The Chief Sin

Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
ROMANS 7:20
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The Chief Sin
This is original sin or the sin of the nature or the sin of the person, the truly chief sin. If this did not exist, there would be no actual sin. This sin is not done, like all other sins, but it exists, lives, and does all sins and is the essential sin. It sins not for an hour or a while; but wherever and as long as the person exists, sin is also there. God looks only at this natural sin. This [sin] can be driven away by no law, by no punishment, even if there were a thousand hells; only the grace of God, which makes the nature pure and new, can sweep it away. . . . As little as being born or receiving natural life depends on each person's power, so little does being without sin or being free from it depend on his ability. He alone who has created us must take it away. Therefore, He first gives us the Law, by which man recognizes this sin and thirsts for grace; then afterward He gives the Gospel and helps him.

From the Church Postil, sermon for New Year's Day on Luke 2:21 (Luther's Works 76:41-42)
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