Summary: This series is based on A. M. Hills book "Holiness in the Book of Romans."
Read Romans 7.
Paul shows here that following the law can do nothing to save us or sanctify us. It diagnoses our problem. It doesn’t cause us to sin. A doctor isn’t the cause of disease when he points it out to us.
1. I know the law is GOOD, but I am a SLAVE. (14-17)
When I was a kid, I remember doing stuff that my parents strictly forbade me from doing. When confronted as to why I did it, I would respond, “I don’t know.” It wasn’t that I didn’t love my parents. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to please them. I knew they were right. I knew they loved me. I knew they had my best interest in mind, but I did bad stuff anyway. I was trying to assert myself. Trying to assert the self is the nature of sin.
A. SIN lives in us.
Paul says it is “sin that dwells within me.” Some various translations say sin that “lodges in” (NEB), “resides in” (NAB), “made…home in” (Phillips), and “at home in…and has possession of” (Amplified).
It is sin living in us that prompts us to do what we don’t want to do. We are slaves to sin before we meet Christ. Paul says, “I am of the flesh, sold under sin.” The sin sees opportunity in us to gain a foothold. The law raises our awareness of sin. When we are told not to touch the cookie jar, what do we do? We look around to make sure no one is watching, and we grab a cookie.
B. We are SINFUL.
We are sinful in our nature. I want to do good. When I was a kid, I wanted to make my parents happy, but I did because of my sinful nature.
Sin is a tyrant that pushes us to do that which we don’t want. History is full of examples of people who are forced to do what tyrants demand of them. It is still choice.
2. Sin has taken ownership of my SPIRIT. (18-20)
James asks, “Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?” (4:11). Our sinful nature is a fountain of evil actions. We are what we are: sinners. Out of that fountain comes forth sin. No matter how hard we try we cannot make freshwater come out of salt-water spring. The good we do cannot stop us from being sinners.
A. My conscience OBJECTS to SIN.
God has imprinted on every single human being his image. Everyone has some sense of right and wrong. A mayor of a major city talked about streetlights and the effect on crime. In neighborhoods with more lights, there was less crime. Criminals know what they are doing is wrong, and so they ply their trade in darkness when no witnesses are around.
This is true because we have a conscience.
B. I am CONVINCED to SIN despite my conscience.
Sin being our master, drives us to do what we don’t really want to do. The first temptation was, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The whole basis of sin is our desire to be our own god. Even if I know there is something that is not good for me, I’m going to do it because I want to do it. “I will be my own god in control of my own life.” The problem is that it’s not us who has control; it’s sin that has control. Ultimately we surrender control of our own life to another. When we try to do it on our own, it is sin to which we surrender our life.
3. Only Christ can SAVE us. (21-25)
Paul says, “For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? THANKS BE TO GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD!”
Christ can bring deliverance from our internal struggle. Even the best person is born with the taint of sin, and the worst person is born with the image of God. That shows us that the best person can be good enough. They need Christ to deliver them. At the same time, the worst person, born with the image of God, is not beyond salvation through Christ. It’s all Christ. “Who will deliver” us? Not me. Not following the law. Not doing acts of good deeds. Only Christ can deliver. Without Christ we stay in the same cycle of sin.