Christians have been delivered from sin’s power and will one day be delivered from its presence.
The godly Puritan writer Thomas Watson once said that a sure sign of sanctification is a hatred and loathing of sin. It was his hatred of sin that caused Paul to cry out as he wrapped up his spiritual autobiography, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” That cry expresses the distress and frustration the apostle experienced in his spiritual battle. David expressed that same frustration in Psalm 13:1-2: “How long, O Lord? Wilt Thou forget me forever? How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart all the day?”
When he exclaimed, “Who will set me free from the body of this death?” Paul referred to his physical body that was subject to sin and death. It is there that the battle with sin is joined. The verb translated “set me free” was used to speak of a soldier rescuing a wounded comrade in the midst of battle. Paul longed to be rescued from his sinful, unredeemed flesh.
But the story doesn’t end there, with Paul frustrated and in despair. Certain of his eventual triumph over sin, the apostle says, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” As he goes on to explain in Romans 8:18-19, 22-23 (and in 1 Cor. 15:53, 57), believers will one day receive their glorified bodies and enter Christ’s presence, never to struggle again with sin. Paul elaborates on that glorious truth in Philippians 3:20-21: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”
What a triumphant hope is ours!
Suggestions for Prayer
Thank God in advance for the glorified body that will one day be yours.
For Further Study
Read 1 John 3:2-3.
• Are you fixing your hope on your glorification when Christ returns?
• Is that hope having a purifying effect on your lifestyle now?
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187