We know of the first problem the Bible presents, that there is a separation between God and man, and we know that Jesus alone is the mediator, the Savior, our redeemer, and our solution to the problem. Many of us however, do not understand the (second) problem we face after we are saved from our sins.
Paul, on a huge discourse about the Law and sin in Romans, comes to a place inevitably examining his own sin. He says in Romans 7:
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. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 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. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
Paul hates what he does. What I find interesting is that he writes in another letter, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” With this in mind, it causes me to think, why did Paul hate what he was doing in Romans 7? Was the message of the cross foolishness to him at one point? It would seem to go without saying…
Now frustrated at his own actions because he knows what is good and what is right, every time he sets out to do what is right, he fails. But what is it that causes him to want to do what is right? The question here is on the noetic effects of sin. How did the curse, after the fall of mankind, effect our thinking? The fact that Paul was a Christian is what made him hate what he was doing. This is because Paul was at this point indwelled by the Spirit.
Paul shifts this idea from impossibility to possibility in Romans chapter 8 and says that “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” which we know. Jesus saves us from our past sins, our present sins and our future sins. Slight Rabbit trail alert: I define sin as a moral failure, by the way. I get that definition from the Ten Commandments. Breaking any of those is a moral failure against God, and so a sin, an archer’s term for missing the mark, is failing God… Falling short; coming up short (Romans 3:23).
He knows what is good but cannot carry it out. (Here enters another issue to the second problem) The question is why not? But then in Romans 8, it seems that he can carry it out!
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Examine this text for a moment… Paul says in chapter 7 that he cannot carry out living a good life in the eyes of God. He knows what is right but he cannot do it. I want to now answer why he knows what is right (which is different than the idea that he cannot carry out what is right, which we will get to below).
The reason he now knows what is right, as alluded to above, is because the Holy Spirit indwells him. He explains in Romans chapter 8 verse 9 above that “You however are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. What he is saying here is that the Spirit of Jesus dwells in Christians. The moment one becomes a Christian, they become a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. Again, look at verse 9 from above: “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.” The opposite of this statement is also true. If you belong to Christ, then you have the Spirit of Christ! What this means is that if you are a Christian, then: God. Lives. In. You. This idea answers a lot of questions that I frequently hear from young Christians and people who are trying to learn about Christianity (For instance, can a Christian be possessed? Jesus says, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” If this is the case and God lives in us as Christians, then there is no room for a demon in us if the Spirit of God lives in us!).
Paul now knows what is good because the Spirit indwells him, but he is not yet filled with the Spirit; he is not yet walking by the Spirit. There is a difference. The moment one becomes a Christian, they become deeply aware, in a sense, of their own sin. This comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Let me remind you at this point that “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.” This is why Paul hated what he did in Romans 7. He couldn’t carry out what is right, but at the same time, he now recognized what is right.
John 16 teaches us that the Holy Spirit will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment. This answers the question of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. This is the only unforgivable sin. What this means is that one suppresses the conviction of the Holy Spirit in regard to his or her sin and the need for a Savior. In other words, if you leave planet earth without trusting in, relying on, and hoping in Jesus alone for your forgiveness of sin and for eternal life, then this is unforgivable, and you will be condemned to hell for eternity (I will soon write about this as well). So then, because God lives in us, we cannot be possessed by the devil (“if in fact the Spirit of God lives in you”), and we have the opportunity to live a life pleasing to God.
Paul is frustrated at how he is living (in Romans 7) because he now knows what is right and pleasing to God because the Spirit lives in him, but because he draws his power to please God from his flesh, he realizes that he cannot carry it out. He is trying to get fruit to grow from a dead branch, so to speak (The flesh is dead). It simply will not happen. Yet in Romans 8, especially considering verse 11, Paul teaches us that the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead will also give life to our mortal bodies. This is a key phrase. He is not saying that we will one day be able to please God, but that we can do it now. We can live a life pleasing to God in our mortal bodies! The reason is because the Spirit of God lives in us! We just have to give the control over to Him in every circumstance, in every decision, which I will elaborate on below. Romans 8 (et. al.) is where Paul not only knows what is right, but that because the Spirit of Christ lives in Him, he can now carry out what is right/ good.
Now, I am not advocating that we can ultimately be perfect in this life, I think that our flesh makes that impossible. I do not believe that a soul of a man, when separated from the flesh, will “look on a woman with lust and therefore commit adultery with her in his heart.” There is no longer flesh in which to lust. The flesh is dead. With this in mind, because we do have access to the power of God, we can ultimately please Him. 2 Peter 1 says,
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Peter tells us to make every effort, in verse five, and also explains that we can take part in the divine nature. What does that even mean?! The divine nature is moral perfection. The reason that we can take part in the divine nature is because the Spirit of Jesus lives in us. We can take part in moral perfection! But we can only take part in it because we are still in the flesh. Paul says, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” Now (as in, while we are in the flesh) we see dimly (partly). Then (when we shed/molt the flesh; I. e. die) we shall fully know.
Consider also 2 Peter 1:3… Peter says that we, as Christians, are equipped with everything we need to live a life of godliness. What is this “everything we need?” Well, it is God, of course! If God lives in us, what more do we need to please Him who called us to His own Glory and excellence? The answer is nothing.
One might ask, “Can Christians sin?” This seems like a no-brainer, but in case someone doubted, think of 1 John 1:9, which is, in fact, written to Christians: “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us for our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Interestingly, King David, a man after “God’s own heart,” says in Psalm 66:18 that if he had cherished sin in his heart, the Lord would not have heard him. In any event, it is clear that Christians (those who have the Spirit of Jesus indwelling them) can sin.
Paul, in Romans 7 is indwelled by the Spirit. This gives him a knowledge (and also justification before God) that he is not pleasing God by what he is doing, and one can get a deep sense of his frustration. Being indwelled by the Spirit is very different than being filled with the Spirit.
Look at another thing Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
In verse 18, Paul is advising the Ephesians to not get drunk, but instead that they should be filled with the Spirit. He is referring to taking part in the divine nature here. He is saying “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” The Ephesian people to whom Paul writes are already Christians (those who have the Spirit of Jesus indwelling them), but apparently they are being a little crazy. They have the indwelling of the Spirit, but are not filled with the Spirit… they are not walking by the Spirit. What this means is that we have the opportunity to please God with how we live. The Spirit of Jesus gives life to our mortal bodies... The bodies we have now. We can please God through the power of Christ living in us.
This second problem we encounter is that because we continue in sin and know it, we become frustrated and angry about it because the Spirit convicts us of our sin; because we, by having the Spirit, have a keen awareness of our sin. We want to please Him, but cannot do so by drawing our power from the flesh. We must draw power from God in order to please Him. He alone is good.
This is likely why there are people who go to church for 20 or 40 years and are still a little crazy. They are not walking by the Spirit. They are not being filled with the Spirit. They are ultimately not drawing their power to please God from the Spirit of Him who indwells them. They are attracted to Jesus because they know that He saves them from their sin, and they are saved “if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in them.” But Jesus saves the whole person! He is the answer to the problem of living to please God after we are saved as well.
It seems that one of the reasons God desires us to walk by the Spirit/ be filled with the Spirit, is because there is to be Order in the Church. All through the New Testament, one can see the patterns that continue to arise, in which one of them is the idea that followers of Christ are to be gentle, loving, thinking, compassionate, logical, and respectful, and they are to have a very specific behavior that marks them. I think that one of the major reasons for this is because when someone peeks into the windows of the church, they should not see chaos, which I will elaborate on further below. 1 Peter teaches us that our behavior really says something about the body of Christ; the church. We are ambassadors individually and as a body of believers.
I think that ultimately and naturally, people are attracted to order. I have heard an objection to this with the idea of addictions, but let’s think of the nature of an addict for a moment. We might think at first, that they want chaos, but this is in fact the opposite of what is true. The reason people become addicts is because they want to escape the chaos. Sometimes, reality is chaotic. Early on, when we dabble in alcohol, drugs, sex, etc., it often works the same way that cults try to win someone over to their false religion. Someone has a bad day and they want to escape. Alcohol is something an adult drinks. Kids want respect from their peers, they want to have freedom, so they sometimes try to find these things that help them leave reality. Cult member’s prey on those who have been through hard times and offer them a false hope, which is enough to get their wing caught in the flytrap. Addiction is very similar. The false hope is a temporary escape, and in these cases, escape from disorder. Unfortunately, the result is also disorder, because addiction is not the means to find order.
People are attracted to order, and this is why I believe the New Testament is filled with arguments for good behavior… As in, why does good behavior please God? Is it only because He Himself is good? Or could there possibly be more reasons? Peter teaches us about our collective and individual behavior in 1 Peter 3 and so does the author of Hebrews in chapter 13. The thing is, when people look into the windows of the church, the body of Christ, the New Testament teaches that order will attract the curious, the disorderly. Who would want to go into a bar, honestly, when there is a giant brawl and the cops are everywhere? The same goes for the church. No one wants to go into a place where there are a bunch of known hypocrites, or adulterers, or greedy people. These are the kinds of things that push people away from the church. You have probably even heard the excuses before if you didn’t use one of them yourself.
In any case, order in the church will possibly attract those who are looking for a break from the chaos of life. People naturally want to have peace, which is order. The body of Christ is to be a place of peace and hope for those who wander aimlessly through life, or who are experiencing war. Walking by the Spirit causes order. Being filled with the Spirit results in order in the church.
Here, we go a bit deeper: As far as presuppositionalism being the starting point from which to do apologetics, I would beg to differ. Presuppositionalism presupposes the idea that God exists and that the Bible is the word of God. How do we know that God exists? Because the Bible tells us so. This circle of reason traps a person who is trying to build their theistic beliefs on firm foundation. Perhaps this is convincing to one who already is a theist, but likely questionably unconvincing to a skeptic. On the other hand, if one is already a Christian, a presuppositional apologetic platform could be used to teach Christians that this suppression of the Holy Spirit goes deeper than our first problem as we discussed above.
There is a second level, in a sense, of suppressing the Holy Spirit. The first is blaspheming the Holy Spirit. The second is not walking by the Spirit, which ultimately is grieving the Holy Spirit.  Paul says, in Romans 8:5, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” It is one or the other. Your mind is either set on the things of the flesh or on the things of the Spirit. If it is set on the flesh, it is hostile to God. Therefore, grieving the Holy Spirit is walking by the flesh instead of walking by/ being filled with the Spirit.
Presuppositionalism has its place, but it is not the place which is historically understood. It is useful, but only to one who is already a follower of Christ.
“Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”
“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’”
 Romans 7:13-20.
 1 Corinthians 1:18; emphasis mine.
 Romans 8:5-11.
 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
 Matthew 12:25.
 Mark 3:28-30: “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin."
 Romans 8:6.
 1 John 1:8-9.
 Matthew 5:28.
 1 Corinthians 13:12; emphasis mine.
 Ephesians 5:17-21; emphasis mine.
 Galatians 5:16-17.
 See Ephesians 1:1.
 Ephesians 4:25-32.
 Romans 8:7.
 Galatians 5:16-17.
 Luke 17:5.