By Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813-1843)
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. — Romans 7.22-23
A believer is to be known, not only by his peace and joy, but by his warfare and distress. His peace is peculiar: it flows from Christ; it is heavenly, it is holy peace. His warfare is as peculiar; it is deep-seated, agonizing, and ceases not till death.
Before a man comes to Christ, he hates the law of God, his whole soul rises up against it. The law is the breathing of God’s pure and holy mind. It is infinitely opposed to all impurity and sin. But natural men love sin, and therefore they hate the law, because it opposes them in all they love.
Unconverted men quarrel with the law of God because of its strictness. If it extended only to my outward actions, then I could bear with it; but it condemns my most secret thoughts and desires, which I cannot prevent.
When a man comes to Christ, this is all changed. He can say, “I delight in the law of God after the inward man.” He can say with David, “O how I love thy law: it is my meditation all the day.” The law is no longer an enemy. In Christ you will find rest.
Yet, in the heart of the believer there remains the whole members and body of an old man, or old nature: there remains the fountain of every sin that has ever polluted the world. So in the heart the lusts often lie quiet till the hour of temptation, and they war against the soul.
There are two great combatants in the believer’s soul. There is Satan on the one side, with the flesh and all its lusts at his command; then, on the other side, there is the Holy Spirit, with the new creature all at his command.
Have you experienced this warfare? It is a clear mark of God’s children. Learn to be humbled by it, but not discouraged. You need the blood of Jesus as much as at the first. You never can stand before God in yourself. You must go again and again to be washed; even on your dying bed you must hide under Jehovah, our righteousness.
Take up the resolution of Edwards, “Never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.”
*Abridged from Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s sermon, A Believer Delights in the Law of God.