So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. Rom 7:17 NAS
As a Christian, are there times when you feel condemnation for your failures, even though Jesus tells us there is no condemnation from God, for those who believe? I think it is evident that Paul had the same struggle initially, with guilt and condemnation, until he discovered the truth. Paul realized that when he walked by sight in the flesh, he was still walking in the sin nature he inherited from Adam. It is only when we walk by faith in the Spirit that we are set free.
For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19 NAS
Paul was a man who was steeped in the letter of the law as a Jew and an enforcer of the letter of the law as a Pharisee. In the verses below, speaking in the present tense, born-again Paul states that he recognizes that the law is good and that he wants to do good. But at times, he practices the very evil he does not want to do, doing the very thing he hates, which is the sin he knew was wrong.
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the law, confessing that the law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. Rom 7:14-17 NAS
To emphasize his point, Paul states essentially the same thing a second time.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. Rom 7:18-20 NAS
Paul is talking about sin. He indicates that initially, he did not understand what was going on. I think if we are honest as Christians, we can relate to Paul's statements. Maybe you have thought, If I am a born-again follower of Jesus and I agree the law is good, why do I still sin? Why do I have such a hard time doing the next right thing, every time? Maybe walking by sight as Paul was doing in the midst of his struggle, instead of walking by faith in Christ's finished work, has even led you to question your salvation in the past.
Can you imagine if the next time you fell into sin, you did what Paul did in these verses? Instead of accepting personal responsibility for his actions, Paul makes a statement, which to many, may seem like a cop-out or justification for his sin. Speaking of sin as though it is a separate entity that lives in his flesh, he blames the sin that dwells in him.
But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. Rom 7:20 NAS
The Greek word Paul uses for sin in this verse, is the noun Hamartia. In the book of Romans, 47 out of 48 times the word sin is seen, it uses the same noun. This tells us that in Romans, Paul is describing our inherited sin nature and not our actions of sin that are described using a verb. Paul is blaming the sin nature we all inherited from Adam. The sin nature that remains in a believer's flesh, until the day the flesh dies.
While some may see Paul's statement as an attempt to justify his sin, it is not. People who justify their sin, do not see the law they are breaking as good and their sin as wrong. Nor do they have a desire to stop sin in their lives as Paul does. Those who justify their sin do so to be able to commit a particular sin freely. This is not what Paul was doing. Paul, like believers today, saw sin as wrong. He is not seeking to go further into sin, he is seeking to be set free from the sin that he finds himself caught up in at times.
Paul further emphasizes his struggle, telling us that in his mind he wants to do good, but that there is an obvious evil that is present within him, waging war and wanting just the opposite of good. He also contrasts the desires of his inner man, his born-again Spirit, to do good, with the law that is present in his flesh, that has made him a prisoner of sin.
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Rom 7:21-23 NAS
Have you ever sensed the war that goes on inside yourself when it comes to sin? Have you ever felt like a prisoner to reoccurring sin in your life, knowing that it is wrong but finding yourself caught up in it, time and time again? Maybe your sin is what the world judges as a bigger sin or it could be the sins of doubt, fear and worry. All sins.
Paul then tells us he sees his flesh as a body of death that he needs to be set free from.
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. Rom 7:24-25 NAS
The only way we are literally freed from our flesh, the body of death that Paul describes, is when our flesh physically dies. Then our born-again Spirit, that has already been perfected (Heb 10:14), circumcised, sealed and set apart from our flesh (Col 2:11), will be truly free of our fallen flesh. No more faith needed. At that moment we will experience greater freedom than we have ever felt. So, how could Paul experience that freedom now? By believing God about his new identity in Christ, a born-again new creation. We are no longer an heir of death under Adam. Those who have placed their faith in Christ, are heirs with Christ of eternal life and so much more. For God, who sees the end from the beginning, the new creation we are in Christ is a totally done deal. He sees us seated in Christ at His right hand. For God, there is no question the work is finished, and we are with Him.
For us, God's words are a prophecy of what is sure to come to pass. When we wholeheartedly believe God about who we are in Christ, we have victory now. We have been made righteous in Christ, right with the Father beyond all possible doubt. We can walk in our new identity right now in this life, in all of the peace and joy we will have in eternity. Imagine for a moment, the joy and peace you will have when you stand before Jesus and no longer need faith? Everything will be before your very eyes. You have made it home. It has been verified beyond all possible doubt that your faith was placed in the truth. This is the kind of joy and peace we can walk in today, just by believing what God states is true. Would you like to walk in His joy and peace in this world? It is possible for all who believe.
For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor 5:7 NAS
Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2 Cor 5:16-19 NAS
Next, Paul reveals the answer to how he found victory, and we can too. Believe what God states, we still have a fallen flesh, we can walk by sight in that old creation, or we can walk by faith in the new creation, God has made us. Walking in the Spirit by faith pleases God, defeats the lusts of the flesh, and produces the fruits of the Spirit in our life.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. Gal 5:16-17 NAS
Guilt, condemnation, doubt, worry and fear come when we walk by sight in the flesh as Paul learned. When we walk by sight in the flesh, we cannot please God. On the other hand, there is no condemnation when we walk by faith in the Spirit, agreeing with God. We are a new righteous creation in Christ!
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God [did]: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and [as an offering] for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able [to do so], and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Rom 8:1-11 N
Many more New Covenant Bible Studies HERE. Jesus poured out His blood for the New Covenant of grace and truth, replacing the Old Covenant law of Moses. Believers are exclusively under the New Covenant, the last will and testament of Jesus that began after the cross.
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. Luke 22:20