The Old Regime
Take some time to recognize the presence of God and his deep, loving knowledge of you.
Read Romans 7:7–25
7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 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. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
“O Lord, you have searched me and… know me” (Psa. 139:1).
Having outlined the two ways of life—the old way of the law and the new way of the Spirit (6)—Paul now amplifies the old way. So is Paul describing a pre-Christian way of life? If so, why do so many Christians identify with these verses?
In a sense, Paul is giving a lesson in the history of the human race. He talks about the entrance of sin into the world and the way God’s commandments expose sin (7); the way sinful human nature perversely responds to God’s law (8); the conflicting desires to do what is right and yet to do our own thing (18–20); and the miserable state this leaves us in (24). Clearly, this is not the fault of God’s law: it is the result of something deep within the human heart (21–23).
This old way of life is dominated by powerful desires arising from the fallen human nature (5). This old “sinful nature” is alive and well in the Christian as well as the non-Christian. However, there is an alternative, which we will explore tomorrow. Thanks be to God!
Are there remnants of your old way of life that need to be overtaken by God’s new way? Give those things to him today.
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psa. 139:23,24).
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