The Mysterious Nature of Sin: Romans 7:11-25
“11) for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12) So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. 13) Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.” Romans‬ ‭7:11-13‬ ‭
I now venture to ask a question that I have pondered often but have no definitive answer; “What is sin?” I know it is disobeying God, breaking the Law and coming short of the glory of God, but I am asking about the very nature of sin itself. What gives it such universal appeal and influence over humanity?
Is sin a spirit? Is it a force? Is it a mere concept? Is it the very fallen nature within humanity that is bent toward evil? How is it aligned with Satan? Does it behave like a spiritual disease or virus bringing eventual moral decay and death to every human host? How can Paul attribute blame to it in Romans 7:13? Does it posses the attributes of personhood? These questions intrigue me.
Notice Romans 7:17says; “So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which I dwells me.” He repeats himself in Romans 7:20; “But if I am doing the very thing which I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.” Is Paul passing on personal responsibility and blaming sin for his negative actions? His distinction is very compelling.
More important, as a Christian I understand the concept of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but notice that Paul uses the same terminology for sin indwelling the human flesh. What does that mean? How did it get in there? Can I get rid of this unwanted parasite?
Notice in verse 14, Paul says his flesh is in bondage to sin. Sin is so aligned with the human flesh that it has the power to influence and control the flesh in an evil bent. He then goes on in verses 21 and 23 to talk about a “principle” and “the law of sin.” How does this influence our understanding of the nature of sin?
I do know that sin is our foe and not our friend. It’s method is deception. It’s playground is human misery and suffering. It’s ultimate goal is death and eternal damnation. It is universal throughout all of humanity and it is very powerful and effective in promoting human depravity.
So why is this an important discussion? Well first off, a basic principle of warfare is; “Know thy enemy!” I believe that Romans 6-7 where written to help us know our enemy. Ephesians 6 was written to help us put on our armor and prepare us for battle. But second, Romans 7 makes it clear that this is every humans story. You are in this battle with sin whether you like it or not! The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only cure for this wretched human condition. (See Romans 7:24-25)
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global