SUBJ: The internal warfare in
believers wherein the old nature wars against the new nature imparted to
born again believers.
AIM: That we might know the ability
expressed by the Apostle Paul as being given through Christ our Lord and
that we ever clearly distinguish between the two principles and so cling
to eternal life.
INTR: The testimony of Paul might
well be applied to all believers in that the makeup of all is the same
regardless of our calling in service.
1. What Paul experienced was
sharp and drastic and constituted a real conflict in realizing what was
going on within him. Especially was this so after “sin revived, and I
2. The scriptures declare that “all who will live Godly will
suffer persecution” and that opposition is often realized from within.
3. The battle that followed was a source of pain throughout the life of
Paul (he expresses similar thoughts elsewhere) and it will be to us to
love the Lord and serve Him.
By understanding the spiritual nature of being new creatures in Christ,
and the spiritual and holy nature of our relationship to God in Christ,
we are not surprised that the world, the flesh, and the devil conspire
to subvert the Gospel and the righteousness of God in His people.
I. The Spirituality of the Law and the carnality of the flesh (vv.
1. The fact that the Law in its original form was given of God
makes it to be essentially spiritual even is externally written – and it
is, in fact, written in the hearts of believers.
2. We would further
note that it, from the beginning, required obedience from the heart.
3. The flesh is earthy and given to that which opposes God and His
righteousness with Christ as the focus of opposition.
4. In v. 15,
Paul begins to describe his own conflict and that of others who share
his love of Christ.
1) In v. 16, having described his state, declares
essentially that the conflicts proves that he knows that the Law is
2) Thus, confession is made of the presence of sin. V. 17
This brings a profound conclusion that there is no good in his flesh
(old man and body) and thus discovers no ability to self-correct.
II. Identifying the Inward Man (vv. 19-23)
1. In v. 19, Paul
builds on the idea of inability. He restates the previous observation as
to the conflict.
2. In v. 20, he draws another conclusion:
use of “I” here is in reference to that new man, born of God and of
incorruptible seed and that cannot sin as is elsewhere declared.
But, something must be the problem because sin keeps happening – the old
nature, while having no rights tries to intrude into every part of our
lives. It is a hated fact!
3. The “law” referenced in v. 21 is not
the Holy Law of God. It rather seems to be an invariable, or at least
often, occurrence that every attempt at doing good is met with the
presence of evil.
1) It is as if the old evil nature is ever on the
lookout for any inclination to the good and spiritual intent in
believers and shows up quickly.
2) The believer’s delight is found in
the very principles dictated by the nature of Christ in us and so our
delight is in the inward man – our identity in Christ!
3) That which
we see in Christ and experience through Him makes the principles of
righteousness to appear beautiful and to triumph over the evil.
Yet another conclusion for clarification. There are two Laws in us (and
neither will change – the flesh cannot be reformed – it can only be
suppressed) and Paul was acutely aware of both.
1) Sin and the sin
principle in us cannot be anything other that what it is and it hates
Christ and those that are His.
2) The new nature and the law of love
that it obeys is ever sensitive to and flees to Christ from the
influence it would impose.
3) And so, it stands firmly and takes on
the “whole armor of God.”
III. The Desire to be free (vv. 24-25)
1. This cry of the Apostle, expressed prayerfully, uses strong language
– it denotes intense misery.
1) Certainly, such a prayer should be in
our own spiritual expressions toward God.
2) This and all the above
is needed that we might be the more aware and be the more given to
promote a consciousness of Christ in us in all that we do or think.
3) And, it should move us to think of those who do not know the
difference and remain in “the body of this death.”
2. The awareness
of these things gave Paul reason for thanksgiving.