The Leftover Effects of the Sin Nature—Romans 7:21-23
"So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members" (Romans 7:21-23)
Can you relate to what Paul is saying? Do you find yourself struggling between the old and the new? Do you desire to live a holy life only to fail and succumb to the mandates of the world around you? Paul lived the victorious life that you and I desire, because he knew the key to that life, the key is found in the Word, Paul is setting the stage for hope in today's passage of scripture.
In the last two chapters of Romans, Paul has masterfully written that we were freed from the sin nature when we accepted Christ Jesus as our savior. When we were born again we received a new spirit and now we belong to another. Because of this, we have no obligation to that old nature, instead we are free to live according to our new nature and to live free before God.
However, Paul starts summarizing at the end of Romans 7, pointing out the struggle that still exists between the old and the new. At first glance this dichotomy doesn't make sense, we are freed from the old nature but it is apparent that it still has effect upon us. How can this be? Paul explains that it is the body of sin left over from the old nature that has died that still wages war against us. He says in today's passage that this battlefield is ever present in our being. We want to do what is right and good, but evil is present and we are subjected to it's insistent demands. Our new nature delights in the Lord, but the left over residue of the old nature makes us sensitive to the appetites and wills of the flesh. This fight goes on and on unless we do something about it.
Paul is stressing the important of living by the spirit as opposed to living by the desire of the flesh. When we live out of our flesh, we are living contrary to our nature and the battle is severe. He adds further clarity to this in Galatians 5, "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want." ( Galatians 5:16-17 ). Paul is giving us the answer to the question? The question is, how do we escape the leftover effects of our previous nature? The answer is to live by the spirit of God. When we do this, the demand of the old nature will have no effect upon us. We will see them pass away in the same manner as the sin nature.
So how do we live by the Spirit in order to live contrary to the flesh? This is the million dollar question, but Paul is merely setting the stage in order to answer this question once for all. He will spend the entire chapter of Romans 8 talking about how to live by the Spirit. We have been given everything necessary to live a victorious Christian life by Jesus. And when we renew our mind through the Word we will understand how to live. Today my prayer is that you will join me on this journey of faith!
Original article published November 15, 2009.