Lesson 4 – Sin, a Reigning Power

Sin, a Reigning Power

Lesson Aim:     To understand the influence of sin on the “self” of a person who does not live by the law of life and how this influences their use of their body for wickedness.

 Scripture:        Rom. 6:11-14.


Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.  I John 3:4

How do we avoid being lawless?  We live within the confines of the law.  How do we avoid becoming sinners?   The answer is the same, we obey the law.  It appears to be a simple case until we realize only one mature person on earth ever lived within the confines of this law of which we speak and therefore avoided becoming a sinner.  He is Jesus Christ.  What is this law so many have broken? 

We must understand the law of life before we can understand sin because sin is lawlessness.  The law John spoke of is the law of the Spirit of life or the law of God (Rom. 8:2, 7).  It is the law of the new covenant (Heb. 8:10).   It is the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2).  It serves us in the development of our spirits (selves) in the way the law of nature serves us in the care of our bodies.  We would not think of choosing a medical doctor who did not know how God created our bodies to function.  Jesus is the light of life for our “self.”  See I John 1:1-4.     

Mankind has been created in the nature of God in our spirits.  God’s law of life describes the phenomenon of the potential of our life (Heb. 12:9; Jas. 3:9).  This law of life will produce the nature of God and Christ in our character and personality when we apply it to our spirits (Rom. 1:19; 8:29).  Of course, this is God’s eternal purpose in His creation of each human being.


We can easily understand the way sin leads us away from our true potential.  Sin is lawlessness.  The further we live our lives from God’s law of life, the more sin (lawlessness) will influence our nature (Rom. 1:21-27).   Sin impacts God’s present goal for us in a negative way in time and could eliminate His plan for us in eternity with Him as sons.  Sin separates us from God because God’s nature is God’s law about our lives.  For instance, God is love; therefore, we must develop love in the “new creation” of ourselves. It is impossible to avoid becoming a sinner when we do not follow God’s law of life.  It is impossible to practice lawlessness; that is sin, without sin becoming a dominating force in our lives.  The result is failure in God’s purpose for creating us and our goal to become the best we can be with His help (Rom. 6:15, 16).  Righteous behavior is our goal; however, our behavior is motivated by the healthiness of our “self.”  The healthiness of our self, or inner-man, is defined by the law of life, or law of Christ (Gal. 6:2).     

The law of life for our spirits belongs in the category of the law of nature.  It can be illustrated like this – A person decides to produce tomatoes:  There is a law of nature that describes the production of tomatoes.  To produce the perfect tomato one must abide perfectly by the law of nature.  If he or she disregards this law, they will be attempting to produce tomatoes by lawlessness.  Their lawless acts will dominate the tomato crop and the result will be a poor grade or perhaps even no tomatoes at all.   They committed sin in relation to the law of nature.  They missed the mark – one definition of sin.

People who become sinners in relation to the law of the Spirit of life, or law of God, are dwarfed in regard to their true potential and lose the real purpose for their creation (Rom. 8:2, 5, 7).  The person who desired to produce tomatoes may not be able to save the tomato crop; however, God has made arrangements to save us from our past acts of lawlessness and free us from the power of sin.  What is the consequence of the power of sin?  The following scripture was addressed to Christians:

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.  Rom. 6:12, 13

Paul presents the idea that Christians’ bodies are instruments of righteousness.  Our inner man is in charge of the instrument.  Our physical bodies were formed to house our “selves,” or inner man, while in this world (II Cor. 4:16; 5:1)  It may be necessary to review lessons one and two from Part Two to refresh our minds on how the outer man’s lust degrades and depraves the inner man.  Before the Roman Christians were born again they were sinners.  In their lawlessness, they used their bodies as instruments of unrighteousness.  In doing this, they became slaves to their own lawless deeds.  Sin worked like this: The inner man found himself serving his lust in sin instead of God’s righteousness.   He used the body God gave him for the wrong purpose.  This in turn detracted from the development of the inner man that was created to be developed according to the law of life.

This story may serve to illustrate our point.  Suppose a farmer has several acres of tomatoes and many fine farm buildings.  He also has a good instrument called a tractor to be used to serve this crop production program.  He is a busy man with several other interests and hires a young man to operate this powerful and useful instrument called a tractor.  He is instructed on how to use the machine in the proper way.  He accepts the operator position and declares he will use it for good.  As time passes the young man develops an evil mind toward the landowner.  He suddenly begins to misuse the tractor by plowing up the beautiful crop of tomatoes and even smashes the farm buildings.  The tractor was made to produce good works but the one in control became lawless.  By all standards, he is a sinner because of his lawless misuse of the instrument entrusted to him.

We see a parallel story about the relationship of the inner man of a Christian and his or her body.  God gave people a body to serve their spirit.  The spirit, or “self,” of a person is expected use their body to serve the Creator with both their body and spirit for His righteousness (Jas. 2:12, 13).   Sometimes Christians’ control center, or self, becomes lawless; therefore, they may use their instruments for wickedness.  Members of the church who have self-control should help them (I Thess. 5:8; Jude 20-23).  People in the world who do not have the law of life will not be able to use their bodies as instruments of righteousness.  They need to be born again as the members of the church of Christ in Rome had been (Rom. 6:17; 16:16).    

Now let us suppose this young tractor driver had a friend who loved him.  This friend just happened to be the landowner’s son.  He wanted to see the young man have another chance to prove he would operate the tractor for the good.  Of course, this would be based on his desire to have another chance to prove himself.  The young man realizes his wrong and is very sorry.  He wants another chance.  The owner sees two problems.  One, who will pay for the damage of his past sin.  Two, who can say the young man will not cause him more damage.

At this point, the young man’s friend, the son of the landowner, declares he still loves him and he will pay for his past errors and even take the responsibility for his future.  The son offered this help based on a change in the young man’s attitude about the use of the instrument in the future and his sorrow for the past performance.

In the spiritual realm we see the same story in our own lives and our friend Jesus.  Jesus is the Son of the One from whom our spirits came and who gave us our bodies.   The only difference in the spiritual realm is that the penalty for sin is death.  Even so, Jesus still gave His physical life to pay for our lawless deeds and His blood is still paying for our imperfect use of our instruments – our bodies.  Christians have been reconciled to God based on our being born again and justification by faith (Rom. 4:25; 5:11).

How does it work for the mature people “in Adam” in the world?   First of all, they must develop a change of attitude about the use of their bodies.  They must determine to use them as they were designed to be used – an instrument for righteousness.  This is repentance.  They accept God’s new covenant (Heb. 8:10-12).  Their repentance will be manifested in their future behavior (Luke 3:8).  However, their repentance does not change the fact they are sinners.  Their friend, Jesus Christ, made the problem simple for them when He died in their place (II Cor. 5:21). 

The people who did the lawless deeds can be crucified by dying with Jesus in baptism (Rom. 6:6).  It will not kill their physical bodies, just as the farmer did not destroy the tractor.  In either case, it was the one in control of the instrument that had to be forgiven.  In baptism, the old man of sin who misused the body God gave him or her to serve righteousness had to die for their sins.  There is a real crucifixion of the old inner man in baptism with Jesus.  But there is also a real resurrection of the same sanctified person.  He or she is put right back in charge of the same body but with a new attitude toward its use.

We need to be aware of what happens in baptism to fully appreciate what God has done for Christians in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.   Our old lawless “self” was allowed to die with Jesus, be buried with Jesus, and this same dead “self” is resurrected by God’s power to walk in newness of life.  Christians have a new goal in life (II Cor. 617; Gal. 6:15).  We desire to present ourselves to God as people who are alive from the dead with the intent of using the members of our bodies as instruments of righteousness. 

A Christian who is not practicing righteousness has quit walking by faith (I John 3:7-10).  This negates the doctrine of justification by faith.  He or she is no longer being reconciled to God.  This person needs to understand he or she is indeed a wretched person (II Pet 2:19-22).  They need to repent, start walking by faith and show their repentance by properly using their bodies as an instrument of righteousness.  We have an example of what a faithless Christian should do in Acts 8:20-24.  Peter’s advice to Simon was to repent and pray. 

We have seen how many good things happened to us while and after we became a Christians.  We need to be aware of what does not change.  We have the same bodies, and for the most part, the same weak characters.  Our personality may not be much like Jesus at the beginning of our Christian life (Col. 3:8-10).  However, we are free from sin and the Moses category of law.  We are free to give the remainder of our life to sanctification.  This means we can now present ourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and members of our bodies as instruments of righteousness (Rom. 6:11-14).

Questions for Discussion

  1.  Give the definition of sin. 
  2. Explain lawlessness in relation to Rom.  8:2, 7.
  3. How does sin lead us away from our true purpose?
  4. Why is it logical that sin would separate mankind from God?
  5. What happens to mankind’s potential strength when they do not follow God’s law of life?
  6. According to Rom. 6:12, 13, name one of our many sins before our new birth.
  7. How are Christians to use our physical bodies?
  8. What should the church do for a Christian who begins to use their bodies for the wrong purpose?
  9. What happens in the final new birth process of baptism?
  10. What happens when a Christian no longer walks by faith?

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