Questions for Littles: What doesn’t Paul understand (v15)? What doesn’t he practice? What does he do? With what does he agree (v16)? Who (what) is really doing the sin (v17)? How much good dwells in his flesh (18a)? What doesn’t he find (18b)? What does he not do (19a)? What does he practice (19b)? Who/what is doing what he wills not to do (v20)? What law does he find (v21)? What does he do according to his inward man (v22)? But what does the law in his members bring him into captivity under (v23)? How does Paul feel about this war within himself (v24)? Whom does he thank (25a)? For whom is there no condemnation (8:1)? When is there no condemnation (v1)? What relationship to the law has set him free (v2a)? From what relationship to the law has he been freed (2b)? Why couldn’t the law do this before (3a)? How is the righteous requirement of the law starting to be kept (8:4)?In this week’s Epistle reading, we have what can be a very difficult subject: sin in the life of a believer. There are several important things to note about this sin.
The first thing to note is that it is always there. This is what Paul is referring to when he talks about a “law” in his members “that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.” Let no one ever again suggest that there will come a time in this life when a Christian can stop sinning altogether!
A second thing to note about our remaining sin is that it is no longer our nature. He repeats in v17 and again in v20 that it is not him that is doing it now, but sin that dwells in him. In his inner being, he delights in God’s law. When he hates and resists the sin that he does, he is agreeing with the law that it is good. His nature now is not that old flesh (v18, 8:1, 8:3), but rather the new nature from the Holy Spirit, by whom he wills to do good (v19, 22, 8:1, 8:2, 8:4).
A third thing to note about our remaining sin is that even though it doesn’t come from our current nature, we are still guilty of practicing it (v15, 16, 19, 25). The only ones who can say that their sin is not their nature are the ones who are at war with their sin and looking for deliverance from this body of death. Those who take this passage as a license to sin “since it’s not really them” just show that they are still dead in their sins and have no new nature at all!
A fourth thing to note about our remaining sin is that it is no longer the only thing we do. Though evil is always present with us (v21), something glorious has happened. God has killed and judged our sin at the cross of His Son (8:3), which means that it can longer claim us as its possession.
In fact, not only have we been credited with Jesus’ perfect obedience (v1, 3), but now for the first time ever, we are actually able to “fulfill the righteous requirement of the law” (to some extent, however small it may be) as we “walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (v4). We do nothing purely good, but we do some that is authentically good!
Finally, it is impossible that God would fail to achieve what His love has planned from eternity and accomplished in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is already now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. And the days are numbered for the presence of sin. He who has begun the good work in us will complete it!
What do you do to fight sin? How are you depending not on yourself but on the Holy Spirit?Suggested songs: ARP32B “Instruction I Will Give to You” or HB379 “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”