Romans 7:7-25. 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.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
13 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. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 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. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?25 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.
Paul is describing a deadly struggle in Romans 7:7-25. If you haven’t read it above, please take a minute and read it…. It’s pretty rough isn’t it?
Notice that there is no mention of Jesus or the Spirit until verse 25. Romans 7 is Paul v Himself. Yes, there are hints of the indwelling life of Christ (which we will see in future posts), but what he is describing is a self-empowered battle with Sin. A Christ-less Christianity. Not the new way of the Spirit.
Romans 7 is the nightmare of every Christian. It’s our own daily Wipe Out. Do you remember that show? People run around giant obstacle courses that are literally impossible to navigate, falling into water or foam, while being mocked by the announcers. Does that pretty much describe your attempts at the Christian life? Mine too.
But there is hope. Paul is not describing a life that we are stuck in until we die. Romans 7:7-25 isn’t meant to be how we live. Instead, we can live by faith in Christ’s death and our co-crucifixion with him. As we will see in Romans 8, it is possible to live by the power of the Spirit rather than the power of the law. But let’s be honest, Romans 7:7-25 is often our default setting. Resisting what we hate while doing what we hate. Desiring good while not doing good.
So Romans 7 is all of us. All of us that are human that is. In fact Jesus is the only human to never experience Romans 7. He is the one that always wanted to forgive but also did forgive. He is the only one who hated oppression and never oppressed. He had the desire to do what is right and the ability to carry it out.
So Romans 7 isn’t describing what the indwelling life of Christ looks like. It’s describing what the Christian life looks like when we trust in anything other than our death with Christ. This includes the cyclical cleansing that most Christians live by. Using confession and new consecrations as a “bar of soap” to stay righteous before God, rather than trusting in our death to sin found in our union with Christ, and his imputed once for all righteousness.
How do you deal with the power of sin in your life? Does it look and sound like Romans 7:7-23? Do you see your sin as cleansed under the imputed righteousness of Christ, or do you “bar of soap” it with repeated confession and consecrations? That’s not “to live is Christ.” It’s not the new way of the Spirit. And it’s not faith.