Many people seem to find that Paul was irresponsible when Paul said, “when I sin, it is not I who sin but sin who sins in me”.
New International Version (NIV)
16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
He wasn’t. He was making a very important point. He was saying this, when Israel was placed under the Law of Moses, the Law identifies the person with his sin. The Law makes sin and the person inseparable. Hence in the mindset of the old covenant man, he is the sin he commits. This means if he killed someone, he is a killer and that if he commits adultery, he an adulterer. The Law merely compounded the human problem. When Adam sinned, he saw himself as a sinner. He see himself and sin as one.
What our God did was, to provide a means of escape by providing sacrifices as an atonement for sin. It is here, God reveals his heart. He sees sin and the human as separate. Hence by establishing the system of sacrifices, he was telling the people, your sins can be “transferred” onto a lamb.
The people unfortunately did not see it. They were suppose to see that death would set you free from the Law. Paul hence points out this point in Romans 7:1 when he said “that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives” and he uses the illustration of a woman who is free to marry another as an example.
Hence you must understand God see you and sin separately. Many people think God loves the sinner but hates the sin. That is true but not in the way we understand it. God hates sin not only because he is holy but he is love. True love is always holy. What I am trying to say is this. Sin does not affect him because he is holy. Sin affects him because of what sin does to you. As such it is his love for you that brings hatred for sin.
We teach it as if God is afraid of sin. He is not. The incident of Peter yelling at Jesus to stay away from him because he was a sinful man is an excellent answer. Sin is afraid of God. It is totally annihilated in His presence. The problem is this. Sin is also in you.
As such God need a body to “transfer your sins to” something else.
Romans 8: 3 For God has done what the Law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit]. Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh subdued, overcame,.deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice].
The context in which the word flesh is used here is the body of Jesus. Not sinful nature. God took your sins and imputed onto the body of Jesus and condemned sin in his body.
That is why in Hebrews 10:5, it says “sacrifices and offerings, I do not desire but a body you prepared for me”. The body of Jesus is where sin is taken away from you and place onto the body of Jesus to be condemned. Notice God does not condemn you (Romans 8:1), he condemned sin. In the body of Jesus.
People so often tell us, you can’t call yourself a new creation, because you still have sins in you and that you are still a sinner. Dear friend, you are no longer a sinner. You say “But I still sin.”
Dear friend, when you were a sinner. You cannot but sin. You cannot NOT sin. You either sin this way or that way. You cannot stop sinning. However, when your flesh has been cut off from you. In this context I am talking about sinful nature. YES, YOU HEARD ME, your sinful nature has been removed from you on the cross, when the Law was nailed to the cross, you have a divine nature. You now can choose to sin or not to sin.
Just like Jesus. The only difference is that while he had the potential of sinning, he chose not to. He too had the ability to sin. He just didn’t. You now can sin. You also can sin NOT.
11 When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. 12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.
13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, he disarmed[d] the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.
2:11 Greek the cutting away of the body of the flesh.
Notice when the Law was nailed to the cross, the flesh (sinful nature) was removed from you.
Your flesh is not your sinful habits. Your flesh is that part of you who loves to rely on the Law to be righteous. This is how Paul describes “walking in the flesh”:
Romans 7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. 6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
Notice that the “sinful passions” that we so enjoy is aroused by the Law. Are we saying that the Law caused us to sin? No! Romans 7 tells sin is already in us because of Adam. But when the Law is introduced, sin takes hold of it and create in us all forms of sinful passions. So Paul tells that we have died to the Law, hence when that happens you are now no longer in the flesh but in the Spirit. It is impossible hence for a believer that has died to the Law to be walking in the flesh because he is no longer under that realm. Even when sins, he is a new creation. Sin is totally independent of him.
Sin has been taken away from him once and for all because he no longer lives in the flesh because he died to the Law. Hence in the New Covenant, God teaches us to see ourselves as separate from sin. Just sit down and think for a moment. Did Paul sin? Did Peter sin? Did the horrible moral decaying church in Corinth sinned?
I want you to see how Paul calls them: To God’s church at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called as saints. Saints.
Am I teaching you to be sinful? Am I giving you license to sin. The problem with much of our teaching is this. We have to obey to be something. What the Gospel is teaching us is this: Your conduct must match who you already are. Paul says in Colossians 3:1 So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God.
“Setting your minds on things above” does not mean “getting heavenly rewards” down here. See in the next verse, he said you have died and has been raised to new life! What he is saying is that you are already in the heavenly places. Hence your conduct must now match your new status. Your behaviour must match who you already are!
He is saying because you are ALREADY MADE HOLY, be holy. Since you are already seated with Christ, behave like royalty. Since you have died (not that you die daily as some teach) you put to death what belongs to your sinful nature. You put that away NOT because your sinful nature is dying but because your sinful is ALREADY cut away from you.
That is where you find the power to stop sinning. God changes your position first, then your condition. He places you in Him first then you become like Him. Romans 8:9 says “You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since[g] the Spirit of God lives in you.” ARE. You WERE in the flesh. You ARE NOW in the Spirit. Romans 8:29 says “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” You are now placed in him to be made into the likeness of his Son.
You cannot be made into the likeness of His Son, if you are still in the flesh, you have to be taken out and placed into the realm of the Spirit. That happened on the cross. The bible calls it “circumcision of the heart” and it is not by human hands unlike the Law. It is on the cross you died with Christ to sin and the Law.
You must now see sin and you as separate just as God sees you. He sees you as holy blameless and without fault (Ephesians 5:25) even when you fall. You must do the same. This is how you power over sin. Sin is not you and you are not sin. You are no longer a sinner. When you sin, it is sin who sins in you. You are already made whole. Now, act whole. You are already holy, now let your true self awake. Awake to righteousness and sin not. Be blessed.