The Enemy Within 

The Enemy Within 

Romans 7 

The Power of Sin Within 

14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold as a slave under sin. 15 For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. 19 For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one that does it, but it is the sin that lives in me. 21 So I discover this law: When I want to do what is good, evil is present (inside) with me.22 For in my inner self  I delight in God’s law, 23 but I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am serving the law of God, but with my flesh, the law of sin.” Romans 7:14-25 


1.Evil at My Elbow – 4 Key Truths 

1.Sin living in us is a law  

Romans 7:20,23 

Paul uses “law” as a metaphor. He needs a way to express the power, authority, constraint, and control that sin wields in our lives, and he picks “law” with a touch of irony. He has been writing earlier in the chapter of God’s law, which is supposed to rule our lives, yet the law of sin seems to win a lot of head-to-head battles. Could he have chosen a more stunning contrast to unmask sin’s deadly force? Chew on the metaphor of law for a minute. We can think of it in one way as a moral rule that directs and commands us to do what it requires (“ Honor your parents”) or not do what it forbids (“ Do not trespass”). More than that, a law entices us to obey with offers of reward (“ you will live long in the land”) and compels us to submit by threats of punishment for disobedience (“ $ 500 fine for trespassing”).  

We can also think of law in the way we speak of “laws of nature.” Gravity, for example, is a law that bends things in its direction. It perfectly conforms us to its “commands.” Gravity is not a law as an idea or an outward precept, but a force that can make objects “obey” its “will.” In this sense every urge and inclination in us is a law. Hunger is a law, thirst, sexual drive, fear—each impels us to fulfill its demands, and each brings a force to bear on us to bow us into submission. Indwelling sin works like this—enticing, threatening, even bullying. So Paul calls it a law to get us to see that it is powerful even in the lives of believers and that it constantly works to press us into its evil mold.” 

“Sin is sin, its nature and purpose remain unchanged, its force and success still grab us by the throat.” 


2.We find this law inside of us 

Romans 7:21 

“It is one thing to listen to a lecture about AIDS—how it spreads, what it does to a body, how invincible it is; it is another thing to hear your doctor say to you, “HIV-positive—I’m sorry.” Few people have come to terms with the law of sin. If more people had, we would hear more complaints of it in prayers, see more struggling against it, and find less of its fruit in the world. When we find this law in us, Paul’s “Who shall deliver me?” echoes down our bones. Believers are the only people who ever find the law of sin at work in them. Unbelievers can’t feel it. The law of sin is a raging river, carrying them along; they cannot measure the force of the current, because they have surrendered themselves to it and are borne along by it. A believer, on the other hand, swims upstream—he meets sin head-on and strains under its strength.” 


3.We find this law when we are at our best 

Romans 7:21 

while Paul wanted to do good. He didn’t stumble onto it in a time of great backsliding, or when he was indifferent about the things of God. He was aware of it even when he most wanted to serve God, when he set his mind to obey his Savior and King, when Christ ruled his heart. Though the law of sin works from the inside and ambushes believers at their best, it isn’t their dictator. Believers march to a different Drummer: “I want to do good,” Paul says (Romans 7: 21)—I want to please God, give him glory, serve his people, honor his name. By God’s grace the desire to obey him ordinarily prevails in us, even against this insidious enemy within 


4.This law never rests. 

Romans 7:18 

Since grace rules the believer’s heart, he wants to do good. We can describe that desire in two ways. First, there is his general and constant desire to please God (verse 18). Second, there are times when the believer has a particular duty in mind that he wants to perform, such as private prayer or giving a tenth of his income to God (“ When I want to do good”—verse 21). The law of sin opposes both.” 

Wise Up – Get Ready 

“We are at the beginning of obedience to God. To understand these four truths about indwelling sin is to arm yourself against it. In your struggle against sin, there is only one thing more important to grasp than these four facts: the free, justifying grace of God in Christ’s blood.  

The grace of God in Christ and the law of sin are the two fountains of all your holiness and sin, joy and trouble, refreshment and sorrow. If you are to walk with God and glorify him in this world, you need to master both. Suppose there is a kingdom that has within its wall two mighty opposing forces. The subjects of the king are at odds, always plotting and feuding against each other. If the king is not wise, his kingdom will be laid in ruins. 6 The law of sin and the law of the Spirit of life (Romans 8: 2) in us are mortal enemies.  

If we are not spiritually wise in managing our souls, how can we help making a wreck of ourselves? But many people live in darkness and ignorance about their own hearts. They keep careful track of how their investments are doing on Wall Street and get frequent checkups at the doctor; they watch what they eat and work out at the gym three or four times a week to keep their bodies finely tuned. But how many people give the least thought to their souls?  

If it is important to watch over and care for our bodies and investments, which will soon die and rot, how much more important is it for us to guard our immortal souls? Getting to know indwelling sin, as humiliating and discouraging as it can be, is our wisdom—if we have any interest at all in finding out what pleases the Lord (Ephesians 5: 10) and avoiding everything that grieves his Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4: 30). 

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