The Complexity of Our Situation in the Flesh and the Crises it Should Produce

“I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” Romans 7:21-23 KJV.

There is a third law, the law of my mind, which agrees with the law of God. I am complicated. I have the law of God, the law of sin in my members, and then the law in my mind. The law in my mind is the part that agrees with the good of God’s law. When God’s law comes to a believer, you do not rise up in rebellion. You say, “Amen.” This is one of the reasons why legalistic teaching is so seductive. As the pastor reads from James 2 and all other instances in the Bible telling us what we should do, of course you will say, “Amen!” Yet as you say, “Amen,” you are strengthening the law of sin in your members.

Eventually, the crisis reaches the point where you realize the law of sin will prevail, realize that good and evil are both in you and realize that the end of both is death from which you need to be delivered. That is where God wants to bring you. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Romans 7:24 KJV.

God needs to bring you into crisis. Man is ruined by sin but thinks he is basically good.  So God gives you the law so that as you try to obey it, you see eventually that even though you desire to do good, another principle is at work in you (the law of sin), which is deeper and more powerful than even the law of your mind. Eventually, you will see that you are ruined, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.  This is why He gave the law and why God allows a believer to go through legalistic seasons. It is all for the purpose of you entering a crisis that causes you to cry out for a deeper deliverance.

Recall the children of Israel. They were baptized into Moses at the parting of the Red Sea and became a nation, but then 40 years later, they were baptized again through the Jordan, and that river rolled back to a city called Adam (Joshua 3:16). That picture is representative of a deeper deliverance. It is the same principle, but it was not just deliverance from Egypt, it was deliverance from a life of not enjoying Christ as the good land and not enjoying your inheritance because you are struggling under the law and unbelief.

You need to go through a deeper realization of your death with Christ. That is what the Jordan represents. This death goes all the way back to Adam. The Red Sea, the Passover, represents Christ’s death for you, but through the Jordan, you really see that you are the one who died with Christ. This is the deeper realization contained in Romans 6 and Romans 7. But this realization is learned through a crisis.  We have been speaking of our death with Christ since Romans 6 when we talked about our death to sin.  But in Romans 7, the focus is on the use of the law to bring you to the crises where you really agree with the need for such a death! 

You have to see not only your “bad part” had to die, but the “good part” had to die, too. It all had to die. The law of good in your mind and the law of sin in your members are permanently at odds, and yet they’re two sides of the same coin (the flesh). When the law of good in your mind responds to the law of God, the law of sin your members “leaps up” and takes advantage of you. The harder you try to fulfill the law of God; the more sin will bring you crashing down. Like gravity, the higher you jump, the harder you will fall.  

It may take you many years to hit the “crises” and finally understand what is happening. Perhaps many years of repeated attempts and failures before you finally reach the point of exhaustion where you say, “this is just not working,” and begin to seek a deeper deliverance.  Up until that crises, you will just keep trying to “repent” and “do better.”  But eventually, you will realize that no attempt to do better will fix it; you are ruined!  Now you are ready to see your death with Christ (which He has already accomplished for you). All of this is designed by God. In His sovereignty, He works all things together for your good. Even your failures and even the laboratory of your experiences which bring you into “Laban’s house” – the house of pain and affliction. All of these are designed to allow you to learn these lessons the hard way. There is no getting around it.

At last, Paul says,

“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Romans 7:24 KJV.

When you finally get to this point, you realize your need to have the burden removed. My legalistic experience ended in complete failure, which resulted in my marriage falling apart and a long season of spiraling out of control and backsliding. I collapsed. I could not believe how bad it got. After my “laboratory of experiences,” I eventually realized I was unable to stop sinning. I even asked the Lord to take me out. I wanted to die. I begged for Him to deliver me from this body of death. I was eaten up in condemnation. I had lost my Christian witness and had lost any hope of ever being used by God. I was devoid of comfort and could not stop sinning. It worsened and I pleaded for the Lord to deliver me.

It was after my collapse that I finally began to see that I had been put on a cross and that my flesh needed to be put to death. I knew Jesus needed to die for me, but I did not think I needed to die. I had recognized I was a sinner, but I still thought I was an otherwise good guy. After everything I went through, I finally got to a point where I saw Christ die in my place. I was the one who was supposed to be on the cross. In fact, He condemned me there and I was crucified with Christ. That is what this whole thing is supposed to do – it is to bring you into a crisis where you cry out for the very death that Jesus died for you.

“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” Romans 7:25 KJV.

Unfortunately, Paul’s statement is cut off by chapter headings, but his thought continues into Chapter 8, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has Set me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2 KJV.

The key now is to learn to walk according the spirit and in the spirit. There is yet another law, the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

So in total, there are four laws:

 1) the law of God;

2) the law of sin in my members;

3) the law of good in my mind; and

4) the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

Eventually we will be reduced to just one law.  We need just the law of the spirit of life in Christ which is Christ living in me.

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