The existence of law is evidence that mankind is not only in conflict with God and creation, but also in conflict with their own nature. Meaning that there is disunity between humans and within each human (in two minds).

The history of fallen man has shown that even without the love of God (in them) the desire to live in community is still strong (i.e. live together in unity). This reveals an inherent conflict within each human, a conflict between the desire and ideal of living perfectly in community and the actual ability to carry it out. On the one hand mankind seeks to unite and live together, yet on the other hand true unity is impossible given their evil/divisive natures. In an attempt to overcome their own evil natures mankind seek to command a higher standard of relating (unity) in the form of law. The existence of law means that mankind feels the need to command behaviour that they are not naturally capable of. Therefore the sinful nature of man is at war with his purpose and desire to live in unity (community).

Paul describes this conflict in Romans 7. He refers to it as a war between two types of laws, that of sin and death and the law of righteousness. The law of sin and death has become the birth right of every human because they are born into the flesh of Adam. The law of righteousness is the desire to do what is right to live in unity as reflected in the law of God. However because of man’s sinful nature he will never be able to meet the requirements of God’s law, though he may be able to fulfil the requirements of the law of man. It is the law of God the reveals this conflict most acutely because it perfectly reflects God’s standard for living in unity, which is unattainable by merely human means.

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.

(Romans 7:7-23 ESV)

This conflict exists in all humans, Christians and non-Christians. It is everywhere, for example:
• The university graduate who starts their new job full of ideas wanting to do what is right and good, yet eventually has their ideals are crushed by the weight of the reality of their sinfulness and the hopelessness of human life, or
• The unending number of self-help books that inspire people to take hold of our lives and make themselves the success that “they know they can be”. Yet the reality of their inability to carry out their desires reveals the conflict that exists within them, or
• Whenever someone says “I know I should, but…” they reveal the conflict between knowing what is right and the ability to carry it out.

Paul recognises just how hopelessness the disunity of humanity is. Mankind is completely hopeless to do anything to overcome their own sinful natures. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (vs24). It is only through Jesus, saviour and head (Lord) of a new perfect human union, that mankind is finally able to overcome itself.

However Paul acknowledges that Christians will not overcome their sinful nature completely in the present age/in this life (in the flesh of Adam). Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (vs25). In short the reason why this conflict still exists in Christians is because they will not become capable of fulfilling the requirements of the law naturally until their union in Christ is fully realised. Only once all Christians have shed their bodies of flesh (the mark of their membership in Adam) in death and taken possession of their spiritual bodies (in the form of Christ) in their resurrection will the union of Christ be fully realised.


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