Romans 7—Excess of Sin
Romans 7 is full of difficult verses. It seems to be stuffed with talk of sin and how awful we are and how broken the world is. Sin is not something I talk a lot about. I don’t like it. I would much rather proclaim the grace of God than consider the sin of man. I don’t think I am alone. Our generation is not one that enjoys talk of sin. We avoid it and any time someone reminds us of our sin and the fallen world we live we turn and go the other way. Yet, it is good to acknowledge our sin and confess it. It is good for the soul to be open about all the ways he fail to live as we ought.
Sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. 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. (Romans 7:8-13)
Paul now expands on the theme of the Christians relationship to the law. Although the law holy, just, and good the sinner’s subjection to it resulted only in condemnation, because law exposed every transgression and failure. The law makes a way to God’s favor and humanity’s happiness, but where sin reigns, the law brings only misery and death. Paul knowing the law promised life for obedience realized through trying to obey that inwardly, in the desires of his heart, he was constantly breaking the law even before he knew he saw what he was doing. He could not stop it. Paul writes that sin, the anti-God driving force within him, deceived and killed. He became convinced that spiritually he was lifeless and lost. Paul offers his personal experience as an index of how sin and law relate in everyone. Paul is giving his own spiritual autobiography, laying bear his soul.
The awful excess of sin is seen in the reality that it can take anything and make is horrid. It can take the most beautiful and sublime and disfigure it into a nightmarish thing. Sin can and will take love distort it into lust; take independence and mar it with greed and obsession; use friendship as seduction for all the wrong things. Sin can do this and so much more. Each of our lives our riddled with moments when Sin took us over and made us do all kinds of wickedness. We’ve lied, cheated, betrayed ourselves and others, used and abused those we called friends and lovers, lusted, among other things that we regret and would rather not speak about.
Thomas Carlyle called it “the infinite damnability of sin.”
This is not accidental; it’s all designed to show how awful sin is, because it can take the loveliest, best, most profound thing and corrupt them.
This has not been a fun passage to look at, yet it is true. All our avoiding this issue will not make it go away. We sin. Yet, that is not the end, but the beginning. The end is Jesus. Jesus nailed all our sins to the cross. They are known no more. In Christ, there is no sin and as we accept Jesus into our lives all sins past, present, and future are buried in the deep sea and God has placed a no fishing sign. Our sins, while very real and damaging are not the truth about us. The truth about us is that God loves us anyway and this divine and perfect love is so fierce that it will change us into the person we know we ought to be, but are not.
That is the good news.
Yet, we need to accept and confess our sin.
Jesus will take that sin and remove it.
God loves you in spite of all you have or have not done.