So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (ESV)
I remember discipling a man who had given his life to Jesus Christ. He had a very real struggle with addictions and struggles with sin. He would often say that he was looking through Scripture for a loophole. We would laugh together and I would assure him that I had read the Bible cover to cover and there was no such loophole.
We might find that notion laughable, but how often do we live as if we think there is a loophole for our favorite sinful behavior. I have known people who were very consistent in their Sunday morning church attendance who could not make it to the parking lot of the church without their hateful gossip destroying another believer. It is as if they thought there was a loophole.
At first glance, many critics of Paul's teaching would look at this verse as Paul's doctrine of a loophole. He says "it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me." What is he saying? Is he saying that he cannot help but sin, because sin is dwelling in him. Is this the Apostle Paul's loophole? The answer is a resounding no.
Paul is saying that since he was become a believer in Jesus Christ the sin that he commits is not from his "new man," but rather from the sinful nature that he is wrestling with within him. Rather than teaching a form of dualism where the spirit is holy, but the physical part of us is sinful, Paul is saying that the new man is at war with the old sinful nature. There is no loophole. There is a battle.
Are you looking for loopholes? Give up. I have read the book cover to cover. No loopholes are found. There is a Holy Spirit, however, who will empower you to win the battle against your sinful nature.
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