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RCCG Miracle Land Dundalk
Thursday, July 16 2020

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai


Let’s have a quick reminder of what we have learnt from the last two studies; so that we can keep today’s study in perspective. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has set you and I free. Having said that, it is possible to miss out on this freedom for two reasons. First, Romans 6:1-14 points out that, even though you are a Christian, you can deliberately choose to give yourself over to the bondage and slavery of sin. There’s also the notion that God, in His grace, will forgive us, so we can continue to indulge in sin. The answer to that attitude is found in Chapter 6, Verses 15-22. The Scripture says that anyone who lives on that basis, will be enslaved, shamed, limited, corrupted, defiled, saddened and ultimately eternally separated from God by sin.
The second way we can miss God's freedom for us is exactly the opposite. When we attempt to handle this problem of sin by discipline and dedication of heart and the exercise of determined willpower; we seek to do our best to do what God asks, to live according to the Law. But Romans 7:1-6 tells us that legalism is not the answer, because the Law does not serve any useful purpose in delivering us from sin.
That raises the question: "What, then, is the function and purpose of the Law in a Christian's life; seeing that it cannot deliver us from sin?" And the answer is this: The Law is meant to expose sin in us and drive us back to Christ. That is what the Law is for, and that is the story of Chapter 7, Verses 7-25; today’s study. Paul’s words in today’s study have vexed many scholars for centuries.

“7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” (NIV)

The MSG version renders verse 7b thus: “The law code had a perfectly legitimate function. Without its clear guidelines for right and wrong, moral behaviour would be mostly guesswork.”
The MSG version also renders 7c thus: “Apart from the succinct, surgical command, “You shall not covet,” I could have dressed covetousness up to look like a virtue and ruined my life with it.”

“8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.” (NIV)

The MSG version renders verse 8b thus: “What happened, though, was that sin found a way to pervert 
the command into a temptation, making a piece of “forbidden fruit” out of it.
The law code, instead 
of being used to guide me, was used to seduce me.”

This is exactly what the serpent did in Eden. Here, Paul describes something that he went through himself. But, also, Paul employs the past tense throughout these verses, which suggests that he is describing his experience before he became a Christian. Paul was also describing something that is common to the experience of many of us today. No doubt many of us have had exactly the same experience that the Apostle Paul describes. It is important to remember Romans 5:14 & 18 at this point

14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

“12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. 13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.” (NIV)

The MSG version renders verse 13b thus: “No again! Sin simply did what sin is so famous for doing: 
using the good as a cover to tempt me to do what would finally destroy me.

The Law was designed to expose sin, and to make us feel this way so that we begin to understand what this evil force is that we have inherited by our birth into this fallen human race. The Law shows sin to be what it is, something exceedingly powerful and dangerous, something that has greater strength than our willpower and causes us to do things that we are resolved not to do.

Verses 14-15 – TWO PROBLEMS
“14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (NIV)

In these verses, Paul switches to the present tense. This is significant because it means that he is now describing his experience at the time he wrote this letter to the Romans. These verses always raise a problem. Recall in Chapter 6 verses 17-18, where Paul said: " But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness"  (NIV)

How could a man write that he had become in Christ, a slave to righteousness, and just a few paragraphs later write, "I am unspiritual (carnal), sold under sin, a slave to sin"? Was he confused? Not at all! He was simply describing what happens when a Christian tries to live under the Law. When a Christian, by his dedication and willpower and determination, tries to do what is right in order to please God, he is living under the Law. And what Paul is telling us today is what to expect when we live like that -- for we all try to live that way from time to time. Sin, you see, deceives us. It deceived Paul as an apostle, and he needed this treatment of the Law. It deceives us, and we need it too.

In Verse 15, Paul tells us that there are basically two problems: The first is spotted in the b part of verse 15 and the second problem is in the c part
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."
There are things he would love to do, but he cannot do them. Instead, he does what he hates. This is not the same for a person who lives habitually in sin. To such, they do what they want to do – sin.

Verses 16-20: THE EXPLANATION - “I” vs “Me”
“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. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature [or my flesh]. 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.” (NIV)

Paul says that as a Christian, redeemed by the grace of God, there is now something within him that wants to do good, that agrees with the Law, that says that the Law is right. But also, he says, there is something else in him that rises up and says "No!" Even though he determines not to do what is bad, he suddenly finds himself in such circumstances that his determination melts away, his resolve is gone, and he ends up doing what he had sworn he would not do. Have you ever felt that way?

So, what has gone wrong? Paul's explanation is this: "It is no longer I who do it; it is sin living in me." Isn't that strange? He implies a separation within our humanity. There is the "I" that wants to do what God wants, and there is the "me" indwelled by sin, that is different from the "I". Human beings are complicated creatures. We are made up of a spirit, a soul, and a body; these are distinct, one from the other. What Paul is suggesting here is that the redeemed spirit never wants to do what God has prohibited. It agrees with the Law that it is good. And yet there is an alien power, a force that he calls sin, a great beast that is lying still in the flesh until touched by the commandment of the Law (remember, it is the spirit that is regenerated when we are born again and not the flesh); that springs to life, and overpowers us and we do what we do not want to do.

Jesus implied the same when He said, "If your right hand offends you, cut it off," (Matthew 5:30). He was implying that we should take drastic action because we are up against a serious problem. Agreeing that that there is a "me" within us that runs our members, that gives orders to our hands, feet, eyes, tongues, brains, sexual organs, and controls them. That "me" gives the order to do something wrong, but there is another "I" in us who is offended by this. This "I" does not like it, does not want it. And so, Jesus' words were, "Cut it off."

“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 [another principle] at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law [or principle] of my mind [my agreement with the law of God] and making me a prisoner of the law [principle] of sin at work within my members.” (NIV) Emphasis mine

These verses emphasize the same problem. You want to do right and determine to do right, knowing what it is
and swearing to do it, only to find that under certain circumstances all that determination melts away and you do not do what is right. You do exactly what you did not want to do. So you come away angry with yourself. "What's the matter with me? Why can't I do what is right? Why do I give way when I get into this situation? Why am I so weak?" Very many of us have found ourselves in this situation before, right? This is the struggle of many Christians.

“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (NIV)

The Message version says: “I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is 
there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?”

This desperate cry at the end is where the Lord Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," (Matthew 5:3). Blessed is the man who comes to the end of himself. Blessed is the man who has arrived at spiritual bankruptcy. Because this is the point -- the only point -- where God's help is given.
This is what we need to learn. If we think that our wills are strong enough, our desires motivated enough, that we can control evil in our lives by simply determining to do so, then we have not come to the end of ourselves yet. And the Spirit of God simply folds His arms to wait and lets us go ahead and try it on that basis. And we fail, and fail miserably -- until, at last, out of our failures, we cry, "O wretched man that I am!" Sin has deceived us, and the Law, as our friend, has come in and exposed sin for what it is. When we see how wretched it makes us, then we are ready for the answer, which comes immediately:

“Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a 
slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature (or in the flesh) a slave to the law of sin.” (NIV)

Who will deliver me from this body of death? The Lord Jesus has already delivered us! We are to respond to the feelings of wretchedness and discouragement and failure, to which the Law has brought us because of sin in us, by reminding ourselves immediately of the facts that are true of us in Jesus Christ. Our feelings must be answered by facts. We are no longer under the Law; that is the fact. We have arrived at a different situation; we are married to Christ. That means we must no longer think, "I am a poor, struggling, bewildered disciple, left alone to wrestle against these powerful urges." We must now begin to think, "No, I am a free child of God, living a normal human life. I am dead to sin, and dead to the Law, because I am married to Christ. His power is mine, right at this moment. And though I may not feel a thing, I have the power to say, "No!" and walk away and be free, in Jesus Christ."

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