It happens for the glory of God, the simple answer to the why
in the life of a believer.
Romans 7, this last section is famous, many argue over what is
a very clear and straightforward meaning. Holy Spirit come and
remove the blinders, the veil and the things that hinder us grasping
the living truth of these words, In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Romans Bible Study #24
The Reality of Religion
Indwelling Sin vs. Indwelling Savior
The Conflict of Two Natures
14For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
15For 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.
16But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.
17So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
18For 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.
19For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
20But 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.
21I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.
22For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,
23but 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.
24Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
25Thanks 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. NASB
14-16I can anticipate the response that is coming: "I know that all God's commands are spiritual, but I'm not. Isn't this also your experience?" Yes. I'm full of myself—after all, I've spent a long time in sin's prison. What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary.
17-20But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
21-23It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
24I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?
25The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. THE MESSAGE
There is actually a controversy that Paul is not talking about himself as a Christian in these verses. It is obvious that he is and so I won’t spend even one second on that controversy. Like a lot of controversy about Bible passages this stems from the person coming into the reading of this passage with a belief that he wants to “prop up" and prove. This leads to a blindness when reading the passage. A third grader reading this section could answer the question, “Who is Paul talking about in these sentences?", but many theological ‘experts’ cannot.
This is the very real struggle of the Christian life. It is a difficult life. We are swimming upstream against our nature, our flesh moment by moment. This is a very practical and very real section of scripture and we need to see what is being said, without denying it or running from the truth of it.
You fall, it happens, and then Paul is giving us a pattern on “getting up.” You do not deny that you just fell, in fact you say that the very law that convicts you and points out your failure is good. Indwelling sin, your flesh, still remains as a player in this game and it landed a punch.
I am a wretched man. I need a great God. I have a great God, His life in me, will overcome and be ultimately victorious. That is the pattern on how to get up. As a woman said the other night at work, and I immediately wrote it down, “We need all the help we can get!”
We are not called to “settle in sin” or “make peace with sin.” This is to be a battle, a struggle that takes place from a position of rest and victory. As Steve says, it is like we are watching the replay of a game, we know who wins, so we don’t get upset at the temporary setbacks.
The height of glory at the beginning of verse 25 is tempered with the reality of the battle still raging at the end of verse 25. The battle rages, this can not be denied. The glory of being “in Christ” and all the benefits listed in a previous lesson is still a huge hope and a joy for us, but we are not blind optimists, we are realists. Yes, I fell and I will fall, my righteousness is not the issue here. My perfection is not attained, but I know what sin cost my Lord, and I battle, with the strength of His might. I am not separate from fallen humanity. I am not surprised or ‘taken aback’ by any fall of any of my brothers. “Restore such a one in a spirit of meekness.” When the apostles were ready to call down fire on the unrepentant village, Jesus reminded them, “You know not what manner of men you are.” It is true, when we are standing in, “I don’t believe they did that,” judgment of anyone, we are displaying pride, and it stinks in the sight of God, whose grace saved us and keeps us.
John Piper quote - “So argument #10 is that Paul's shout of victory in verse 25a, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord," is not a signal that he has moved to a new, triumphant kind of life above the battles and losses of Romans 7. Instead this shout of hope is followed by a sober, realistic summary of everything we have seen, namely that Paul, the Christian, is both a new man and an old man. He is both indwelt by the Spirit and harassed by the flesh. He is freed from the dominion of sin and indwelt by remaining corruption. This will be his lot until he dies or until Christ comes. That is the Biblical realism of Romans 7.”
Again quoting Piper “So the question is: How are we to live in view of this double truth about ourselves? The answer comes from watching the amazing way that Paul speaks to us about our deliverance and our newness in Christ. What he does again and again is to say: This new man is who you decisively and irrevocably are in Christ. This free man is your deepest and truest identity. Now act on it. Look to Christ, trust his help, and by his Spirit become what you are.
If your besetting sin is anger, affirm that in Christ you have died to that identity and in Christ you have his patience and kindness. Look to him and trust in him and rejoice in him. And fight against anger as one who has the victory in him.
If your besetting sin is heterosexual or homosexual lust, affirm that the truth that in Christ you have died to this fallen and distorted identity. I recall many conversations with Joe Hallett who came out of the homosexual life and lived among us with AIDS for 10 years and died a few years ago. He never tired of saying: Do not say "I am a homosexual." Say rather, "I struggle with homosexual desires." That was not a superficial mind over matter trick. It was a profound Biblical insight into Romans 6 and 7: In Christ our old selves have died – whatever their distortion and corruption – and we are decisively and irrevocably new. In Christ Jesus homosexual, fornicator, adulterer, covetous, thief, alcoholic, are not who we truly are. Affirm that by faith in Christ. Trust him as your all-satisfying treasure and look to him for the help to become (as much as possible in this life) who you truly are in Christ.”
Martin Luther quote, “Paul, good man that he was, longed to be without sin, but to it he was chained. I too, in common with many others, long to stand outside it, but this cannot be. We belch forth the vapours of sin; we fall into it, rise up again, buffet and torment ourselves night and day; but, since we are confined in this flesh, since we have to bear about with us everywhere this stinking sack, we cannot rid ourselves completely of it, or even knock it senseless. We make vigorous attempts to do so, but the old Adam retains his power until he is deposited in the grave. The Kingdom of God is a foreign country...There is no sinless Christian. If thou chancest upon such a man, he is no Christian, but an anti-Christ. Sin stands in the midst of the Kingdom of Christ.”
A young man wrote to Paul Washer lamenting his sinfulness. Paul wrote back to him that he was more joyful than this man was even though this young man was probably more spiritual than he was. “The reason, young man is your joy comes from your performance, quiet time, avoiding certain sins, you are an idolater, your joy does not come from what Christ has done and is doing for you, your joy is coming from what you can do for God, You are an Idolater!
God has destroyed all my hope in self and I am cast upon Christ and His glory.”
The motivation of God is His Glory and that should be our motivation also.
Other scriptures that back up the idea that this is a battle. Last thing from Piper.
Become What You Are
Let's close by looking at how Paul says this, so that you can see it is really there in the Word of God. The way he does it is with a strong statement of fact that Christians are new, accompanied by an equally strong command that we become new. Here are some of the examples in the New Testament.
1. Statement of newness: Romans 6:14, "Sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace." Command to become new: Romans 6:12, "Do not let sin reign in your mortal body."
2. Statement of newness: Romans 6:18, "Having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness." Command to become new: Romans 6:19, "Present your members as slaves to righteousness."
3. Statement of newness: Romans 6:6, "Our old self was crucified with Him." Command to become new: Romans 6:11, "Consider yourselves to be dead to sin."
4. Statement of newness: Colossians 3:9, "You laid aside the old self with its evil practices." Command to become new: Ephesians 4:22 "Lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit."
5. Statement of newness: Colossians 3:10, "You have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him." Command to become new: "Ephesians 4:24, "Put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth."
6. Statement of newness: Galatians 3:27, "All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." Command to become new: Romans 13:14, "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ."
7. Statement of newness: Galatians 5:24, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." Command to become new: "Romans 13:14b, "Make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts."
8. Command to become new: 1 Corinthians 5:7a, "Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump [of dough]." Statement of newness: 1 Corinthians 5:7b, ". . . just as you are in fact unleavened."
When Paul says in Romans 7:25b, "I myself with my mind am serving the law of God," he means, By the transforming power of the Spirit I set my mind on the treasure of Jesus Christ and all that God is for me in Him (2 Corinthians 5:19; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Colossians 2:3, 9); and all that I am in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17) and all I will become through Him (Philippians 1:11). And I believe Him and trust in His help and power. And I act on that faith. And if I stumble, I do not yield to the temptation to deny Christ or my true life in Him. I repent and I revel in His forgiveness and I fight on.