Our study this evening is one which every Christian can identify with. This is because there is a constant war between our flesh and spirit. A new convert soon realizes that the journey is not an easy road. While the spirit seeks God, the flesh refuses to respond to the commandments of God. Sometimes, the things which we Christians often despise are what we find ourselves doing; and those which we utterly fail to do is what we really desire doing. Some have given up, others go around with a defeated state of mind that they can never please God, and just a few are really really pressing on. The apostle Paul readily describes his own frustration: that while his mind desires to serve God, his body remains stubborn.
Every Christian who reads Romans 7:14-25 should immediately identify with Paul’s expression of frustration and agony due to the weakness of his fleshly body: “Oh Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” Romans 7:24. In this lesson, we would look at the sin problem and the way to victory.
A) The Problem of Sin:
Sin is a very big problem. It is the first and oldest problem the world has: Sin is the reason Adam and Eve were driven out of God’s garden: Eden: God’s Presence(disobedience). They reproduced children in sin and one killed the other(Jealousy-murder). Sin: Joseph was sold into slavery(hate) and thought to be dead. Sin made the Israelites to roam the wilderness for 40-years and many of them died in the wilderness; Eli the priest refused to rebuke/correct the sin of his children(fornication) and brought Gods judgment on himself; sin is why God refused Saul as king(disobedience). Joseph in Egypt, ran away from sin(fornication); Daniel refused to commit sin in worshipping the King(man-worship); God gave Israel commandments to guide them from sin; but again and again, they fell into sin(murmuring). Before Moses came down from the mount, Israel had gone into sin(idol-worship). God sent many prophets to tell the world about sin(many kinds). Lastly, God sent his own son Jesus. Judas betrayed his master, and hanged himself(covetousness); Saul, a big-time sinner(persecution) repented and became Paul, a big-time preacher; Jesus preached against sin, He lived against it, and He died for our sin. Sin runs through Genesis to Revelation: how some people fell, and how others overcame.
1) Rom 3: 23-26: man has sinned but God made a provision for man’s cleansing through the death of Jesus Christ His son. Salvation however requires that we manifest faith in the sacrifice of Jesus, for the remission of our sins.
2) Romans 5 that we are justified by faith, and thus we have peace with God; v8: God loved us, Jesus died for our sins;
3) Romans 7: 1-6 talks of the ideal: after we are dead to the law, we are joined to Christ and can produce righteous fruits in our lifes and living.
4) Romans 7: 14-25 is very similar to Rom3: 10-18: summarized as man’s inability to live righteously in his own strength.
5) Rom 7:24 – the root of the problem: O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Becoming a Christian through genuine repentance does not eradicate the sin-nature in man; Salvation does not prevent us from sinning again. “Jer 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? What is the use of giving your life to Jesus today and going back into sin tomorrow and then coming back to repeat the cycle? It is only through the grace of God that a permanent victory over sin and self comes and stays.
Rom 7:17b, 20, 21 – Paul mentions thrice “Sin indwells in me”.
Flesh: Paul uses the word “flesh(not the physical flesh)” to describe this sin-nature / indwelling sin. There is something in every human that rebels against God: flesh. Paul describes this “flesh” as carnal – not spiritual (v14). Everything about the flesh is carnal (relating to physical appetites, wordly, earthy, temporal, things that don’t glorify God).
Gal 5: 17-23: the spirit and the flesh at war: the works of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit.
Why do we do wrong? We might blame our environment, lack of education, poverty, etc., yes these maybe factors, but the primary culprit is the sin-nature. Question: why is it easier to form a bad-habit than a good virtue? Sin/evil nature.
a) Sin seeks to enslave us: – v14 “I am carnal, sold under sin”. Sin has a controlling power. The more you sin, the better you know how and where to sin, the easier you can sin, the less guilt you feel after sinning.
b) – v23b – “the law of sin which is in my members”. In warfare, if you loose a battle, you became a slave. Paul says “sold” (past-tense) under sin. When sin wins the battle over your spirit, you become a slave of sin. – v18 “for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good, I find not” – he wants to live right, but sin controls him; he wanted to obey God, but he disobeyed. Sin is the power from which the soul cannot free itself.
c) In-dwelling sin uses the members of our bodies: v23., v5
We cannot see (physically) the sin nature within us, but we can see what it does through our members: tongues, hands, legs, mouths, etc.
c) in-dwelling sin creates an inner conflict: v15b, v19, v22-23. Paul’s sin nature is at war(warring) against the law of his mind: his old nature conflicting with his new nature.
At salvation, we have the new nature, which has new desires (Phil 2:13…). Gal 5:17 – the conflict between the flesh and spirit: for the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
Note: the sin, carnality, etc., that Paul refers to is not those physical (fornication, adultery, stealing, murder, etc) that we can see. There are so many ways we displease God right in our thoughts, actions and inactions, words (audible and silent), etc.
Thus, the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is that a Christian has more within him that wants to resist the nature of sin, the non Christian has less interest in overcoming sin.
B) The way to Victory: Obey Gods law
Rom 7 talks about God’s law:
– v1 the law has dominion; v2-3 the law, as it applies to unite the husband and wife;
– v4 dead to the law but alive unto God;
– v6 delivered from the law, etc
a) the law reveals Gods will, but does the law save?
-v14 the law is spiritual: divine in origin…from God, global in scope.
-v16 the law is good – since it is consistent with Gods nature. The law is good to convict us of sin before and after salvation.
b) the Christian wants to obey Gods will:
– v25b but still serving the law of sin.
c) the law does not provide the power to obey God. v18 (how to perform that which is good). Paul says that willingness, good intentions, self energy are not enough to overcome the indwelling power of sin. You may be victorious for a while, but you’ll soon fall. Rather than delivering us from sin, the Law draws out all kinds of sin and corruption. A believer under the law is tired, fed up, discouraged and will soon give up. Rom 8:3 tells us “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh”
The inability to overcome sin persists as long as “I, myself and I” are fighting the battle. This means we need a power besides ourselves, the power from God.
C) Victory over (my flesh):
v24 – Paul’s cry for deliverance “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? ” ‘Wretched’ describes someone under affliction, the oppression of a slave; it describes frustration and failure.
The first step to any victory is to recognize the problem, not ignore, excuse or sweep it under the carpet. The problem of sin can be
overcome by our partnering with someone who was born without sin, who lived above sin, who overcame sin, someone who has
power over sin, and who is ready to help you and I to become overcomers just like He was – Jesus Christ.
It comes through Jesus Christ (v25a), through His work on our behalf. Jesus is the only one qualified to deliver us from sin (whatever its name might be). Jesus is the only one that can give us victory over the condemnation of sin. Jesus is stronger than your sin; stronger than your battle; is the way to victory and can set you free.
Romans: 8 calls the Christian to live a victorious life, a supernatural one knowing that the power to live life above is available.
v1 says there is no condemnation to them who are in Jesus Christ because they walk not in/after the flesh but in and after the spirit.
The word “spirit” occurs 20-times in Chapter-8 as compared to 4-times in Chap 1-7. In Christ Jesus – every good thing Paul says in Chap8 concerns those in Christ Jesus. Note: to them which are in Christ Jesus.
v2 is the answer to Paul’s question in Rom 7:24.
V3 what the Law could not do, God did through Christ.
- there is a contrast between living / being bound to the law and living through the Spirit of God.
- Paul does not dwell on the weaknesses of our flesh to discourage us, but as the root(our flesh) of the problem which prevents Christians from living the kind of lives God requires; and which we as Christians desire in our innermost beings.
- Paul exposes the weakness of our flesh to prepare us for Gods provision for godly living (Rom8). As believers, we are no longer slaves to sin, we are free to be under the Spirits’ control.
- Temptations, trials, etc., will continue, trying lead us back into sin, the struggle will still be there, but we can have victory moment after moment through Jesus Christ, who conquered the flesh and can help us to do the same.
note: By God’s grace, I prepared and delivered the above last March 11th at a campus Bible-Study