“The Harsh Task Master”
Sermon shared by Bruce Ferris
Summary: C.S. Lewis once said, “No man knows how bad he is until he has tried to be good.” This is the essence of Paul’s message in Romans 7:14-25:
Audience: Believer adults
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“The Harsh Task Master”
C.S. Lewis once said, “No man knows how bad he is until he has tried to be good.” This is the essence of Paul’s message in Romans 7:14-25:
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, 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, that 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."
When Paul says, “the Law is spiritual” (vs. 14) he means it has its origins with God and is in harmony with His character. Although redeemed (Ephesians 1:7), Paul says, “I am of flesh and sold into bondage to sin.” Jesus reminds us, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.” (John 6:63) and “…whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin (John 8:34).” A servant is in bondage to His Master – he cannot do what he wants. Paul says in verse 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.” In the Bible there are two types of slaves and two types of Masters. There is the Good Master and the Harsh Task Master and there is the servant who serves because the Master reigns over him and the bondservant as Paul commonly describes himself who chooses of his own volition to serve but has power to stay or go.
Paul says, “For what I am doing, I do not understand.” Paul doesn’t understand why he is under a good Master (Christ) as a bond servant (Christian) and still “practicing” as if he were a slave to sin under the Harsh Task Master (Adam). Paul says, “….but I am doing the very thing I hate.” In other words, Paul desires to do good but cannot seem to do so. It is as if he’s still in bondage to his old Task Master (Adam).
In verse 16, Paul says, “But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.” Paul is a new creature in Christ. His origins or life is now with Christ and he desires (bond-servant) to live in harmony with God’s character. But his practice contradicts this truth and this desire in His heart. Why? Paul understands the Law, agrees with it and knows it is good. So it is not a lack of understanding, knowledge or even desire on Paul’s part. All these elements are present but he still fails.
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