Who is the “I” that Paul says he is in Romans 7? Because he says “therefore it is not I, but sin that dwells in me”. Is he dodging responsibility for “his” sin, or is he simply acknowledging the fact that although in his present will and mind he wants to do good, that there is an inner component in him that prevents the flow through outcome of his good wishing?
“The evil I don’t want to do, is what I end up doing”. He is admitting that he is unable to become that which Adam desired, on a level footing with God. That of himself, by himself, as an autonomous unit, he is a failure in assuming for himself the character of God. It seems he is quite capable of performing evil, the very opposite of his claimed intention.
“In me dwells no good thing, that is, in my flesh”. Is he saying then, that other than in his flesh, there IS good somewhere? Well he had good intentions. He was able to form a certain resolve to perhaps initiate something good, but it failed. So inasmuch as HE occupies this space that he calls himself, his immediate consciousness, he is able to think about what is good. He just cannot find the resolve to continue through to a good result.
So there is no ability to be like God, to perform like God. And that is because he is quite able to recognise that he is a failure, having his “knowledge of good and evil”, both through all that has existed even prior to his birth, and that which has become obvious to him since, through all manner of means, whether that be of his human experience, or by religious “laws” (statements of right and wrong). The “mind of the flesh” sabotages his thinking.
Of himself, by himself, WITHOUT GOD, he is a failure. And that failure is self evident in his life and in his self condemnation. So the “I” that he is, is himself, his personality, at his present point in time. He acknowledges his wretched condition as being a consciousness of being without God. This is the condition Jesus was in on the cross.
This man is at his wits end. He is educated and enlightened to the “nth” degree. And he cannot find the answer to his life, to his death. He is “in hell” as far as his present consciousness can grasp it. He doesn’t realise that there is another who has taken this hell upon himself, to free us from it. If God wanted to bring this creature into fruition, he had to provide an answer to Paul’s dilemma, and he gave Paul that answer on the Damascus road.
While he was about his business of persecuting Christians, in the name of his God, of religion and Judaism, fully convinced he was legally right, yet inwardly fighting his conscience, Jesus came to him and rearranged his thinking. He was to receive the Holy Spirit from Ananias and thus to have the necessary God component that was necessary for life, not by natural progression of religion, but as a gift. Not by assuming a level position with God, but by the gift of a position as his son. His inner failure brought about by the “mind of the flesh”, has been disempowered. Man lives by love, not by law. Man lives as gifted from God, not as one who has generated life from his own self and ego.