We recently covered Romans Chapter 7 on a Sunday morning in church and reading this again just serves to remind me of the war within…the war between the flesh and the spirit.
I found it interesting to see that the law allows us to recognize sin, and that recognition produces the desire in us, as a fallen race, to do that which we ought not do.
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. (vv. 7-14 ESV).
Furthermore, the flesh produces all manner of conflict as show by Paul when he continues in verses 15-23:
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (vv. 15-23 ESV)
Paul describes the war we all experience within and he, very interestingly, personifies sin. He doesn’t describe it as some inanimate, impassive, or impotent idea; rather, he uses active words like “seizing”, “deceived”, and “killed” to accurately describe what sin seeks to do to all of mankind who know the righteous Law of God.
This war plagues all who know the truth and Paul laments this, then gives the remedy:
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 7:24 – 8:5 ESV)
Lord, may I live by the Spirit and not the flesh this day and every day through your power and sacrifice on my behalf. Amen.