A Short Study of Romans 7:15
“For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that I do not; but what I hate, that do I.”
We may not have any great struggle with outward crimes of wickedness, but do not imagine that the sins of the flesh are only outward acts of indecency. Most people act and talk about sin as though it is measured by deeds of drunkenness, adultery, murder, and profanity. Paul’s struggle was a matter of immeasurable inward evil. — “That which I do, I allow not!” And Paul’s struggle is a struggle with which every heaven-born soul readily identifies. It is a struggle we all experience. We do evil without thought, without consent, and even without knowing what we are doing!
That which we do, we allow not. Those very things which we most loathe and despise in the actions of others, we are constantly guilty of doing. And the believer loathes and despises these things in himself more than in anyone else.
So far as I know, none of us are guilty of idol worship; but we have plenty of idolatry. None of us are guilty of drunkenness; but we are intoxicated with materialism. It may be that none of us are guilty of outward adultery; but we are so full of lusts that we cannot describe them. None of us are thieves; but we are all thieves, full of covetousness. None of us are notorious liars; but we are all full of deceit, pretense, and hypocrisy. None of us are profane swearers; but we are all impatient and prone to fits of temper. None of us are legally guilty of murder; but we are all easily stirred to anger, malice, wrath, and revenge.
I know these things are in you and in me. I know it both by bitter experience and by the Word of God. This is the complex nature of every regenerate soul. If there is a warfare in your soul, if you hate the sin that is in you, that warfare is a blessed warfare! Many men hate the results of sin, the penalty of sin, and the legal guilt of sin. But only one who has seen and knows the living God hates sin itself, because it is sin.
The ungodly know nothing of this warfare. Where there is warfare in the heart because of sin, God is present, grace is present, Christ is present.
This struggle between the flesh and the spirit is a real and a bitter struggle. It is a lifelong warfare. But it is a blessed warfare. It is an evidence of grace. It makes the believer kind, sympathetic, and patient with his brethren. — Wounded soldiers are not blamed, but helped.
As long as we are in this world, the flesh brings us into captivity. It is true, in Christ we are free. Thank God for that! We are free from the penalty of sin, and free from the dominion of sin, free from the law, and free from condemnation. “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Romans 7:23). There is a very real sense in which sin holds every believer in captivity.