Saturday, May 19, 2012

No Condemnation 120520

Romans 8:1-4, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

Romans chapter eight begins with, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." And ends with, "(nothing) will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." This chapter should be a great source of encouragement for those who live by faith. You need to remember that faith is living like God tells the truth. The old saying, "God said it, I believe it, that settles it" sounds right but it is wrong. If God said it that settles it. If I believe it I can enjoy it. Our belief, or unbelief, neither adds to nor takes away from the validity of what God says. God said, "… no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus". Yet many Christians live out their lives in condemnation of one form or another. What can we do about it?

Jesus intended us to be free from condemnation. Satan intends that we live under a load of condemnation. Jesus said it himself in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal kill and destroy. I came that they might have life and have it abundantly."

You see, we are Free from the Law.

The Law is a ministry of condemnation. 2 Corinthians 3:7-9, “Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory?" Here Scripture refers to the Old Testament law, even the Ten Commandments, carved by the hand of God, as, "the ministry of death"! Imagine that, when God met with his people, whom he had just set free from slavery in Egypt, he set before them an impossible standard. Some may claim to keep the law but the Scriptures teach that we cannot keep the law. Even for those who do not have the written law there is a moral law recognized by all people. Again, it's not possible to keep it perfectly. However, it is further evidence of the existence of God. All people everywhere recognize that there are certain things wrong and other things that are right. They also recognize that they fail to keep that moral law.

The purpose of the law is to reveal sin. Romans 3:20, "For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." Our conscience comes alive when we confront the law. It brings condemnation. Romans chapter five talks to us about how sin entered the world. There was one negative law: No fruit may be from the tree in the middle of the garden. Pretty simple and easy to keep. That law was broken, not by backslidden sinners who were far away from God, but by two people who walked and talked with God everyday. Adam and Eve had the closest possible relationship to God yet Satan came in deceived Eve into breaking the only law they had to break! God had a plan from the very beginning that included giving the law to show man how exceedingly sinful Sin is.

But we are not under law we are under grace. Romans 6:14, "For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace." If we are in bondage under the law we have no hope. The law reveals our sin and then tells us that the payoff of sin is death. What a great condemnation this heaps on all of us! But praise God, we are free from the law. As the great hymn writer, P. P. Bliss put it:

Free from the law, O happy condition, Jesus hath bled, and there is remission; cursed by the law and bruised by the fall, grace hath redeemed us once for all.

Once for all, O sinner receive it; once for all, O brother, believe it;

cling to the cross, the burden will fall, Christ hath redeemed us once for all.

Now we are free there's no condemnation, Jesus provides a perfect salvation; "Come unto me," O hear his sweet call, come, and he saves us once for all.

Christ hath redeemed us! O, How I love the old hymns because by and large they have excellent theology teaching truth we can hang onto. Not only are we free from the law living under grace but it is once for all. Justification by faith alone changes us into children of God. Our sins are forgiven and Christ's righteousness is given to us. It cannot be earned and it cannot be taken away. Indeed, it is Once for All!

I pray that each of you enjoy the comfort of knowing that you have received Jesus Christ as Lord by faith and his grace rules in your life.

A new law takes precedence.

The law of the Spirit of life. John 5:21, “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.” Jesus gives life to whom he will! Remember when he stood at the grave of Lazarus? There he gave back physical life as an evidence that he could give spiritual life. When Martha rebuked him for not being there to heal her brother, Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” (John 11:25-27) Jesus, as God in the flesh, could give life where he wished. Not just life on earth but life eternal. He promised his disciples that when he went away he would send the Holy Spirit and, in that Spirit, he would never leave us or forsake us. Many years later John wrote three little letters. In the first letter he said, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—" (1 John 1:1-2) in chapter 5 John added, “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life." (1 John 5:11-12)

This law is the Spirit of Jesus. 1 Corinthians 15:45, "Thus it is written, 'The first man Adam became a living being'; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit." Adam is the federal head of the human race and as such sold us into Sin. Jesus, by virtue of his death, burial and resurrection, became the federal head of a new people. A people who were once dead in trespasses and sins and who are now made alive by God's grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! The law of the spirit of life is none other than Jesus Christ himself. The overcame the law of sin and death. We find in the book of Hebrews 2:14-15, "Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery." When a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ that person is no longer in bondage. The law of the Spirit of life takes precedence over the law of sin and death. The believer is justified by grace as a gift of God. I know, some of these theological terms seem difficult, but justification is not too hard to understand. Wayne Grudem in his Systematic Theology gives this definition, "Justification is an instantaneous legal act of God in which he (1) thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us, and (2) declares us to be righteous in his sight." We know that in our flesh there is no good thing. God does not declare us righteous on the basis of our goodness he declares us righteous on the basis Jesus' goodness.

Being justified we have his Spirit. In Galatians 4:6, Paul wrote "And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!' " There are those who teach that receiving the Holy Spirit is a second work of grace. We need to remember that God is one. He doesn't come in pieces. We don't receive the Father then later receive the Son and then, if you're really good, you receive the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 12:13, we find these words, "For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit." The body we are baptized into is the body of Christ, the Church. The Spirit that baptizes us and of which we are made to drink is the Holy Spirit. If you are born again it was the work of the Spirit not of your own will.

We need to remember, this is God's work not ours.

We cannot save ourselves. Many people seem to believe that somehow their goodness can make them right with God. Paul wrote the following words to Titus, speaking of God, “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior," (Titus 3:5-6) We have nothing that we can do to save ourselves. People either don't know, or seem to forget, that we were born spiritually dead as sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. A dead person can do nothing to help themselves. That's equally true of the spiritual as the physical. Any person, sensitive to the call of God, is drawn by God into life so that he or she can accept Jesus Christ as Lord and be born again.

God sent his son for sin. John the apostle wrote, "In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him." 1 John 4:9 The only hope of life and escaping condemnation is found in Jesus Christ. As John the Baptist was baptizing repentant people in the Jordan River he saw Jesus and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world", John 1:29. Takes away the sin of the world. Not just pays for our sins but takes them away from us. Sin is a natural part of mankind and through the flesh, or our old habits, continues to cause us to struggle — even to feel condemned. But remember, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus". The truth is God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. This reconciliation brings all believers into the body Christ.

God condemned Sin to set us free. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us, "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." What an amazing truth is found in this passage. "For our sake" should fill us with grateful admiration for the living God who found us in our sin, condemned our sin, made the Lord Jesus to be sin for us so that we could become the righteousness of God in HIM! Our greatest need involves the problem of sin. So, God took our sin, not just our sins, but the sin nature itself and placed it on our sacrifice, the Lord Jesus himself. In doing that he justified us. You cannot be justified without being placed in Christ. And the moment we are placed in Christ sanctification has already begun in us! We are wholly justified but we are just beginning sanctification. As Peter put it in 1 Peter 2:24, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness". God has arranged things so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. Living to righteousness is a process that will continue as long as we live on this earth. At our death, or Christ's return, our sanctification will flow into glorification. Sanctification is a process that makes us more and more free from sin and more and more like Christ in our life on earth. It is not a progress towards "sainthood" since we are made Saints at salvation. Repeatedly throughout the New Testament believers are called Saints. In Romans 1:7 Paul refers to his recipients as those who are "called to be saints". In 1 Corinthians 1:2 he adds that he is writing "to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints…". In 2 Corinthians chapter 1 he refers to "all the Saints who are in the whole of (Greece)". Etc. etc.… Saints are not perfect and we have plenty of evidence in our own lives. Since we are Saints and we still have the old habits of the flesh our imperfections stand out. But nonetheless according to the Bible — and that's all we can base our lives on — all Christians are Saints and as such are in Christ Jesus. For those who are in Christ Jesus there is no condemnation! I pray that that is the condition of every person reading this.

The whole message of Romans could be summed up in chapter 1 verse sixteen that says, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,…". The law came in alongside the flesh to bring condemnation to all people. The law was never intended to "cure" sin but simply to reveal sinfulness of sin. But Praise God! We are not under law but under grace. Jesus has come into the life of every believer in the power of the spirit and justified us by grace through faith. We were born dead in sin and unable to save ourselves. So God sent his son, Jesus Christ, for sin so that he could condemn sin in the flesh and set us free. I hope you have received him as Lord and Savior so you can enjoy the benefits of abundant life.

All Scripture quotes are fromThe Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001, Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thanks be to God!

Romans 7:13-25, "Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin."

Chapter seven of Romans is often considered to be the most depressing and defeating passage in the New Testament. It seems to many people to reflect the view of a spiritual schizophrenic. And our experience seems to support that idea. Nothing could be further from the truth. When a person is born again he/she becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus. Jesus hasn't just been added to the life of the believer. Jesus has become the life of the believer. We still have the old flesh patterns, or habits of the old life, but we have been born again to a new way of living. The problem is most of us have never understood that and we struggle on using the equipment of the old life: walking in the flesh rather than walking in the Spirit. Consequently, most believers read Romans chapter seven, verse fifteen, and say something like this, "Yeah, that's what my life's like. I just can't help myself." They do this without reading verse twenty-five and applying it to their lives.

In verse twenty-five you can almost hear Paul shout, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”. In 1 Corinthians 15:57 he says almost the same thing, “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” In the second passage he’s talking about victory over physical death. In the first, that is part of our text, he’s talking about victory over spiritual death and destruction in the life of the believer. There are several truths that need to be incorporated into our lives.

The first thing we see is that believers are new creatures in Christ!

2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." The problem we usually have is that we do not think of ourselves as a new creation. Folks, we are new creatures in Christ! We don't think of ourselves that way because we've been trained to "feel" a certain way about ourselves. All of our old habits, flesh patterns, ingrained over all the years of our lives are still with us. And they're deeply ingrained. Why are our flesh patterns so deeply ingrained?

We were born "dead on arrival". Ephesians 2:1, tells us, "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins,". You see, we were born dead in trespasses and sins! All of us were born sons and daughters of Adam and Eve and as such we inherited a dead-to-God spirit from our father Adam. Romans chapter five clearly points this out. Our nature was in opposition to God. We began immediately upon entry into Earth's atmosphere to try to meet our basic needs in our own strength because we had no other. As time went by we developed patterns of behavior designed to meet our needs apart from God. These are not evil needs. They are basic needs to all human beings and the greatest need is love. God designed us to need love because he is love. That's his very nature and we were born physically with that need in our life so that we would desire him. But indwelling sin tried to keep us from our goal of meeting our need for love in God. But for every believer God had a plan to end their dead-to-God existence and give them a new life in Christ.

We are born again — made alive! Jesus was talking to Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel, who came to Jesus one night hungry for what Jesus had been teaching. In John 3:3 Jesus told him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Earlier in his gospel John had written, "to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12,13) Paul wrote to the Ephesians, "even when we were dead in our trespasses, (God) made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—" Ephesians 2:5. You see, we didn't need better habits, or a nicer personality, or any other kind of improvement on our old life. We needed our old life to be put to death so we could be born of God not of the flesh or the will of man.

However, the flesh is still present. When a person is born again he or she is a baby in Christ. The Holy Spirit has come to live in you but you are not fully equipped for the new life. When you're born of the flesh you were equally unequipped. Most of us had all the right parts but we didn't know what to do with them. We had a "thinker", or mind, we had a "chooser", or will, and we had a "feeler", or emotions. Our thinker had to be taught. Our chooser had to be trained. But our feeler had no problem expressing itself. As a matter of survival we cried a lot! When we were hungry we cried. When we were wet or dirty we cried. When we were lonely we cried. When we were hurt, physically or emotionally, we cried. Thank God for mothers!

Having spent all of our lives up until salvation "walking in the flesh", rather than in the spirit, we continue with our old habits. I know, the Holy Spirit has come to live in the new believer. However, our "chooser", our "thinker", and our "feeler" had not yet been fixed. The way we used live in the flesh still seems to be the way to go but somehow it doesn't feel right. In fact, when we follow the flesh we can say with Paul, "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death." We struggle with how to live the Christian life. With Paul, we want to do right but find that we are not doing right. With training, we can get the outside looking pretty good but we know on the inside we are just not hacking it. It's as though we have a split personality. What could be the problem?

The problem is Sin dwells in us.

You see Adam sold us to Sin. Genesis 2:16-17, "And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Our father Adam didn't just want to be like God, or to be a friend of God, or even a child of God, Adam wanted to be God and rule his own little kingdom himself. Eve was deceived by Satan, Adam volunteered! From that time forward, the human race was sold under sin and in bondage to the prince of the power of the air, Satan himself. The moment he sinned, by rebelling against God, his spirit, that had been attached to God, became attached to Satan. Then, as Don Francisco put it in his song, "all their unborn children die as both of them bow down to Satan's hand."

The power of Sin indwells us. Romans 7:20-23, "Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members." Let me hasten to say to you that we do not have two warring natures. Remember, when a person comes to Christ, he or she becomes a new creature. That person's soul becomes a sealed unit attached to God and filled with the Holy Spirit. There is no room for the sin-spirit in your spirit or soul. However, Satan's tool remains in the members of our body. That tool is called, "Sin", or, "the law of sin". In last week's message we saw that Sin seized the opportunity of twisting the law, "You shall not covet." And produced all kinds of lust. Paul said that Sin, through that commandment, deceived him and killed him spiritually. The law that is holy, righteous, and good was used to stimulate sins in the life of Paul by the power of Sin that dwelt in his members.

When we are born again our old habits, or flesh, continue to live in our body. As Bill Gillham tells us in his book, Lifetime Guarantee, "These are the memory traces, the habit patterns, the software in your computer. If you are deceived into focusing on these thoughts, your brain will run the same program repeatedly." The flesh is left with us, by God, so long as we are on this Earth with a good purpose in mind. Remember, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28) When those old memory traces, or habit patterns kick in it doesn't "feel" like it's working together for good! Well, rain on your feelings! Remember, your "feeler" is pretty well stuck in your old way of living. The flesh will always be with us but thanks be to God it doesn't have to rule over us. We have to live in the realm of our "chooser" and our "thinker" and let them retrain our "feeler". We have a promise in Scripture that sin will have no dominion over us since we are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:14) When your "feeler" tells you that you'll never be set free, tell it to get off the bus and go on without it. Which can you trust most, the word of God or the way you feel? I hope you don't have to spend too much time thinking about that.

If Paul had ended this passage with verse twenty-three we would be left thinking that there is no hope of our never being delivered. But we can join him in saying: "But thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:25

We have weapons of power. Paul told the Corinthians about those weapons of power in his second letter. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, "For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ," In this passage Paul uses the word "flesh" three times (ESV). The first time refers to the human body but the second two times referred to those flesh patterns, or habits, built into our lives over the years. The war we are fighting will never be won in our strength or by our training. Even if our flesh is good it is never to be used in our warfare. The apostle Paul had the best flesh possible. He wrote to the Philippians these words, "I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—" Philippians 3:4-9 Paul had excellent human credentials. He was above reproach by human standards. When he met Christ his value system was turned upside down. Now, whatever gain he had he counted as loss for the sake of Christ. He counted everything loss for the sake of knowing Christ. His own righteousness just wouldn't cut it. Remember he had said in our text, "I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh." Verse 18. Note that he did not say, "nothing good dwells in me", without adding, "that is, in my flesh". One thing for sure, something "GOOD" did dwell in him. That something good is the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit! We have the mind of Christ. But we also have habits of the past — flesh patterns programmed by Satan.

There are, at least, three sources of thoughts. 1 Corinthians 2:16 tells us that we have the mind of Christ. Our mind generates thoughts that are holy and good. The Holy Spirit indwells every believer and puts holy and good thoughts in our mind. The power of Sin, Satan's tool, also suggests thoughts to us. Now he doesn't do this in a strange scary voice or smelling of sulfur. When the enemy presents thoughts to our mind he uses our voice. Your mind receives thoughts from the Power of Sin and thinks those thoughts are your own! He doesn't say, "You should do thus and so." He says, using your own voice and your own words," I should do thus and so." Our job is to take every thought captive to obey Christ. When we are presented with a thought from the enemy we must learn to recognize the source. Sinful thoughts do not come from us. Be have been born again and have a new mind, a new thought pattern, a new way of living, because we have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit. John, writing to his beloved children in the Spirit, tells us, "No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God." (1 John 3:6) Notice he doesn't say, "No one born of God sins." But he does say, "No one born of God makes a practice of sinning." You see in the beginning of the book, John says, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (1 John 1:8) John includes himself when he says "we" rather than "you". He was the last living apostle when he wrote these words. He was very close to Jesus and was included in the three who were usually with Jesus at very special times. He was there on the Mount of Transfiguration. He was there when Jesus raised Jairus' daughter from the dead. Still when John spoke of the possibility of sin and life of a believer he said if we say we have sin we deceive ourselves. So in chapter 3 he could not have been talking about sinless perfection but instead he speaks of sin habits and flesh patterns that we must take captive to obey Christ. It's not easy. In fact, especially in the beginning, it's hard. Anytime you have a thought to which you can not add, "In Jesus' name." it didn't come from your mind and it didn't come from the Holy Spirit. It came from the evil one and needs to be taken captive to Christ and rejected by you immediately. Never act on a thought that doesn't honor God.

If you have been with me very long you know that I believe the greatest promise in Scripture, apart from the promise of salvation, is that Sin will not win. Romans 6:14 tells us "For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace."

We need to be aware that we are not spiritual Siamese twins. God does not come into a person's life and attach his Holy Spirit to Satan's sin-spirit in us and then leave us to fight a battle all of our life. That certainly is not what Jesus promised when he, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10 God would not set us up for failure by leaving the Adamic nature intact in our life and attach His Spirit to it. Jesus laid down a spiritual principal when he said, "no city or house divided against itself will stand." Matthew 12:25b Since we become a new creature in Christ Jesus and we have spiritual weapons that are powerful to the pulling down of strongholds we must choose to walk by the Spirit not by the Flesh.

All Scriptures are from: The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001,. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Deceitfulness of Sin 120506

Romans 7:7-13 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, ‍I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if ‍the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, ‍seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. ‍For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment ‍that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, ‍seizing an opportunity through the commandment, ‍deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So ‍the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

Romans 5:12 tells us at the same time that Adam first rebelled against God's rule over him something called "Sin" entered the world. This is not just talking about acts of sin we commit. Many times when the word "sin" is used, especially in Romans 6-8, it is talking about a powerful force that entered mankind. Looking over Romans 7 we quickly see that “Sin” often refers to an evil power against which the Christian battles. Adam's trespass led to condemnation for all men. The law came alongside of "Sin" to increase the trespass and Sin reigned. (Romans 5:18-21) In our chosen text the Apostle tells us twice that sin, "seizing an opportunity through the commandment" worked in him all kinds of covetousness, deceived him and killed him. Paul uses himself as an example of how sin deceives but it applies to us all.

Is the law evil? Paul could imagine this question in the minds of his readers and he had a ready answer.
No way! Galatians 3:21 tells us, “Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For ‍if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.” The law was never intended to produce justification or sanctification. If it were possible for the law to produce salvation then Jesus died for nothing. When Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;” there was no answer. If anyone’s prayer should be answered with a positive “yes” it would be Jesus’. But he went on to say, “nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” If there could’ve been any other way of salvation apart from the sacrifice of Jesus, the Father would have sent in the angels and removed his Son from this world. Jesus did what the law could not! He paid the price for our sins! Put your trust in him!

The law exposes the nature of sin. In the sermon on the Mount Jesus illustrated this truth, Matthew 5:21-22, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‍‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable ‍to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that ‍everyone who is angry with his brother‍ will be liable ‍to judgment; whoever insults‍ his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to ‍the hell‍ of fire” and verses 27 & 28 say, ‍“You have heard that it was said, ‍‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that ‍everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Here Jesus teaches the truth that the “sins” committed on the outside for everyone to see is activated by “Sin” on the inside that no one can see. To desire to sin is sin. Obviously there are differences in consequences but the desire is sin. Ultimately the law is spiritual. “The law is concerned with the man’s heart and his ultimate attitude to God.” ( D, Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Romans)

The law is designed to bring us to Christ. Paul tells us in Galatians 3:23-26, “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, ‍imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, ‍the law was our ‍guardian until Christ came, ‍in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus ‍you are all sons of God, through faith.” The word translated here as “guardian” in the original language refers to a tutor or a guide for young boys. We might use the word “mentor” instead. Normally this person would be very strict and would compel the boys to do their lessons. When I was in college one of my teachers was Dr. Don Stewart. Dr. Stewart told us about a painting he saw, it may have been on a vase, that showed two students sitting facing a teacher with a man sitting behind them holding a stick in his hand. This man illustrated the meaning of the word used here. The law compels us toward the only salvation available! And that is in Christ Jesus. I pray that you have received him as your Lord and entered into that salvation.

Sin is a powerful force. And:
Adam delivered us up to it. Dr. Bill Gilham In his book, Lifetime Guarantee, tells us: “When Adam sinned against God's authority, not only did his innocent spirit die to God so that he had no life toward God, but his spirit instantly became one with Satan. Adam's dead spirit was instantly unified with Satan's spirit, the Power of Sin. This Power of Sin entered into Adam and took control over him spirit, soul, and body. He became Satan's spirit-offspring, born of the same rebellion as he, a dead-to-God spirit being in human form totally submissive to Satan.” We can see this in the statement of Jesus to the Jews in John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. ‍He was a murderer from the beginning, and ‍has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. ‍When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Paul also says in Ephesians 2:1-3, “And you were ‍dead in the trespasses and sins 2 ‍in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following ‍the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in ‍the sons of disobedience — 3 among whom we all once lived in ‍the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body‍ and the mind, and ‍were by nature ‍children of wrath, like the rest of mankind."

Please understand, the moment we entered Earth’s atmosphere in our Earth suit we were spiritually ”DOA”. We were occupied territory, captive to our enemy and unable to deliver ourselves — but we were NOT without hope.

God pointed that out to Cain in Genesis 4:7 God says, “‍If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. ‍Its desire is for‍ you, but you must rule over it.”

Note, here God speaks of sin as “its” or “it” but this word should be translated “his” and “him” as in the King James Version. What God said was, “sin is crouching at the door. His desire is for you, but you must rule over him”. You see; here “sin” is a masculine pronoun. In many places in Scripture sin is referred to as a noun or pronoun. When “sin” is a verb it refers to specific acts that are wrong. When “sin” is a noun or pronoun it refers to a powerful force planted in human nature when Adam rebelled against God and died spiritually. When Adam died spiritually we died spiritually in him.

Sin is a slave master. We should be clear, a person as either a slave to sin, or a slave to grace. There is no middle ground, or third option! In Romans 6:16, Paul wrote, “Do you not know that if you present yourselves ‍to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” Notice that Paul puts over against “sin”, not faith, but “obedience”. John also emphasizes obedience in his gospel, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; ‍whoever does not obey the Son shall not ‍see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (3:36) By saying, “present yourselves” and “obedient slaves” Paul is pointing out that we’re either a slave to sin or, a slave of obedience. The first leads to death the second leads to righteousness. Having been born again the believer puts on new life, joins a new family, breaks with the old master and becomes obedient to the new one. However, Sin has helped us to develop flesh patterns that puts him in charge. If you haven’t been in the adult Sunday school class then you may not know what flesh patterns are. The definition we use for flesh is: “Those patterns of behavior used for satisfying my needs independently of God and His grace. Patterns of thought, emotion, and behavior that I have walked in through the years in my private world and on which I have relied to get my God-given needs met—apart from Christ.” These patterns form the habits of our life and have been trained to respond to our master "Sin". Even though we have been set free we still have the ingrained habits of the old life. When Satan/Sin speaks to us he doesn't appear smelling of sulfur and waving a pitchfork. In fact, he speaks with your voice and he uses first person singular pronouns. "I am a sinner". "I'm no good". "I'm a failure". "I should (fill in the blank)". Or even, “I must (fill in the blank)” or, “I can’t help myself”. And if we are not careful we will follow our old master and go down in defeat.

It’s not the law but the deceitfulness of sin.
In answer to the question, “Is the law sin?” Paul tells us that it is holy, righteous and good. The Law is holy it is the absolute opposite of sin and evil. Throughout the Bible we are told that “God is holy”. So the commandment, the whole of the law, can be summed up in this way, “You shall be holy, for I am holy”. 1 Peter 1:13 Paul goes on to say that the law is righteous. The law has been given, it is plain and clear, it has told us what will happen if we don’t obey it. For example, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden were clearly told what the result of their disobedience would be and they had no grounds to complain. The same is true of us today. Then Paul said, “the commandment is good”. The law is good for man, it shows us what sin is. The law shows us what we are to be and how we ought to live. The psalmist tells us in Psalm 19:7, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul…”

Sin used the law to produce death. Romans 7:5, “For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work ‍in our members ‍to bear fruit for death.” This would cause us to think that the law itself bore fruit unto death. Nothing could be further from the truth. Paul asked the question in verse thirteen, “Did that which is good, then, bring death to me?” His answer is emphatic! “By no means!” You see it was not the law — it was Sin that used the law to stir up covetousness, to be more specific, in modern language lust! Satan doesn’t want to use theology to defeat us. What he does is appeal to the senses. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden were confronted with the question of whether God existed or whether God was good. Instead they were confronted with the law and made to think that the forbidden fruit would make them wise. They were deceived into believing that eating the fruit would make them like God! Then after they toyed with that idea they examined the fruit and found that it was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes. So they followed their flesh and the human race fell into bondage to Sin. Why would God allow this? Why would God allow his holy, righteous and good law to be used by the enemy to draw us into bondage?

God had a purpose. Romans 3:20 tells us, “For ‍by works of the law no human being‍ will be justified in his sight, since ‍through the law comes knowledge of sin.” The law gives us an understanding of sin. It was never meant to justify a sinner. The law was never intended to be a way of salvation. The problem the Jews were facing in Paul’s day was that they had attempted to build a relationship with God based on the works of the law. When we get to chapter 9 we will go into more detail on that subject. All the law does is make us aware that we are a failure. On the outside we may appear to be okay but on the inside we know we have failed. God’s whole purpose in the law is to bring men to see they needed a Savior.

Is the law evil? No, of course not! The law exposes the nature of sin. And sin is not just doing wrong Sin is a powerful force ingrained in our flesh that draws us away from God. The force of Sin uses the law to inflame our covetousness or lust. And God allows that to show us how exceedingly wrong sin is. Jesus took that Sin to the cross and nailed it there. He took our very nature so that we could die to Sin and live to God. Having been born into the family of Adam and Eve we were born spiritually dead. Accepting Christ as Savior and Lord brings us into a new birth that sets us free from bondage and gives us a new family. We have new spiritual DNA. We have a new genealogy as children of God. We have been given the power to break free from our former slave master. If God is speaking to you to come to salvation in Christ I hope you’ll respond today. If you’ve been letting your former slave master order you around I hope you’ll recognize the freedom you have been given in Christ Jesus. Turn to him today, he died to set you free!

All Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001 Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.