Now that Paul has described the corruptive power of sin in the previous verses, he is now going to describe what it feels like to be controlled by sin in very personal terms. I have to warn you that by the end of chapter 7, you may feel like throwing up your hands and saying, “What’s the use?!” But don’t worry, all of this is a prelude to what Paul will later share about our victory in Jesus.
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold as a slave under sin. 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. Now if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. (Romans 7:14-16)
Without Jesus, we are slaves to sin. As followers of God, we agree that the law of God is good and may even have the desire to do it, but then we fall into sin anyway. We ask for forgiveness, pick ourselves and try again, but then we fall again. Try and try as we might, we end up right back in our old habits. We might read books, go to seminars, share our struggles with a small group, and even have an accountability partner, but still, we sin. Over time, we can become so discouraged we may feel like giving up on Christianity entirely.
Paul makes it clear that the problem is not with us but within us. He says, “it is sin living in me.” So here’s an awkward and unsettling truth: we are born as hosts to a spiritual parasite. So long as we float along, obeying sin’s desires, we don’t realize its presence. But try to resist, and we will soon find out how strong its power is over us! But do not get discouraged, for we will soon we will hear Paul declare, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!” (Romans 8:1). For now, we should simply understand the powerful influence sin has on us.
Lord Jesus Christ, I look to you for deliverance. I know that sin is living within and tempting me beyond what I can bear. I need your direct intervention! Save me from my sin! And set me free for a new life of obedience to you.