I identify with Paul in Romans 7. There are so many moments in which I feel completely confused and helpless.
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Romans 7:15
I want to live a disciplined life. Yet I find myself eating way too many cookies, letting the laundry get completely out of control, and staying up hours past a decent bedtime.
It is my desire to be a good mom, but then I do the very thing I hate. I yell at my kids. I act demanding and impatient towards them.
I set out to be a better wife only to find myself creating excuses to avoid connecting with my husband. I put my desires over his needs. Instead of being his biggest helper, I become a nagging leech.
For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Romans 7:19
This is a completely defeating reality.
I. Am. Wretched.
But, this is not the end of the story! Did you catch the hope Paul finds in the mess of his struggle? I see three glimpses of victory amidst the first-glance defeat.
It is no longer me.
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
If I am in Christ Jesus I am a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) I was dead in my sin, a child of disobedience, and an object of wrath. But God chose me, rescued me from my sin, adopted me as His child, lavished on me grace, given me new life, and sealed me with His Spirit. (Ephesians 1 & 2)
Before I came to Christ I had no choice but to sin. I was a slave to the passions of my flesh, a follower of the law of sin. Now, though my flesh still lingers in me, I have a choice. The Spirit has set me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2) By the power of the Holy Spirit in me, I can choose obedience.
I have a powerful weapon.
For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, Romans 7:22
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:1-2
The law of God, the sword of the Spirit is my offense against the flesh. (Ephesians 6:17) A sword is no good if it sits at home, lying on a shelf. We are bombarded by our flesh ever corner we turn. The word of God must be readily available for us to kill the flesh.
There is a relationship between delighting in God’s law and not walking in the way of the wicked. Our only offense against the flesh is reading, studying, knowing and delighting in the truths of the Bible.
…that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life… Philippians 2:15-16
I have already been delivered, but not yet.
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24-25
In a sermon on Galatians 5, John Piper describes our flesh like a dragon, to whom Christ has given a mortal blow. Although it is destined for death, it is still living; our flesh is thrashing it’s tail and spewing fire at us in hopes to do as much damage in it’s final days.
Christ has taken possession of our soul. Our old self has been dealt a mortal wound and stripped of its power to have dominion. The Christian life, the fruit of the Spirit, is a constant reckoning of the flesh as dead (piling stones on its tomb) and a constant relying on the present Spirit of Christ to produce love, joy, and peace within. – John Piper, Sermon: Walk by the Spirit
Though my dragon of flesh lashes out and tries to take me down as it breathes it’s last, I have hope amidst the struggle. My sin nature is dead…it is just a matter of time before I am completely delivered from it’s presence.
So, yes, you and I struggle. The Christian life is not easy. But it is important to understand why we struggle, keep a tight grip on the truth of our victorious destiny, and fight the dragon.
What did you learn from this week’s study?
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