18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” ~ Romans 7:18-25
Here’s the main idea of the passage: Verse 25 summarizes this text well. Sin is extremely powerful. No matter our human strength, there will be failures. Yet, Jesus is the one who delivers us. He paid the price for our wretchedness.
“Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” ~ Romans 7:25
- 18-25- In verse 17 The Apostle places the focus on the sin that dwells from within. In vs. 18, he elaborates by stating nothing good abides in him. “Paul is not absolving himself of personal responsibility, but emphasizing the power of sin.” (ESV Study Bible)
- “Legalism always brings a person face to face with their own wretchedness, and if they continue in legalism, they will react in one of two ways. Either they will deny their wretchedness and become self-righteous Pharisees, or they will despair because of their wretchedness and give up following after God.” (David Guzik Commentary)
- Jesus Christ is the answer to the problem of sin in one’s life. Not legalism. Not the world. But rather, surrendering your life with reckless abandonment to following the Son of Man.
How is this text applicable in the 21st Century?
Undoubtedly, there is a war going on amidst the Christian Life. The mind is a battlefield to which Satan’s armed hostility tramples through like a playground- the heart can serve as his province of venom that we continuously crave a sampling of our own poison.
What is the cure? Jesus. Only by the Blood of Christ are we reconciled and become conquerors through Him. Let’s consider what Paul states in the next chapter of Romans.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~ Romans 8: 35-39
What does the above passage mean in context? Romans 8 addresses one’s life in the Spirit versus the life in the flesh. For those who truly walk in the Spirit with Christ, there is nothing that can separate us from God, despite your situation, obstacles, or sufferings you face in this life. There is power in the Name of Jesus, to break every chain. In the end, nothing can separate you from the Lord.
Except for sin. To put it simply, God hates sin. Why? Sin separates us from the Father (Isaiah 59:2, Jeremiah 5:25). Not to mention sin causes destruction, corruption, withers away the soul, and enslaves the flesh.
Romans 7 is not an excuse to sin or justify the means to an end of a temptation. But rather, this passage ascertains the real struggle every Christ Follower faces at one time or another. This bout takes place within our everyday lives- the war exists between our new identity in Jesus, vs. our old nature, failing flesh, and Satan himself.
Yes, the Devil and his cronies will nag. Mr. Daalf will be a shadow at my heel for the rest of my life. Nonetheless, he cannot touch me. God will not allow this. Remember Paul’s words…
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~ Romans 8:38-39
The question is, one that I often have to ask myself, will I surrender and let that chain be broken? When I do, I experience the true saving grace and peace of Lord Jesus. Likewise, I am not separated from God as a consequence of my sin. It is only then, when I reach this point of authenticity in my walk with Christ, that I become a conqueror through His strength.
Additional Reading: Romans 8
“Anyone who has tried to do good is aware of this struggle. We never know how hard it is to stop sinning until we try. No man knows how bad he is until he has tried to be good.” ~ C.S. Lewis
Prayer: Father God, I do not want to be a phony. Help me live authentically for Christ. I surrender my chains, because there is power in the name of Jesus. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.