John Newton, writing to his good friend, the Rev. William Bull, gives this description of his struggle with an unwelcome "lodger":
I have many pleasant and kind connections; but I have a troublesome inmate, a lodger, who assumes as if the house were his own, and is a perpetual incumbrance, and spoils all. He has long been noted for his evil ways; but though generally known, is not easily avoided. He lodged with one Saul of Tarsus long before I was born, and made him groan and cry out lustily. Time was when I thought I would shut the door, to keep him out of my house, but my precaution came too late; he was already within ; and to turn him out by head and shoulders is beyond my power; nay, I cannot interdict him from any one single apartment. If I think of retiring into the closest corner, he is there before me. We often meet and jostle and snarl at each other; but sometimes (would you believe it ?) I lose all my suspicion, and am disposed to treat him as an intimate friend. This inconsistency of mine I believe greatly encourages him, for I verily believe he would be ashamed and afraid to be seen by me, if I always kept him at a proper distance. However, we both lay such a strong claim to the same dwelling, that I believe the only way of settling the dispute will be (which the Landlord himself has spoken of) to pull down the house over our heads. There seems something disagreeable in this mode of proceeding ; but from what I have read in an old book, I form a hope that when things come to this crisis, I shall escape, and my enemy will be crushed in the ruins.
June 7, 1783
If the author of "Amazing Grace" experienced the constant struggle against the sin nature (as described in Romans 7), why would we think that we would be exempt? Oh for that day when the building is pulled down and we are lifted up!