Could you explain “captivity to the law of sin,” Romans 7:23?
Four laws are in the passage.
- “The law of God” is spiritual, holy, just, good (verses 12,14), While the law cannot justify (3:20), in chapter 7 Paul demonstrates that the law cannot sanctify.
- “The law of my mind” (verse 23) consents that the law of God is good (verses 16, 18).
- “The law of sin” is a principle which opposes the expression of God’s law in the life (verses 17-20), even though the inward man delights in it (verse 22), and the mind of the individual willingly desires to comply with it. Frustration and failure confront him at every turn. Thus hedged in, he finds himself taken “into captivity” as a prisoner of war by this sin principle in his members. The problem lies within self: “but I am carnal, sold under sin” (verse 14). Carnal self cannot be controlled by even a spiritual law. Deliverance is found alone through the resources of the risen, glorified Jesus Christ our Lord (verse 25).
- “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (8:2).
Does a Christian sin daily? Is it the habit of his life?
Unless comatose, the Christian has strong practical and scriptural evidence of daily sin. “There is not a just man…. that doeth good, and sinneth (continually) not” (Ecclestiastes 7:20). Jesus alone “did no sin” (1 Peter 2:22). David prayed, “Cleanse thou me from secret faults” (Psalm 19:12). Sin is sin, even committed ignorantly or accidentally. It should be confessed to the Lord. David continues in verse 13, “Keep back thy servant from presumptuous (deliberate) sins, let them not have dominion (become habitual) over me.” Paul says, “Let not sin therefore reign (become habit) in your mortal body” (Romans 6:12).
The remedy is “Reckon… yourselves to be dead indeed (once for all) unto sin, but alive unto God. …Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin” (verses 11, 13). “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
“Go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). He enables when He commands the breaking of sin’s power.
What does Romans 6:11, “dead indeed unto sin,” mean.
To understand the meaning of this challenging phrase, carefully consider the immediate context. These verses indicate that what we are in Christ positionally, we must now live practically. “For in that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God” (Romans 6:10). Thus, we are judged as having died to sin, but as having now been made alive unto God in Christ Jesus.
This is sobering truth for the believer to contemplate, as the wider context of Romans 6 reveals. The believer who understands that God has made abundant provision in Christ for his daily living is enabled to live his life to the glory of Christ, and to the blessing and enrichment of his own soul. In this section of Scripture, the believer is viewed as being permanently set apart (sanctified) in Christ Jesus. This is displayed in his baptism, when he is identified with Christ in death and resurrection, having already been justified through grace. Since the believer is in this condition positionally, he must ever reckon (consider, calculate) practically that he is dead to sin, but alive to God. Obviously, there is no response to sin in a dead person! Therefore, a believer should have nothing to do with any form of sin in this sordid world; rather, he must live a life of holiness to God.
Is the righteousness of Christ imputed to the believer?
Romans 5:19, “As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous,” compares and contrasts Adam and Christ. God declared all under Adam’s headship sinners because of Adam’s one disobedient act. That determined our natural standing. Adam’s one sin was not imputed to us, but the result of that one sin was. One act of Christ’s obedience (the cross) constitutes all under His headship righteous. His obedience “to the extent of death” is not imputed to us. Our righteous standing results from His death, not His life.
God imputed to us neither the righteous acts of Christ nor His own righteousness, a divine attribute. We have been made “righteousness of God in Him” (literally, “the” is missing, indicating the character of our standing) (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because of the cross, God is righteous to declare the believer righteous and to impute to him a righteous standing, perfectly in accord with His righteous requirements (see Romans 3:21-26; 5:1, 9).