The Experience of the
Let's begin this study by reading
Paul understands that the law is good. "I consent unto the law that it is good." He lets us know that he desperately wants to keep the law, "For to will is present with me; what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I" He says he is unable to keep it because of the "sin that dwelleth in him." "We know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin." vs 14 He is acknowledging that he is "carnal, sold under sin." Paul's experience is most miserable. "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" vs. 24 These are not the words of a joyful, individual who is happy and peaceful in the Lord. These are the words of someone who is in despair and desperately wants deliverance from what he is experiencing. In Chapter 8 verse 6 Paul tells us "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." There is no life and peace in the description of the individual in chapter 7 verses 15-21, only frustration, despair and death, "For the wages of sin is death."
If we read Romans 7 carefully we will see that Paul has given us a critical clue as to who he is really talking about, for he says in verse 14 says For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. Does Paul really believe this about himself? He says in
Pushing on, Paul says, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof." (Sin, defined as transgressing God's law, cannot reign in the life of a born again Christian.) "Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid."
If we are born of God we are born again. And, if we are born again we don't commit sin. Why? Because His seed is in us. What is His seed? Peter says it this way: "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit.... Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."
Does this mean that he is not a sinner? "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." 1 John 1:8-10 Yes, we are definitely sinners, and will be for all eternity. Anyone who has committed a sin is a sinner from that day forward. In fact, "I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me."
But, just because we are sinners doesn't mean that we have to continue in sin. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?"
The born again are dead to sin and thus are no longer living in it. "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:"
May I ask, what is new and joyful about the life being described in
This is the experience of a legalist. He knows what is right. He's doing his best to do what is right, but he is unable to do it, because he is doing it in his own power, which is an impossibility. He is convicted but not converted. He has not learned how to surrender his will to God and allow His seed (Holy Spirit) into his life, which would give him power to keep from falling. In Romans 7, Paul is writing about his own experience before his conversion so he can help to those who are experiencing the same difficulty. He said of himself: "After the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee."
So how do we live a sinless life? The Holy Spirit will never tempt or cause anyone to sin. "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:" James 1:13 Only Satan tempts, and he can only tempt us if we listen to him. We can only sin if we take our eyes off of Christ and depend on our own strength to resist the Devil. We are told: "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you..." James 4:7, 8. The only way we can resist the devil is by submitting to God first, then and only then will the devil flee from us.
The life of the born again is a joyful life, a life of victory, and not a life of defeat and despair. "Why is it so hard to lead a self-denying, humble life? Because professed Christians are not dead to the world. It is easy living after we are dead; but they have a disposition to act as much like the world as possible, and yet go to Heaven. Such seek to climb up some other way. They do not enter through the narrow way and straight gate."
Friend, may I appeal to you to accept Christ as your personal Savior today. Don't waste your time trying to live the Christian life on your own. God wants to fight the battle for you. He wants to work the work of righteousness through you, but He waits for an invitation. Jesus encourages us in
So do we really need to understand this? Isn't a relationship with God good enough? No it isn't. We can only get into heaven if we have Christ's robe of righteousness on.
If we believe that Romans 7 is the condition of the Born Again believer we will have unconfessed and unforsaken sins in our lives, because we will believe that this is just the way it is. Due to this misconception we will not be covered by Christ's robe of righteousness and we will be lost.
If one would simply read Romans 7 in its true context, that is, Romans 6 through 8 it would become very clear what Paul is saying in Romans 7 and there would be no confusion. There would be even less confusion if it were taken in the context of 1 John and James as well as the rest of Paul's writings.
2 Timothy 2:15