What are you struggling to resist doing? Most people can relate with this statement: “For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (Romans 7:15b). Most would recognize doing what a person does not want to do as an addiction depending on who it hurts. Humanity is struggling with sin. Rebellious temptations pull upon the flesh enticing people to rebel against God’s character and design of creation. Because of the weakness of the flesh, those who give into temptation are very likely to have sin embedded in the flesh of the body so that they cannot control themselves. The sinful body desires sin that wars against the mind and takes captive the person to continue in the action. This article will explore information about sin living in the flesh and the solution to that problem that is only in Jesus Christ.
The New Way of the Spirit or the Old Way of the Written Code
Romans 7:5–13 teaches that sinful passions in the body produce fruit unto death (7:5). However, Christians are released from the law to serve in the new way of the Spirit (7:6). The law of God reveals what is right and exposes what is sin, but the law cannot deliver a person from sins in the flesh (7:7–9). By the knowledge of sin, sin deceives and kills (7:10–11). Despite sin, the law of God is still holy, right, and good (7:12). God’s law shows sin to be sinful beyond measure (7:13).
No law can deliver anyone from sin in the body of flesh. Telling others not to sin does not give anyone the strength of God to put sin to death. While God’s law is holy, just, and good, the law exposes sin by giving knowledge of sin but it does not resolve sin in the flesh (Romans 3:19–20). That is why Jesus came to free believers from sin and condemn the sin that was against them (Romans 8:1–4). Therefore, the only way to be free of sin in the flesh is to put to death the sin by living in the new way of the Spirit (7:6). This is to serve God by the Spirit from the heart and not by the letter of law and its condemnation (2:29).
The Solution to Sin in the Flesh
What can the believer do about sin living in the flesh? The solution to sin in the flesh is to live in the new way of the Spirit (Romans 7:5–6). The Holy Spirit strengthens the faithful in the inner person (Ephesians 3:16). God sent His Spirit into people so that they would have a new heart and obey His commands (Ezekiel 36:26–27). The faithful must think and fascinate their imaginations on the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5–6). Thereby, the believer can put to death the practices of the body by living in the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:13).
How Does Sin Live in the Flesh?
Because all people sin, will all people have sin in the flesh? Jesus came in the likeness of “sinful flesh” yet Christ is without sin having lived without sinning in the flesh (Romans 8:3; Hebrews 2:14–15; 4:14–15). Sin in the flesh is not inherited but the weakness of flesh is inherited from Adam so that all sin like Adam. Jesus taught that the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38). Sin comes by the knowledge of right and wrong and deceives people in the weakness of their flesh (7:7–13). The apostle Paul wrote, “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in His [God’s] sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). Adam did not inherit sin, but Adam’s flesh became weak by the knowledge of good and evil — the law (Genesis 3:15–17; Romans 5:12, 17–19). The weakness of the body to death came by knowledge of good and evil in the world (cf. Genesis 3).
Sins Living in the Flesh
Romans 7:14–20 describes the condition of one who delights in God’s law but the law cannot deliver that individual. While under the law, the believer is still sold under sin (Romans 7:14). In this state, the believer with sin in the flesh does not understand one’s own actions (7:15). This person does what that person hates and does not do what that person wants to do (7:16). Paul revealed that the person who does what he does not want has sin living within the body (7:17). Does delighting in God’s law excuse us from sin living in the flesh and make us good? This cannot be because all can come to God and can live by the Spirit.
Is there anything good in the flesh of the body? The apostle revealed that there is nothing good that lives in the flesh of each person (Romans 7:18). Therefore, the apostle concluded that anyone who does what the individual does not want, then that person does not do it but the sin is living in one’s body (7:19–20).
What is sin in the flesh? The apostle Paul revealed in Galatians, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: adultery, formication, impurity, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19–21).
Delivered from Sin in the Flesh
For those who want to do right, evil is near (Romans 7:21). Despite delighting in God’s law in the inner person, the members of the body of flesh wage war against the mind and take the person captive (7:22–23). The apostle Paul expressed, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Christians find hope, joy, and thanks that Jesus provides freedom from sin in the flesh (7:24–25).
There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). In other words, Christians are no longer judged by the law as they remain in Jesus Christ and so continue to live obediently by faith. Those who are “in Christ” were baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27; cf. Romans 6:3–4). The law of the Spirit has set Christians free in Christ from the condemnation of sin and death (8:2). The sinful flesh weakened the law’s ability to prevent sin (8:3). Therefore, God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to judge sin in the flesh so that the faithful are counted right who walk according to the Holy Spirit and not the flesh (8:3–4).
The faithful must think and set their imaginations on the Spirit (Romans 8:5–6). Thereby, the believer can put to death the practices of the body by living in the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:13). In Galatians, the apostle instructed Christians to walk by the Spirit and they will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). Therefore, the faithful Christian will seek out how to walk by the Spirit within one’s heart. Christ surrounded Himself by disciples and His followers continued this model in the early church (Acts 2:42). Christians need one another today to stir one another to love and good works and to keep evil from the heart (Hebrews 3:12–13; 10:24–25).
Are you seeking to live in the way of the Spirit and come to freedom from captivity of sin? Some people identify themselves by their desires that they cannot keep themselves from giving in to doing. Others recognize their destructive desires and want to escape their compulsions. People look for answers in psychology, prescriptions, rehabilitation, and acceptance. The Bible has presented the answer in Christ for 2000 years. The Bible has proclaimed the work of the Spirit of God to deliver humanity from compulsive behaviors of the flesh. The New Testament Scriptures teach throughout how to walk by the Spirit and so not to practice the works of the flesh.