For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells.—Romans 7:18
None of the apostles or prophets ever claimed to be without sin. Those who have lived nearest to God, those who would sacrifice life itself rather than knowingly commit a wrong act, those whom God had honored with divine light and power, have confessed the sinfulness of their own nature. They have put no confidence in the flesh, have claimed no righteousness of their own, but have trusted wholly in the righteousness of Christ. So will it be with all who behold Christ.
At every advance step in Christian experience our repentance will deepen. It is to those whom the Lord has forgiven, to those whom He acknowledges as His people, that He says, “Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight” (Ezekiel 36:31). Again He says, “I will establish My covenant with thee, and thou shalt know that I am the Lord; that thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God” (Ezekiel 16:62, 63). Then our lips will not be opened in self-glorification. We shall know that our sufficiency is in Christ alone. We shall make the apostle’s confession our own. “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7:18)….
In harmony with this experience is the command, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12, 13). God does not bid you fear that He will fail to fulfill His promises, that His patience will weary, or His compassion be found wanting. Fear lest your will shall not be held in subjection to Christ’s will, lest your hereditary and cultivated traits of character shall control your life. “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Fear lest self shall interpose between your soul and the great Master Worker…. Fear to trust to your own strength, fear to withdraw your hand from the hand of Christ and attempt to walk life’s pathway without His abiding presence.—Christ’s Object Lessons, 160, 161.
Further Reflection: How can I avoid living in constant fear while soberly working out my personal salvation?