“For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well” – James 3:2 (emphasis mine).
We sometimes hear someone recite the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) as evidence of our salvation, that our character has been transformed both inwardly and outwardly.
But James’ assertion aligns with first Beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” – Matthew 5:3. In James’ ability to recognize our continuing shortcomings (falling short, Romans 3:23) there is also evidence of our salvation. Though our spirit is alive in the righteousness of Christ, our body is dead because of sin (Romans 8:10), as it is sold into bondage to sin (Romans 7:14). There should be no assumed excuse for sin but the Bible reminds us to praise God that His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Begin again.
Paul committed the entirety of Romans 7 to the conflict we endure as we wrestle with the guilt and shame of our sin. The Law is good but we are no longer condemned by it. We live under the merciful grace of Christ’s atoning sacrifice.
We must continue the battle but the knowledge itself of the battle reveals that we have been included in God’s salvation. Those who are not deeply convicted and conflicted by their unholy behavior are blind. Jesus repeatedly labeled the scribes and Pharisees as blind (Matthew 23:16-26), not seeing their own sins as they accused others of being sinners.
Your eyes are open to the war between your flesh and spirit. Strive on to overcome but know the conflict itself is evidence that you belong to God.