How Does the Christian Deal with Sin?
a study series by Arthur J Licursi
Part 5 of 14 - Sin is Inescapably Linked to Trying to Keep the External Law
The Christian who seriously seeks to live a righteous life is in a terrible situation if he approaches that objective by the works as though they are the Law or even by promising to live by so-called Christian principles. Making a good effort to live up to some pre-ordained righteous standard or even making a vow to do better (they call it a commitment) are still things promoted by many ignorant well-meaning Christian leaders and teachers. You see, self-effort to keep and live up to laws, whether God’s written law, our parent’s spoken or implied laws, or man’s religious law, have nothing to do with living the Christian life.
Any involvement with God’s Law or the laws of most religious organization’s, which enlist self-effort as the way, are always unfruitful and end in miserable frustration for the true Christian seeker.
Romans 7:21-24 (NIV) So I find this law (regulating principle) at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my (soul’s) mind and making me a prisoner of “the law (operation) of sin” at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
We need to read the first seven chapters of Romans to see that all mankind, including believers, are totally unable to do anything in and of their own selves to be able to effectively serve and please God.
Notice above that the word’s “I, me and my” appear ten times in the 4 verses noted above. By this it’s plain to see who it is that is involved in trying to do the works of the Law – it is the independent self of a man; in this case it was Paul’s own testimony. We also see the problem of “sin,” which is the contrary nature that indwells in the “body members” (v23) of every man, is the powerful culprit that is in the way of a man fulfilling his best intentions.
Note also that Paul “delights in God’s law” (v22); this delight is in his soul’s mind. Note also that his soul then was powerless against Sin nature in his body. Elsewhere Paul clearly says it is the law that actually empowers or activates sin – with the power of dynamite. 1 Corinthians 15:56b … the strength (Gk., dunamis, dynamite) of sin is the law. Therefore, a preacher who preaches Law to gain or maintain righteousness is actually promoting failure and empowering “Sin” to operate within the lives of his adherents.
In these verses from Romans 7 below the Apostle Paul confronts this “sin nature” indwelling mankind; pointing to the source of the activation of “Sin” in man - it is the law! Notice the work of the commandment in these next several verses. Here it’s plain to see the tool that makes “Sin” so powerfully effective in dominating a person who tries to walk righteously by self-effort – it is the Law.
Romans 7:8-13 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. 9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. 12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. 13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful
Only the works that are "of God," which are of the life and Spirit of the Son of God that indwells the believer, please the Father. That is why God gave His Son to be killed for us. Jesus was given by the Father not only pay for our sins, but also chiefly to free us from Sin’s dominion and dispense the resurrected “Spirit of life in Christ Jesus”(Rom 8:8-10) into our human spirit – so as to live through us as our new genuinely righteous life.
Knowing that Sin is inexorably linked to and empowered by “the Law” (1Cor 15:56b), Paul proclaims a new, heretofore hidden and secret “gospel of the grace of God”. This gospel given to Paul had “been kept secret since the world began.” Romans 16:25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
It was given to him directly by the ascended Lord. Galatians 1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Paul himself calls this secret plan of God “the mystery” and “my gospel.” It is a new paradigm, a new pattern and way of living for those who live under the terms of “the gospel of the grace of God.”
Paul says the new paradigm of this gospel is that there is “now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). It was the Law that condemned, but believers are now free from the Law (Rom 6:7). The Christian today is “under grace,” Not the law. Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: (WHY? >>>) for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
Being free from the Law is the first step in being free from the power of Sin, which as we’ve seen is empowered by the Law. It is Christ’s cross that frees us from the written law and it charges it had against us. Colossians 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
Paul is clear in his teaching that the law cannot empower anyone to keep from sinning (except perhaps occasionally for a short time), nor can it make a person righteous in God’s sight.
Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
There is no power for righteous living that proceeds from the law. Fittingly, we may note that “the ten commandments” were written on stone – not on our human hearts; as the stone is inanimate, the Law is inanimate and powerless to help us live righteously or keep those very laws.
Paul goes on to tell the Galatians that by attempting to adhere to the Law they have made Christ and His grace useless to them. Galatians 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.