15
June
2016

ROMANS 7:14-25 THE CONTINUING STRUGGLE OF THE CHRISTIAN AGAINST SIN

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I. THE CHRISTIAN DILEMMA

   A. PAUL AS A CHRISTIAN MAN...

      1. Who is carnal, sold under sin - Ro 7:14-15

'Sold under sin' is exactly what the new convert does not know! Forgiven, justified, he knows himself to be: and he has the joy of it! But now to find an evil nature, of which he had never become really conscious, and of which he thought himself fully rid, when he first believed, is a 'second lesson' which is often more bitter than the first—of guilt!"

          Paul's statement that he was then as a Christian sold under sin may seem to contradict what he wrote earlier in chapter 6 about no longer being the slave of sin. The phrase "sold in bondage to sin" is proof to many interpreters that Paul was describing a non-Christian here. However, in chapter 6 Paul did not say that being dead to sin means that sin has lost its appeal for the Christian. It still has a strong appeal to the Christian whose human nature is still sinful (6:15-23). He said that being dead to sin means that we no longer must follow sin's dictates.

          In one sense the Christian is not a slave of sin (6:1-14). We have died to it, and it no longer dominates us. Nevertheless, in another sense sin still has a strong attraction for us since our basic human nature is still sinful, and we retain that nature throughout our lifetime. For example, a criminal released from prison no longer has to live within the sphere of existence prescribed by prison walls. However, he still has to live within the confines of his human limitations. God has liberated Christians from the prison house of sin (6:1-14). Notwithstanding we still carry with us a sinful nature that will be a source of temptation for us as long as we live (7:14-25).

          To minimize the difficulty of grasping this distinction Paul used different expressions to describe the two relationships. In chapter 6 he used "slaves," but in chapter 7 he wrote "sold" (v. 14). In chapter 6 he spoke of the relationship of the new man in Christ (the whole person, the Christian) to sin. In chapter 7 he spoke of the relationship of the flesh (a part of every person, including the new man in Christ) to sin. Adam sold all human beings into bondage to sin when he sinned (5:12, 14).

         a. Desires to good, finds himself unable

         b. Desires to abstain from evil, finds himself unable

Paul's sinful human nature influenced him to such an extent that he found himself voluntarily doing (approving) the very things that he despised intellectually. This caused him to marvel. All Christians can identify with him in this.

      2. Who agrees the law is good, but finds that sins dwells in him - Ro 7:16-20

V 16 The apostle's attitude toward the Law was not the reason for his dilemma.

Ro 7:17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

Rather his problem was traceable to the sin that dwelt within him, namely, his sinful flesh. Paul was not trying to escape responsibility but was identifying the source of his sin, his sinful flesh. "I" describes the new man Paul had become at his conversion (Gal. 2:20). Viewed as a whole person he was dead to sin. Nevertheless, the source of sin within him was specifically his sinful human nature that was still very much alive

It comes as a terrible discovery for a new believer, or an untaught believer, to realize that our problem with sin is complex. We are sinners not only because we commit acts of sin (Ch. 3) and because, as descendants of Adam, we sin because he sinned (Ch. 5). We are also sinners because we possess a flesh that is thoroughly sinful (Ch. 7). Jesus Christ paid the penalty for acts of sin, He removed the punishment of original sin, and He enables us to overcome the power of innate sin.

          In general, we may say that in verses 14-17, the emphasis is upon the practicing what is hated, —that is, the inability to overcome evil in the flesh; while in verses 18-21, the emphasis is upon the failure to do the desired good, —the inability, on account of the flesh, to do right.

 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.

         a. In his flesh nothing good dwells

         b. The desire to do good is present, the ability to perform is not

"Thus the double failure of a saved man either to overcome evil or to accomplish good—is set forth. There must come in help from outside, beyond himself!"

V19-20 These verses restate the idea of verses 15 and 17 respectively. Paul evidently repeated the ideas to heighten our appreciation for the sense of frustration that he felt.

Ro 7:19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.

Paul meant that sin had thoroughly corrupted his flesh

 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

         c. The good he desires he does not, the evil he desires not he does

         d. Thus sin dwells in his flesh

      3. Who is enslaved to a "law" (of sin and death, cf. Ro 8:2) – Ro 7:21-23

Ro 7:21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.

 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.

Ps 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.

2Co 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. Eph 3:16; Col 3:9-10

 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

         a. Where evil is present in one who desires to do good

         b. Where a law in his members (flesh) wages war against the law of his mind

         c. Where the law in his members brings him into captivity to the law of sin

      4. Who finds himself wretched - Ro 7:24

         a. "O wretched man that I am!"

         b. "Who shall deliver me from this body of death?"

      -- A wretched dilemma: sold under sin, indwelt by sin, enslaved to a law of sin!

The agony of this tension and our inability to rid ourselves of our sinful flesh that urges us to do things that lead to death come out even more strongly here. What Christian has not felt the guilt and pain of doing things that he or she knows are wrong? We will never escape this battle with temptation in this life.

   B. DELIVERED BY CHRIST...

      1. Expressed in chapter seven - Ro 7:25

The solution to this dilemma is not escape from temptation but victory over it.

         a. By way of anticipation, interrupting his train of thought

         b. "I thank God - through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

         c. But again, the dilemma:  willing to serve the law of God with the mind, but with his flesh he serves the law of sin!

      2. Explained in chapter eight - Ro 8:1-6,11-14

         a. There is no condemnation for those in Christ, provided they walk according to the Spirit

         b. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ frees one from the law of sin and death!

            1) Christ's death fulfills the righteous requirement (death for sin)

            2) Becoming spiritually minded is life and peace, for submission to God is now possible

            3) Indwelt by the Spirit, He imparts life to our mortal bodies - cf. Ro 6:12-13;

Eph 3:16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,

            4) We are no longer debtors (enslaved) to the flesh, to live according to the flesh

            5) By the Spirit we can put to death the deeds of the flesh, and live as sons of God!

      -- A blessed condition:  no longer enslaved to sin, but empowered by the Spirit!

CONCLUSION

1. In Romans 7, Paul vividly illustrates the weakness of the Law of Moses...

   a. The Law was holy, just, and good, but it did not offer true deliverance

   b. It did not offer deliverance from the guilt and power of sin - cf. Jn 8:34

   c. One can will to do good, but the ability to truly do as one should is not there

 Have you experienced freedom from the guilt of sin through the blood of Christ (Ep 1:7)?  Are you experiencing freedom from the power of sin through the indwelling Spirit (Ro 8:12-13)?

Both blessings begin when one receives Christ

Lessons

 1.     Have you ever felt the weight of sin like Paul – unbelievers don’t

2.     Do you have a longing to please God and keep the law?

3.     Has God ever broken you so that you have said wretched man that I am and turned to God for salvation