The Solution to Sin.
Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 7:24-25 NLT
I have always taken comfort from this passage. Here is Paul, the great apostle and a veritable icon of spiritual virtue and Christian integrity, wrestling with the very same issues that plague me as a believer. Even as a great man of God and powerful spokesperson for the cause of Christ, Paul still struggled with the effects of sin in his life. Like me, Paul still had a sin nature. There was that part of him that was still susceptible to falling back into slavery to sin – even though he had been set free by Christ. Remember what he wrote in chapter six? “Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living” (Romans 6:16 NLT). It’s a simple matter of choice. You can choose to obey God or you can choose to obey sin. And it results in a daily struggle for most of us. Paul said, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate” (Romans 7:15 NLT). In other words, in his heart he desires to do the right thing, but his sin nature leads him to do just the opposite. The problem with Paul is the same one that we face. He had an active sin nature. “And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature” (Romans 7:18 NLT).
Paul describes in simple, yet stark, terms, the all-too-common theme of my life. “I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t” (Romans 7:18-19 NLT) The important thing to remember in reading these verses is that Paul is pointing out our inability to conquer the presence of indwelling sin through self effort. We may desire to do what is right with all our heart, but our flesh is inherently sinful and incapable of living up to the righteous standards of God. Which Paul describes as a principle of life that manifests in the following way in each of our lives. “…that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong” (Romans 7:21 NLT). It is as if there are two persons living in the same body. One wants to do the will of God, while the other seeks to resist that will and pursue a life of sin. It reminds me of the image of the demon and the angel, sitting on opposite shoulders of an individual – alternately whispering into the poor person’s ears, providing contradictory counsel about what to do in a given situation. Paul describes it as “another power within me that is at war with my mind” (Romans 7:23 NLT). The result for Paul was misery, which caused him to call out for deliverance from this daily, ongoing battle with sin in his life.
Paul knew that he had been set free from slavery to sin by the death of Jesus on the cross. He knew he was a new creature and a new creation. But he also knew, from experience, that he still had a formidable sin nature that waged ongoing war with his new nature. As long as we live on this earth and in these bodies, we will do battle with sin. Jesus’ death did not eradicate sin. He simply ended its strangle hold on our lives. We no longer have to live as unwilling slaves to its influence, obeying its every command and fulfilling its every wish. We have been set free. But sin still remains. And if we try to conquer sin on our own, we will always fail. If we attempt to rely on our own strength, we will always come up short and unsuccessful. Which is why Paul exclaims, “Thank God! The answer is Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25 NLT). Jesus is the answer for not only our salvation, but our ongoing sanctification. It is He who gave us victory over sin and death, providing us with a way to made right with God. And He continues to do it throughout our lifetimes. He gives me the strength to say no to sin. He has provided me with the Holy Spirit, as a powerful ally in my daily struggle with sin. I need to recognize that it is Jesus who saved me, but who continues to save me from the effects of sin on my life. He alone can deliver me from a life dominated by sin and death. The presence of sin in and around me, should drive me to a greater and greater dependence on Christ and His Spirit within me. I should know from experience that my flesh is weak and incapable of winning the battle alone. But I have Christ on my side and the Holy Spirit within me. I have a resource that provides me with the capacity to do what my heart desires. Paul goes on to describe this capacity as “the power of the life-giving Spirit” who has “freed you from the power of sin that leads to death” (Romans 8:2 NLT). Jesus has provided us with eternal life. The Spirit provides us with the ability to live righteously in our daily lives – here and now. Thank God!
Father, there is a daily battle going on in my life that I far too often fail, because I am attempting to do it all on my own. Continue to show me my daily need for Your Son’s saving power. He didn’t just save me and then leave me on my own, but He gave me His Spirit. I just need to learn to rely more and more on the Spirit’s power and less and less on my own. As I grow increasingly aware of my sin nature, drive me to Your Son and Your Spirit’s indwelling presence in my life. I have the power to live the life You’ve called me to live, and it comes from You, not me. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men