by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 7 Paragraph # 3 Study # 4 December 4, 2016 Humble, Texas (Download Audio)
(053)Thesis: The natural condition of man guarantees that his indwelling sin will dominate all of his actions.
Introduction: In our studies of Romans 7, we have seen that Paul's focus is upon the claim that attempting to use "Law" as a basis for "Life" is a totally hopeless endeavor, unless we understand the divine intention for "holy, righteous, and good" commandments. That intention is "pressurized revelation". It is "revelation" in that God intends that humanity learn truth about God and all of His creation from the statements of "Law". It is "pressurized" in that "Law" contains many imperative mood verbs -- commandments -- that indicate the intensity of the realities revealed about God and all of His creation. Imperatives demand that humanity recognize the true nature of God and His works.
As we have progressed into the chapter, we have had a very basic set of facts "revealed" to us about "Law" and how it is deceitfully manipulated by what Paul has consistently called "The Sin". What he means by "The Sin" is both the overt action of Adam by which the devil gained dominion over "the whole world" (1 John 5:19) as well as the two most fundamental results of that action: the fear of death; and the dominion of an evil spirit over all the actions of mankind apart from the Gospel.
In our current text, Paul further reveals the nature of that evil spirit by calling it "The Sin which indwells". In our last study we came to the first of Paul's declarations that human beings are not the actual producers of individual actions, repeated actions, and successfully accomplished actions. He says the "doing", the "doing over and over", and the "doing unto successful accomplishment" are all governed by "The Sin which indwells".
This evening we are going to work our way through Paul's words that lead to his second declaration that it is a major mistake to assign "doings" of any kind to the human instrument; these doings need to be seen as the outworking of "indwelling Sin". God's antidote to this reality is "His indwelling Spirit" (chapter eight), but this antidote is instructive about the issue of identifying the real root of the behavior. Paul would say that believers should not take credit for what "the indwelling Spirit of God" produces as fruit and, in like manner, they should realize that credit for what "the indwelling Sin" produces is likewise not to be assumed by the instrument of the activities.
I. A Critical Issue Regarding "Credit".
A. Paul does not at all mean that God is going to separate the complexities of humanity so that He only judges the particular element that is dominant.
B. Rather, he means us to understand that the "whole person" will endure the judgment of God because there is such a real thing as "indwelling Sin" that not only corrupts the whole, but also brings that whole into judgment.
C. His "no longer I" statements (twice made) are not subtle ways to escape responsibility or condemnation, but, rather, are simply explanations of the "whence" of our activities.
II. The Issues Involved.
A. First, there is "a settled recognition"(oida) regarding whether "good" is an indwelling reality in man: NOT.
B. Second, there is the reality of the complexity of a human being that must be understood in order for the antidote of the Gospel to be effective.
1. Paul clarifies his first use of "me" in 7:18 by driving a wedge between this "me" and its "flesh", which he calls "my" (possessor) "flesh" (possession).
a. Thus, there is a "me" who possesses something called "flesh".
b. Thus, there is a need to understand what this thing called "flesh" is.
1) At its root, "flesh" refers to the "container" that we know as the body.
2) However, "flesh" has taken on a larger meaning that involves everything that has its genesis in the procreation of the race by Adam in his post-fall condition wherein he "begat" sons "after his image" (Genesis 5:3).
3) The chief problem with "the flesh" is the focus of faith involved in it as a producer.
a) Adam was able by begetting to produce offspring.
b) Adam was not able by begetting to produce a humanity restored to its unfallen state.
c) Neither was Adam able to "beget" anything in his offspring which could offset the twin issues of "The Sin" which became dominant through "The Disbelief" and has remained so throughout all of the "begettings" of humanity.
2. He then addresses a certain "association" issue.
a. He says that "to wish" is present with/in me.
b. But he denies that this ability to "wish" has any accomplishment powers in itself.
1) He begins this denial with "the accomplishment of the good": this goal is impossible to "me + my flesh".
2) His deliberate focus is the accomplishment of "good", but it is not restricted to that inability alone.
3) Technically, "me + my flesh" is absent a necessary "spirit" to energize behavior.
c. His explanation.
1) "For the good I am wishing (to be done)...
a) This "good" does not dwell "in me" in any sense beyond the "wish" level.
b) That there is a "wish" level does not address the motives of the "wishes".
c) Thus, his disclaimer regarding the "indwelling good" is nullified by the fact that there are "evil" motives for wishing to be able to do good.
2) "...I am not doing..."
a) He switches back to the verb that means "to do an action" (once).
b) His disclaimer is that he cannot actually produce even one action that is really "good".
3) "...BUT the evil I am not wishing..."
a) Here he actually declares that he has no "wish" to do evil.
b) This involves the huge complexity of a deceitful heart that is "unknowable" to men (Jeremiah 17:9).
c) But the bottom line is this: what I "wish" is beside the point of what I actually do.
4) "...this I am doing over and over (practicing)."
a) This repetitive behavior is outside of the domain of my "wishes".
b) This must, therefore, mean that there is another "producer" of behavior than the "wishes" of man.
d. His conclusion.
1) If I do (even once) what I am not wishing to do (even once)...
2) The "I" that involves "wishing" is not what is doing (unto accomplishment)...
3) The undeniable consequent reality: in me dwells an entity called "The Sin" that is involved in another entire set of "wishes" and "abilities to accomplish actions".