"But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead" (Romans 7:8).
If the believer understands The Cross of Christ relative to sanctification, then he knows how to live for God. If the believer does not understand The Cross of Christ relative to sanctification – how we live for God on a daily basis – then such a believer simply does not know how to live for The Lord.
The moral effect of the commandment manifested the depth of covetousness hidden in man's nature. It was not only covetousness but also insensibility, for in the absence of law sin is dead – not dead in relation to God, but dead to the sensibility of corrupt man.
The word sin is used here by Paul again as "the sin" referring to the sin nature. In the Greek, the word occasion is aphormen, and it means "to make a start from a place." It is, therefore, a starting place – the base of operations, the means with which one begins.
The word wrought in the Greek is katergazomai, and means "to accomplish, achieve an end, carry something to a conclusion." The word concupiscence epithumia and means "evil desire."
Concupiscence is one of the most evil sins of all, and is one of the sins that plagues believers as well as unbelievers. It is evil desire – and whatever course that takes – which fills the mind and the spirit of the individual. As we have stated, sin begins in the heart, but whenever the word heart is used in the Bible, it is not speaking of the physical orb that is in one's chest and beats so many times a minute. Actually, it could refer to the soul and the spirit of man. So sin really begins in the spirit of man.
There is only one way to beat this thing, and that is by one's faith being placed conclusively in Christ and what Christ did for us at The Cross. Never forget: there is only one remedy for sin, only one, and that is The Cross. It was there that Jesus atoned for all sin – past, present, and future – at least for all who will believe (John 3:16).
Unfortunately, the world ignores this remedy, the only remedy, and tries to come up with its own efforts, which always fail. Tragically, the church does the same thing. It tries to address sin in all types of ways other than The Cross, and these ways are always doomed to failure.
Once the sin of concupiscence takes hold in one's mind and spirit, he cannot overcome it within himself no matter how much he loves God and no matter how much he is used of God; it is not possible.
Also, the more that man tries to overcome by himself, which is the way and means of law, the more he falls short. Such an individual must place his faith exclusively in Christ and what Christ has done for him at The Cross and maintain it exclusively in Christ and The Cross. Even then, it is not going to be simple, easy, or quick. More than likely, it will take time, and one's faith will be sorely tested. But it is God's remedy, His only remedy – and the only remedy. Please understand that through The Cross alone one can have victory – total and complete victory.
THE WONDERFUL WORKS OF GOD
On the day of Pentecost when The Lord filled all the hungry hearts in the temple with The Holy Spirit and they began to speak in other languages, a beautiful thing took place.
There were Jews there from almost every nation in the Roman Empire. Consequently, they were able to speak not only Hebrew, but also Greek and the language common to the indigenous area of their domiciles. Acts Chapter 2 lists a good number of these places.
Whenever The Spirit of God fell and scores of people began to speak with other tongues as The Spirit of God gave the utterance, many began to say, "...we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God" (Acts 2:11).
If you will ask The Lord to help fill your mind with the wonderful works of God, it will crowd out the concupiscence, the evil desire. It will also shut out the powers of darkness and leave your mind free of fear, doubt, unbelief, and oppression and thereby make it clear for the things of The Lord. Friend, that is the answer to depression, nervous disorders, fear, doubt, and unbelief.
FOR WITHOUT THE LAW SIN WAS DEAD
This phrase from Romans 7:8 means that the law of Moses fully exposed what was already in man's heart. It not only exposed it, it also defined it. Consequently, the state of man thereafter was even worse. That is the reason our Jewish friend said that the world had never forgiven the Jews for God giving them the moral law. He meant that man, now knowing the way, had no cloak for sin; he could no longer plead ignorance.
In essence, the law did two things:
If man sets himself to break these laws, even as most do, he incurs the wrath of God, which must come upon all sin. Such is the very nature of God and cannot be abrogated.
If a man tries to keep the law, which some few attempt to do, he finds that he is woefully unable to do so. He simply does not have the moral capacity to obey all because of the fall in the Garden of Eden. That is why he desperately needs Jesus and what Jesus did at The Cross.
According to the law, man now knows what type of sin he is committing. As well, the tenth commandment puts a cap on the entirety of the law by saying, in a sense, that he must not break the law or even desire to do so, which is beyond his capacity. That is what covetousness means: desire, and, in this case, evil desire.
The law portrayed to man what he actually was: depraved, without spiritual life, and without ability to obey even the simplest of moral commands. Consequently, he was to throw himself on the mercy and grace of God for God's help, which was exhibited in the sacrificial system. And a few did, but most did not.
FOR I WAS ALIVE WITHOUT THE LAW ONCE
"For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died" (Romans 7:9).
The law, whether of Moses or man-devised presently has no life. What Jesus did at The Cross alone provides life.
This part of Romans 7:9 points to a tremendous truth. Paul is speaking of himself and the time of his conversion. The law of Moses had absolutely nothing to do with his conversion and played no part, at least directly, in that which Jesus did for him (and all others for that matter) in the matter of redemption.
At that moment, because of his acceptance of Jesus Christ, he became spiritually alive unto God, whereas before he had been dead unto The Lord – dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1).
Law played absolutely no part whatsoever in his redemption or anyone else's. While it is true that Jesus suffered the penalty of the broken law on our behalf, that still does not affect the believer, at least as far as direct involvement is concerned. The fall of Adam illustrates Romans 7:11, but also pertains to Romans 7:9.
After Adam's creation and before the commandment was given concerning him (and Eve) not eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, there was no law of any kind whatsoever.
During that time, ever how long it was, Adam and Eve were alive unto God and in a joyous state of bliss, of which we now have little comprehension, if any at all. However, when the one law came (that of the forbidden fruit), then the problem began.
BUT WHEN THE COMMANDMENT CAME, SIN REVIVED, AND I DIED
Going back to Paul – after his conversion, baptism with The Holy Spirit, and then immediately beginning his preaching of the Gospel – he enjoyed an abundant life that he had never known before. But at the same time, Satan brought about temptation regarding the moral law.
At that time, Paul fell back on his own efforts and attempted to throw aside the temptation. He failed, as fail he must. In fact, the harder he tried, the more he failed. Not understanding then the great truth that he was eventually given by The Lord, yet attempting to keep the commandment of moral law, Paul found out, woefully, that he was unable to do so.
In that situation, sin revived and revived mightily. This means that he now found himself failing God just as much as he had before he had come to Christ. That is what he meant by the words, "and I died." He was not meaning that he died physically, but that he had died to the commandment. In other words, as hard as he tried, he failed to obey. In fact, the failure became worse and worse, with him ultimately crying the words of Romans 7:24: "O wretched man that I am!" Of course, the answer to that are the great truths found in Romans 6, 7, and 8.
NOT PROPERLY UNDERSTANDING WHAT PAUL SAID
I was listening the other day to a particular preacher; I now forget who it was. At any rate, he made the statement that Paul did not do very much of anything that was wrong. In other words, he was saying that whatever sins that Paul then committed were basically insignificant. But I recall attention to what Paul actually said. Concerning his failure, he said, "O wretched man that I am," which tells us that it was not child's play. All sin is bad, but whatever Paul was struggling with was very bad.
THE SIN NATURE COMING ALIVE
In the Greek, the word revive is anazao, and it means "to live again." It speaks of the sin nature coming alive once again and giving Paul the same trouble he had before conversion. In fact, Paul used the definite article, the in "the sin revived," meaning that he was not really speaking of acts of sin, but rather the sin nature.
Tragically, many modern believers are in that very situation right now and do not really know the reason for their problems, especially considering that they are trying with all their strength to live for God. They have little knowledge, if any at all, that even their trying is working to their detriment and not their good. Considering this is very little preached at the present time, this puts these people in a dilemma, even as it did Paul so long ago.
Observing the climate of the modern church, most dare not say anything, for if they do – especially preachers – they are consigned to spiritual oblivion, drummed out, and most of the time drummed out by other preachers who are worse than they are. Such a climate breeds hypocrisy. To be sure, it is not intentional hypocrisy, but nevertheless that is what it amounts to.
Only one commandment was given to Adam: he was not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:15-17). However, sin profited by that one commandment and used it as a point of attack, took occasion by it, deceived Adam and so slew him, for in that hour he died morally and spiritually.
AND THE COMMANDMENT, WHICH WAS ORDAINED TO LIFE...
"And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death" (Romans 7:10).
The Cross of Christ is the solution to every problem that man faces, and the only solution. If one properly understands The Cross for both salvation and sanctification, then an understanding of all the great doctrines in the Bible will begin to fall into place.
The commandment that Paul mentioned refers to the ten commandments. These commandments as given by God were right, and therefore pertained to life. It was not the commandment that was at fault, and presently it is not the commandment that is at fault. The fault was in Adam, and the fault is in us. So why didn't God create Adam in a different way in order that he would not fall?
For God to realize what He intended, which was an individual who would love Him, Adam had to have a free will. In other words, he had to have the freedom to say yes or no. There was risk in this, as we see. But for The Lord to have what He desired (the real reason that He created Adam and Eve), they had to be created in the manner they were.
Yet, all of this is a great bone of contention between much of modern psychology and the Gospel.
GUILT AND MODERN PSYCHOLOGY
In ordinary speech today, guilt most often indicates a feeling. However, in Scripture, guilt is not a feeling. For believers, God forgives the sin that makes people guilty.
Unconverted man carries guilt, but he does not quite know how to define it. Neither does he know or understand its cause.
Modern psychological counseling attempts to rid the person of that uncomfortable feeling by use of therapy. Of course, such is impossible because therapy in no way addresses the real problem, which is sin. In fact, psychology does not really believe that there is such a thing as sin, so it attempts to address the situation in another way. Modern psychology basically claims that the Bible (the commandments) is a throwback to superstition and should be ignored. In other words, psychology blames the commandment for guilt, and if one does away with the commandment – the Bible – then one does away with the guilt, or so they think.
They do not understand that the commandment only exposes the real problem of sin, which causes the guilt. Psychology holds no answer whatsoever for man's guilt because the problem cannot be treated externally. That is the only means available to psychology – that which is external. For that matter, anything man may have to offer also falls into the same category.
GUILT IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
The Hebrew words that mean "iniquity" and "wickedness" are sometimes translated as the word guilt in particular versions of the Bible. The Hebrew term that means "to be guilty" is asam. This word and its many derivatives focus our attention on the full impact of guilt, which always involve three distinct aspects:
Stress in a particular verse may lie on the act itself, on the human condition, or on the punishment, but the Biblical concept of guilt always includes these elements. Since all sin is an offense against God, guilt can be understood only by relating it to God. The issuing guilt is not how a person may feel about his or her actions; rather, the focus is on the fact that each human being is responsible and will bear the consequences of his or her actions. To avoid those consequences, each person must let God deal with the sin and guilt, which is always done through The Cross.
GUILT IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
In the New Testament, guilt is a judicial concept, affirming criminal responsibility. This is true whether the court is human or divine.
In Romans 3:19, the word guilty in the Greek is hypodikos, and it means "to be guilty," or "to be held accountable," in the sense of being forced to answer to divine jurisdiction.
The New Testament reaches a little further than the Old Testament by counting the whole world as guilty before God. Consequently, the world is not guilty merely because of a particular act which brings guilt, but rather because of original sin. However, the difference is not noticeble because unconverted man cannot help but commit acts of sin, which automatically brings guilt.
THE DIVINE REMEDY FOR GUILT
The Bible message that human beings are accountable and must bear the consequences of wrong moral choices is taught in many ways, but the divine emphasis is not on our failure. Instead, God comes to us with His unique message of hope. Even though you and I are guilty before God, we can be acquitted in the divine court.
The Lord shares with us in Scripture, especially in the teachings and actions of Jesus, His willingness to forgive.
Guilt is a reality, but so is forgiveness. In Jesus we find the perfect remedy for those tragic choices that have made us liable to judgment. In Jesus we have the promise that no one can bring any charge against those whom God has saved by their faith in and their acceptance of His Son, The Lord Jesus Christ. Upon proper repentance, the sentence is always "not guilty."
I FOUND TO BE UNTO DEATH
The phrase in Romans 7:10 means the law revealed the sin, and its wages are death.
In the Greek, the words I found literally say "was found." That is, Paul expected his Christian life under law to issue in the production of a testimony and experience that would be a living one, alive with the life of God. This was to be brought about and accomplished through his attempt at law obedience. One must remember, all of this transpired after his conversion.
Paul found that mere effort at obeying an outside law resulted in defeat. The law, using the evil nature as a fulcrum, brought out sin all the more, and this condition he calls death.
In other words, Paul found that he could not keep the commandments, no matter how hard he tried. Actually, the exact opposite took place in his life instead of that which he desired – he sinned, which he did not want to do. If we read over this carefully, we will find the answer to many questions in Romans Chapter 7.
FOR SIN, TAKING OCCASION BY THE COMMANDMENT
"For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me" (Romans 7:11).
God's way is The Cross, and God's way is only The Cross. All victory is found in The Cross, and I mean all.
Paul in no way blames the commandment, which states that the commandment actually did activate the sin (the sin nature) and brought it to the fore, which it was designed to do. The commandment actually speaks of any of the laws of God, but more particularly the moral laws ensconced in the ten commandments.
Once again, this does not mean that the commandment was at fault, but the deed was done because of the weakness in the human being.
(Should you desire to know more about the sin nature, I strongly recommend you get our book entitled, The Sin Nature. I think it will answer almost every question you might have on this subject).
DECEIVED ME, AND BY IT SLEW ME
Something happened that Paul did not in any way expect. He thought his great efforts to keep the law (the moral law) would be met with success, especially considering that he now had Jesus in his heart and is baptized with The Holy Spirit. But he was deceived respecting these thoughts, and the deception was on his part, not on God's.
How was Paul deceived? Due to his new status in Christ, he thought surely he now had enough strength to keep the law. He was to find out that God never intended for us to keep the law by our own strength because such strength was woefully insufficient. That was never God's plan at all. The law is to be kept by Jesus living in us and by the power of The Holy Spirit carrying out this which is demanded (Galatians 2:20).
Sadly, Paul was not the only one deceived. Literally millions of others have fallen into the same trap and continue to do so. Now that they have The Lord, they think their strength is sufficient. They do not seem to realize that it is not strength that God is requiring, but rather faith and obedience. He wants us to understand what Jesus did for us at Calvary and have faith in that. Then the power of God will affect the situation with sin being completely defeated within our lives. In fact, it is not a process but rather an act – the act of being what Jesus did, and we continue to speak of The Cross.
SIN AND THE LAW
As an evil principle in man's nature, sin makes use of law to provoke men to practice sins that the law forbids, and so plunges the soul into a conflict that, apart from law, could not take place.
Law originates this conflict, which it is designed to do, and by making the sinner responsible, it deposits the sentence of death in his conscience. The result is death in the conscience without any deliverance for the heart from the power of the disobedience.
HOW IS THE COMMANDMENT THE INSTRUMENT OF DEATH?
Again, it is not the commandment that is at fault; the problem is with the believer. When the believer looks at the commandment, he knows that it is a commandment of God, and his first reaction is, "I can do that." He thinks that since he is now saved and Spirit filled, he can keep these commandments, but then finds that no matter how hard he tries, he cannot. Once again, it is not the commandment that is at fault, but the individual. Please understand, if only one of the commandments is broken, then that person, in the eyes of God, is guilty of all.
The reason we are unable to keep even the simplest of the commandments is because of the fall in the Garden of Eden, which is referred to as original sin. This fall so weakened humanity that man will find that he is unable to keep the commandments. (When we speak of humanity, we mean every baby that would ever be born.) It doesn't matter how courageous a person might be or whether or not he has an iron will, he may do it for awhile, but ultimately he will fail.
Paul tells us why: "And if Christ be in you (He is in you through the Power and The Person of His Spirit [Galatians 2:20]), the body is dead because of sin (means that the physical body has been rendered helpless because of the fall; consequently, the believer trying to overcome by willpower presents a fruitless task); but the Spirit is life because of righteousness (The Holy Spirit can make us what we ought to be, which means we cannot do it ourselves; once again He performs all that He does within the confines of the finished work of Christ) (Romans 8:10).
WHEREFORE THE LAW IS HOLY
"Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good" (Romans 7:12).
Go by the way of The Cross, and you will find victory. The Cross of Christ is the means by which all of these wonderful things are given to us.
Law is holy because it is God's solution and revelation of Himself. As we have stated repeatedly, the law was designed by God for a particular and specific purpose, which it greatly accomplished.
Please understand that when Paul deals with law (in all of his writings), he not only deals with the law of Moses, but he also deals with laws made up by men, even now. It does not really matter if it's a law of God or a man devised law, it still holds no victory and will cause us tremendous problems if we try to live accordingly. Here's the essence, law is not God's way; The Cross is God's way!
Israel perverted the law, adding more than 600 laws of their own making, somewhat similar to the present time. They tried to make salvation out of the law, reducing Judaism to a mere ethical forum, which in effect made it little better than other religions in the world. It was due to the manner in which Israel perverted the law that made Paul's explanation necessary.
The problem with Israel – and the problem with us all – is the fact that there is something in man that came about as the result of the fall – something that makes him believe he can actually live up to God's holy standards by his own reckoning. Most of the world's population now actually believe that they live up to God's requirements. The truth is, they have made up their own moral code and do not live up to it. They are deceived, even as Paul said, making themselves believe that they are correct.
This problem bleeds over into the heart of Christians. We still want to think that we have contributed something toward whatever it is we are looking for respecting The Lord. The truth is, we have contributed nothing at any time – before we were saved or after we were saved. The answer is simple faith in what Jesus has already done, and I continue to speak of The Cross.
AND THE COMMANDMENT HOLY, AND JUST, AND GOOD
Lest people would think that Paul is denigrating the law, The Holy Spirit through him now states what the law really is:
The Holy Spirit through the apostle goes into all of this explanation for the simple reason that man wants to blame God for his dilemma. In the garden, Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent (Genesis 3:12-13). If we knew the full story, the poor serpent probably blamed the devil, which we all do in one way or another, unless we blame God. The idea is that man does not want to take responsibility for himself, which, in one sense, the law was designed to force him to do.
Man says, "Lord, you made me this way, so I am not responsible." No, God did not make anyone the way he is respecting sin, disobedience, or iniquity. Man is that way as a result of his own actions.
It is not so much what man refuses to do – man cannot help what Adam did even though we suffer the consequences. What man can help, and what God holds us accountable for, is our refusal to accept God's atonement or the terrible dilemma in which we now find ourselves. That atonement is Jesus and what He did at Calvary.
THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW
God designed the law to:
The law was not designed to save. It had a penalty attached to it, as all law does. And that penalty was severe – death, which means separation from God forever.
WAS THEN THAT WHICH IS GOOD MADE DEATH UNTO ME?
"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" (Romans 7:13).
Why is the church as a whole so reluctant to accept The Cross? What little the modern church knows about The Cross pertains to salvation and nothing at all as it pertains to sanctification. And yet, virtually all of Paul's writings respecting The Cross have to do with sanctification – how we live for God.
Again, it is not the law at fault, but rather the sin in man that is opposed to the law.
Almost every crutch that man leans on to help him live the life he wants to live is good. Fasting is good, but it is not the answer for sin, and to be sure sin is the problem. Confessing certain scriptures is very good, but it is not an answer for sin. The list goes on and on with things that are good, but it falls out to the very opposite of what man wants, desires, and needs.
Two words, God forbid, place the apostle in the position of responding emotionally, and rightly so. He will not tolerate the idea of God or His Word as being the cause of all his problems. He strongly denounces such a thought.
Man must always take the position that it is never God who is at fault, irrespective of what the situation may be. Admittedly, the fault may be with others, or it may be with us, but it is never with God. The Bible says, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalms 119:105).
BUT SIN, THAT IT MIGHT APPEAR SIN
This phrase from Romans 7:13 proclaims the divine intention of the law, namely that sin might show its true colors.
This was necessary because before the law man would little admit that he was a sinner, and, if he did, he believed he could affect his own salvation. He has to be shown exactly what he is (morally depraved without spiritual life), and in no way can he live up to God's standards, at least within himself.
A perfect example of this is found in the answer that Cain gives, after he killed his brother, Abel.
"And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?" (Genesis 4:9).
He would not admit to sin; he would not confess the sin, and he complained at the restriction. So law was necessary to force mankind into the realization of what sin is – and what he is.
WORKING DEATH IN ME BY THAT WHICH IS GOOD
The phrase refers to sin turning God's intended blessing into a curse. Nothing like the law could show more clearly what sin is or excite a stronger desire for deliverance from it. The excesses of sin reveal its real nature. Only then do some people get their eyes opened.
Look at this statement from Romans 7:13 very closely: "working death in me by that which is good." As we have just alluded, this takes place every day all around the world with untold millions of Christians. They are doing things that, within themselves, are good, and they think this is the solution and answer to the sin problem. They do not understand why they fail, so they increase their activities. They do not seem to realize that none of these things – no matter how good they might be in their own right (such as fasting) – will give them victory over sin. That solution is found only in The Cross of Christ.
THAT SIN BY THE COMMANDMENT MIGHT BECOME EXCEEDING SINFUL
The law demanded obedience, as all law does, but irrespective as to how hard he tried, man could not carry it out. The more he tried, the worse the situation became, making an already out-of-control fire into a conflagration.
It is not an exaggeration to say that every believer who has ever lived has devised laws – either out of his own mind or from others – that make him think that doing them will bring victory in his life. It will not. It will only make matters worse – "exceeding sinful." Despite the fact that it never works, the church applauds such.
Again, The Cross of Christ alone was and is the answer. It alone is God's way. It doesn't require much of us, only that we place our faith exclusively in Christ and what He did for us at Calvary. With that being done and maintained, The Holy Spirit will work mightily on our behalf. He alone can make us what we ought to be. That is God's manner, His way, and His solution. Anything and everything else, no matter how good it might be in its own right, will not help the believer to live a Godly life victorious over sin. It is only The Cross of Christ and our faith anchored in such that will bring about what we must have.
FOR WE KNOW THAT THE LAW IS SPIRITUAL
"For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin" (Romans 7:14).
From the dawn of time every soul who has ever been saved has been saved because of what Jesus did at The Cross. Every Christian who has ever experienced one iota of victory experienced it because of The Cross. Of course the law is spiritual – it was designed by God, it is totally of God, and thereby, from God. In the Greek, the word spiritual is pneumatikos, and it means "non carnal; not of man," in other words, of The Holy Spirit.
Many of these efforts are fairly scriptural meaning they will function as God intended them to function. But if a Christian tries to use these things as a means of getting victory over sin, whatever they might be, the end result will not be like the individual thinks. It will be failure, wreckage, and hurt.
We think that because we are spiritual and because the efforts are spiritual that this is the answer. But if it is not The Cross, it is not the answer, that is very hard for believers to understand and accept. We want to think that if we fast 21 days or some such amount of time, it will solve our problem. It won't! Yes, fasting is scriptural and spiritual, but it is not designed to give one victory over sin. I'm sorry, but it will not work. Yet many Christians think it will. Others think that if they fall out under the power (and if it's genuine), it is surely the solution. It is not! Again, as it regards victory over sin, these things, as valuable as they might be in their own right, are not God's way.
THE APPEAL TO THE FLESH
Mankind – and we speak of believers – attempts to have victory by methods other than The Cross because it appeals to the flesh, the ego, and personal makeup, despite the fact that other methods never work.
In other words, it makes us feel good that we have given it a good old college try. Never mind that we failed. We only think of the acute struggle in which we are engaged, and how to win some battles. As I constantly state: if we are fighting and winning, after a while, we are going to fight and lose.
Again, works of the flesh – no matter how religious or scriptural – will not work, despite their appeal to our flesh. In other words, it makes us feel good that we have given it our best shot. Somehow, we think that even though it did not work this time, if we increase the effort, it will work because it appeals to our flesh and our ego. We keep fighting despite the fact that we keep failing.
BUT I AM CARNAL, SOLD UNDER SIN
This phrase from Romans 7:14 refers to the fact that man within himself has no spirituality whatsoever; he is completely void of the spiritual or divine nature.
Paul describes himself here as carnal – as a Christian living, however unwillingly, more or less under the control of the evil nature from which he had been liberated. He was back under its control because he was living under law instead of grace. Regarding Paul, this was done in ignorance, but the results were the same. As such, he was sold as a slave under sin.
In the Greek, the word sold is piprasko, and means "sin has foreclosed the mortgage and owns its slave." Many may read this and claim that such is impossible respecting the believer, but not only is it possible, the problem is pandemic throughout the Christian world.
Paul's description tells us that unless the believer knows and understands what Christ has actually done for him – and how he figures into the eternity of that great act at Calvary – it is inevitable that the conclusion will be exactly as Paul says here. In fact, there is no other alternative.
Having preached all over the world for many years, I have learned that while some few believers do know and understand these great truths, most do not and have never heard of such. If that is true, and it is, then one can really see how serious this problem actually is.
Jesus said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). However, I might quickly add that it is only the truth that one knows that will make one free. Truth that is not known, which is the case with most Christians, has no effect whatsoever.
While it is true that The Holy Spirit guides into all truth (John 16:13), this is not by any means automatic but rather potential and dependent on many things such as obedience, consecration, dedication, and the sense or desire for all Godly things. Regrettably, many Christians do not fall entirely into these categories.
Paul is the most perfect example of all. Yet, as sincere as he was, he only came by these great truths when he was in the position of acute desperation. Regrettably, it takes the same for most other believers as well.
Once I was blind, I could not see the Savior,
And, Oh, how dark was all the world to me!
Lonely and sad, I thought that I could never
Find Him Who died on Calvary for me.
Once I was lame, and could not follow Jesus;
Wounded by sin, I fainted by the way:
Christ the physician healed my broken spirit,
Now He sustains and leads me all the way.
Christ is my Lord, the wonderful Redeemer,
Light of my soul, my Prophet, Priest, and King;
He is my all, and I am His forever;
Help me His praise forever more to sing.