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. (Rom. 7:19-20)
Question 17: Wherein consists the sinfulness of that state whereunto man fell?
Answer: The sinfulness of that state whereunto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin, together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.[i]
The fall of Adam negatively impacted every aspect of humanity. Humans are created in the image of God. Meaning, humans possess all the qualities and attributes God possesses, but on an finite level. It also means that all that is in man is also in God, minus sin. Humans were created as a miniaturized, finite, representational, version of God. Adam and Eve were perfect in every way. After the fall, humans are still the image of God, but we are a shattered image. Because of sin, the image of God in man has been warped, twisted, and tainted. We are damaged goods. The apostle Paul says in Romans 7:20-23, “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.” He says that sin “dwells within me” and that sin “dwells in my members”; that is, the members of our own bodies. Thus, sin is not just what we do. Sin is what we are. We are sinful. We are sinful creatures. Even as saints, sin still indwells us. It’s for this reason Martin Luther would often say that believers are simul justus et peccator—simultaneously justified and sinner. Yet, because of what Christ has done for us—for the believer—there is hope. We can echo the words of Paul who said, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (vv.24-25). Someday when our sanctification is complete, when we are done with this life and enter into the glorious presence of our God and King, we will be free from the sin that plagues us and indwells us and be able to worship Christ in purity and holiness for all eternity.
[i] “A Catechism with Proofs” by Charles Haddon Spurgeon
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