The following is a discussion that ensued from a quote from my friend Brett Burrowes. This is an excerpt, mind you, of a larger article, but I think it is sufficient to stand on its own. After reading this in full feel free to comment. Thanks!
Brett: “Sin is not the corruption of an independently operating human nature, but the enslaving spirit of Satan. Humans do not operate themselves, since Paul says that we are either operated by the spirit of sin which indwells us, “it is no longer I but sin” (Romans 7:17,20), or we are operated by the Spirit of Christ, “it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). So when is it just me? Never; there is no independently operating human self or nature in the New Testament. So does this abolish our free will? By no means, recognizing what we do not control enables us to recognize what is within our control; we have the choice to take God at His word and trust Him, or we can continue to trust Satan’s deception that we autonomously run our own lives. The choice and the consequences are ours: but why would we continue to trust one whose aim is theft and destruction instead of the One who loves us and has predestined us to share in His own glory?”
Tom: Much of this is not Biblical. God holds US responsible for ALL of our sin and it is ALL ours.We make those choices concerning what we choose to do or not do. Paul was speaking of the war between the man’s natural sin nature and the indwelling Holy Spirit working in us to resist sin, not another self that commits sin without our consent. This is New Age twisting of Biblical teaching, not New Testament. Looks like Kenneth Copeland-Kenneth Hagin New Age interpretations. Be wary of any teaching that seems to absolve us from our choice. It is always a deception.
Louie: Well Tom, I don’t see how this “absolves us from our choice.” When Paul wrote “It is no longer I but sin” he is differentiating between himself and the “sin” is he not? If he was talking about having a “natural sin nature” how could he talk as if “sin” was something IN him doing it? Sin here is definitely a personal pronoun therefore it appears to be something, or someone, other than Paul himself. Jesus did say, “I am the true vine” which brings with it the implication there is a “false vine” correct? The point is we are always and only a branch, therefore we have “No independent” nature of our own. We are either partaking of the “sin” nature inherited from the fall, or we have been born again and are now partakers of the “divine nature.” Either way we have no nature of our own. Humans were created to be an expressor of the God who created them. In the fall a lesser being, otherwise known as Satan, made his way into us. This is why we must be born again of God’s Spirit from above. I would encourage you to look into this a bit closer.
Tom: “So when is it just me? Never; there is no independently operating human self or nature in the New Testament.” This is the phrase that reveals the falsehood. It is always “me.” That is why God holds us accountable. We cannot excuse our sin by saying we were not responsible. We are responsible…always. This philosophy is falsehood, Louie. Don’t buy it.
Louie: Thankfully we don’t have to buy anything Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe! Tom who said we’re not responsible? We are responsible for who we are obeying either sin or righteousness (Jesus) Romans 6:16. This is why Paul told us to count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God and to stop presenting our members to sin but rather present ourselves to God. You see presenting is choosing.
Tom: “So when is it just me? Never; there is no independently operating human self or nature in the New Testament.” Where did this come from. That’s who said we are not responsible.
Louie: We are not the sole one responsible we are in allegiance with the evil one when we sin but we’re still responsible. If you and I go to rob a bank, you stay in the getaway car and I go in to hold them up. When I come out and you drive us away who’s responsible?
Tom: Yes, but we are the one that allows Satan’s influence over us. God will judge us and only us for our sin, not Satan. The fact that we ARE an independently operating human self is the very central doctrine of the New Testament. That man denied that in his statement. That’ is where the falsehood lies.
Louie: Who actually told you we have an independent nature? Why would Jesus tell us we are a branch only? We are the body but not the head. We are a vessel but not the contents. We are a temple not the deity that lives within it. You see we were created to house God’s Spirit. Therefore once the “spirit of error” took up residence within, deception was sure to follow. This is why we have to receive Christ but that only happens with the hearing of the Good news. What’s the Good news you might ask. Well, the good news is we have been crucified, buried and raised with Christ and we are forever joined to Him “Spirit to spirit.” We have been set free from the “the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience” Ephesians 2:2! Amen!
Louie Check out Brett’s blog if you want to study a bit deeper on this subject. I think it will be worth your time. https://brettburrowes.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/sin-and-satan-part-2/
Is Romans seven the destiny of a Christian until the day they die? What did the cross of Christ really do for us if it doesn’t provide deliverance from sin and death? Is there more God has to do in order to save us or is Christ and him crucified enough?
Is Paul’s documentation of his struggle with the Law and sin in Romans seven our destiny, or is it simply his defining for us what our lives look like when we see ourselves as independent beings attempting to please God in our own strength? Is Paul teaching us that our lives are always going to be defined by “the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want”? I think not, and I am going to attempt to explain why.
You see the Bible teaches us that we were created to be inhabited by God. We are told we are vessels, with Christ as the treasure-2 Corinthians 4:7, temples for His Spirit to live in-1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19, wives to bear fruit for God-Romans 7:4, bodies to obey Christ who is the Head Ephesians 1:22-23, 5:23, and branches to his vine John 15:1&5.
Of course we know Adam disobeyed God and found himself, and subsequently us, joined to the enemy. Ephesians 2:2-3 tells us we “formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” So, we were all brought into this world indwelt by what John calls “the spirit of error”-1 John 4:4-6.
Once we see that humanity is the vessel, temple and branch caught up in a struggle between two opposing spiritual forces and not independent, we will begin to understand Paul’s writing in Romans seven. Paul writes in Romans 7:17&20 “So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.” “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.” Could it be that Paul’s use of the word “sin” in this context is really the enemy, “the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience”, or as John puts it “the spirit of error’? Could the “I” he speaks of be his way of talking about a supposed independent “I” which is really a deception; because in Romans six we learned that we are either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness. There is never a time when there is “just” me. We are always in union on one side of the equation or the other.
I think Paul’s writing in Romans seven is his way of exposing the lie of the enemy. According to Isaiah 14:13-14 Lucifer’s whole goal was, and is, to exalt himself and make himself “like” God. If that’s the spirit now working in those whom are deceived, they too will think they “independently” can obey God’s perfect and just commands and make themselves “like” God. What if God’s plan all along was for his commandments to expose our inability to keep them? What if God knows we can’t perform up to His perfect standard, but He wants us to know this? What if it is only after full exposure by His Law that we come to understand our true powerless state? It seems to me our powerless state being exposed is the only real way we will ever let go of the lie of independence and see our need to embrace union with Christ.
The Apostle Paul gave all his energy and attention to performing up to God’s perfect standards and ultimately found it to be futile. He said he put no confidence in the flesh [our humanity attempting to live apart from the Spirit of God] but rather counted all he had accomplished as “dung” compared to knowing Jesus Christ. You see he was granted revelation from God that we humans were created to house His Holy Spirit but in the fall another spirit, the spirit of this world, took up residence within. In 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 Paul says, “even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.”
Let me finish by pointing to Paul’s conclusion in Romans 7:24-25. Paul struggled and fought trying to keep God’s Law because he knew it was good and holy. Finally he cried out for deliverance from the never ending struggle of trying and failing and began to thank Jesus Christ! If we continue reading on into Romans 8:3-4 we discover God himself, by way of His Spirit, will live in the believer and He will in fact fulfill His own requirements through them. “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Notice it says, He condemned “sin” in the flesh, not condemned the flesh. Maybe we’ll talk more about this next time but for now I pray you will take serious stock of what these scriptures are telling us, and “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling…’ Ephesians 1:18.