7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.” ~ Romans 7:7-17
Here is the main idea of this passage:
Paul addresses the nature between the Mosaic Law and sin. More specifically, why the believers who, despite being transformed by the love of Jesus, continue to battle sin?
7-17- Paul is describing how “The law defines sin and also provokes sin. Confronted by the law, sin takes on the character of rebellion, so that people enjoy transgressing commands in order to demonstrate their independence. This principle is illustrated from the tenth commandment, which prohibits coveting (Exodus 20:17).” (ESV Study Bible Commentary)
7-17- This passage is not justification to sin or abuse grace.
7-17- But rather that the law itself is good. The fault lies with our sinful nature.
7-17- Personally, I believe Paul is speaking of those individuals regenerated through the Blood of Jesus Christ.
7-17- Through the law our sin is exposed.
How is this text applicable in the 21st Century?
Christians are called to follow Jesus. Scripture commands us to love the unlovable, to live selflessly and die to our sinful nature, to let forgiveness permeate our lives, and to further God’s Kingdom in all that we do. Yet so often the bemoaning cries of an unbelieving world, concerning hypocrisy within the Church, overshadows our futile efforts. Can this be true? Is the Church merely a body of no good hypocrites with hideous sin in our lives?
Well…yes. In all actuality, we are.
First, let me boldly state that I am writing this devotion primarily to myself. Not you. Though, I am confident that we can all be defined as hypocrites. In other words, the Skeptics have a point.
Sin is devastating. I know this to be true in my own life. Moreover, sin has consequences that can be illustrated in objective terms- both in this world and throughout eternity. How I respond to my sinful desires today creates a domino effect throughout my life as a man. My marriage, the parenting approach I take as a father to my sons, and my ministry work as a hospice chaplain, are influenced by the decisions that I choose to make.
If this is true, then why does the beast within yearn to dance with the flesh? Is my faith a phony? Am I really a Christian?
These are difficult questions to wrestle with. Satan will especially use this to his benefit after a failure has occurred. However, rather than focusing on our fickle emotions, let’s remember the truth of God’s Word. Our salvation hinges upon the victory found in Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15)- not the encountered defeats we experience amidst this rocky journey of life. Nor is our salvation dependent upon our “good deeds.”
The question is not “if” this battle of sin will occur within the mind of a Christ Follower, but “when?” More importantly, “why” does such an incident happen?
Here are a few points to consider concerning the “Why?” Of the Christian struggle:
- Last week MTJ established that the heart is deceitful above all things, and there are no righteous among us…no one. (Jeremiah 17:9 and Romans 3:10)
- Spiritual warfare is real. Recently, I also introduced Mr. Daalf in this TORN Series. He is the ten headed shadow of depravity I personally battle each day. Mr. Daalf is real, and every Christian is surrounded by similar darkness of the eternal realm. While Mr. Daalf cannot possess my soul as a Christ Follower, he can cause aggravation, frustration, and entice with temptation.
“For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the Heavens…” ~ Ephesians 6:12
- Ultimately, this comes down to our obedience. Is there a burning desire to walk intimately with Jesus-not merely a desire to follow Jesus from afar or give intellectual assent that Jesus was a “good man.” Personally, this is the struggle for me.
Let me break this down a bit further.
Take for example the Apostle Peter. Scripture describes him as a courageous man, who boldly proclaimed the name of Christ to the lost. He even gave his life for Jesus. But before Peter was a Hero of the Faith, the disciple lacked boldness. In Mark 14, we see a different perspective of the Disciple after Jesus was led away to the high priest to appear before the Sanhedrin.
“Peter followed at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.” ~ Mark 14: 54
Following this fellowship with the guards, Peter, a man who walked closely with Jesus, denied the Messiah (Mark 14: 66-72).
Catch that? Right before Peter disavowed walking with the Nazarene named Jesus, he “followed at a distance…”
When the Christian lacks a burning desire to walk with Christ hand and hand, we become TORN. Instead of looking Jesus in the eyes, we sit down with those who oppose Him, and keep warm by the fire.
Nevertheless, their fire is merely a facade. The flames of this world will always fail to quench the depths of the soul. Only the Blood of Christ can accomplish such an immense task. The question is, will we obediently and intimately walk with Christ, or choose to follow at a distance?
Law and Grace: Combating the American Heresy of Pelagianism
“Someone has said that the seven deadly sins of society are these: Policies without principles; wealth without work; pleasure without conscience; knowledge without character; commerce and industry without morality; science without humanity; worship without sacrifice.” ~ Leaves of Gold
Prayer: Father God, I want to put You first today. May Your light shine brightly, and allow the love and hope of Christ Crucified be the testimony of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
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