The Law of Sin

This is a rough draft chapter from my next book…

Are we predisposed to sin…Is there a hope for freedom from it on this side of heaven?

Chapter 12-The Law of Sin

Deuteronomy 30:19 (New International Version, ©2011)

 19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

What does it mean to choose life?  I’m confident that many reading this book would say, I didn’t choose the life I was born into.  I didn’t choose to have an absent mother or father.  I didn’t choose to be abused or molested as a child.  I didn’t choose to have to fight for everything that I have ever had… People are simply a product of their environment and I’m simply a statistic of a life that molded me into what I became…

Although, in many ways, I agree with that line of thought, it’s not entirely that simple.  There are absolutely alarming statistics that substantiate the argument that our actions are often a direct product of our upbringing, but there is still an element of choice that is present in each persons life that will determine where they end up AFTER they experience the hardships that they do.

I’ve absolutely seen some who go the way of the statistic.  But I’ve also seen those who take a stand and DEFY the expectation by determining in themselves that they will NOT be another statistical failure!  It is in the determination of choosing life that I believe the difference is made.  It is in choosing life that a person goes from a place of hopelessness to hopeFULNESS.  And I am confident that the life Deuteronomy 30:19 suggests that we choose is only attainable through Jesus Christ.

As we have discussed in previous chapters, when we embrace a relationship with God through Christ Jesus, the old us is passed away and all things become new.  But with that understanding of who we are and what Christ has accomplished for us also comes a responsibility to turn from a sinful lifestyle and walk in the authority and freedom that God provided for us through Christ Jesus!

You do not HAVE to sin anymore!

 

For years, even as a pastor, I believed that sin in my life was simply a bi-product of MY sinful nature and that I should do my best not to sin, but was somewhat predisposed to it.  I thought that sinning was simply an inevitable part of life and that I should just discipline myself to try not to sin any really bad sins.  The problem with this train of thought is that it left me feeling hopeless to ever being able to live completely free from the bondage of sins chains in my life.

I would often read scriptures about living a holy and acceptable life before God but then would read Paul’s own testimony in Romans chapter 7 where he stated that even he did that which he hated by sinning.

Romans 7:21-24

New International Version (NIV)

 21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 

This was a tough pill for me to swallow because the same man who wrote two-thirds of the New Testament outlining God’s expectations for proper Christian living, also said that he himself did that which he hated.  And to me, if the apostle Paul couldn’t do it, how in the world was I going to?!   UNTIL I studied Romans chapter 7-8 in proper context!

As I studied this passage of scripture that confused me for so many years, something jumped off the page at me.  The words the law of sin.  So many times, when I read this passage I stopped reading at the end of chapter 7 and without sequentially continuing on to chapter 8, I did not get the full picture of what the apostle Paul was conveying…As so often happens when we only study in part, I only understood in part and was left with a feeling of half hope.  When I stopped reading in chapter 7 verse 25 and did not continue, I was left with a resolve that, yes, I am a child of God but I am also a slave to sin…

The problem with that is this.  The New Testament book of Romans was a SINGLE letter written to the Roman church.  The book of Romans was later subdivided into 16 chapters by biblical printers so that we could easily reference what was said and where it was written, but when Paul wrote it, he did not intend for it to not be read in its entirety.  When reading chapter 7 and not continuing on to chapter 8, I only understood half of the Apostle Paul’s thought process and what he originally intended to convey.  Sadly, I believe that many have made this same mistake because I have heard the same half-truth preached that I myself believed by many different ministers about sin and our bondage to it.

Now let’s read this section of scripture in the context from which it was intended to be read.  (I have bold faced and underline specific aspects of these scriptures for the sake of emphasis)

Romans 7:21-25

New International Version (NIV)

 21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

   So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[a] a slave to the law of sin.

 

 

Romans 8:1-12

New International Version (NIV)

Romans 8

Life Through the Spirit

 1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

 5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

 9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[d] because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[e] his Spirit who lives in you.

 12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.

 

 

Paul starts out in Romans 7:21 pointing out that he has observed a law at work and later defines that law in verse 22 as the law of sin.  He points out in verses 22-25 that he has an intense desire to do what is right in his mind and has even decided that living according to God’s law is what he wants to do but still finds that this law of sin has been something that wars against him and his mind.

 

Romans 7:21-25

New International Version (NIV)

 21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.

 

I believe in this passage, Paul is attempting to relate to the thought process of the people he was writing to.  Stating how he understands the way that the law of sin can oppose the law of God and, even in his own life he has had to war against it.  By prefacing what he is writing with this thought, I am certain that many people would immediately relate to his own experience, having felt the same way themselves.

 

Paul then briefly foreshadows where his thoughts are going in verse 25 when he says thanks be to God who delivers me through Jesus Christ… But he still has not yet completed his thought.

 

As we read on into chapter 8, Paul points out that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus and basically puts to rest the feelings that some might have concerning mistakes and sins that that they have committed.  He is basically stating that those who have submitted to the law of sin, are not condemned by their sin because of Christ’s sacrifice, and further elaborates that we have been set free from the law of sin and death. 

 

Romans 8:1-2

New International Version (NIV)

 1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death.

 

 

In that statement he in emphasizing that Christ took our sin upon himself and we are no longer bound by that sin or responsible to pay the consequences for it.  In doing so, Jesus condemned sin in our flesh so that we do NOT have to live according to the flesh or in other words bound by the law of sin that Jesus has set us free from!

 

Jesus has provided for us the ability to live according to the law of the Spirit of God and what God desires for us because sin no longer lives in us but GOD lives in us! He even goes so far as to say that we are not even in the realm of the flesh any more because of what Christ has accomplished for us and as a result He has given us life in our mortal bodies so that they are not under the obligation of sin and living according to that law any more! (verses 9-11)

 

Romans 8:9-11

New International Version (NIV)

 9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[a] because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[b] his Spirit who lives in you.

 

We are FREE from sin!  When Jesus took our sin upon Himself, He provided for us, not only freedom from the consequences of sin, but even the sinful bondage of what was our previous nature.  He transformed our previous law of sin and flesh existence into a completely different realm of the Spirit existence where Gods Spirit is the final authority and the law of sin no longer has dominion over us!

 

Refine your focus

 

So why is it, after we have been set free from the law of sin and death that we still find ourselves so overwhelmed by sin at times?  I believe that the answer to this question stems back to the previous chapter in this book about The Renewal of Your Mind.  What we focus on is a choice and as I pointed out in that chapter, what happens in the mind will happen in time. 

Paul states very clearly here in Romans 8:5 why people continue to live bound by the sin.

 

Romans 8:5

New International Version (NIV)

 5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

As Christians, it is not enough to simply want to follow God’s direction for your life as Paul points out in Romans 7:22 but there is also a responsibility placed upon us to focus on what the Spirit of God wants and has for us.  If we continue to focus on sinning or if we refuse to discipline our thoughts away from a sinful lifestyle, then we will continue to walk bound by sin.

For example: If a man says, I never want to cheat on my wife, but continues to entertain the flirtatious thoughts and actions with the girl he works with, then the likelihood of him actually acting out his lustful thoughts and having an affair increases exponentially!

Although we are not made righteous by anything that we have done, we do have a choice as to whether or not we walk in the freedom over sin that Christ has provided for us.  Understanding that you do not HAVE to sin and are not bound by sin or even predisposed to sin should be liberating to you!

As Paul points out in chapter 8:5-6, what we focus on determines how we respond.

Romans 8:5-6

New International Version (NIV)

 5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

Coming to an understanding that you are not bound by sin or obligated to sin, should empower you to set your mind now on living above sin in accordance with what Christ has provided for you, rather than having a mindset to tolerate it or excuse it!

Each of us are presented with the opportunity to live in the freedom that God has provided us through Christ!  It is a matter of choice as to whether or not we will pursue our God given liberty or simply continuing to walk beneath our authority by submitting to sinful bondage.  I for one am not content to live beneath the freedom that Christ provided for me at so great a price.  We have a choice, blessings or curses, life and death…choose life!

Deuteronomy 30:19 (New International Version, ©2011)

 19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

Now that we understand the freedom from sin that we have in Christ, let’s address letting go of our past sins and putting them behind us in the next chapter!

9 Comments

  1. cathy lynn

    Thank You Aaron, timely!

    Reply
    1. Aaron Davis

      Welcome! Thank you Cathy!

      Reply
  2. robert crouse

    WOW That’s deep right there Pastor! I’m telling you that Gods timing is perfect! I sensed that there was something I needed from this but it took me a couple hours to get to it! I am moving at Gods pace not mine…and that is sometime mind bending as it happens to be for me right now! I’m embarking on that path were people think there is no way out-wrong! I could really dive deep into it but just wanted to share a thank you and let you know things are going great here in san diego!

    Reply
    1. Aaron Davis

      Thanks Robert!

      Reply
  3. Emmy

    Hmmm…. Very timely and greatly needed! Thank you for the clarification and understanding….

    Reply
    1. Aaron Davis

      Thank you Emmy!

      Reply
  4. Ruben Zarate

    Wow, what truth….this needs to be tought and retought

    Reply
    1. Aaron Davis

      Thanks Ruben! Love you man!

      Reply
  5. The Cell Phone Guy

    Great article..Going to repost this on Facebook

    Reply

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