A Cord of Three Strands

Difficulty of indwelling sin

Posted by David Staff on

Psalm 51 and Romans 7

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, You delight in truth in the inward being...

For we know that [God’s] Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions, for I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.

OK...so we don’t like to admit it. Still, we must. We’re born sinners. We’re sons of Adam and daughters of Eve (cf. CS Lewis, Narnia Chronicles). No one need teach us to be selfish, to put what we want ahead of what others (and even God) may want. Born to independently insist on satisfying what we want apart from the word and will of God. It’s what our first parents did in Genesis 3; it’s what every human being, save One, has done in his/her walking days on planet earth.

When we do, tough stuff happens. Self-inflicted tough stuff. All kinds of tough stuff which diminishes us and often hurts others. Self-centered lust conceives sin, and sin birthed ends in death (James 1:13-15). The good God intended in our lives fails to happen; the bad He knows it best to avoid takes its place.

Without Jesus’ propitiation for it, His redemption of us from it, His resurrection power to defeat it, and His Spirit’s power to replace it with righteousness, we simply default back into it. Tony Evans describes older automobiles that required power-steering fluid to enable steering a car virtually effortlessly. [But] “when your power steering fluid got low, you’d have to force the wheel to turn...to pull and tug. The pull of the wheel back to center was so strong that without power steering, when you’d take your hands off the wheel, it would snap back to neutral position” (Book of Illustrations). Paul calls it sin centered, or which “dwells” in, my flesh.

Without redemption and the Spirit’s power, our flesh steers us back into sinful living, into doing what we hate. Tough stuff for which we need help.

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