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In last week’s episode we sought out the answer to four critical questions regarding sin. What is sin? Where does sin come from? Who sins? And why do I sin? In Romans 7:15 the Apostle Paul writes “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Can you relate? You see, you give in to sin because your flesh likes it. The more you listen to the cries of your sinful flesh, the more likely you are to sin.
Welcome to The Point of Purity Podcast. I’m your host, Steve Etner, Author, National Speaker, and Purity Coach for The Pure Man Ministry. This is episode #63, and in this episode, we continue our 2-part podcast on understanding sin and why I sin. So buckle up and hang on because ready or not, here we go!
When he was four or five years old, my son came running into the house with a spot on his arm that was bleeding. So, I took a damp paper towel and dabbed at the wound to remove the blood so I could get a closer look at what happened. Once the blood was cleaned away, I saw a small, open wound. You see, what had been a simple mosquito bite was now a bloody hole. My son had scratched it so much that he had ripped away the skin.
So, I asked him, “why did you dig at the mosquito bite?” His reply? “Because it was itchy!” Without missing a beat, I asked, “But didn’t mommy tell you to leave it alone?” Reluctantly my boy nodded his head in agreement. “So,” I asked, “why did you scratch it?” Trying to keep back the tears welling up in his eyes, my little boy whimpered, “Because it felt good.” “Ahh,” I responded. “And does it feel good now?” He hesitated for a moment, shook his head and said, “No.”
I had a Spirit-filled moment right then and decided to take this opportunity to teach my boy a valuable lesson. “Son, the more you scratch at it, the more it itches. The more you scratch at it, the bigger it gets. The more you scratch at it, the more irritated it becomes and eventually it turns into an open, bleeding wound. So, if you didn’t want a bleeding sore on your arm, what should you have done?” Without missing a beat my son replied, “Leave it alone!”
Now I want to ask you a similar question. Why do you sin. Seriously now, why do you sin? Simply put, we give in to temptation, we sin, because we like how it feels. Here’s the thing: the more you play around with temptation, the more it itches for attention. So, you scratch at it (you play around with it some more) and it feels good. The more you play around with temptation, the bigger it gets and the more your flesh wants the forbidden pleasure. So, you scratch at it some more, and it feels good.
Eventually, scratch that itch long enough and hard enough and you will sin. You will create a spiritual wound that hurts. The solution to not irritating that spiritual mosquito bite is to stop scratching the itch!
OK, so I have a question for you. Ready? What temptations to you tend to scratch? What sins do you tend to wrestle with daily? Be honest here, because we need to identify those temptations, we need to name those sins and face them head on.
I want to read to you Romans 7:14-25. Now this is a lengthy read, but it’s an important one. So listen closely.
“For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” (Romans 7:14-25)
So, why read such a confusing passage to you? To help us understand it a little better, we are going to take a few moments to consider what it is that Paul is saying here, and how on earth it applies to us and our personal struggle with sin.
In verse 15 he says, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Huh. Can you relate to that at all? All too often I have struggled with doing the things I don’t want to do while I don’t do the things I want to. This is VERY frustrating to say the least.
When I first began studying this entire passage in depth, I quickly discovered that what was tripping me up were all the “I’s” that Paul kept using. Let me share with you what I learned.
There are two different characters I would like you to meet. The first is a guy I have named Sy. His full name is Sy N. Ner (for those of you who may be a bit confused here, his name is actually Mr. Sinner – Sy N. Ner ... sinner). This guy, Sy, is a representation of what you and I were like before our Salvation.
Now there are two things you need to know about Sy. First, Sy is living inside a very sinful body. The Bible calls it your flesh. We all struggle with our sinful flesh. And the second thing I want you to know about Sy is that he has an “old nature” residing within him. Sy is a picture of every human being every born. Our old sinful nature has a natural bent toward sin. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:103 that this old nature had no desire for or devotion to God in any way, shape, or form because it is dead in sin. It is focused entirely on one thing: gratifying the sinful cravings of the flesh. Anything the flesh wants; the old nature is willing to provide.
Now consider this: Before salvation, your thoughts were focused on fulfilling any and all of the sinful desires of the flesh. Remember, what you think becomes what you do. Since the mind didn’t have anything holy and godly to help direct its thinking, it focused solely on experiencing all the pleasures sin had to offer. And since the mind was bent toward fulfilling the requirements of the sinful flesh for pleasure, the body gladly did whatever the mind wanted.
However, when you placed your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior something very interesting (and quite wonderful) happened. Listen closely to what the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 2:20. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
At the moment of salvation, you were identified with Christ’s death on the cross. But listen again to this verse. Paul says, “I no longer live.” Ok, here he goes with all those “I’s” again. Who no longer lives? Paul? Is he referring to his physical life? Well, I think it’s safe to say – obviously not, since he’s very much alive when writing this verse. So then, who or what was crucified? We need to focus very carefully on this because identifying the who the “I” is in this verse is going to open up our understanding of Romans 7.
OK, so to identify who the “I” is in this verse, think with me about the word “crucified” in the verse. To be crucified meant to be put to death. The one who was crucified no longer had life – he was dead. The word “dead” means gone, never to come back to life – ever. Paul says, “I have been crucified.” I have been put to death.
Watch this now: the “I” Paul refers to – that which is crucified, dead and gone, never to come back – that “I” is the old nature! If you are a born-again believer, the old nature that was focused on living in sin and for self was crucified with Christ on the cross of Calvary. The old nature that routinely let you into sin is now dead. It’s gone! It can never come back to life – ever! Listen my Christian friend – that means you no longer have an old nature. It died the day you were saved. It’s dead, gone, and can never come back to life ever again!
It’s important here that you understand that when you put your faith in Christ, something very significant happened to your old nature. It is not hiding somewhere just waiting for the opportune time to raise its ugly head and pounce on you. Satan wants nothing more than to deceive God’s children into believing that they should live in constant fear of that nasty old nature. He would like you to believe that you’re haunted by the ghost of the old nature, but fear no more my friend, because there are no such thing as ghosts.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; THE OLD HAS GONE, the new has come.” Wait a minute. Did you catch that? “The old has gone!” OK, the old what? The word Paul uses in 2 Corinthians 5:17 for “old” refers to that which was from the beginning, that which you had since you were born. It is referring to that old sinful nature you used to have before Christ saved you.
Here is something exciting about this word “old”: it refers not to chronological age but to that which is completely worn out and useless. That old, worn out, useless sinful nature is gone forever and a new holy nature has come to take its place. And if that’s not exciting enough for you, that word “gone” in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (“the old has GONE”) – that word means passed away, ceased to exist, no longer able to function. Your old nature is not here, nor will et ever come back; because it is crucified, dead – G O N E – gone!
OK, so the old sinful nature is dead and gone, never to come back to haunt you. Paul goes on to say in Galatians 2:20 that “the life I live in the body, I live by faith.” Hmmm. So, who is the “I” he’s referring to now? We know it can’t be the old nature because the old nature is dead and gone; it cannot come back to life.
Watch this now: The “I” that Paul is referring to now is the new nature that Christ has given us! “But Steve,” you argue, “I STILL SIN!” Yes, you do, and so do I. But the reason you still struggle with sin is NOT because you still have an old sinful nature. Remember, that old sinful nature is dead and gone. No, there’s a different reason why you still sin.
Remember Paul’s declaration in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that says, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come”? That word “new” (the NEW has come) doesn’t mean refurbished. God didn’t take your old nature and give it an overhaul. If He did, there might still be remnants of that old nature within you. No, He crucified the old sinful nature and put a brand-spanking-new holy nature in its place. The word “new” in 2 Corinthians 5:17 carries with it the idea that it is of a totally different kind – not at all like the previous one. The old has gone and the new is here. Isn’t that exciting! Paul also writes that the new self is “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24). God is holy. So is your new nature.
Think about it this way: The Almighty, Holy, Sovereign God has personally come to live inside of you. In order for that to happen, He first had to gut out, completely remove, totally crucify the old sinful nature, and then put a new, holy nature in its place. This new nature therefore is incapable of sinning. You see, if your nature could sin then God couldn’t live there. The Psalmist David declared “O God, you take no pleasure in wickedness; you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked. Therefore, the proud may not stand in your presence, for you hate all who do evil.” (Psalm 5:4-5 NLT) In Psalm 101:7 God says, “I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house, and liars will not stay in my presence.” And Habakkuk 1:13 tells us that God is “pure and cannot stand the sight of evil.” So, God created a completely different nature and placed it within you so that He could come in and take up residence there.
You may recall at the beginning of this episode I introduced you to a character I called Sy N. Ner (sinner). Now it’s time to introduce you to another friend of mine who can help answer a few of our remaining questions. I would like you to meet Chris T. Yahn (Christian). Chris has a “new nature.” If Chris and Sy were to stand next to each other, you would notice some striking similarities. Namely, they both are living in a sinful body. You see my friend, even though you are born again and have a new nature within, you still reside in a sinful body – often called “the flesh” in Scripture.
Paul says that “if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.” (Romans 8:10) In Romans 7:18 Paul says, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh.” Why? Because it is still influenced by sin.
Let me explain it to you this way. Before you accepted Christ as your Savior, both your body AND your spirit were dead in sin. Now that you are saved, your spirit is alive in Christ, while your body is still dead in sin. No matter where you may be in your spiritual walk, your flesh is still dead in sin. Romans 8:23 and Philippians 3:21 assure us that someday soon we (as born-again believers) will possess a resurrected, gloriously changed body. But until then your body is just a lowly, sinful tent you are dwelling in. I often describe it as a junker-car that’s permanently out of alignment.
Well, in next weeks’ podcast we will continue this deep dive into understanding why we still struggle with sin since our old sinful nature is gone.
As we conclude this week’s powerful podcast, I’d like to take just a moment and give you a glimpse into our ministry. You see, we do a whole lot more here at The Pure Man Ministry than just producing a weekly podcast. We have a free APP entitled “My Purity Coach.” This app is chocked full of powerful tools to help you in your walk of purity. You’ll find tons of Scripture. Audio and video lessons from the Bible. You listen to this podcast from the app. You can even watch the globally acclaimed video series called “The Chosen” from this app!
We also have designed an online training resource called ChristianGrowthAcademy.com. There you will find a growing library of video courses geared to help you learn how to grow in your Christian walk.
If you’re a subscriber to this podcast, then you’ve heard me talk about our “Point of Purity Program” – a 12 week, 1-on-1, Bible-Centered coaching program taking you deep into Scripture to teach you how to develop a lifelong strategic plan for sexual purity. I’ve also talked on this podcast about the various books I have written which are all available both on my website (ThePurityCoach.com) and on Amazon.
As a faith-based, donor-supported ministry, all of this (and so much more) is only made possible by our team of ministry partners who give financially to this ministry. Without compromise The Purity Coach shows men and women how to have a continuous relationship with Jesus that is real and personal. To that end we need financial assistance from partners like you who are committed to providing hope and helping men and women across the globe win their personal battle against the beast of sexual impurity. I am personally inviting you to join us as we impact our world by equipping and training men and women how-to live-in purity, godliness, and integrity. To give your tax deductible gift to this ministry today, simply go to ThePurityCoach.com and click on the Donate button in the upper right corner. And thank you for partnering with us!
And if you haven’t subscribed to this podcast yet, let me encourage you to do so today so you won’t miss any of our upcoming episodes!
So, until next time this is Author, Speaker, and Purity Coach Steve Etner reminding you that if you are going to glorify God in your everyday living, He must first be glorified in your every moment thinking.