Just so anyone reading the last couple of post doesn’t think that I believe in sinless
perfection; I believe that the old man was done away with in Christ and that we have a new nature given to us (Rom 5, 6). However, this body of sin is still with us and causes us no end to grief for all to see. True confessions are that every Christian is supposed to spend time here in Romans 7 grappling with sin in their Christian experience. And I will go so far as to say that there is a reason that Romans 7 was written before Romans 8. So that we all will see our utter failure to try to live the Christ life in our own strength (like I have written about in other posts; that “the Christian life is impossible to do by God’s design”) so that we see our desperate continual need for Christ’s mercy and for him to live his life for us and through us. Consequently, there are two things that the Christian must know well in order to succeed in the Christian life. One is our new position in Christ and the new life he works into us (Rom 8 which we will discuss later), and secondly our human condition here in Romans 7, living with our sin nature. You’ve heard the sayings; you need to “know your enemy”, or to “know thyself”. Romans Ch 7 helps us do this because both sayings describe the sin nature in each of us. If we don’t know how this “internal enemy” works, we can be “our own worst enemy” thwarting any success as believers in walking righteously. Jesus says that he came to heal the sick… do you know that you are sick yet? (Picture credit Donell Trostrud)
Struggling With Sin
Rom 7:7-25 Use this link for the NIV or use your favorite version. Highlight verses 7b, 8b, 13b, 15, 18, 19, 20, 24, 25 (I am stopping at vs 25 intentionally even though the thought continues into Rom 8).
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God who created man with free will and choice I gave the two special fruit trees in the garden to Adam so that he might show me in practical terms whether he wanted to remain dependent upon me for life. Now the consequences of that original choice are that you and all mankind will always choose your own desires over mine. Selfishness is now your nature. Covetousness is your default mode which my holy laws provoke you to exercise in all kinds of evil ways. You know me, you know my holy laws, but every one of you men, women and child will choose to follow your own pleasure instead of mine. Those of you who believe in me will suffer because of this inner desire to do wrong that still rages and tries to control you and which grieves me. Every moment of every day you must exercise an intentional choice as to whom you will serve – your sin nature or me. Every day you get to put into effect your faith to believe my Word in order to live a victorious life, or disbelieve and choose to live in sin’s control. But I know that every day you will choose to sin. This does not take me by surprise, even though it might you. The more that you mature in your faith, the more you will realize this truth in practice, and the more you will see your need for my mercy and forgiveness. As Paul admits that he is the “chief sinner”. Take comfort that you are not alone in this struggle but are in good company. Know your weaknesses in this regard and chose to walk in the Spirit by faith. Confess when you fail and rely on my mercy and forgiveness.
I AM the God who wrote the Commandments to show you my righteousness and your sinfulness. Like a mirror, you can see yourself and recognize your utter sinfulness as you read my Commandments. In your minds you think that you are not so bad and your conscience can even convince you that you are OK; but only by your human standards – not mine. My Standard is perfection. Your standard is by what you see as compared to others around you and that makes you feel good, not realizing that the other compares themselves to you with the same estimation. Without my law, you have no accurate standard; there is no right or wrong. Before I gave a king to Israel, they all just did what was right in their own eyes. “There is a way which seems right to a man but the end thereof is death.” Without my law there is no sin to worry about just the penalty of death for Adam’s sin. I gave my perfect law to show you that you are not like me. Only when you see your utter inability to be holy like me will you avail yourself of my cure in Christ just as when the Jews realized that they could not obey my righteous standards, would came to me in the Tabernacle with their sin offerings for forgiveness as I commanded them to. Now Christ is your only cure.
Satan’s lie says “I’m OK; you’re OK.”
The definition of sin is “missing the mark” or “not plumb”. In order to have a “plumb” (straight) line, you need the law of gravity which always pulls the “plumb” straight down. In archery, in order to miss the mark you need a target with the bull’s eye as the perfect shot, otherwise without a target how will you know if you hit what you are shooting at? However even in archery if an arrow splits the line, it is given the higher mark, not so with God’s standard – each shot must be “Center eye” or nothing. God’s laws provide that mark of perfection. God’s law as revealed as his absolute truth, is not wishy-washy”, it is not relativistic or just someone’s individualistic ideals. God’s laws as contained in his Word, contrary to what the philosophical geniuses in the world claim today, are authoritarian, perfect and absolute truth for everyone. Thus, Satan’s goal is to prevent men and women from turning to God by removing God’s standard so that everyone feels good about their individual attempts at achieving their own perfection in their own way like removing the target or making anything a target. Without God’s law there is no sin like Paul says in vs 8; “For apart from law, sin is dead.” So Satan’s ploy is to get us to deny God’s law, thus negating the concept of sin and ultimately removing God with his accountability. But God’s law is real and true for every human in the world and the whole point of it is to realize that they we humans are not holy and need God’s mercy and forgiveness (key verse here is vs 24 “What a wretched man I am. Who will rescue me from this body of death?”) This way God gets all the glory for saving us, and not our “earning our way to heaven.” Rom 11:32 “I have bound all men unto sin so that I might have mercy on them all.”
How can I be holy in God’s eyes then?
As I have said in other posts, Christ came to fulfill the law on your behalf Jn 17:4. It is worth repeating because he is the only one who could. God came to earth and fulfilled his own righteous standard as a man and paid the righteous price for our sin Jn 19:30. The starting point is that you acknowledge God’s truth of your sinfulness and inability to be holy on your own, and come to him for forgiveness in Christ’s death for you, then He will place his Spirit in you today and place you in Christ positionally and judicially accepted before the Father. Let him make you Holy in the Father’s eyes 1 Cor 5:21 by making you a new creation in Christ and you can then “know thyself” in a whole new way – In Christ – Free from the penalty, power and eventually presence of sin.
More to come,