THE BIBLE PROOF OF INBRED SIN (VI)
The Seventh Chapter of Romans
instant we mention this chapter in connection with inbred sin there is a quick
and sometimes angry protest upon the part of many.
are promptly informed that the troubled individual in this chapter is a Jew
convicted under the law, and, finding it powerless to deliver him, he is
reply to this is that the Bible is not of private or class interpretation, and
to confine this chapter to the description of the spiritual exercises of one of
the smallest nations under the sun, while all the rest of the world are called
on simply to look in on this moral arena and see the struggles and death
conflict, is stretching the matter too far and making too great a demand on our
effort to make the groaning person in this chapter a convicted legalist of any
country and time fails as signally as the others.
legalist, no matter who he is or where he is, is nothing but an unpardoned,
unregenerated sinner. His condition is bound to be one of spiritual death, for
God says he is dead in trespasses and sins.
the man in the seventh chapter of Romans is not spiritually dead by any means.
He has a law of life and good in him, while a sinner is a lawless man, and until
regeneration, can have no law of good in him.
still more remarkable proof of this person in the seventh chapter not being a
legalist, and the clearest proof that he is instead, a spiritual man, is seen in
the 22d verse, where he cries out, “I delight in the law of God after the
inner man.” Let the reader trace the word “delight” back into the Greek,
and he will find the other meanings to be “please,” “gratify,”
“enjoy,” and “rejoice.” Could an unconverted man say. “I enjoy and
rejoice in the law of God?”
unregenerated man—and a legalist or moralist is unregenerated—can delight in
the law of God. The sinner stands in fear and awe of the divine commandments,
but delight can only be felt by the spiritual man. We need only appeal to every
man’s memory of the sinful past! We trembled and were troubled at the law, but
did not and could not feel delight.
verse adds: “After the inner man.” The sinner has no inner man. God says
that he is dead in trespasses and sins. The inner man is the divine creation.
How can God say that a man is dead in sin, and then add that “he delights in
the law of God after the inner man?” Here would be a most palpable
still further proof of the regenerated state of the man of the seventh chapter,
we quote the 25th verse; “So with the mind I myself serve the law of God.”
Does any one believe that an unpardoned man serves the law, either in his mind
or anywhere else? This man in the chapter “consents unto the law that it is
good,’’ serves it with his mind, and even delights in it. He that consents
to—serves and delights in—the law of God is a saved man!
the reader divest himself of prejudice and read the seventh chapter of Romans
carefully, thoughtfully, and prayerfully, and he will see that here is no
confession of a common transgressor. Here is no outrageous violator of God’s
commandments brought to repentance, confession, and judgment.
fail to see a sign of repentance in the chapter. It is not justification nor
pardon that the man is alluding to or begging for. He is in an agony over a dark
indwelling something which keeps him from doing what he wants to do. In a word,
it is the regenerated man under conviction for inbred sin.
is wonderful how this chapter finds an echo in every converted heart, while the
unregenerated man would never go to it for a picture of his condition and life.
is also wonderful how preachers bring this chapter into their prayers; while the
Episcopal Church, Sabbath after Sabbath, as a body of Christian believers, groan
forth in their Litany, “We have done those things which we ought not to have
done, and have left undone those things which we ought to have done!” a
lamentation almost entirely taken from the 15th verse of the seventh chapter,
“What I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I;” and in the 19th
verse, “and the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not,
that I do.”
Church is very fond of quoting a part of the 24th verse, “O wretched man that
I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” They quote it as if
it were the utterance of despair, and as if there were no deliverance mentioned
it not strange that, if this chapter be the experience of a convicted legalist,
preachers and Churches should be adopting its language as expressive and
descriptive of their own condition! Here verily is a proof in itself that it is
a portrayal of the Christian conflict before the deliverance of inbred sin takes
place in the glorious blessing of sanctification.
Church might as well come to it. The battle has already started on this chapter,
and we see nothing but victory for the cause of holiness in what will transpire
in the probing study and honest application of this chapter.
very earnest objections are filed against us for construing the seventh chapter
as being the conviction for and the struggle of the regenerated man against
inbred sin. One objection urged is that this man here confesses that he is
reply to this is: Yes, but did not Paul say that the Corinthians, who were
“babes in Christ,” and hence born of God, were carnal? This is the very
point that we are making in this book: that carnality, or the carnal mind, is
left in the regenerated heart. A second objection is that the person talking
here says that he is “sold under sin.”
is true, but he did not say that he was sinning as a common transgressor. He
said he was “sold under sin,” and as a certain famous Holiness evangelist
said, “Satan sold Adam and the whole human race out for a mess of apples.
“Sinning is one thing, “sold under sin” is another. We find ourselves in
this world with a sinful nature which comes to us by an act of our federal head
in the garden of Eden where he exchanged obedience to God for fleshly
gratification. He made a bad trade; in fact, he sold the human race for
something pleasing to the eye and taste.
let us turn from these objections and see what this man of the seventh chapter
of Romans is troubled about. In trying to do this, the other objections that are
urged against our interpretation will be answered. Let us note carefully the
confessions and complaints made herein.
“What I would, that do I not.”
the regenerated man say if he has not had to say this a thousand times since his
conversion. O the Christlikeness, the usefulness, the great and good deeds we
aimed after and failed to be and do and reach in the past years!
“But what I hate, that do I.”
said that he hated vain thoughts. The converted man says the same. He says that
he will watch the door of his lips and keep his tongue as with a bridle, for he
hates gossip and faultfinding; but there is not a day but he slips up on the
very thing he hates. He has made a covenant with his eyes; but somehow they
look, and the trouble is that the look is just one second too long. “O
wretched man that I am!”
“Evil is present with me.”
not every regenerated man grieve over the fact? The preacher is delivering a
faithful message to his congregation. He is doing it in humility and
faithfulness when suddenly a voice whispers, “You are surpassing yourself,”
and lo! a sudden puff of self-inflation, a special effort put forth to increase
the approbation and admiration that are read in the faces of the audience. “O
wretched man that I am!”
collection is being taken up for Missions. A brother cries out from the
congregation: “Put me down twenty-five dollars.” He observes the flutter
that his gift produces—perhaps he sees the bishop looking at him—and so he
cries again: “Put me down another twenty-five!” “O wretched man that I am
I” That last twenty-five was not right. “Evil is present with me!”
evil is present, and oftentimes jumps astride a good deed and rides it a mile or
so before the converted man can get it off.
“I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind.”
at it; here are two laws, and they are dissimilar, and they are both in the same
man. Surely this is not an unregenerated man, for the sinner does not serve God
at all, while this character speaks of a law of life and good, against which
another law in him rebels and wars.
is not possible to live a converted life a few hours before discovering that
there are now two laws, where before there was only one, and that one a law of
sin and death. In the sinful life the members ruled, the law of sin dominated
without a rival. But when regenerated, a law of life is introduced and the
battle begins. Before this Satan and sin had it all their own way; now the war
commences, and a fearful one it often proves to be.
“Bringing me into captivity.”
has not felt bondage in the regenerated life, both to people and circumstances?
Who has not deplored the lack of freedom in prayer, testimony, preaching, and
living? Something within brings us as regenerated people again and again into
captivity. We do not feel free. Listen to a preacher groaning in the pulpit
before he preaches. What is the matter? He does not know whether he will have
liberty or not. Hear him groaning after the sermon; he says he was not free.
Listen to a brother laboring in prayer. Something is holding him down. Notice
the silent Christian tongue, the inactive Christian life, the melancholy
Christian face, the uneasy, anxious Christian heart—what is all this but
into silence, or forced into speech! Afraid to declare one’s convictions! Kept
from doing things that have been whispered by the Spirit and taught by the Word!
Captivity! Captivity! Captivity!!! “O wretched man that I am!”
listen, the man in the seventh chapter is still complaining.
“Sin dwelleth in me.”
not the reader see that this is no allusion to personal transgressions?
“Sin” in the singular number is here used. It is not personal transgressions
spoken of, but inbred sin. It is something that dwelleth in the man. A person
can leave his sins and yet this dark, sad thing remain in the heart. A man may
not be in “sins” and yet the “sin” spoken of above may “dwell” or be
is because people have not discriminated here between these two terms,
“sins” and “sin,” that they have not been able to understand
course a man is utterly unable to free himself of this inward plague by any
strength of his own. A person might as well try to fly from his shadow, or to
put an end to his shadow by stripping himself of his clothing, as to endeavor to
rid himself of this indwelling evil principle by laying aside his
have sometimes thought that the Saviour referred to this inward nature of sin
when he said to the Jews: “Your sin remaineth.” Let it be remembered that it
is Christ’s work to destroy the works of the devil. He has come to purify the
heart. John the Baptist said that He was the Lamb of God that taketh away the
sin of the world. If Jew or Gentile reject him, who alone can take out this
“sin,” then the words of the Saviour fall indeed like a funeral knell, and
they are as true as they are melancholy: “Your sin remaineth!” It is idle to
narrow the expression down to one deed of evil of the elders and scribes; a
deeper, truer insight into the words shows the dark nature back of the
Saviour’s rejection, and back of all the other sins of that nation. Back of
“sins” is seen—“sin!”
have criticised the expression, “inbred sin;” but when we hear Christ
saying, “Your sin remaineth,” and Paul writing, “Sin dwelleth in me,” we
must confess that the term “inbred sin” has a wonderfully homogeneous sound.
we have only to listen to hear falling from regenerated lips in pulpit and in
pew, in prayer, song, testimony, and sermon, the very words in the seventh
chapter of Romans: “Sin [not sins] dwelleth in me.”
“The law of sin.”
is no confession of actual sins, but a lamentation over a “law of sin.” The
man in the seventh chapter finds it manifesting itself and operating in his
“members,” of tongue, eyes, ears, hands, feet, and body generally, through
calls it a “law,” although it is sinful and bad. A law can be bad. We have a
number in our country that are full of evil. State Legislatures and Congress
passed them. So the devil, with the consent of Adam, passed a bad law or law of
sin in our spiritual being, under which the human race has languished for six
thousand years. As a law it has force and authority, and millions daily go down
under its baleful influence. We have all felt it, and will continue to feel it,
until we allow the Saviour to abrogate and destroy it with his sanctifying
“The body of death.”
does not call it death, but “body of death.” Many of our readers are
familiar with the allusion that the apostle here makes by the “body of
death.” It was a mode of punishment for certain kinds of criminals in the
is a fearful picture; and a newly converted person, full of his first love, and
not yet convicted for inbred sin, would likely protest against the application
of the figure to himself. But we must remember that the man in the seventh
chapter is a convicted regenerated man. A sinner is one thing, and a convicted
sinner is another. All can see the difference. So a Christian is one thing, but
a Christian who has obtained a sight of the “old man” in his heart is quite
the Holy Ghost flashes his light into the soul and shows the uncleanness there,
and the lack of conformity to Christ, like Isaiah the man cries out, “Woe is
me! for I am undone!” and like Paul he actually writhes under the
consciousness of this inward “body of death,” and so groans out, “O
wretched man that I am!”
writer has seen many regenerated people enter upon a Holiness meeting with great
restfulness of spirit and self-satisfaction. Sometimes they have abounded in
smiles, bantering words, and lightness of manner. But as the days proceeded, and
the sword of the Spirit cut down between soul and spirit and discerned the
thoughts and intents of the heart, a great change came over them. They became
silent, anxious, troubled, miserable, and groaned out in their testimonies and
prayers all that Paul said in the seventh chapter of Romans.
is a second conviction for the human soul. Not a second repentance, however, for
we cannot repent for inbred sin; we are convicted for that. The first conviction
is for personal sins; the second, for inbred sin. With the writer the last was
far more painful than the first. In the first it was “sins” that bore him
down; in the second it was “the law of sin,” “the body of death,” that
laid him in the dust with cries, “O wretched man that I am!”
body of death is an evil nature, principle, or bias—call it what we
will—that is like death in the presence of the regenerated soul. The converted
man feels within him something that is antagonistic to the spiritual life he has
obtained. It seems to have a deadly influence. It kills joy in the heart, kills
life in prayer, kills religious energy repeatedly, kills Christian faith, hope,
and love time and time again; so that there is a struggle against this “body
of death,” which seems to be sending out a cold, chilling, deathlike influence
through every open avenue to the converted soul.
a regenerated man but has felt the burden of death in a measure, while every
convicted regenerated man feels the whole weight of this ghastly body and pants
“Who shall deliver me?”
reader will observe that here is no prayer for pardon, but for deliverance. If
it was personal iniquity or sins that the man had committed, the seventh chapter
of Romans would have to be similar to the fifty-first Psalm, and the apostle
would be pleading for forgiveness, and crying: “Blot out my transgression.”
there is no cry for pardon in the seventh chapter. The open sinner, legalist, or
moralist all alike need to beg for forgiveness; but there is no such petition
entreaty is for deliverance! And not deliverance from personal sins, but from a
law of sin, a body of death, a something that dwelleth within; and which the
agonizer wanted out. All this coincides and harmonizes exactly with the
expressions, “put off,” “lay aside,” “take away,” and the still
deeper terms, “crucified” and “destroyed.”
here in this cry, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the
body of this death?” most people stop. It is the Miserere of many souls, the
funeral dirge of hope. They utter it in despair of deliverance. They go on
through life saying, “O wretched man that I am!” and failing to see that
there is a deliverance and a Deliverer. Bogged down in a Slough of Despond they
think that all that is left them to do is to roll and struggle and continue to
cry: “O wretched man that I am!”
fail to see that Paul did not remain in the slough; that he caught sight of a
Deliverer in the Saviour, and that the wail of sorrow is followed by a shout of
joy! Listen! “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of
this death?” Listen again—he is shouting!—“I thank God, through Jesus
Christ our Lord!!!”
he is out of the slough! Out of the seventh chapter! Out on the solid bank on
the other side and running and shouting down the eighth chapter of Romans!
Listen to him! I thank God! I thank God! I thank God! through Jesus Christ our
indeed; Christ has done it, and can do it. He is the Lamb of God that taketh
away the sin of the world. He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, who breaks
every chain. He destroys the works of the devil in us by casting out inbred sin.
The Son has made us free indeed.
further down the road in the eighth chapter of Romans we hear Paul’s voice
floating back: “There is now therefore no condemnation to them which are in
burden is all gone. No inward groaning or sighing. Our hearts condemn us not;
God condemns us not; there is no condemnation.
floats back the voice of joy: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ
Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
Free! And in this blessed state the soul enjoys the unclouded favor of Heaven.
No sense of being brought into captivity—he is now free.
again we hear the voice of the enraptured apostle, and now still further up the
road: “The Spirit of God beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the
children of God.”
does he mean by this? Does not the Spirit bear witness in regeneration?
Certainly. But all converted people know the gaps and breaks in the divine
favor, the painful silences upon the part of the divine voice, that we realized
from time to time to the great inward distress of the child of God. The
hindrance to the unbroken testimony of the Spirit is inbred sin. Take that out,
and then all the time, all the time, all the time, “The Spirit of God beareth
witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” With sanctification
or the elimination of inbred sin comes the continuous witness of the Spirit to
us of our acceptance with God.
more we hear Paul’s voice far down the chapter, and this time we hear him
saying, “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to
be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
is what any man will say when inbred sin is gone, and no condemnation is felt
like a weight upon the heart, and when the Spirit is always whispering that we
are children of God—heirs of heaven and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. “I
reckon,” says Paul; and so we all say. We reckon—yes, we know—that the
glory to be, shall outstrip the shame and suffering that is, beyond all words to
describe. What shall we do under such an exhilarating thought? Christ tells us.
He says: “Leap for joy!”
more the apostle’s voice is wafted faintly back. It is now at the end of the
chapter. He seems to be still shouting. “For I am persuaded, that neither
death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present,
nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able
to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
is evidently feeling well, and is undoubtedly established. No wonder he rejoices
and shouts. Just so is established the sanctified man, and so he feels
comfortable all the time, “rejoices evermore,” and shouts on his way to
Christ and crowns and glory and loved ones in Heaven.