The Battle Within


God had provided for us a new life and a new way of living, free from the law of sin and death, in order to walk according to the Spirit bearing fruit for God. In this message from Romans 7, you will see what is happening inside us as we identify with Christ in the new nature and war against the sin within.

Romans: The Glory of the Gospel Part 17

The Battle Within – Romans 7:7-25

Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – January 28th, 2018



  • In weeks past, Paul painted two paths that lie before all of humanity. We are all born into and are heading down the path under the law of God, living for sin in disobedience to God and bearing bad fruit with our lives. At the end of this path we are given our just reward and payment of our deeds: death.
  • God through Christ Jesus, however, freed us from the law of sin and death by taking the punishment for our sins upon Himself so that we can be born anew in grace by the power of His Sprit. We are freed from our bondage to sin and now belong to Christ so we can walk in step with the Spirit producing fruit for God.
  • Now that we have this new nature, there still is an internal battle to be fought. Today in this passage from Romans 7, Paul describes what is now happening in the life of the believer.


The nature of the law


Rom 7:7-12 ESV

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.


  • The “law of God” is the perfect standard of God. It defines what is right and righteous, categorizing everything else as “sin,” which is defined literally as “missing the mark.”
    • For example, we now know what it is to covet because the law tells us “you shall not covet.” This is a summation of the 10th commandment from Exodus 20:17, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” That is, do not long for or lust after something that is not yours or that is out of bounds.
  • The knowledge of knowing what we are not to do, because of sin, creates in us the very thing that it prohibits. I never considered doing that, and now that you have told me not to do it, I have the desire to do it (“don’t throw rocks at this sign” or “do no sit in this chair”). Because of sin, knowing the law produces the desire in us to break the law.
  • The law of God reveals, awakens and resurrects sin within us. This sin then turns and puts us to death, like a dormant disease (cancer) that is activated within us and then turns around to kill us). This is what sin does, and the law of God is what awakens it. “Apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.”
  • Sin saw an opportunity through the commandment to “deceive me” and through the commandment, bring death to me. (Sin deceives us by calling what is evil “good” and what is good “evil” thus creating in us a desire for what is forbidden. We then act on the desire and become lawbreakers who must be held accountable – “the wages of sin is death.”
  • The law (commandment) is holy, righteous and good, but the effect in us is unholy, unrighteous and bad.


The struggle of the flesh


Rom 7:13 ESV

Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

  • The law (God’s commands that are good) did not bring death. It is sin that produces death in us using the good command of God. Therefore, because of God’s commands, sin is shown for what it really is – sinful beyond measure. Sin is so bad that it keeps growing and growing without end. It has the power to multiply indefinitely (this is why it must be destroyed).


Rom 7:14-20 ESV

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.


  • We know that the law is spiritual, but we are made of flesh and we are sold under sin (He returns to the slavery motif). Our flesh (sin nature) is enslaved to serving sin. We don’t do what we want, but we do the very thing that we hate doing. We want to do good, but we keep doing what is wrong.
  • And then he points out an illuminating truth for those who are born anew: when we sin, it is not us who sins, but the sin that lives within us. Sin is in you, but it is not you (like a tapeworm). In making this statement (which he does twice) “it is no longer I who do it, but sin the dwells within me,” he shifts our identity from the sinful nature over to the new nature; from “sinner” to “saint.” We are now not sinners sentenced to death, but saints being sanctified by the Spirit. We are to identify ourselves with the new nature and live according to it. Please see yourself this way, it will help you, you are now to walk in step with the spirit according to the new nature made available through Christ who gave His Spirit to you to make you new.


The war of the soul


Rom 7:21-25 ESV

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.


  • There is a war raging within us (between the two natures – between sin and us). We want to do right, but evil lies close at hand – it is like what God tells Cain in Gen 4:7, “sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
  • The internal struggle with the sin nature is much greater than our external struggle with evil forces. Your biggest struggle is not the devil, it is with your flesh (the old, sin nature). The devil does not make anyone do anything. He tempts us to do things, but he does not make us do them. The main war is with the sin nature – this is what we fight against, and this is a wretched state of affairs! As long as we live in this body, we are at war within.
  • Then we cry out with Paul, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Who will deliver me from this continual war?  The answer comes, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus is the one who will (future tense) deliver us from this war.
  • For now, I myself (this is who we really are) sever the law of God under grace with our mind – but I sinful nature severs the law of sin.
  • Next week as Paul continues to write the thoughts of the Spirit in chapter 8, we will see we are not condemned but set free through what Christ did for us. We will also see how we are to live and how we are to battle until He comes again in all His glory to make all things new



  • Understand that the law of God is good, spiritual and right, and that it reveals and awakens the sinful nature within us showing how truly sinful it is.
  • Realize that by being born anew we are now at war with the sin that is within us.
  • Identify yourself with the new nature: this is who you are, not the sin within. See yourself the way that God does. We fight not be free, but because we are free. Who the Son sets free is free indeed.
  • Continue to fight the war until Jesus comes again in His glory redeem and make all things new.
  • Closing Prayer


Questions for the week ahead

  1. What did you learn today? Explain the teaching in your own words.
  2. How will your everyday life be different as you identify with your new nature?