October 1976

The Dominion Of Sin

Robert F. Turner

The exegetes and commentators have a field day with Rom. 7: and Pauls inner struggle. Is this the regenerate or unregenerate Paul? Context indicates that ones struggle against sin continues, regardless of regeneration. Paul had to buffet his body, lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected (1 Cor. 9:27). Dominion of sin was broken, as respects the curse of law (Rom. 6:14, Gal . 3:10f); but sin continues to enslave and reign in those who yield their members to unrighteousness (Rom. 6:12-13). WHY is it so hard to overcome temptation? WHY has sin so great a hold on us? Let us carefully study the enemy.

Paul says, I am carnal; sin dwells in me; in my flesh; in my members (Rom. 7:14, 17, 18, 23). Together, these circumstances constitute the law of sin — that observable norm or inclination of man to sin. Some tell us this is inherited (genetically) from Adam, but guilt is not a genetic trait. Each person is individually accountable for response to the will of God (Ezek. 18:19-f). The consequences of sin are upon us because we have sinned (Rom. 5:12). But there are circumstances related to a mortal existence which provide Satan with open doors and incline mankind toward sin.

FLESH (literally) is not evil. The gnostics of the first century made this mistake (1 Jn. 4:3) and we should not repeat it. But flesh hungers, and this may be an avenue for Satan. When Jesus was hungry he was tempted to turn stones into bread. Flesh seeks a comfort zone (for self-preservation) and this can become a pleasure seeking bent that gives Satan another door upon which to knock. Flesh is self-serving, and this can be extended into sinful pride. (Study Matt. 4:1-11, 1 Jn. 2:16.) Flesh is not evil, per se, but its proclivity to sin is such that fleshly often means sinful. It is strike one on mankind.

Early environment or BACKGROUND, to a great extent programs our later life. God knew this earlier, and more accurately, than the sociologists. Peter says the Lord redeems us from the futile way of living in which you were brought up (Goodspeed, 1 Pet. 1:18). Meyer comments, This attribute emphatically shows that the vain conduct is peculiar, not to the individuals only, but to the whole race, and has been from the earliest times, and consequently is so completely master of the individual that he can not free himself from it. We were born into a world cursed by sin — a climate that may be considered an immoral primer. I believe this is that to which David referred, Psm. 51:5. Our background is strike two against us.

And Paul wrote (Eph. 2:3) that we were by nature.. .children of wrath. NATURE can refer, of course, to physical laws of procreation, but it also has other meanings. In Rom. 2:14 it is used for reason and conscience by which one develops a sense of right or ought. It also refers to practices so general as to be the norm for propriety. When Paul wrote, Doth not even nature itself teach you that if a man have long hair it is a shame unto him? he did not say physical nature would not grow long hair on men. He meant general practice was such (continued next page)