Escaping the Desires of the Flesh—Romans 7:24-25

"What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin" (Romans 7:24-25)

Realizing what you have in Christ puts you much closer to victory. Unless you know who you are and what has been provided for you, you will never experience the freedom that the Bible teaches. Paul is going over in detail this freedom so that we will understand how we have been freed and how to live out of that freedom instead of living out of bondage. Paul gives us the means whereby we experience this freedom... it is through Christ.

Notice that Paul is talking about his flesh when he says that nothing good lives in him. He was recognizing that nothing within his flesh could save him. It was utterly wretched and pitiful. He knew that living in the flesh made him a slave to what he had previously been freed from, the sin nature. He is stressing that this is no way to live. If we live according to it then we are allowing the lingering effects of the old nature influences us. An unrenewed mind will allow the sin nature to operate in our lives. Our thoughts, attitudes and emotions still pose problems, so how do we overcome the flesh?

"Thanks be to God..." God has provisioned a way for us to be free and to live free. It is through Jesus Christ, he is the only way to be free. Once we have accepted his payment for our sin and believed in him by faith then we are free in every sense of the word. After that, the key to living free is by walking in the spirit, when we do this we will escape the effects and left over desires of our previous nature. The battle takes place in our mind, but we can weaken the flesh by renewing our mind to the Word of God and living by the Spirit. The Amplified Bible puts it this way, "...with the mind and heart, serve the Law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin" ( Romans 7:25 Amp ). So by renewing our minds we are cutting off the desires and dictates of the flesh... this is the key to living a victorious Christian life and escaping the flesh. Join us as we embark on an adventure in how to live by the Spirit of God.

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!

Living in Victory Over the Flesh—Romans 7:18-20

"I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it" (Romans 7:18-20)

What Paul is describing here is the difference between living in the flesh as oppose to living by the Spirit of God. Paul is warning against trying to live a good holy life on our own accord. When we do this, we are setting ourselves up for failure because the same principal of the previous sin nature and condemnation of the law applies. We give that which we are dead to control over our lives because we are not living out of faith but out of works.

Just as it is futile to try to work your way into heaven, it is futile to work your way through the Christian life. When Paul said that nothing good lives within him, he was referring to the fact that without Christ and apart from his born again spirit there was nothing of good in him. When we operate apart from Christ and apart from our born again spirit then we will experience the dichotomy that Paul is describing in this passage. The innate desire to do what is right is in us, but the ability to carry it out is not. The Amplified Bible puts it this way, "I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out." ( Romans 7:18 Amp )

Does this mean that the Apostle Paul continually struggled with sin? Does this mean that we are bound to continue to struggle with it as well? No, absolutely not! Paul is using this illustration to contrast the different between faith and works, between living in out of the flesh verses living out of the Spirit of God. I believe the Apostle Paul understood this and lived a victorious Christian life. Christ lived through him in everyway imaginable that is why he said in Philippians, "For me to live is Christ..." ( Philippians 1:21 ). Paul did not struggle with sin because Paul lived by the Spirit of God. Again, Paul is using this to illustrate what life is like when we live by our own means. We will struggle constantly. We will desire to do what is right but will not be able to do it. Paul is setting the stage for chapter 8 by showing us how futile it is to live a life of works. When we do, we will fail.

Understanding this is huge! This is the difference between living a victorious Christian live and living a life of failure and disappointment. Today, I pray that in the same way you accepted Christ, by faith, you will continue to walk in him. I pray that you remove any efforts or works to please him and find out what pleases him by fellowshipping with him! In this, you will find freedom and experience victory!

Who Controls You?—Romans 7:15-17

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me" (Romans 7:15-17)

For most people this is a confusing passage of scripture, after all Paul sounds a little bit confused. At first glance it sounds as if the apostle Paul was struggling with sin. It sounds as if he is going back and forth trying to live holy and succumbing to the flesh. A lot of times we read this and conclude that if the Apostle Paul struggled daily with sin, then we are bound to struggle also ? Is this a fair assessment or was Paul really saying something entirely different?

If you remember back to Romans chapter 6, Paul made it very clear that our old self, or our sin nature was crucified with Christ upon the cross. "For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin" ( Romans 6:6-7 ). Paul made it very clear that this was a one time event, dying to self is not something that we need to continue to do. When we are born again, we have died to the old nature. He spends the entire chapter talking about how we are freed of the sin nature so that we may live a new life in Christ. Even chapter 7 starts off using an illustration from marriage so that we will understand that we cannot have two nature, since we have died to the first, we are free to be joined to another.

It is important to understand, that we are freed from the old nature once for all. So, it doesn't make much sense to look at today's passage of scripture in light of the being bound to the old nature. Now evidence of the previous sin nature is still in operation in our lives when we are controlled by our fleshly desires. This nature will still try to influence and deceive us into believing it still has control over us. But this is just an illusion because Paul clearly teaches in Romans that we are freed from the sin nature in order to live according to the Spirit. When we are living by the spirit, then the previous sin nature has no influence on our being because we are not control by the dictates of the flesh.

So in light of this, what Paul is really saying in this passage, is that if we live out of the flesh or our desires and selfishness then the influence of the old nature is right there condemning us. Paul is saying that the sin principal will take over and rule even though we are completely free from it. Paul is using this as a contrast between living in the flesh as oppose to living by the Spirit. He is saying that when we try to live by the flesh then we are set up to fail. We will struggle with sin and be defeated by it even thought Jesus meant us to be completely free of it.

Many people use this passage of scripture to teach that we need to continually die to self in order to live a holy life. That is the opposite of what Paul is saying. Paul is saying that we need to live by the spirit and we will not struggle with sin. He is using this illustration to prove that without God it is impossible to live that way. However, in the next chapter he will teach in detail how to live in by the Spirit of God and how that manifests the holiness and righteousness that we currently possess in our born again spirits into the natural realm. "Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation-but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God" ( Romans 8:12-14 ). When we try to do it on our own, we fail. However when we do it through Jesus we succeed. Today, may you understand that you are free through the blood of Jesus. May you stop struggling with sin and start living by the Spirit of God, through whom you have access to unlimited grace, peace and love.

Spiritual vs. Unspiritual—Romans 7:14

"We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin" (Romans 7:14)

A common misconception is that God sold us as slaves to sin as a result of the trespass of Adam in the garden. Many think that this was part of his punishment. However, the scriptures teach that Adam sold himself into bondage when he disobeyed God's direct command. As a result the rest of mankind was also part of the package. We were delivered lock, stock and barrel to Satan's kingdom when the dominion and authority of the world was transferred to him. And the result is that God gets blamed for a lot of things that are no fault of his. Truth be told, the fault was ours.

It was always God's plan from the very beginning to fellowship with us face to face. The Bible says that He walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening. Even after the fall, he continued to fellowship with Adam, Eve and their children. He created us in His very own image and gave authority over all of creation and every living being to us. But everything was ruined with the introduction of sin because that dominion was given, by Adam to Satan. Humankind cascaded downward until the law was given to show us how sinful we were in comparison to God's holy standard. It was the awareness of that standard that separated us from God.

Therefore, the law is good, but Paul goes one step further to let us know that the law is also spiritual. We are by nature carnal and unspiritual because of what happened in the garden. Which means that the law is perfect but we are not nor could ever be. If we could have lived up to that perfect, holy standard then we would have obtained salvation by it. But since we are carnal and slaves to the default nature of this world it is impossible for us to obtain salvation by fulfilling the law. The result being death because we could not earn salvation by it.

Jesus on the other hand was perfect. He was born in the flesh as a hostage to the kingdom of darkness but since he was perfect he was able to fulfill the law in it's entirety. Because of this, he was able to redeem everything that was handed over to Satan in the garden. By faith, we can obtain the righteousness of the law that was impossible to obtain in the flesh. Romans 8 says, "in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit" ( Romans 8:4 ). The key is living by the Spirit of God and putting your trust in him. By faith we have all the benefits of Jesus fulfilling the law.

Juli Camarin

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