Romans 7:13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
14 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.
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.
God is very methodical in His dealings. Keep in mind that He is all wise. He knows exactly how to address every question that man has. He knows how to address and expose every heresy that man has developed. He is God.
In verse 13 Paul was directed to go back to the question of verse 7. The law is not sin. It is important. It reveals the nature of the natural man. It also reveals that we are condemned by sin. The law clearly shows us what sin is. The law also reveals just how serious sin is. Sin, any sin, is a transgression of the law. Sin interferes with the fellowship that God designed for His children. Sin also keeps the lost from knowing the peace and forgiveness of God. Jesus Christ came specifically to die on the cross of Calvary for our sins.
If you take the time to read the accounts of the trial that Jesus faced prior to His crucifixion, you get a picture of the wickedness of sin. The hatred that was expressed toward Jesus Christ by the Jews and the Romans at that trial is astounding. No mere mortal has every faced such hatred. We read of some very evil people in our world today.
There was an account of a woman who smoked marijuana with her boyfriend and then stabbed him over 100 times, killing him and then trying to take her own life. That is certain evil. The interesting fact about that case is that the judge determined that she did not need jail time for that murder. That judge is also an evil man. They blamed her actions on the effects of the marijuana that she used. It was the drug’s fault, not hers. She was an innocent woman who was just minding her own business, and somehow that marijuana joint appeared in her mouth and of course she had to breathe and as she was breathing, she inhaled the smoke from that drug. Of course that is insanity, but that is the wickedness of our world.
Sin is evil. Sin separates us from the love of God. The law demonstrates the exceeding sinful nature of sin. The apostle Paul knew about that prior to his salvation. He was an accomplice to murder. He was guilty of persecuting Christians. He was content to have them imprisoned and sentenced to death. He was willing to live that way. The law working on his heart revealed his wickedness and by the grace of God he turned to God in repentance and was saved.
In verse 14 Paul reminds us that the law is spiritual. The law, God’s law, goes to the heart of the individual. The person that lies, turns red in the face or turns away from the person who is questioning them; or they get mad, or some other emotion comes forth. God’s law says: “thou shalt not bear false witness . . .” The law of God says no liar will enter heaven. That law pierces right into the heart of the sinner. The law is spiritual.
Paul also acknowledged that he was carnal. He was a sinner from birth. His natural action was to sin. That is true of all human beings. We, those who are saved, should understand this. We need to understand that we cannot rely on our flesh. We will be caught in sin every time. Paul stated that he was sold under sin. He acknowledged that he was under bondage to sin prior to salvation. That is true for every person.
In the following verses Paul was directed by God to address the real situation that every born again Christian faces. No born again Christian can agree with the Church of the Nazarenes and others like them, that a person can come to the place of sinless perfection. That is heresy. What they do is redefine sin and thus they seek to corrupt the law of God.
In verse 15 Paul stated that even though the born again Christian has good intentions, he will sin. The born again Christian hates sin. Some years ago I was witnessing to a man who professed to be a Christian. He was outside smoking, and since he declared himself to be a Christian, I asked him about his smoking. He told me he loved his cigarettes. He was not going to give that up. He stated that had nothing to do with his being a Christian. He proved who he really was with his statements.
The apostle Paul stated that the true child of God hates sin. The Bible makes that abundantly clear. The born again Christian wants to please God. There is a battle going on, but it is a winnable battle.
In verse 16 he wrote that when a Christian does that which he should not do, he proves that the law is good. The law points out that what he just did is not good. He does not argue with the law and try to justify his sin. He got caught and He knows it.
In verse 17 Paul is not suggesting he had a split personality. What he was declaring is that when he sinned, it was not the new man that was sinning; it was the old man. It was all the apostle Paul, but as we see, the child of God is a spiritual man, but the old man is still there. Paul stated that it was sin that dwelled in him that was the problem.
It is important to note that this chapter does not end there. Let us not look for loopholes or excuses. Let us follow through with what God is teaching here through the apostle Paul.
In verse 18 Paul acknowledged that in himself, (that is in his flesh), dwelleth no good thing. The Christian cannot live in the flesh. He has been changed. He knows he cannot live in the flesh. He knows that he cannot entertain the flesh. Paul stated that his will was to do right. He was saved and the new man in him wanted to do right. His problem was: how could he accomplish that which was right.
Again we are reminded of the need to be a part of a true local church after salvation. When a Christian is in the flesh, he or she is not inclined to run to the Bible. He or she is inclined to bask in the evil of sin. However, because he or she is a saved person, the Holy Spirit will not allow them to bask in their sin. The Holy Spirit will bring conviction to the heart. We have already seen this. Because the person is saved, they will not be able to shut out the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, through the Word of God and through other faithful Christians, will bring that person back to where they need to be. As the Christian grows in the Lord, they will become stronger in their walk with God.
In verse 19 Paul acknowledged that it is not natural do that which is good. It is much easier to just slip into sin. This is the reality. There is no point in denying this reality. As we have mentioned already, this does not give license to sin.
God is showing us the absolute dependence we must have on Him after we are saved. The apostle Paul was not crippled by this reality. He was liberated because he identified the problem and he knew where to go to address the problem.
As a born again Christian, I too can agree with what God told Paul to write here. The temptation to sin is there. The flesh is weak and it will yield to the temptation. Thus, I must take God’s Word and follow His way of escape. He has that way of escape so that I do not need to fall for the temptation. When I do, I need to confess the sin to God and because He is gracious, He will forgive the sin and cleanse me from all unrighteousness.
The difference between the true child of God and the fraud is that the true child of God will turn to God for help and will find the help needed. The fraud may superficially turn to God but does not find the help needed thus proving they are a fraud. They make God a liar.
Each person has a choice to make. Are you going to believe God or are you going to follow that ‘professor’ who scratches your itching ears. Timothy was warned of that danger. It is still very real today.
Today is the Lord’s Day. God is good. There are still good churches in Canada. The Rapture has not taken place yet. When it does, there will be no good churches in Canada or anywhere. However, Jesus made a promise and He keeps His Word. God will lead His child to a true church. He wants His child to be a member of a true local church.
Every true child of God will face the challenges that Paul is writing of here. The only way to succeed is through the answer given in God’s Word. We cannot come up with our own solution to the problem. It will fail. If you are saved, listen to God and obey Him. It will be a blessing for you and for others around you.