"For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. Romans 7:14-15
First, What we know:
The law is clear and cannot be denied. The wages of sin is death. But Jesus came as the fulfillment of the Law, and as the redemption payment for all our sin. We also know that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. [2 Peter 3:9]
So then, is my will greater than His? if I, after receiving His grace, still wrestle in my heart with sin that I do not want, why does my spirit not override that desire? Is my reborn spirit not superior to my mind and my body, is it not greater than the desires of my flesh?
What we don't know:
Why then do I serve God with my Spirit, but my mind and my heart are divided between the things I want to do on the one hand, and the things I actually do, which are opposite, on the other. How can I bring my mind, my body, and my Spirit into unity with one another, with each desiring to do, and doing the same things?
This was the dilemma of the apostle Paul when he wrote these words in Romans 7:14-25. In them he both defined the dilemma and then set forth the deliverance from it and the reward of God that would result from overcoming the desires for sin that leads to death, and living by faith in the spirit that leads to life.
So here is where the struggle begins.
"For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin."
On the one hand I know and accept that God (the Law of God) is right and I am wrong. I am born in sin and being carnal by nature, I am driven to sin. That is the state of my existence from the seed of Adam, and my identity when I come to God, a sinner, poor, wretched, naked, and blind, worthy only of death. I have nothing to recommend me. If there is any good in me it is from Him alone and I have no claim to it.
15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I."
So, by my human, unredeemed nature I do instinctively what the law says is sin. I want to do what is righteous, but I don't. When it comes down to it, I default to my basic nature, and I hate it. So why do I keep doing it?
The answer is not complicated. We only need to correct our thinking. The sin that we do now is not from us. Ok, so you're saying, we're all schizophrenic now, that we're possessed by two personalities? Don't they give you drugs and put you in a padded cell for that?
No, no, no! We are not schizophrenic. But everyone who is born again is in possession of two natures, a new nature from the incorruptible seed of God which is righteous and without sin, and an old nature, the sense memory and knowledge of our former sin nature which is the result of natural human birth from the corruptible seed of Adam.
That is the first level of faith warfare that we must overcome by the Spirit of God working in us. By His Spirit we recognize the dilemma and we seek His wisdom for the answer. we are no longer the person we were. We desire the will of God to be in. control of our lives. But let's get back to the dilemma.
"16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do."
So, each time I default to my old human nature to sin, I acknowledge and I know deep within me, that the Law is good. And as a born-again child of God, that is NOT who I am anymore; not in my new born spirit and nature that is from the incorruptible seed of God.
What is at work in my flesh is sin that is residually resident in me from the old nature, whose ways and thoughts are still in my mind, informing my body and my passions to be conformed to the old familiar ways.
Now, because our old ways are familiar to us, it's easy to give in to them. The subtlety and deception of that same spirit that drives us to sin is that he also blocks from our memory at the same time the real awareness of the consequences of sin, while we are doing what we don't want to do, to please our old habits and passions, which can never fully satisfy.
I remember that when I first came to God, stinking of the aroma of sin and all its filth and the guilt, shame and condemnation that came with it, all I wanted to do was be rid of it, once and for all? Do you remember such a time as that? Weighed down with sin's death you saw where it was taking you, and you desperately cried out to God to save you and He did.
At that very moment, the devil, our old slave master could not hold us in bondage to sin any longer. Jesus set us free, and for the first time we breathed the breath of life into our hearts, and our only desire was to please God and serve Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength in gratitude for our deliverance.
Now, the new spirit in us from God desires only righteousness and good. But the spirit of the old man desires to pull us back into sin and death by making it appear reasonable, and good, and pleasurable for the flesh, without any negative consequences, "Besides," he tries to tell us, "even if you do sin, God will forgive you, because Jesus has already paid for your sin." Yes, Jesus has paid for our sins, but that is not a license for us to keep on sinning, but rather as an act of gratitude for His grace we choose to be free from sin. Remember what He said to the woman caught in adultery, "Go and sin no more."
But our flesh, our old nature, is constantly vying for ascendancy over our new creation spirit, our new nature in Christ.
20 "Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 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." 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."
So, what is the answer to the dilemma? Do we just resign ourselves to the struggle and say, that's just the way things are, and there's nothing we can do about it? Absolutely NOT!! God has not left us alone to our weak human devices that can never win us the victory.
Thank God, through Jesus Christ the apostle writes, we will overcome this struggle. First with our renewed minds we will serve the law of God in righteous, living by faith, guided by, and empowered by the Wisdom from above. And this wisdom is being shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. By the same Spirit we have also been given the mind of Christ, [1 Corinthians 2:16] so we desire what Christ desires, we think what Christ thinks. Out of the abundance of wisdom and love in our hearts, we speak what Christ speaks and therefore, we do what Christ is doing through us. By submission to God, we resist the devil and he flees from us. [James 4:7]
With the flesh we serve the law of sin. But sin no longer has no dominion over us. Christ in us is our hope of glory, and in Him we will stand, In Him we will live and move and have our being.
There is therefore now no condemnation for us, because we are in Christ Jesus. Part 2, Next.