There is an old movie called The King and I that I watched when I was a child. It was about a missionary woman that went to a foriegn country to teach a king's children. Over the course of time, the king learned about God and the law of God through her and he also loved her. The knowledge of God's law and her refusal to marry him changed him. He went from a proud king with an authoritative air to an anguished soul and reduced him to a very sad state of mind. In the beginning I actually liked the movie, but by the end I hated it! I decided that I didn't like her very much, because I didn't like how she reduced him from the man that he was to becoming a broken man. He was too proud in the beginning. Then he was left stranded and broken in the end. I preferred to see him proud and authoritative rather than broken. It bothered me so much that to this day, over 30 years later, I remember it! I haven't read the book, but I hope that king came to understand the truth that God expressed by the Spirit of God through Paul in the book of Romans. Even as a child I knew that the grace and mercy of God must provide a way to lift him up out of such a sorry state, but at that time I didn't know how.
As I have grown up, both in this physical body (flesh) and spiritually in the Lord Jesus Christ (in the Spirit) I've come to realize some things about the king in that movie, about myself, and about the word of God (as it is written in Scripture). The king was introduced to the law, which was given by Moses. He went from a place of having no law, other than his own words and those of his fathers, to knowing the law that was given by God to teach us and bring us to the realization of the need for a Savior. In Romans chapter 7, we are introduced to the source of the king's struggle. It's a struggle that Paul experienced, I have experienced, and I'm persuaded that you have too. This struggle brought Paul to his knees and the king in the movie (based loosely off of a true story) to his. It brought me to the point of huddling in a fetal position in the throes of frustration from trying so hard to resist sin and live holy, but failing miserably. I was 13 or 14 years old at that time and what happened that day changed my life forever, but for now we will continue to understand the struggle and the progression to a spiritual fight.
When we look into the law, we realize that God's commandment is holy, just, and good. Then we also realize how far away from God we are, in our own strength we are not holy or just or even good. "For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice, but what I hate, that I do," Romans 7: 14. Scripture indicates that we are slaves of sin and of death. Sure we can put off some sins with very little effort, but when we look into the law we see sins that have us bound. These may be public or even secret sins, but they are the ones that either send us to our knees, to our excuses, or both! Romans 6: 14 says, "For sin shall not have dominion over you," and verse 12, "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts." The law of sin is at work in the body. Sin appeals to the physical senses. Even when the mind recognizes that the law of God is good and that the law gives knowledge of sin, we are presented with a challenge that is too great for us to overcome. As Paul says, "how to perform what is good, I do not find" in the law. Galatians 5:17 says, "For the flesh lusts AGAINST the Spirit, and the Spirit AGAINST the flesh; and these are CONTRARY to one another, SO THAT YOU DO NOT THE THINGS THAT YOU WISH." This struggle is real and it's not a new one! What did God say to Cain? "If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it." Cain did not rule over sin. He was of the wicked one, according to New Testament Scripture. He was not righteous instead he was very angry and he didn't hear God. In the case of Cain, he did not seem to struggle against the sin crouching at the door waiting to take him and chose not to acknowledge the word of God at all. Cain didn't recognize where he fell short, became jealous and angry, and then allowed sin to rule over him. He didn't seek God's face and to please God. He wanted to be accepted by God on his own terms. He didn't talk with God about what was wrong with the offering he chose to present. Instead he chose to persecute and kill his brother. We aren't like Cain, instead we're like Paul. Paul believed God. Yet, he also experienced the struggle against sin that had him enslaved. God called upon Cain to rule over sin. He warned him that there was a sin crouching as a lion ready to pounce on him the door of his heart. He called upon him to rule over sin. He gave him an opportunity to express what was bothering him and find a solution. He continues to call upon mankind to rule over sin. For Paul and for all of us, a solution has already been provided.
In The King and I, the king was in anguish when he looked into the law of Moses. Paul understood his predicament before the king did and with Paul we also cry out, "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" We ask the question Cain never asked, "How do I rule over sin?" We aren't left stranded like the king in that movie was. There is a hope and victory! We aren't left in the dark. Romans 7: 23,24 & 8:1 & 2, "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore NOW no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who DO NOT walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." Now we see that the law of God brings the realization of sin, but it does not redeem (buy us back) from sin and death. According to Romans 7:14 we are "sold under sin" and again in verse 23 the fleshly desires that are at work in our "members" or physical parts of the body are at war against the mind that serves the law of God "bringing me into CAPTIVITY to the law of sin." Through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ we become "dead to sin," so "that we should no longer be SLAVES TO SIN."
So the law of sin is the power of sin that works against the truth and the Spirit of God, which works through our physical body when we present our members as instruments of sin. We became prisoners of sin through Adam. However, as we grew up from childhood we began to present our "members" (own bodies) as "instruments of unrighteousness to sin" as slaves to sin. We became sinners and slaves of sin by submitting to sin. The law of sin holds our bodies under as prisoners of sin through Adam by physical birth and as slaves through our own submission to sin. Sin is the ruler over our physical body by Adam and by our own submission to its power. The law of sin holds us captive as slaves to sin, so that even when we know with our minds, we agree with God, and desire to do good...we still fail to uphold what is good by obedience to the whole law as given by Moses. Jesus Christ frees us from the law of sin and from the law of death. He gives us power and the ability to walk in newness of life, to walk according to the Spirit of God rather than submitting to sin and being ruled by it. We are not left in a state of being brought into captivity to the law of sin which is in our members.