*Below is Pastor Andrew’s teaching outline from Sunday’s sermon, not a word for word manuscript. This is meant as aid in seeing the thought and direction of the sermon.
“And while he thinks that, we do not have to contend with the explicit repentance of a definite, fully recognised, sin, but only with his vague, though uneasy, feeling that he hasn’t been doing very well lately.
This dim uneasiness needs careful handling. If it gets too strong it may wake him up and spoil the whole game. On the other hand, if you suppress it entirely – which, by the by, the Enemy will probably not allow you to do – we lose an element in the situation which can be turned to good account. If such a feeling is allowed to live, but not allowed to become irresistible and flower into real repentance, it has one invaluable tendency. It increases the patient’s reluctance to think about the Enemy.”
Screwtape Letters chapter 12
I. The Question
Romans 7:13 ESV
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.
Coming off of Paul’s discussion last week revealing that apart from the Law he would not have known the full reality of his sin, the logical question that arises then is that would it not have been better to not have the law?
This is ultimately what is in view when he states that which is good brought death.
Just take a minute and think about the question:
The Law is holy, righteous and good. Correct. This is what Paul said, yet it is through the law that he is made aware that he is a sinner, and as he is made aware of sin, sin then begins to become more attractive. More prosperous.
Again had Adam and eve not been told to not eat of the tree would the serpent have been able to tempt them in the same way.
Now again the point that is being made and one that we will continue to see fleshed out is that, the law God has handed down revealed his Holy standard, yet it was we who choose sin and choose death.
Adam and eve knew the law and yet disobeyed. the law was good and right, their choice was sin and death.
This is the reality of Paul’s question it is the conclusion to 7:1-12 and the beginning of our text today. For us he will flesh out the reality of this clearly as he begins to dive into the reality of the Christian life as lived in the flesh, one that seek to uphold the law and grow in the faith.
So let us look at the answer and his explanation to the question: “Did that which is good, then, bring death to me?”
II. The Answer
Romans 7:13–14 ESV
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. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.
BY No means!!!!! a favorite response of Paul throughout this letter.
His answer begins with a total rejection of the question.
The law is good it is not evil.
In our day and age it is really easy to jettison the law and the OT as if it is some foreign entity making us feel bad or calling us out for things that I want to do. So the problem must be with the law not with me.
Again let it sink in. This isn’t a small rejection, it’s not a well lets see it this way. It is a straight up NO!
When we see sin in us and our first thought is not what is wrong with me, but rather what is wrong with God we have a problem.
These are the words of the world.
Society will always seek its own pleasure and sin. ALWAYS, and whatever stands in the way of that is the problem.
So most of the criticism of the church today come from two places either those who have been abused my those who misapplied God’s law and word (much like what Paul deals with in his other letters) and those who hate that God has a standard that is contrary to my “natural” desires.
The Social commentary against the church from those outside of it such as from CRT or LGBTQ+ advocates tends to be along the lines that if God’s law is unjust because it calls me out, or doesn’t give me what I want.
Therefore the problem must be with God, because it can’t be with me. This is what Paul is rejecting.
God’s word is Holy, righteous and Good. We are sinners.
Again from the Rejection of By no means he continues his answer:
“ 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.”
Rather than seeing the law as that which brings death he shows us clearly it is our sin that does so, but interestingly he turn the tables and reveals that the sin we see because of the law is actually what in the end reveals the very salvation we need.
For sin by seizing on the law reveals all the more our sinfulness, and our inability to stop from sinning. We begin to see just how pervasive sin is.
Jesus does this when he speaks about the law in Matthew 5:
English Standard Version Chapter 5
‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart
He reveals that the sin is pervasive it goes beyond simple action it dives deep into the whole of mans being from his heart to his eyes. Sin consumes us apart from Christ and in that when our eyes are opened to this truth we see our need for a savior all the more.
We need Jesus. We need a savior. We are born in the flesh and are in need of something more.
For as he says the Law is spiritual I am not I am sold under sin.
Paul uses this to turn his argument and begin to dive deeper into our lives, especially when it comes to sin and the law.
Christian have been split on the direct relationship of the remainder of the passage:
1. Paul as Christian
2. Paul as Jew (pre-conversion)
3. All mankind
All three have good arguments to be made, but in the end they each end up with he same point that Paul is pointing us to a new and better life growing in Christ.
I believe the text and live itself bears this out pretty clearly also in this text Paul changes his language from one of speaking in general past tense language to an active present tense. He directly applies the rest of the text to an on going reality.
That is from the perspective of a believers living under the weight of the law.
Remember he has been speaking to believing Christians throughout this letter reminding them of who they are n Christ and to not present their members to sin. Here he unpacks the root behind why they are doing it. He peals back a bit of the underlying problems that leads us back to sin while we should be enjoying Christ all the more.
Let’s unpack this a bit:
III. The Explanation
Romans 7:15–20 ESV
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 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. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
I think almost every Christian in this room can identify with what Paul just wrote.
I don’t understand my actions. we read the word of God we know the truth of his words. We know sin and yet still. We sin.
-We lie, we cheat, we get angry, we envy, we covet what others have, we are prideful, we lust with our minds, we are sexual immoral with our bodies, we are greedy. we are overcome by the things of the world, and yet we know God, we know the forgiveness fo Christ, we are broken by our nature that seems to still struggle.
These events tend to lead us broken, confused and bewildered, but as Paul will unpack they are ultimately meant to point us back to our need for Christ.
We have not arrived
Again when we sin we are proving the existence of the law as good. it is revealing that we are sinners. We are not prefect we need a savior.
Just thinking through my life there have been many seasons of struggle with one sin or another and in that time the immediately reality hits “am I a Christian” how can a Christian sin, this isn’t what I want, yet for some reason it is???
Anyone ever feel that way? Do you understand what I am saying.
What we have here then is a discussion not on the law and its inability to justify, but rather its inability to sanctify.
Christ has set us free from sin and death and yet we still are flesh, we are still bound to a corrupt state, though free now to Christ in Christ.
The still reminds us of a standard we cannot meet, and yet there are times we think we can.
We believe we can achieve some form of holiness on our own but anything done by our own strength will fail.
We attempt to fight sin by our own power and might, and end up broken, bruised and back where we started.
“Humans are amphibians…half spirit and half animal…as spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time, means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation–the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks.”
Our flesh or original nature is still under sin, even though we are free in Christ.
Ephesians 6:12 ESV
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
How then do we struggle how then do we wrestle well…
Galatians 5:17 ESV
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
It is by the Spirit that we fight sin. It is this thought that will carry all of chapter 8 as we see the power of the Spirit to grow us in faith and holiness. Not that we no longer sin but that we no longer feel the condemnation of sin, we feel the conviction leading us to repentance, but not condemnation leading to death.
Hope in Christ is our greatest weapon against indwelling sin. And we fight it in the spirit not in our own strength and might.
A great resource on this is John Owen’s Mortification of sin as well as his treatise “On indwelling sin” There is a modern rendering done by Justin Taylor that is extremely helpful and much easier to read.
So having given his explanation Paul will now reflect on all that he has said one last time as he then springboards us forward into the beauty of Chapter 8.
IV A Reflection
Romans 7:21–25 ESV
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 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. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 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.
Spurgeon’s illustration of his private devotional life is a clear picture of the natural experience I think of most believer’s
The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. XLVI Exposition by C. H. Spurgeon (Romans 7, and 8:1–4)
I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
Speaking for myself, I can say that, often, when I am most earnest in prayer, stray thoughts will come into my mind to draw me off from the holy work of supplication; and when I am most intently aiming at humility, then the shadow of pride falls upon me. Do not gracious men generally find it so? If their experience is like that of the apostle Paul, or like that of many another child of God whose biography one delights to read, it is so, and it will be so.
Here Spurgeon sympathize with Paul’s summary the fact that the more we try at time to dive into the life with God the more we feel the reality of sin, the more we feel the evils of our lives close at hand. Paul here now reflects on the inner reality of mankind in christ.
For only those in Christ can truly in their inner being have any desire to serve and love God, and while doing so see in there body another desire at work.
In many ways here we see the reality of Psalm 119 in Paul’s life. He loves the lord God loves the word and yet as he dives deeper he is all the more aware of his broken sinful state.
Paul’s statement : “what wretched man that I am.” is the culmination of seeing his sin for what it is sin. Also reminiscent of Isiah before God’s throne in Isaiah 6.
When we truly see sin we truly see our depravity, even in Christ we still see the broken of our sinful desires.
But just as Paul shows us thanks be to God. He did not leave us there.
Thanks to be to God!!!!!!
The gospel doesn’t end at salvation:
Romans: An Introduction and Commentary Romans 7:24
Believers are perfect as to their justification, but their sanctification is only begun. It is a progressive work. When they believed in Christ, they knew but very little of the fountain of corruption that dwells in them. When Christ made Himself known to them as their Saviour, and the Beloved of their souls, the carnal mind seemed to be dead, but they found out afterwards that it was not dead. So some have experienced more soul trials after their conversion than when they were awakened to a sense of their lost condition. ‘O wretched man that I am!…’ is their cry till they are made perfect in holiness. But He that hath begun a good work in them will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.18
So as he wraps up this text he is shifting us from the somber reality that sin still lives on, and that we are not perfected in our actions. there is still this body of death, so then what are we to do, how are we to respond….
Well we respond by seeing that there is now therefore no condemnation, and as we will see this makes all the difference.
“When He [God] talks of their losing their selves, He means only abandoning the clamor of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever.” -Screwtape Letters