CMF eZine

The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship.

Romans 7:20 - Doing the Wrong Thing

But sin that dwelleth in me - the principle of sin, which has possessed itself of all my carnal appetites and passions, and thus subjects my reason and domineers over my soul.   Thus I am in perpetual contradiction to myself….This strange self-contradictory propensity led some of the ancient philosophers to imagine that man has two souls, a good and a bad one….(Dr. Adam Clarke)

But the whole good on which his will is fully bent, he does not do; sin ever springing up in him, through remaining corruption, he often does evil, though against the fixed determination of his will. (Matthew Henry)

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. (NASB)

Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (KJV)

But if I do what I don't want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. (NLT)

Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me. (NET)

We have thus learned three things:

1.  In me, that is in my flesh, ther is no good thng.
2.  I will do good but sin wills otherwise.
3.  Whan I will to do good, sin is too strong for me to succeed.

Deliverance is what I then must seek and deliverance is what is found in Christ Jesus!  Deliverance is found only when are convicted by the Holy Spirit and illuminated by His light to the fact that we are incapable of self-deliverance and are in great need of His power to deliver us.  The new world order is now in effect (Jesus in my heart).  The old world order is Sin, the very headwaters of my fallen estate.

Rom 7:20 
It is no more I - My will is against it; my reason and conscience condemn it.  But sin that dwelleth in me - the principle of sin, which has possessed itself of all my carnal appetites and passions, and thus subjects my reason and domineers over my soul.  Thus I am in perpetual contradiction to myself.  Two principles are continually contending in me for the mastery: my reason, on which the light of God shines, to show what is evil; and my passions, in which the principle of sin works, to bring forth fruit unto death.

This strange self-contradictory propensity led some of the ancient philosophers to imagine that man has two souls, a good and a bad one; and it is on this principle that Xenophon, in his life of Cyrus, causes Araspes, a Persian nobleman, to account for some misconduct of his relative to Panthea, a beautiful female captive, whom Cyrus had entrusted to his care: - “O Cyrus, I am convinced that I have two souls; if I had but one soul, it could not at the same time pant after vice and virtue; wish and abhor the same thing. It is certain, therefore, that we have two souls; when the good soul rules, I undertake noble and virtuous actions; but when the bad soul predominates, I am constrained to do evil. All I can say at present is that I find my good soul, encouraged by thy presence, has got the better of my bad soul.” See Spectator, vol. viii. No. 564. Thus, not only the ancients, but also many moderns, have trifled, and all will continue to do so who do not acknowledge the Scriptural account of the fall of man, and the lively comment upon that doctrine contained in the seventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. (Dr. Adam Clarke)

The evil here spoken of is the evil that is in our nature, and the want of power to get rid of it. The forgiveness of sins had been fully taught.  What distresses here is the present working of sin which we cannot get rid of the sense of this is often a more painful thing than past sins, which the believer can understand as put away by the blood of Christ.  But here we have the conscience of sin still in us, though we may hate it, and the question of deliverance is mixed up with our experience, at least till we have learned what is taught us in this part of the epistle, to judge the old man as sin in us, not ourselves, and reckon ourselves dead. Christ, through whom we now live, having died, and being a sacrifice for sin, our condemnation is impossible, while sin is condemned and we free through "the law of the Spirit of life in him."  It is not forgiveness, but deliverance, sin in the flesh being condemned in the cross. (Dr. John Darby)


In early 2009 I was in training with the Navy and in charge of a team of over a hundred Sailors.  Our mission was to conduct detainee operations in a Theater Internment Facility.  This particular mission is highly scrutinized and regulated due to previous transgressions in professionalism and displayed in the media.  The atrocities of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay detainee facilities are images that will reside in my memory for many years to come.

With the unit getting ready to conduct the detainee operations mission for the last time as we would be involved with training Iraqi Corrections Officers to take over the responsibilities, I had many trepidations.  This was my first time conducting this type of work in this type of harsh environment.  I relied on the Lord to carry us through the challenging nature of our assignment.


Lord, my God
Almighty Lord
Savior and healer
You reign
Entirely over the world.
All Holy is
Your name.
I take refuge in you.

I implore you!
Oh, Lord
Provide me with strength
To embody steadfast
Presence and leadership
To lead your children
Into battle
And harm’s way.

I am just one man
With heavy shoulders
Burdening the lives of many
And responsible for their safety.
Save and deliver me!
Allow me the presence of mind
And of situation.

Provide me with resources
The wherewithal
The training
And commitment.

Shield me from my enemies
Who are trained to harm me.

Don’t let me waiver
In strength
And leadership.
Do not let me
Compromise integrity
So that those in my charge
Benefit from unity
And solidarity
Of nature.

Hear my plea oh Lord!
I implore you!
Receive my cry!
Shroud me in your glory
Provide promise
And perseverance.

I rely on your grace
Every day
Every hour
Every minute
Every second
In foreign
And domestic lands
So that no harm
Shall fall on me
Or my men.

Let us conduct ourselves
Professionally and ethically
Train our counterparts
To the best of our abilities
Complete the mission
Turn over responsibilities
Return with honor.

I humbly implore you.
Shine your grace
On my mission.
Provide peace
And solace
To a troubled nation
And provide structure
And persevreence
To their efforts.

Provide for
Our safe return
Our safe passage
Weary and forlorn
To our families
With a sense
Of steadfast accomplishment.

In your hands
I place my mission
I relinquish our future
To carry out
Your wishes.
I am encouraged
By your love
And goodness!
I am emboldened
By your glory!
Ready and willing
To carry out your mission
For me and my men!
I bask in your grace
And thank you
For your love
As all things
Are your Creation.
We move
In your glory.

Romans 7:19 - I Do Not Do Good But

It is not the Will that leads men astray; but the corrupt Passions which oppose and oppress the will. (Dr. Adam Clarke)

Rom 7:19  For the good that I would, I do not,.... The apostle here repeats what he had delivered in Romans 7:15 to strengthen and confirm this part of his experience; that though he had a will to that which was good, yet he wanted power, and had none of himself to perform; and therefore often did what he would not, and what he would he did not. (Dr. John Gill)

For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. (NASB)

For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. (KJV)

I want to do what is good, but I don't. I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. (NLT)

For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want! (NET)

It would be good here to reiterate that Paul is explaining what it is like to try to obey the law of God in the power of the flesh.  This is the place where we daily live as long as we have breath and a pulse.  The question then becomes then where is the victory?  This will become apparent in Romans 8:1.  For now it is good to see that even the Apostle Paul struggled.  However, he also gave us a great many important ways to overcome this struggle with the victory that is ours in Christ Jesus!  As I have said before, the fact that we struggle is a good sign that we belong to Jesus.  If we had no struggle it would be because we were the unrighteous and ungodly against whom the righteousness of God is revealed (Romans 1:18).  Our eyes have the power to see but without light they are rendered absolutely useless.  Only in Christ's light may we see the threat that endangers us.  Only in Christ's light may we find the victory!

It is not the Will that leads men astray; but the corrupt Passions which oppose and oppress the will.  It is truly astonishing into what endless mistakes men have fallen on this point, and what systems of divinity have been built on these mistakes.  The will, this almost only friend to God in the human soul, has been slandered as God’s worst enemy, and even by those who had the seventh chapter to the Romans before their eyes!  Nay, it has been considered so fell a foe to God and goodness that it is bound in the adamantine chains of a dire necessity to do evil only; and the doctrine of will (absurdly called free will, as if will did not essentially imply what is free) has been considered one of the most destructive heresies.  Let such persons put themselves to school to their Bibles and to common sense.

The plain state of the case is this:  the soul is so completely fallen, that it has no power to do good till it receive that power from on high.  But it has power to see good, to distinguish between that and evil; to acknowledge the excellence of this good, and to will it, from a conviction of that excellence; but farther it cannot go.  Yet, in various cases, it is solicited and consents to sin; and because it is will, that is, because it is a free principle, it must necessarily possess this power; and although it can do no good unless it receive grace from God, yet it is impossible to force it to sin.  Even Satan himself cannot do this; and before he can get it to sin, he must gain its consent. Thus God in his endless mercy has endued this faculty with a power in which, humanly speaking, resides the salvability of the soul; and without this the soul must have eternally continued under the power of sin, or been saved as an inert, absolutely passive machine; which supposition would go as nearly to prove that it was as incapable of vice as it were of virtue. (Dr. Adam Clarke)

The law may discover sin, and convince of sin, but it cannot conquer and subdue sin, witness the predominancy of sin in many that are under very strong legal convictions.  It discovers the defilement, but will not wash it off.  It makes a man weary and heavy laden (Matthew 11:28), burdens him with his sin; and yet, if rested in, it yields no help towards the shaking off of that burden; this is to be had only in Christ.  The law may make a man cry out, O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me? and yet leave him thus fettered and captivated, as being too weak to deliver him (Romans 8:3), give him a spirit of bondage to fear, Romans 8:15.  (Matthew Henry)

Romans 7:18 - Nothing Good Lives in Me

There is no principle by which the soul can be brought into the light; no principle by which it can be restored to purity: fleshly appetites alone prevail; and the brute runs away with the man. (Dr. Adam Clarke)

The will is right, but the passions are wrong. It discerns and approves, but is without ability to perform: it has no power over sensual appetites; in these the principle of rebellion dwells: it nills evil, it wills good, but can only command through the power of Divine grace: but this the person in question, the unregenerate man, has not received. (Dr. Adam Clarke)

The entire man in whom sin and righteousness struggle, in whose unregenerate condition sin is the victor, having its domain in the flesh. (Dr. Marvin R. Vincent)

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. (NASB)

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. (KJV)

And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can't. (NLT)

For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For I want to do the good, but I cannot do it. (NET)

Once again we see our sinful selves in practice under the law.  The obstacle to doing good is me even though my desire is willing the evil propensity overshadows because it was enraged by the righteous law.  It demonstrates what Paul now exclaims in no small way, "nothing good dwells in me!"  How then do we see ourselves.  Can we begin to see the total debauchery of the flesh in which we make our abode in this life?  Only because the Spirit of Holiness now lives in us and enables us to see that which beforehand was invisible to our reprobate minds.  Present [in with] me (παράκειται  parakeitai) "that is, it was constantly before him; it was now his habitual inclination and purpose of mind. It is the uniform, regular, habitual purpose of the Christian’s mind to do right." (Dr. Albert Barnes)  However, it must be noted that, though it looms large in our view, the dynamic tension between the two natures is not the subject at hand but rather the effect of the law!  The point then becomes NOT condemnation, even though the holy writ does leave us under judgment, but rather the total absence of the required energy to fulfill it righteous standards to avoid condemnation.

A man walks in quiet indifference, doing his own will, without knowledge of God, or consequently any sense of sin or rebellion.  The law comes, and he dies under its just judgment, which forbids everything that he desires.  Lust was an evil thing, but it did not reveal the judgment of God; on the contrary, it forgot it.  But when the law was come, sin (it is looked at here as an enemy that attacks some person or place), knowing that the will would persist and the conscience condemn, seized the opportunity of the law, impelled the man in the direction contrary to the law, and slew him, in the conscience of sin which the law forbade on the part of God.  Death to the man, on God's part in judgment, was the result.  The law then was good and holy, since it forbade the sin, but in condemning the sinner. (Dr. John Darby)

Gen 6:5  The LORD observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and He saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. (NLT)

Job 14:4  Who can bring purity out of an impure person? No one! (NLT)

Job 15:14-16  Can any mortal be pure? Can anyone born of a woman be just? Look, God does not even trust the angels.  Even the heavens are not absolutely pure in His sight.  How much less pure is a corrupt and sinful person with a thirst for wickedness! (NLT)

Job 25:4  How can a mortal be innocent before God? Can anyone born of a woman be pure? (NLT)

Psa 51:5  For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. (NLT)

Isa 64:6  We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. (NLT)

Mat 15:19  For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. (NLT)

Mar 7:21-23  For from within, out of a person's heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.  All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you." (NLT)

Eph 2:1-5  Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.  You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.  All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God's anger, just like everyone else.  But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's grace that you have been saved!) (NLT)

Tit 3:3  Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. (NLT)

1Pe 4:2  You won't spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. (NLT)

Psa 119:5  Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect Your decrees! (NLT)

Gal 5:17  The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. (NLT)

Php 3:12  I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. (NLT)

Romans 7:17 - Natural Corruption

That natural corruption, which adheres strongly even to those that are regenerated, and is not completely gone. (Geneva Bible Translation Notes)

So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. (NASB)

Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (KJV)

So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. (NLT)

But now it is no longer me doing it, but sin that lives in me. (NET)

Here we have some figurative language expressed because we know that it is the person who commits sin.  However, Paul is illuminating the hidden motivation of reprobate hearts.  The power of sin that dominates us so that even our acts that are righteous in our sight fall woefully short of the mark because of this inward dwelling dysfunction.  Perhaps the NLT 1st Edition adds to the idea:

But I can't help myself, because it is sin inside me that makes me do these evil things.

Dr. Albert Barnes explains well this tension between our new nature and our old self:

But the apostle makes a distinction between sin and what he intends by the pronoun “I”.  By the former he evidently means his corrupt nature.  By the latter he refers to his renewed nature, his Christian principles.  He means to say that he does not approve or love it in his present state, but that it is the result of his native propensities and passions.  In his heart, and conscience, and habitual feeling, he did not choose to commit sin, but abhorred it.  Thus, every Christian can say that he does not choose to do evil, but would wish to be perfect; that he hates sin, and yet that his corrupt passions lead him astray. (Dr. Albert Barnes)

We also see here that sin dwells in our hearts (makes itself at home) which (according to Dr. Barnes) is where the expression "in-dwelling sin" originates.  This is in contrast to:

Rom 8:9  But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to Him at all.) (NLT)

1Co 3:16  Don't you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? (NLT)

It is important for us to see the origin of our rebellion against God that darkens our ability to understand rightly and also perverts our judgment.  Dr. Adam Clarke describes this "principle" that  "acts in it, (our soul) as its lord, or as a tyrant."

Now contrast this with John's words:

1Jn 3:9  Those who have been born into God's family do not make a practice of sinning, because God's life is in them. So they can't keep on sinning, because they are children of God. (NLT)

Now we begin to see the battle that is present in us each and every day!  But we shall soon see that there is victory already one in this daily battle because of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

But sin that dwelleth in me; the old man, the carnal I, the evil present with him, the law in his members; which not only existed in him, and wrought in him, and that at times very strongly, but dwelt in him, had its abode in him, as it has in all regenerate persons, and will have, as long as they are in the body. (Dr. John Gill)

Gal 5:17  The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. (NLT)

That coexistence and mutual hostility of “flesh” and “spirit” in the same renewed man, which is so clearly taught in Romans 8:4, etc., and in Galatians 5:16, etc., is the true and only key to the language of this and the following verses. (It is hardly necessary to say that the apostle means not to disown the blame of yielding to his corruptions, by saying, “it is not he that does it, but sin that dwelleth in him.” Early heretics thus abused his language; but the whole strain of the passage shows that his sole object in thus expressing himself was to bring more vividly before his readers the conflict of two opposite principles, and how entirely, as a new man - honoring from his inmost soul the law of God - he condemned and renounced his corrupt nature, with its affections and lusts, its stirrings and its outgoings, root and branch). (A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown)

Perhaps James gives us the insight into this struggle:

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don't they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can't get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don't have what you want because you don't ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don't get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. You adulterers! Don't you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy? But He gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, "God opposes the proud but favors the humble." So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. (James 4:1-9 NLT)

Romans 7:16 - The Law is Good!

Christians may here find a test of their piety. The fact of struggling against evil, the desire to be free from it, and to overcome it, the anxiety and grief which it causes, is an evidence that we do not love it, and that there. fore we are the friends of God. Perhaps nothing can be a more decisive test of piety than a long-continued and painful struggle against evil passions and desires in every form, and a panting of the soul to be delivered from the power and dominion of sin. (Dr. Albert Barnes)

But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. (NASB)

If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. (KJV)

But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. (NLT)

But if I do what I don't want, I agree that the law is good. (NET)

The fact that we are wrestling with our sin give us a sign of our ownership.  If we did not have God's light within us we would be at peace with our fallenness and would be trying to encourage others to join in our fallen lifestyle (Romans 1).  Matthew Henry pretty well encapsulates this (see quote below) when he describes this as being sold to a hated master.  We serve sin unwillingly (that is we hate what we are doing) yet we find ourselves unable to extricate ourselves from the conflict.  But when we are rescued by the comforter (the Spirit of Christ who lives within) we begin to discover the victory planned for us.  Kenneth Wuest says that "To be saved from sin, a man must at the same time own it and disown it; it is this practical paradox which is reflected in this verse."  We are responsible for our own sin (we own it) but must repent of it (disown it) and turn away from our dead self and toward Christ (our new life).  The honest place to begin is to confess to our Heavenly Father our conflict that we might be partakers of the life He has planned for us.  If our failures are the result of the sin that lives in us, then our victories must be the result of Christ in us.  The "I" in us must die to see the victory assured.

Compared with the holy rule of conduct in the law of God, the apostle found himself so very far short of perfection, that he seemed to be carnal; like a man who is sold against his will to a hated master, from whom he cannot set himself at liberty.  A real Christian unwillingly serves this hated master, yet cannot shake off the galling chain, till his powerful and gracious Friend above, rescues him. The remaining evil of his heart is a real and humbling hindrance to his serving God as angels do and the spirits of just made perfect. This strong language was the result of St. Paul's great advance in holiness, and the depth of his self-abasement and hatred of sin.  If we do not understand this language, it is because we are so far beneath him in holiness, knowledge of the spirituality of God's law, and the evil of our own hearts, and hatred of moral evil.  And many believers have adopted the apostle's language, showing that it is suitable to their deep feelings of abhorrence of sin, and self-abasement.  The apostle enlarges on the conflict he daily maintained with the remainder of his original depravity. He was frequently led into tempers, words, or actions, which he did not approve or allow in his renewed judgment and affections.  By distinguishing his real self, his spiritual part, from the self, or flesh, in which sin dwelt, and by observing that the evil actions were done, not by him, but by sin dwelling in him, the apostle did not mean that men are not accountable for their sins, but he teaches the evil of their sins, by showing that they are all done against reason and conscience.  Sin dwelling in a man, does not prove its ruling, or having dominion over him.  If a man dwells in a city, or in a country, still he may not rule there. (Matthew Henry)

Psalm 119:127-28  Truly, I love Your commands more than gold, even the finest gold.  Each of Your commandments is right. That is why I hate every false way. (NLT)

Romans 7:15 - I Can Do This - NOT

The deeds of my life, he says, are not in accordance to my will, rather they are contrary to it.  Therefore by the consent of my will with the law, and repugnancy with the deeds of my life, it plainly appears that the law and a properly controlled will induce us to do one thing, but corruption, which also has its seat in the regenerated, another thing. (Geneva Bible Translations Notes)

For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. (NASB)

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. (KJV)

I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate. (NLT)

For I don't understand what I am doing.  For I do not do what I want — instead, I do what I hate. (NET)

Sin is like a magnesium fire, once ablaze it cannot be readily extinguished and the usually helpful agents tend to exacerbate the inferno.  What passes today for spiritual maturity (if there is such a thing) has more to do with personality type than true spiritual vigor.  Why is this?  Because of the latent power of the soul!  We a fearfully and wonderfully made.  We can exhibit great character totally from human endeavor.  But in the end the totality of our works are but filthy rags!  We kick against the goads because it is our nature to do so.  We say in our innermost being, "I can do this!"  But the law reveals our inability to bring fruition to our prideful assertions.  All have sinned, all have come up short, all have missed the mark.

Wherein is the difference?  The inclinations of the heart have changed for the heart now hates those things that are not pleasing to God and loves those things that are pleasing even though we are powerless in the flesh to prove them.  This new inclination is a sign of our new ownership!

That do I - Under the influence of sinful propensities, and carnal inclinations and desires. This represents the strong native propensity to sin; and even the power of corrupt propensity under the restraining influence of the gospel. On this remarkable and important passage we may observe,

(1) That the prevailing propensity; the habitual fixed inclination of the mind of the Christian, is to do right. The evil course is hated, the right course is loved. This is the characteristic of a pious mind. It distinguishes a holy man from a sinner.

(2) the evil which is done is disapproved; is a source of grief; and the habitual desire of the mind is to avoid it, and be pure. This also distinguishes the Christian from the sinner.

(3) there is no need of being embarrassed here with any metaphysical difficulties or inquiries how this can be; for.

(a) it is in fact the experience of all Christians. The habitual, fixed inclination and desire of their minds is to serve God. They have a fixed abhorrence of sin; and yet they are conscious of imperfection, and error, and sin, that is the source of uneasiness and trouble. The strength of natural passion may in an unguarded moment overcome them. The power of long habits of previous thoughts may annoy them. A man who was an infidel before his conversion, and whose mind was filled with scepticism, and cavils, and blasphemy, will find the effect of his former habits of thinking lingering in his mind, and annoying his peace for years. These thoughts will start up with the rapidity of lightning. Thus, it is with every vice and every opinion. It is one of the effects of habit. “The very passage of an impure thought through the mind leaves pollution behind it,” and where sin has been long indulged, it leaves its withering, desolating effect on the soul long after conversion, and produces that state of conflict with which every Christian is familiar.

(b) An effect somewhat similar is felt by all people. All are conscious of doing that, under the excitement of passion and prejudice, which their conscience and better judgment disapprove. A conflict thus exists, which is attended with as much metaphysical difficulty as the struggle in the Christian’s mind referred to here.

(c) The same thing was observed and described in the writings of the heathen. Thus, Xenophon (Cyrop. vi. 1), Araspes, the Persian, says, in order to excuse his treasonable designs,” Certainly I must have two souls; for plainly it is not one and the same which is both evil and good; and at the same time wishes to do a thing and not to do it. Plainly then, there are two souls; and when the good one prevails, then it does good; and when the evil one predominates, then it does evil.” So also Epictetus (Enchixid. ii. 26) says, “He that sins does not do what he would, but what he would not, that he does.” With this passage it would almost seem that Paul was familiar, and had his eye on it when he wrote. (Dr. Albert Barnes)

Romans 7:14 - The Trouble is Me!

In verse 14 we have the beginning of the "I" chorus where we discover the Apostle Paul sharing the daily struggle that takes place within us.  With the law of our mind, we try to obey the law of God but the law of sin and death gives us only one choice.  According to Wuest's Word Studies, Paul uses three words to describe mankind, "natural" (psuchikos ψυχικος), "carnal" (sarkinos σαρκινος), and “spiritual” pneumatikos (πνευματικος).  The carnal man is unsaved and living by the latent power of the God created soul.  The things of God are foolishness to him because he remains deceived by his abandonment to the sinful flesh.  The carnal man is one who is saved but has yet to live by the power of the life giving Spirit and remains under control of his evil nature and may try to live a moral life in the power of the flesh (again the latent power of the soul) and is deceived into thinking that he is spiritual.  Tyndale's Concise commentary calls this the walking-in-the-flesh approach to being righteous.  The last is the spiritual man who is living in the fullness of the Spirit and recognizes that apart from the power of Christ in him he too will be deceived.  He recognizes that he is engaged in a daily battle that will never end until the day he is called home to be with the Lord or Christ's return.

For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. (NASB)

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. (KJV)

So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. (NLT)

For we know that the law is spiritual — but I am unspiritual, sold into slavery to sin. (NET)

For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. (Ps 51:5 NLT)

pneumatikós; fem. pneumatikḗ, neut. pneumatikón, adj. from pneúma (G4151), spirit. Spiritual.
(I) Pertaining to the nature of spirits. "A spiritual body" (1Co_15:44) means a body dominated by the Spirit, in contrast to a natural or soulish body (sṓma psuchikón [sṓma {G4983}, body; psuchikón {G5591}, pertaining to soul]) which obeys one's natural instincts or soul.

It might be good to consider the reasons we suffer in the midst of the things of this fallen world system:

1.  Our suffering may be caused by Satanic activity

But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water?  This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?” (Luke 13:15-16 NLT)

And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. (Acts 10:38 NLT)

2.  Suffering may be caused by ungodly men.

Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will pay him back for his deeds. (2 Timothy 4:14 NLT)

3.  Suffering may be caused by this world’s system.

Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day. (2 Peter 2:8 NLT)

4.  Suffering may be caused by the believer’s own fallen nature. (Romans 7:14-23)

5.  Suffering may be caused by carnal Christians.

It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives.  They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. (Philippians 1:15-16 NLT)

Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica.  Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia. (2 Timothy 4:10 NLT)

Thus it is our job to be combat ready for all of these situations as they arise so that we may carry on the commission that has been given to us-to make disciples!  How are you doing?  Are you living a life worthy of your calling?  If not?  What are you doing to allow Christ to have the victory in your life?

Cause of Freedom

Cause of Freedom

The Cause of Freedom is a Gospel Opportunity—by Bob Flynn

A Warrior's End

"No foreign power or combination of foreign powers could by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected?  I answer, if it ever reach us it must spring up from among us, it cannot come from abroad.  If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die of suicide.”  Abraham Lincoln

When Abraham Lincoln spoke these words I doubt that he could have conceived of a day when we would have a Department of Homeland Security.  It is by design that America has NOT YET suffered another twin tower disaster! This success has been wrought at great cost!

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”  Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

Destination Assured

“The patriot who feels himself in the service of God, who acknowledges Him in all his ways, has the promise of Almighty direction, and will find His word in his greatest darkness, ‘a lantern to his feet and a lamp unto his path.’  He will therefore seek to establish for his country in the eyes of the world, such a character as shall make her not unworthy of the name of a Christian nation.”  Francis Scott Key (1779-1843) 

“And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.  This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others.”  (2 Corinthians 5:18-19 NLT)

Destination Assured

We can ponder the significance of “A Warrior’s End” from many perspectives.  There is the look on a mother’s face that can never be forgotten when she is told she will never hug her beloved son again; or the empty side of the bed that grieves the young wife’s heart; the empty chair at the dinner table where Daddy used to sit.

If together we could introduce each one of these young men and women to the Gospel before the crisis, their destination will be changed for an eternity!  For those who return wounded of heart, there is one immutable fact: warriors talk only to warriors about warrior things.

Would you consider partnering with us in this effort to carry the Gospel to those yet unsaved and hug the wounded?

These are the needs:

  • Local Representatives (that’s you) who are willing to facilitate fellowship groups at their location.
  • Prayer warriors (that’s you) willing to pray daily for the concerns of the troops, their families and this ministry.
  • Financial support (that’s you) for the ministry. Our general fund still lags behind the expenses. Please consider becoming a regular giver.

Our Dream:

  • To have an active CMF fellowship group at each and every military installation, Veterans Hospital, and Active Duty or Reserve community in the world.

Romans 7:13 - Sin, Death, Law

Thus it appears that man cannot have a true notion of sin but by means of the law of God….The law, therefore, is the grand instrument in the hands of a faithful minister, to alarm and awaken sinners; and he may safely show that every sinner is under the law, and consequently under the curse, who has not fled for refuge to the hope held out by the Gospel: for, in this sense also, Jesus Christ is the End of the Law for justification to them that believe. (Dr. Adam Clarke)

The proposition: that the law is not the cause of death, but our corrupt nature being with the law not only discouraged, but also stirred up: and it took occasion by this to rebel, and the more that things are forbidden it, the more it desires them, and the result of this is guiltiness, and occasion of death. (Geneva Bible Translation Notes)

The sense here is, that by the giving of the command, and its application to the mind, sin was completely developed; it was excited, inflamed, aggravated, and showed to be excessively malignant and deadly. It was not a dormant, slumbering principle; but it was awfully opposed to God and His Law. Calvin has well expressed the sense: “It was proper that the enormity of sin should be revealed by the Law; because unless sin should break forth by some dreadful and enormous excess (as they say,) it would not be known to be sin. (Dr. Albert Barnes)

Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful. (NASB)

Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. (KJV)

But how can that be? Did the law, which is good, cause my death? Of course not! Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation to death. So we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God's good commands for its own evil purposes.  (NLT)

Did that which is good, then, become death to me? Absolutely not! But sin, so that it would be shown to be sin, produced death in me through what is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful. (NET)

The argument anticipated is that we could say the law was the cause of the condition rather than our condition being the cause of our failure.  We ought to be acquainted with our own character so as not to be deceived.  We are as an unclean thing and our righteousness is filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6)  Perhaps the New Living Translation will give us some insight:

We are all infected and impure with sin.  When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.  Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. (NLT)

When we were abandoned by God (Romans 1) to our sin it was for the purpose of showing us our true nature and letting us fell the full weight of our sinful transgressions.  It is when we see the hopelessness of our true condition that we are drawn to its only cure, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christian Military Fellowship

An Indigenous Ministry • Discipleship • Prayer • Community • Support
Encouraging Men and Women in the United States Armed Forces, and their families, to love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

Contact Us

  • Address:
    PO Box 1207, Englewood, CO 80150-1207

  • Phone: (800) 798-7875

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