Summary: An Expository Sermon from Romans 7:14-25 concerning becoming a better person through Jesus alone. Romans Series #32

Romans Series # 32 April 03, 2002

Introduction: Welcome to New life in Christ. As most of you are aware, it is our practice to go through books of the Bible verse by verse. Tonight we continue our series out of the book of Romans. Would you please join me in a word of prayer?

Read Romans 7: 14-25

At some point in his or her life nearly everyone desires to be and tries to be a better person. Nearly everyone will strive, make an honest effort to be a to be a “good person.” People often long to try and change their life for the better. People are not completely blind to their own faults. They recognize a need for change. For example they might see that they have an anger problem and therefore strive for a better temperament and more patience. Some may not like the kind of things coming out of their mouth so they’ll try and clean up their act and have more godly speech. Others strive for a purer thought life, better self-control, etc.

You can see many examples in society of people’s desire to change and be a better person. The self-help books that line many bookstores are evidence of this desire. The abundance of twelve step programs and classes on such things as anger management is more evidence. The inability of people to get an appointment at Christian and secular counselors because of demand shows us that there is an abundance of people seeking to change for the better. Sometimes even church attendance is motivated by this longing and is evidence of this inward desire to be a better person.

I bring all this up because Paul, in this passage of Scripture, is talking about people’s efforts to be a better person. He is speaking about the desire to live a godly life otherwise known as a holy or sanctified life in Christian circles. He knows about such efforts to be a better person because he has sought to live such a life. He did so with all his willpower in the past. He also knows that despite all his efforts he did not become a better person. His strenuous attempts produced nothing but utter failure and frustration. His comments here help us to understand his and other’s failure to achieve this better life and why this is so. Later in chapter eight of Romans he points to a new way that really results in the kind of changes God and we desire through Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Before we get to the answer to really becoming a better person Paul wants to understand the inability of a person to really change in his or her own power. His message can be summed up as follows:

Summary Sentence: Trying To Be A Better Person Without Jesus Is Futile And Frustrating.

Striving to be a good person without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit will result in defeat and despair. We have to understand that, without Jesus, trying to live a good life is useless because we are powerless and hopeless in our strength. All of our efforts at self-improvement will only result in our being miserable and confused as Paul expresses very clearly in this passage.

In a moment I will cover this section of Scripture in a verse-by-verse fashion but first I need to comment on an important question. The question that we need to look at first is, "Whose experience is being described in this section of Scripture?"

There is great debate about that question and it is usually answered in one of three ways. Some people believe that Paul is describing the normal Christian life. They would point to the present tense verbs and the fact that all Christians struggle as evidence of this. Other people believe that Paul is describing a carnal Christian. They believe he is describing a genuine Christian who is in the flesh, but that he is not describing what should be the normal Christian life. Still others believe that Paul is describing a non-Christian. They believe Paul was describing a religious person who is trying to be good in their own power. This is my personal belief and I believe it is founded upon Scripture. To support this belief I would point to the use of the terms “slavery” and “prisoner of the law of sin” as being contradictory to what Paul has stated earlier about our present freedom from slavery to sin and contradictory to what he will state in Chapter eight as the normal Christian experience.

Read Romans 6:6,7,14,17,18,22 Romans 8:2,9

Summary Sentence: Trying To Be A Better Person Without Jesus Is Futile And Frustrating.

Read Verse 14.

First Paul says, "We know that the law is spiritual." In other words the law is good, righteous, and holy. There’s nothing wrong with the goal or the standard that we are shooting for. The desire to be a better person, that is a person who is honest, faithful, pure, kind, dedicated, etc. is a good and noble desire but we must also understand that such a life is a impossible to live out without truly giving your life to Jesus.

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Byron Harvey

commented on Feb 4, 2009

I don''t agree with your premise, but you''ve done a nice job with the message here, and I found some helpful things in preparing my message on the same text (my take is that Paul is referring to himself, but in the position of attempting to live, as we all do at times, without the power of the Spirit--but God''ll clear this up for ALL of us when we get to Heaven, right?). Thanks again.

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