How Does the Law of Sin Work to Deceive and Defeat Us?
Law of God demands that we do what is right, but the Law of Sin which is in our members takes us captive to do its will.
Paul tells us in Romans 7 that sin takes occasion by the commandment “do not covet” to actually work all manner of covetousness in us (Romans 7:7-8). The law is good and holy, but Paul tells us in 1 Timothy that the law was not given for the righteous but for the ungodly and the sinner (1 Timothy 1:9). The law is a ministration of condemnation and death (2 Corinthians 3:7-9). By it comes the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20). It was given as a schoolmaster to show us our need for Christ by exposing the sin in our flesh (Galatians 3:24). It is the strength of sin when we are deceived by sin to misuse the law of God (1 Corinthians 15:56). Sin deceives us, not simply by tempting us with lust and making something attractive to us, but by hiding in our flesh (Hebrews 3:13). One aspect of sin is pride and self-delusion, and a tendency to reject God’s clear judgment while persisting in self-righteousness and self-justification. This causes us to actually believe that rather than condemning our flesh, the law is intended to be followed as a “guide” to righteousness. The sin in us keeps us from embracing the truth that no man can be justified by the law, and that the law’s purpose is only to expose sin (Romans 3:20). Sin deceives us as to the function of the law of God and its purpose and causes us to have confidence in the flesh. Then, in the self-deceived pursuit of law righteousness, we rise up in the strength of the flesh and attempt to keep the law, even deceiving ourselves into thinking that we are improving at it or might improve at it. This is delusion. While we are operating in this way, we are said to be “carnally minded” (Romans 8:6), and as we read the Bible in this way (which 2 Corinthians 3 calls the “letter that kills”), we are actually veiled and do not behold the glory of Christ and do not know how to yield to Him (2 Corinthians 3:14-16). We think we’re being obedient, but actually, we are being hardened in our hearts and walking in the flesh. This is the deceitfulness of sin spoken of in Hebrews (Hebrews 3:13). Eventually, this will either produce self-righteousness and hard-heartedness or an inward sense of condemnation. In either case, we keep God at “arm’s length” and are not truly reconciled to Him (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
The Struggle Within Us
Eventually, we will see that there is a struggle for “ascendancy” between the flesh and the spirit. The struggle is not about the flesh’s desire to sin, but rather the flesh’s confidence in itself and its desire to be justified. In that self-justification, there is a fundamental “covetousness” that refuses to submit to God’s judgment (Romans 8:7). However, as believers, we also have the Spirit within us, and a High Priest who intercedes for us (Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:26-27). He will arrange many defeats intended to wear out the natural man, teach us the futility of the flesh, and show us the need for a new way of living. This new way of living is through faith in Christ’s righteousness and not by our own efforts under the Law (Galatians 2:16; Romans 7:6).
The Solution to the Struggle
As Christians, we understand that the Law of God is good and holy, but it cannot save us from our sin. Instead, we need to place our faith in the righteousness of Christ, who fulfilled the Law on our behalf and paid the penalty for our sins on the cross. We learn to look away from ourselves, our effort, our righteousness, and we seek that Christ would be our life. He is our rightoeusness, sanctification, redemption, and our life! (1 Cor 1:30, Col 3:1-4).
The Struggle Between the Law of God and the Law of Sin
I. The Law of God demands that we do what is right (Romans 2:13)
II. The Law of Sin in our members takes us captive to do its will (Romans 7:23)
III. The struggle and the defeats will eventually bring us to properly judge sinful nature (Romans 7:24)
IV. We need a new way of living through faith in Christ’s righteousness (Romans 3:22)
(Romans 7:21-23) “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 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.”
(Romans 3:22) “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,”
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