God of might and mercy, in Your love I’m found, in Your mercy I live, in Your grace I’m saved. How great You are.
Read ROMANS 7:7–25
The Law and Sin
7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”[a] 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[b] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[c] a slave to the law of sin.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come’.1
Paul now resolves some of the questions that arise. The moral Law set out in the Hebrew Scriptures should not, after all, be viewed negatively: it is ‘holy, righteous and good’ (v 12). It serves to identify and expose sin, which is good (v 7). The negative power at work is not the Law but the inclination to sin residing within us (v 9). This is a kind of slavery (v 14). Paul sees it almost as an agent in itself, deceiving and destroying us (v 11). It uses something that is good in itself (Law) to show that the sin within us really is sin (v 13). We can celebrate the Law as that which shows us what is right, but we deplore our sin and our imprisoned natures.
Paul’s inner struggle comes from knowing what he ought to do but still being unable to do it. Conversely, he knows what is evil, does not want to do it, but still finds himself doing so (vs 18–20). He is in thrall to sin, a power beyond his capacity to resist. Many people will identify with Paul’s dilemma as they struggle with sin as with an addiction. He now uses the word law in a new way (v 23), as a force that constrains us in directions we do not choose, making us prisoners to ourselves.
Is Paul referring to his experience pre-conversion or post- conversion? Is he describing what drove him to Christ in the first place, or a continuing struggle that besets him even as a believer? To me, it would appear to be a dilemma from which we are never entirely free. A sanctified life never comes without struggle and continual application. Salvation lies only in the living Christ, who has power to lift us beyond our addiction to sin and into life (vs 24,25).
Reflect: Christ ‘has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.’2
Patient One, I know I sing and speak way beyond what is going on inside of me. Forgive me and help me in my desire for sincerity.
1 2 Cor 5:17 2 1 Cor 1:30
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