Tag Archives: Romans 7

Freedom from sin

can a believer sinChrist in you (part 3).

If you could take a pill to be totally free of all sin would you do it right now? If you are born again then your answer would be mostly likely a resounding yes! The desperate man at the end of Romans 7 we have been discussing in the previous post, would certainly grab the chance. I mean, as believers, don’t we all long for that day when we will be in heaven where we will we never ever sin again – a glorious thought!

The God’s-pill

However, the Gospel (God’s-pill) is not just a promise of freedom from sin in the future, its freedom from law of sin and death NOW.

If you jump back a few chapters in Romans to chapter 6, it is clear that the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the means by which God had not only forgiven all you sins but has dealt with sin in the flesh. Therefore, your freedom is a done deal. It happened 2000 years ago!

Romans 6:18 “and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness”

Romans 6:22 “but now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome eternal life.”

When Jesus was crucified you were crucified with him

Romans 6:6 “knowing that our old self was crucified with him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin”
When Jesus died you died with him

Romans 6:7 “for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ….”

When he was buried you were buried with him

Romans 6:4 “therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death”

When he was raised you were raised with him

Romans 6:4 “in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father so we too might walk in newness of life”

The resurrection of Jesus therefore is the key. Life is more powerful then death. Light always overcomes darkness. Therefore, resurrection and eternal life defeats and trumps death completely.

1 Corinthians 15:54 “Death is swallowed up in victory”.

One of my favourite scriptures and the one of the best bits in the Bible (in my opinion), is Romans 8:1. It’s like a victorious fanfare of trumpets announcing the termination of the wrestling match of Romans chapter 7.

Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, for law of the spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

Wow! What this amazing verse is saying and we have been saying already, is that resurrection life, christ in you, the law of the spirit of life, breaks the hold, the chains, the patterns and the habits of sin in our lives! Just like Jesus came to life and walked out of that tomb, so God is able to raise you from the dead! Similarly, as Jesus called forth Lazarus from the tomb –  so he calls your name!

No condemnation

It’s because we have been set free, that there can be NOW (this moment and at any moment), NO (zero) condemnation or future judgment and penalty for sin. Nothing you do, no sin you can commit (even right now), is going to suffer a penalty because when Jesus died you died!

In the next verse, verse 2 of Romans 8, the writers gives a bit more detail how this is possible. He explains how what the law was powerless to do (free you from the law of sin and death), God did at the cross and judged sin in the flesh. So, not just sins were dealt with and judged but the whole of your sinful flesh was judged – exhausting any possible future penalty.

Romans 8:2. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: “

This is the ‘too good to be true news’ that is the Gospel of Grace – and the legalists hate it! Without conditions, caveats and multiple hoops to jump through, they just can’t cope – indeed the original translators of the KJV even added extra text (without any authority I may add), “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Why? Because they couldn’t believe verse 1 was that good!

How can it be that good? Surely, the first thought that goes through the mind of the believer is: “yippee, lets go out on the town and sin as much as I can get away with.” Of course, that takes no account that if you are born again you actually do want to live Holy and you have a new nature. In fact, now you are a willing slave to righteousness and to God. Romans 6:18 and 6:22.

It’s a bit like thinking that if you said to your children that they could now do what they liked, that they would somehow smash your house up, drink all your beer and drive your car into a wall! No, if they really are your children and truly love you they probably won’t in fact. This however is the risk of grace and of love that God undertakes. The good news is, that God now treats us as a sons who are led by the spirit of God (Romans 8:14); the law is for immature kids who need rules.

Therefore, when Jesus said the following he wasn’t kidding:

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Let’s us therefore, learn to stand and enjoy this freedom that Christ has purchased:

Galatians 5:1 “It was for freedom that Christ set us free, therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject to a yoke of slavery”

Further articles:

Next post (Part 4)

Why do I sin (Part 2)

Christ in you (part 1)

New birth (Audio)

You must be born again

The law of christ

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Why do I still sin?

stressedChrist in you (part 2)

In the previous article  ‘Christ in you’, I made a radical statement. I said Christ in you cannot sin.  What do I mean by that? Does it mean that a born again believer never sins again? John in his first Epistle seems to indeed say that:

The believer cannot sin?

1 John 3:9 “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

1 John 5:18 “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.”

Indeed, he also say that if you commit sin you are of the devil! You can’t get much more black and white than that!

1 John 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

However we do sin?

However, we all know from own experience, that even after we are born again and filled with the Holy Spirit, even though we desire to live holy, a completely sinless life is not a reality and is probably not even possible. Indeed, John himself a few verses later seems to contradict himself and confirms this by the following verses:

1 John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

1 John 2:1 “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, (aorist tense, one off) we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:”

So, what is John saying. Does he really mean a believer cannot commit sin?

A believe does not practice sin

Firstly, a better translation of 1 John 3:9,  1 John 5:8 and 1 John 3:8 would be ‘practice sin’ as translated in the ASV. This is because the tense of the verb ‘sin’ is not ‘aorist’ (sinning in a moment of time, even once – see verse above 1 John 2:1), but ‘present active’ or sinning continually.

Therefore, John is saying that a true believer may sin in moment of time but doesn’t sin continually – or practice sin. In fact, if he or she does sin continually, then there are grave doubts that they ever knew Christ in the first place!

1 John 3:6 “No one who sins (present active)  has seen him or known him!”

A believer practices righteousness

However, I don’t believe the above explanation, although technically correct, is the complete answer because John not only talks about practicing sin, he talks about practicing righteousness. See the following scriptures:

1 John 2:29 “If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of him”

1 John 3:7 “Little children, let no one deceive you, the one who practices righteousness is righteous even as he is righteous”

1 John 3:10 “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious, anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God”

Now this is problematic, because John uses the same present active tense to describe righteousness! In other words, a believer practices righteousness –  he or she doesn’t just do occasional acts of righteousness, like an unbeliever might. No, they constantly and continually do righteousness.

Now, we can easily cope with the idea that we occasionally sin but can we honestly say that we practice righteousness day in day out? Well, John says if you don’t then you’re not born again! There must be a more complete answer – and there is!

I believe, that in context, the Apostle John is describing who we are in the spirit. In other words our spirit man (christ in us) practices righteousness and cannot sin.

So, why do we still want to sin?

So, if we have christ in us and we have a brand new nature inside of us as we believe, why do we still want to sin as well as want to do whats right? Have we got two natures now, a sinful nature and a christ like nature that are locked in some sort of mortal combat or tug of war? Or, are we schizophrenic with some kind of weird personality disorder because for many of us that’s certainly what it feels like?

No, I don’t believe that is the case. You don’t have two natures. You have one new nature. However,  the scripture does indeed suggest that there are two opposing forces – the flesh and the spirit at war inside you!

Gal 5:17 “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”

The conflict of desire

Paul describes a similar conflict of desire in Romans 7:

Romans 7:15 “For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do but I am doing the thing I hate. 

Romans 7:16 “But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do I agree with the Law confessing that its is good.”

In affect, what he is saying is that even though he doesn’t want to do bad things, he has no power to actually stop doing bad things – even if he wants to. So, becoming monk, hiding away from the world and from all temptation to sin, will not change the fact – that even in a monastery sin is with you. The war carries on relentless:

Romans 7:23 “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”

Unfortunately, even though you are born again, you still carry around the body of death, your mortal flesh: mind, memories, emotions, will, sexual drive and so on.

Romans 7:24 “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

As Paul says in an earlier verse: Romans 7:14, we are sold in bondage to sin:

“For we know that the Law is spiritual but I am of the flesh sold in bondage to sin”

Its not me its this darn flesh!

In verse 17 and 20 of Romans 7 though, Paul comes to three important realisations:

Firstly, there is no good in his sinful flesh (note he is careful to say in his flesh because he knows that his spirit man is good and desires good)

Romans 7:18 “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”

Secondly, that he has no power to do the good that he (his spirit man) wishes.

Thirdly, he realises that if he doesn’t want to do it, then it’s not really him doing it. In other words, it’s sin in the flesh. His true identity therefore, is not in the sinful behaviour but in the new man.

Romans 7:17 “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

Romans 7:20“But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me”

For example. Imagine you are driving your kids to school and they are behaving very badly in the back seat, fighting, screaming and even trying to distract other drivers. You can’t do much about it because your trying to keep your eyes on the road. Do you just ignore the behaviour and pretend it’s not happening? No, of course not, because if you don’t deal with it soon, you’re likely to have an accident!

This is very much like sin in the flesh. It’s a like big bad dog straining at the leash. We need someone to help us and fast! Who is going to deliver us from this body of death? Who do we turn to?

Most people of course turn turn to Mr Law. Yes he’s Mr Perfect, he knows the rules absolutely but he’s no teacher or coach. All he does is point out to you that your children are misbehaving, and he even finds time to comment on the inadequacies of the driving! Thankfully we are no longer married to Mr Law!

Therefore, the Law, rules, church attendance, determination, self-help, education, self-discipline, even prayer, all may help for a while and even manage the sinful flesh but they will never control it.

A positive note

Romans chapter 7 ends though on a positive note: he maybe stuck, in needs of help frustrated and unhappy in this struggle against sin but he’s seen the light at the end of the tunnel.  He has grasped two important positives:

Firstly, he knows now there is only person who can help him get free from the law of sin and death – he’s given up himself and on Mr Law!

Romans 7:25 “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

Secondly, he’s now has a clear revelation of who he is in Christ (I MYSELF). He understands now beyond a doubt, that his sinful flesh is not his identity even though its his responsibility.

Romans 7:25 “So, then, on the one hand I MYSELF with the mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, WITH MY FLESH, the law of sin.

To conclude therefore and to answer our original question: “why do we still sin?” We still sin because we have the sinful flesh!

Further articles:

Previous article: Christ in you

New birth (Audio)

You must be born again

The law of christ

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