21 Jul 2002

Struggling With Sin

Submitted by theshovel
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Why is it that, in Christ, many continue to talk about how they are struggling with sin? Should we be, if we are in Christ? It’s like Paul says in Romans at the end of chapter 7 and the beginning of 8 - (paraphrased majorly) - I do what I don’t want to and don’t do what I should - what a miserable person I am - yet it is the sin dwelling in me that does it - oh but I hate this war that rages in me - oh, wait, therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus - oh yeah!!! So is it that we should be struggling with sin? Or maybe instead we should spend our energy wrestling with God - letting Him show us truth even though we have all the legalism in our heads. I believe the Spirit kind of interrupted Paul’s writing to remind him that he should stop that struggle with sin and rest in the truth of his identity in Christ. —Walkietalkie

Hello Walkietalkie!
Yes, yes, isn’t it amazing how we try to justify the very proposition that we oughta be struggling with sin by a writing such as this? It’s interesting how you can begin to see the train of thought in the writer when you’re not tied to the intimidation that each bit of scripture contains an individual truth needing to be obeyed as if it was and ala-carte menu.

The reason why so many stand upon out-of-context verses like those in Romans 7 is partly connected to a fear of not being faithful to the word of God. I say partly because many simply want to validate their fears and have discovered that the Bible seems to provide ample support.

I believe the Spirit kind of interrupted Paul’s writing to remind him that he should stop that struggle with sin and rest in the truth of his identity in Christ.

Now, what if instead of having his writing interrupted, Paul had carefully crafted this display of insanity? You see, this portion of Romans 7 fits perfectly within the whole of the letter as Paul had been intertwining the objections of the legal fleshly mind against the good news of Christ! Basically, Paul was presenting his own former fleshly arguments against the good news every step of the way because he was well-aware of how crazy it sounded.

WT, you have seen past the bogus demands of religion. Yes, indeed, Paul was describing - according to his own former perspective - the bogus struggle with sin that comes as a result of reverting to law. He details it so well that it ends at the brick wall of total hopelessness. His conclusion is that the law of sin always taps into the old life (the flesh) while the law of God always taps into the new life (the mind). These are two fixed and opposing realities - and both use the word law. Hmmm …

One, of course, is the law written upon stone, while the other is the law written upon the heart. The first is a system of demands and rules and regulations and principles that, not only doesn’t work, it actually activates antagonism against itself. The second is the very life of God within the person that cannot fail to perform the very desire of God.

Paul’s simple message spells out exactly what happens when we opt for the religious deception of living by law - which he calls the law of sin - by describing one of his own little detours into it. It is the course of insanity as it appears to have a sense of godliness attached to it but it only takes us into a world of delusion by which we judge everything according to sin. But that’s all it can do.

He describes how, in this insane mentality, we come into conflict with ourselves because we constantly sense the inability to produce those desires within us. Of course, where else do those desires come from except from the life of God in the inner man? This is the real us — but under the influence of legality we will wrongly see ourselves as a duality, or as a split personality.

See, this is what the law does to us, and every single one of us in Christ have experienced this insanity. We may even be experiencing it now. Ironically, another one of our favorite struggle-with-sin verses is found in Hebrews 12:4

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; Hebrews 12:4

I say ironically because the main thrust of the letter had to do with the struggles of the believers in Jerusalem as they were being intimidated to return to LAWYOUR striving against sin. Why in the world were they striving against sin in the first place? Like, duh. If we were to simply read these letters as they were written, instead of looking for special little God-messages hidden inside them, we might begin to see the simplicity of the testimonies.

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. 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. Romans 7:25-8:4

If we read anything in these verses that seem to contradict the freedom spoken here then we are reading it according to the perspective that sees itself struggling against sin. I know there are lots of individual phrases or words contained here that we often stumble over … but the fact is that we are reading that fear into the message of Paul.

Paul’s conclusion is as simple as you stated: NO CONDEMNATION. And nothing in this passage contradicts it.

I believe the Spirit kind of interrupted Paul’s writing to remind him that he should stop that struggle with sin and rest in the truth of his identity in Christ.

Yes, yes, the truth is that we joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man - not the law written in stone, for that would be the law of sin - but instead, the very reality of God Himself. Paul said that he was actually serving this law of God in his mind.

He wasn’t trying to get psychological here but was instead referring to the same reality he had mentioned over and over again throughout all his writings. This was the reality of the inner man, this was the person he discovered himself to be (that is, the one that did not sin but instead desired righteousness), this is the person who was not antagonistic to God but instead agreed with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.

The fact is that this passage is filled with the demands of the true reality of who we are even when we are caught up in the delusions of legality! You know what else? When we are trying to prove our point that we are still sinners we are actually fighting against what we instinctively know as we recognize that this sin comes from some other source than our own helpless desire to keep from doing it!!

Yep, it is only the insanity brought on by the law of sin … contained in ordinances and rules and principles, etc that makes us consider that we are supposed to be struggling with sin.

Love, Jim

It’s real hard to understand what Romans is trying to say. I never knew which law was which. The Law of God was the Mosiac to me but, was it? Then there’s the Law of sin? The sin leading to death? Interceeding? The law of my mind? The law of the spirit of life? The law of death? How are we supposed to tell the difference? Adam

Yep, Adam, you are exactly right, bro!

If we were only to realize that the “Biblical” writers and speakers used language much the same as we do today then we would recognize how they often played off words and phrases just like we do.

I mean, I have no doubt that Paul used the word for “law” purposely as a contrast in some places right after and in between him referring to the law of condemnation. You gotta figure that he had built up the whole letter of Romans to show how the believer is not under law … and then he throws a monkey wrench in whereby he reveals that the only real law of God could not be contained in stone or on paper, but only on the human heart through the miraculous work of the Spirit.

Keep in mind that Paul never once backed down from the truth that the written law or outwardly-applied law could do nothing to us or in us except to condemn and kill us. So, when he uses the word “law” in another sense you have to remind yourself that he is slicing and dicing for reasons that will back up his main premise that we cannot mix law and grace.

John uses words in a similar fashion in his writings. He will write something like,

No man has received his (God’s) testimony. John 3:32

and then immediately after write,

but he who HAS received his testimony … John 3:33

Well, can he or can’t he receive the testimony? But the point is made by the contrast and seeming contradiction, because the truth is that no man is able to receive the witness of God, so that if a man is then able to do so then a MIRACLE must take place in order for it to happen. And the miracle is Christ. HE was the one who received the witness of God … and therefore no man is STILL able to receive the witness of God unless his life, his “man-ness” comes from a different source than that of Adam. Voila! We have Christ, the new creation.

Check out those contrasts and seeming contradictions - I guarantee you that they are only understood through the miraculous new life of Christ.

Jim :)

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