Paul introduces a new concept in Romans 7:18-23 – that there are two parts at war within us, our sinful nature and our spirit nature. He recognizes that once we attach ourselves to Jesus our sin nature is put on notice.
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. (Romans 7:18-23 NLT)
Sometimes I wish that my sin nature would just leave, but I have found it is a process that takes a lifetime full of obedience, suffering, discipline, consistency and relationships. Over time our spirit nature begins to win more and more battles.
Here’s the deal: Paul tells us that when we do wrong it’s not really us, it’s sin living in us. That sounds like a cop-out, but think about this – do you have the power to stop sinning all by yourself? If you did, why haven’t you stopped yet? If us not sinning was our responsibility, we would still be living under the law. Paul is showing us that we must separate our sinful part from our spirit part and recognize that it is on its own.
Action: Do you recognize the war raging inside of you? How responsible do you feel for the sin in your life? Do you think you have to fix it?