We are under obligation

“For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish,” Romans 7:19

Many have used this verse of Scripture to justify their belief that Christians will always sin. But the truth is that Paul was speaking of life under the Law without Christ.

In Romans 7:1-3 Paul explains that we are under the Law as long as we are alive, after which he says,

4 Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ [that is, crucified with Christ], that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the daed, that we might bear fruit for God.

5 For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. 

Paul is saying the Law told us what not to do, and because of the sin that dwells in us, we automatically did what the Law told us not to do. It’s like the old adage, ‘The grass is always greener on the other side.’ Under the Law we are continually enticed to rebel, for the simple reason that the sin within us does not take kindly to being told what not to do. 

1 John 3:4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. 

Sinful man is not built to be obedient to the Law, or to anything else. Watch the traffic both in town and on the highways; most drivers exceed the speed limit, which is against the law. They do this because of sin that dwells in them. 

Many who claim to be Christians do the same, speeding with the rest of them, which is disobedient to both the law and to God. They do this because they walk by the flesh, and not by the Spirit. For if they walked by the Spirit, the Holy Spirit would not allow them to be disobedient to the law or to God.

So that is what Paul was referring to in Romans 7:19 where he said he does the evil that he does not want. He is talking about life in the flesh without Christ. 

But he doesn’t leave it there, for he says, 

Romans 7:24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 

25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

In Romans 8 Paul begins to explain life without the Law, that is, life in Christ: 

1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 

3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did:  sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,

4 in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in youAnyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him. 

In verses 12-14 Paul says,

12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, NOT to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 

13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the SPIRIT you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live

14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

This takes us back to the beginning:

Romans 7:

5 For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.

6 But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter [the Law].

We were crucified with Christ and now we walk in the newness of the Spirit, and God makes a way of escape for every temptation known to man. He provides those ways of escape to all who walk by the Spirit, and not the flesh.

Romans 6:

3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 

4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 

5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 

6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 

7 for he who has died is freed from sin. (See Romans 7:4.)

Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant

P.S. The things I have spoken of are all accomplished through faith in Jesus, and in what He has accomplished for us. We need only consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. We must do this daily. Jesus is a perfect Savior.

“Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.” 1 Peter 4:1-2.