Romans 7:20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
For the longest time I thought Paul was saying. “I am not responsible for my sin”. I didn’t do it. The old “Devil made me do it” excuse. I’m not accountable for the bad things I do. I am just a victim. I am actually a good person but this old sin within me just won’t leave me alone.
This verse troubled me. It just didn’t sound right, didn’t seem to align with other Scripture, but that seemed to be what the passage was saying.
Then, when teaching a series on Romans, I had to spend considerable time pondering and meditating on the entire book. Suddenly, when I came to this chapter, I realized it was saying just the opposite of what it initially seemed to be saying. Instead of shifting the blame it was actually assuming full responsibility for the sin. Paul is saying, I am the problem. It is the sin in me. It is not my parent’s fault, my environment’s fault, society’s fault, anyone else or anything else that is responsible for the evil things I do. The sin in me is my problem.
Of course, the great news is that just as we were once slaves to the sin within us, when born again we become slaves to righteousness. (Romans 6:16-18) Now righteousness is at work within us causing us to make right choices. Oh, there is still a battle and will be until the old flesh is finally consumed but in the meantime Righteousness is our new master.
The flesh and the spirit are at war within us. Which one wins? An old fellow put it this way, “It is like I have two dogs battling within me. One wants to do good and one wants to do evil?” Someone asked him, “Which one wins?” He responded, “The one I feed the most.”
19 I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.