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The Struggle with Sin (Romans 7:13-25)

Romans 7:13–25 - 13 Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful. 14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. What does today’s passage say? In today's passage, Paul explains that God's law helped reveal to him the full depth of sin's deceitfulness (v. 13). He discovered that even good things can be hijacked by the sin still residing within him, waging war against his desire to obey God (vv. 14-20). This caused intense inner anguish, not understanding why he fails to carry out what he knows is right. Paul then describes the ongoing struggle between his spiritual intentions and his sinful fleshly actions that continue to trip him up (vv. 21-25). He sincerely aims to please God, yet keeps falling into entrenched sinful habits. This leaves him feeling trapped and defeated, crying out for deliverance from this conflicting sinful nature that refuses to be shaken off. Paul concludes that only Jesus Christ can provide freedom from this losing battle against the sin that stubbornly remains within. How can I apply Romans 7:13-25 to my life? Today, Paul transparently discloses his internal spiritual angst - the tension between his holy longings and the sinister pull of sin's tentacles within his mortal frame. He reveals an all too familiar tale: desiring with our whole heart to walk uprightly in God's wise commands, yet discovering streaks of defiance still slithering within. When Paul exclaims "wretched man that I am!" we resound a mournful amen, knowing ourselves all too compromised by unruly passions. Although difficult to bear, we must not despair over this inner turmoil. Rather it should drive us closer to the Cross - the solitary place where grace meets human frailty with liberating power. Paul found freedom not through self-effort but through fixating on our triumphant Christ. Here are some basic principles from this passage that we should apply to our lives:

  1. God’s Law Shows Us How Truly Awful Sin Is (v. 13): Paul has established how God's law helps us recognize the utter sinfulness of sin. It brings conviction and awareness of our need for salvation. When we examine the righteous commands and precepts of Scripture, the violation and perversion of sin becomes painfully evident. Sin rebels against the holy standards God has revealed, deceiving us into transgressing what we know is right. Through looking intently at God's flawless law, we become conscious of how far short we fall from meeting such pure light. The more we delve into the excellence of God's commands, the more we become aware of the ugliness of our disobedience. Scripture was given not only to guide us into truth but also to reveal where we deviate into falsehoods. Let the word of God search your heart and expose any area that tolerates or trivializes violations of His commands. Ask Him to help you recognize and renounce lingering sinful attitudes and behaviors. May this vision of His glorious righteousness lead us to cling to the grace of Jesus Christ (Psalm 19:7-11; Romans 6:1-2; Hebrews 4:12-13).

Food for thought: What sinful attitudes or behaviors might God want you to recognize and turn from? Are there any areas where you have become complacent towards sin or made excuses for it?

  1. Expect an Ongoing Battle with Your Sin Nature (vv. 14-20): Paul's honest reflection shows us the intense inner turmoil believers can experience between the flesh and their spirit. Though we have been freed from sin's absolute domination, the sinful nature still wars within, pulling us to indulge our baser appetites. At times, we mystifyingly surrender even when we wish with all our heart to do what is right. Like Paul, we must expect this battle to continue, vigilantly striving against sinful passions already defeated in Christ. When you find yourself giving into anger, lust, lies, or other sins you abhor, do not despair. This is part of the struggle Paul so vividly depicts by the Spirit's inspiration. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, asking Him to strengthen and deliver you each time you fall. Allow these failures to drive you more desperately to the Cross. As John Owen said, "Be killing sin or it will be killing you." Through Christ we can overcome (Galatians 5:16-17; Ephesians 6:10-13; 1 Peter 2:11).

Food for thought: What sin do you struggle with that causes this inner turmoil? How can keeping your eyes on Christ increase your victory against it?

  1. Turn to Christ for Freedom from Sin’s Enslavement (vv. 21-25): Paul's anguished cry echoes the hearts of all who sincerely long to walk in holiness yet find themselves enthralled by sin's creeping influence. We relate all too well with discovering ugly patterns of thought, speech, and behavior resurfacing when we desire them least. But Paul's hope, and ours, rests in the power of Jesus Christ to gradually set us free from life-dominating sins. Through His death and resurrection, our Savior broke the absolute power of cancelled sin and offers increasing victory to those who entrust their weaknesses to Him. Whenever you become aware of persistent sins gaining ground, immediately turn to Jesus asking Him to displace these idolatrous patterns with His pure Presence. Soak in Scripture that reminds you of Christ's superiority over every force of evil, renewing your mind to His truth. As you continually surrender stained strongholds to the care of the Holy Spirit, He will bring emancipation from their enchaining influence. You can walk in growing freedom through the strength of our compassionate Lord (Romans 6:5-7; 2 Corinthians 3:17; Galatians 5:1; James 1:21).

Food for thought: What habit or attitude do you need freedom from today? How can you remind yourself of Christ's power over it? This passage shows us an unfortunate reality - try as we might, sin still entangles and sabotages. We lack power in ourselves to walk uprightly. Yet the redeeming grace of Christ offers hope. It is through His strength that we can make progress against stubborn sins. For the chains Christ's sacrifice has broken can never re-shackle a soul given to Him. Take heart that each small surrender weakens evil's rule. One day the lingering darkness in us will vanish, replaced by Christ's pure nature living within. Until then we can gain victories over sin's uprisings by relying on the Spirit's power and keeping our focus on Jesus' reconciling work. This is the remarkable, freeing promise of the gospel. What wretchedness can keep imprisoned those who cling to Christ alone through faith? None. As we fix our eyes on Him, true liberty emerges. Prayer Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You would remind me of the wretchedness from which Christ has set me free whenever sins I detest continue their sabotaging assault. Grant me victory over darkened strongholds through filling my mind with truth that is greater. I ask that You would forgive backsliding and train me to wield the sword of the Spirit against temptation. Replace my sin-stained appetites with satisfaction found only in You. As I fix my eyes on Jesus' sacrifice that silences condemnation, emerge in me purity and power to walk uprightly through the enablement of Your Spirit. May each small surrender weaken evil's grip so that heaven's liberating life permeates every crevice of my being. I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Romans 7:24-25 – “ 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.”With His Blessings, Pastor Corby

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