenced by sin on the one hand; and by the Spirit on the other. From this expression has arisen the phrase so common among Christians, indwelling sin.
            This reminds me of a story I heard about the old American Sioux Indian war chief, Gall.  Gall was one of the principle war chiefs who fought General Custer and the Seventh Cavalry, at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.  After he was converted to Christianity, Gall told the missionary there on the reservation that it seemed to him that there were two dogs, a black dog and a white in him who were always fighting. The missionary asked him which dog seemed to win.  Chief Gall replied: “the one I feed.”

“For I know that in me
(that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing; for to will I present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not.”

The tendency of the carnal nature of man is evil.   Paul is now describing the conflict of human nature (the natural man) with the will and conscience.  Understand this:  NO good reigns in the unregenerated (though awakened) sinner, while NO sin reigns in the regenerated.  If good ceases to reign in them, they cease to be regenerate, which is impossible; for that would mean the he had lost his salvation, which cannot ever happen.

"For I know that in me”–Better rendered as:  “For I know that there dwelleth not in me, that is in my flesh, any good.”  That is, by my nature.  I have learned by experience that in   an unregenerate man there is no good. 

There is no principle by which the soul can be brought into the light; no principle by which it can be restored to purity: fleshly appetites alone prevail; and the brute runs away with the man. This is designed as an illustration of what he had just said, that sin dwelt in him.

                        IN ME:  (Grk.-en emoi)– Paul explains this by “in my flesh,” the unregenerated man “sold under sin” of verse 14.

            “That is, in my flesh”–In my unrenewed nature; in my trends and inclinations before conversion.  

            My natural heart, as it is under the influence of law merely, without the enslaved as they are by sin through the fall; or in me, while I was in the grace of God No good thing; nothing spiritually good; even now, under the influences of the Spirit and grace of God, much evil still remains. To will is present; I desire to be completely conformed to the will of God.   The flesh here signifies the whole man as he is by nature.
           This expression shows that in this discussion Paul was speaking of himself as a renewed man. Hence he is careful to imply that there was at that time in him something that was right or acceptable with God, but that did not pertain to him by nature.

             MY FLESH:  (Grk.–sarki mou)–The “flesh” here signifies the whole man as he is by nature. One expositor refers to sarx (flesh) as the “workshop of sin, the whole person in his fallenness to the world and alienation from God.”

“dwelleth no good thing”
Literally:  “Dwells no good.” —Paul is telling us that his soul was wholly occupied by that which was evil. Sin had taken entire possession.  F.B. Meyer took this to refer to the unregenerate man; and such is his view of this passage throughout.

          This is designed as an illustration of what Paul had just said, that sin dwelt in him.  There could not be possibly a stronger expression of belief of the Doctrine of Total Depravity of Man. It is Paul's own representation of himself. It proves that his heart was wholly evil. And if this was true of him, it is true of all others.
           This is a good way to examine ourselves;, to inquire whether we have such a view of our own native character as to say that we know that in our flesh there is really NO good thing. The idea here is that so far as the flesh was concerned (that is, in regard to his natural inclinations and desires) there was nothing good; ALL was evil.
            This was true in his entire conduct before conversion, where the desires of the flesh reigned and rioted without control; and it was true after conversion, so far as the natural inclinations and propensities of the flesh were concerned. All those operations in every state were evil, and not the less evil because they are experienced under the light and amidst the Influences of the gospel.

           NO GOOD THING:  (Grk.–ouk,,,agathon)–“Not absolutely good.” This  is not really   a complete view of man even in his unregenerate state as Paul immediately begins to show.

            “to will is present with me”
            `For to desire is present with me.” 
To purpose or intend to do good.  I can do that. It is possible; it is in my power.

              IS PRESENT:  (Grk.–parakeitai)–This Greek word literally means, “to lie near at hand.”  Paul was saying that the willingness to do the good was within his reach; that it     was      near to him; that is, it was constantly before him or that it was now his habitual  inclination and purpose of mind. It is (or at least it should be) the uniform, regular,        habitual purpose of the Christian's mind to do right.

            Who hasn’t had this same kind of experience? How often do we resolve to do better, and break our resolves as soon as temptation comes!   Though the whole soul has suffered indescribably by the FALL, yet there are some faculties that appear to have suffered less than others; or rather have received larger measures of the light, because their concurrence with the God’s principle is so necessary to the salvation of the soul.  Even the most unconcerned about spiritual things have understanding, judgment, reason, and will.
            In short, the soul seems not only incapable, of itself, for any truly spiritual acts; but what shows its fall in the most indisputable manner is its enmity to sacred things.  Let an unregenerate man pretend what he pleases.  His conscience knows that he hates serving God.  His soul revolts against it; his carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, and neither can it be.  When Paul says, to will is present with me, he shows that his will is on the side of God and truth so that it consents to the propriety and necessity of obedience.
            The will is right, but the passions are wrong.  It discerns and approves, but is without ability to perform: it has no power over sensual appetites; in these the principle of rebellion dwells: it wills evil and it wills good, but can only command through the power of Divine grace: but this the person in question, the unregenerate man, has not received.

            “for to will”–To purpose or intend to do good.

                       TO WILL:  (Grk.–thelō)–Literally: “the being constantly desirous.”  Paul constantl desired to be doing God’s work.

“but how to perform”
Literally:  “But to work out.”  To do that which would be good in the sight of

The sense would have been better retained here if the translators had not introduced the word “how.” The difficulty was not in the mode of performing it, but in the doing of the thing itself. The word “how”" in the King James Version, weakens its statement. This word is not even in the original Greek text but was added by the KJV translators; and erroneously I must say.  We are commanded by God all through His Word to NEVER add anything to His Word.

    “Ye shall not add unto the Word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish {ought} from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (Deut. 4).

    “For every Word of God {is} pure; He {is} a shield unto them that put their trust in Him”
    “Add  thou not unto His Word, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar”
(Prove. 30:5-6).

    “For I testify unto every man that heareth the Word of the prophecy of this book, ‘If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18).

“I find not”
Literally:  I do not find.”–I don’t find it in my power; or I find strong, constant obstacles, so that I fail of doing it.

The obstacles are not natural, but such as arise from long indulgence in sin; the strong native propensity to evil. Here, again, we have the double self of the renewed man; “In me dwelleth no good; but this corrupt self is not my true self; it is but sin dwelling in my real self, as a renewed man.” I do not do it; on the contrary, I do as stated in verse 15. 

“For the good that I would do I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do.”
Paul now is basically repeating what he has previously said; namely, that he did not always do that good which he desired to do, but sometimes, upon being overpowered by the flesh, he did what the Law prohibits, and what he would not normally wish to do.

“For the good that I would do I do not”
Literally: “But what good I desire I do not.”–Here again is the most decisive proof that the will is on the side of God and truth. Paul’s repetition here shows how full the mind of  Paul’s was of the subject; and how much inclined he was to dwell upon it, and to place it in   every variety of form.

        Paul is expressing his (and our own) utter powerlessness within ourselves against the evil of the flesh, even though one may be under the Mosaic Law, as Paul was, or we have been convicted by the power of our awakened conscience.  Paul’s own experience of life led him to conclude that whenever he wished to do that which was good, sin would rear its ugly head; that is, his desire to do what was right was inevitably confronted by sin’s insistence that he do just the opposite.
         The conflict here graphically described between a self that “desires” to do good and a self that in spite of this does evil, cannot be the struggles between conscience and passion in the unregenerate, because the description given of this “desire to do good” (verse 22) is such as cannot be ascribed to any but the renewed passions or even life itself.

“but the evil which I would not, that I do.”
Literally:  “But the evil I do not desire, this I do.”  And here is equally decisive proof that the will is against, or opposed to evil.  It is not the will that leads men astray; but the corrupt PASSIONS which oppose and oppress the will. 

The soul is so completely fallen that it has no power to do good till it receive that power from on high.  But it has power to see good, to distinguish between that and evil; to acknowledge the excellence of this good, and to will this good, from a conviction of that excellence; but farther it cannot go.

“But does not this arguing destroy the doctrine of free grace?”
On the contrary; It establishes that doctrine.

The Law gives the knowledge, but not the cure of sin; therefore, though he does not will evil and wills good, yet he can neither conquer the one (the evil) nor perform the other (the good) until he receives the Grace of Christ, till he seeks and finds redemption in His blood.   Here, then, the free agency of man is preserved, without which he could not be in a savable state; and the honor of the grace of Christ is maintained, without which there can be no actual salvation. There is a good sentiment on this subject in the following words of an eminent poet:—

Thou great first CAUSE, least understood;
Who all my sense confined

To know but this, that thou art good;
And that myself am blind.
Yet gave me in this dark estate
To see the good from ill;
And binding nature fast in fate,
Left free the human will.

POPE'S Universal Prayer