A Study of the Epistle to the Romans
Sanctification: The Wrong Way by Works of the Law
In this passage are three cycles. In each one of those cycles Paul states a fact, proves it, and draws a conclusion. Then he goes over it again.
Verse 14 states the fact: "For we know that the law is spiritual." Verses 15-16 present the proof: "For that which I do I know not; for not what I would, that do I practice; but what I hate, that I do. But if what I would not, that I do, I consent unto the law that it is good."
Verse 17 marks his conclusion: "So now it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me." He does not do what he wants to do; he does what he dose not want to do.
Is Paul trying to get rid of his responsibility for sin? Paul is saying, "I gave myself over to sin." We all do it. We did something we liked to do which we know is sin. We did it, and then sin became the master. While the first time it may have been something we wanted to do, and enjoyed doing, after sin becomes our master it compels us to do something we do not want to do. Paul is saying, "The reason why this conflict is in my life is that I am under the mastery of sin, and I want to escape. It is no more I that do it." But Paul remains responsible, because he permitted himself to become a slave to sin.
Paul is not trying to shed responsibility here. He is only showing that sin has obtained a mastery in his life that he could not break. He is a slave. Isn't that the experience we have sometimes, wen we lose sight of Jesus. We try "to be good" by keeping rules and laws?
Now follows the second cycle: Verse 18 states the fact: "For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing." The latter part of verse 18 and verse 19 present the proof: "For to will is present with me, but to do that which is good is not. For the good which I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I practice."
Verse 20 is the conclusion: "But if what I would not, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me." Again this is the same conclusion - "Sin is my master, my lord, my kin. I cannot break it." Paul has gone around the cycle twice and comes out the same place: still sinning.
Now the third cycle comes up (each cycle begins with a similar phrase: "We know"; "I know"; "I find"): Verse 21 states the fact: "I find then the law, that, to me who would do good, evil is present." Verse 22 presents the proof: "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man." In the latter part of verse 25 appears the conclusion: "So then I of myself with the mind, indeed, serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."
Let us face it, the conclusion is the same, isn't it? The sinner never gets anywhere. Obviously, this is not the pace to stop. That is not the normal situation for the Christian. God forbid!
If we go back now, do we have anything to do with law? Do we serve law? We are dead to law. When a man comes to this last verse, he should go back to the sixth chapter and consider that he is dead to sin, and then to the first part of the seventh chapter and read that he is dead to the law. Reckoning those two things to be true, what is the only way to escape this situation? The answer is to present himself to Christ.
There is a parenthesis in this passage. "O, wretched man that I am! What shall I do?" Does Paul say that? Paul never would have said, what. "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" His answer: "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" He will deliver me - He has delivered me, in fact. "For if we have become united unto Him in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him" (6:5-6).
Do you believe that is true today? Are you ready to reckon it to be so? Then you have the deliverance he is talking about here. He delivers us! There is deliverance in no other.
May we learn here just what Paul is talking about. It is good for us to be brought into a place like this in order that He may take us on into victory!
~Alva J. McClain~
(continued with # 53 - "Preservation: Kept Securely in Christ Jesus")