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Man's Helplessness

by Norman P. Grubb

Romans 6 is a freed self. “Freed”—not “free,” made free by identification by faith with His death. A freed self. It says so here in verse 7. “He that is dead is freed from sin.” We are freed selves in Christ’s death and burial. But, brothers and sisters, that doesn’t take you to the end of it. Oh, no, you come bang up against another problem in chapter 7. Now I’m a freed self, dead indeed unto sin, alive unto God in my Lord Jesus Christ. Now I get about it; now I serve the Lord. Shall I? Bang, I go down again in Romans 7, because Romans 7 says, “Do it then, try it out. Here you are; here are the standards. Serve Him, fulfill His law, try it out.” Bang, bang, bang, down you go again because we’ve to learn the second lesson which is our helplessness— OUR HELPLESSNESS. And the heart of Romans 7 is verse 18, the last half, “for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find I haven’t the power.” So the lesson we have to learn next is this: Yes, a freed self, but though redeemed, still a helpless self. Romans 6 is a freed self. Romans 7 is a helpless self.

Now we are back in the garden of Eden. Now we are back in the very lesson which Adam failed to learn—his helplessness. The very lesson that Israel failed to learn at Mt. Sinai, was their helplessness. Now we have to learn it all over again. The redeemed self cannot do it, the redeemed self is merely a container—can’t do a thing, “in me, in my flesh dwelleth no good thing.” It’s merely a container. It’s a free container now. It’s no longer a bound container, it’s freed—free from sin free from the world, but it’s still only a container. And if you up and try to serve Jesus, down you come again. You can’t do it.

Karuizawa Japan Conference of 1954
Topic: “The Liberated Self”