Summary: Series in Romans
Text: Romans 7:14-25
Title: Follow Your Heart
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, in 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, the 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.
I. The Flesh
II. The Heart
III. The Fight
IV. The Focus
The very first thing I want to do today is to give you my secret to sanctification. Do you have your pens ready? It’s not complicated. I think that the secret to sanctification is to do whatever you want. Did you get that? Allow me to repeat it… The secret to successful sanctification is to do whatever you want.
I know that sounds crazy, but I think that’s exactly what Paul teaches us here in the first part of chapter 7. File that thought for a second. We will come back to it later.
The passage we will study today is one of my favorites. It has been historically difficult to understand. But I think if you have the right view of sanctification this passage makes perfect sense. My guess is that Paul’s struggle will resonate with us as we read it. Follow along as I read Romans 7:14-25…
Before we attempt to understand what Paul is talking about we have to get a handle on some of the different views of sanctification. In seminary I took a class on models of sanctification. Different theological systems and denominations have very different understandings of how sanctification takes place.
I have this graph that I made for the class. My original chart had a couple of other theological systems included, but I thought looking at just these four would help us get the picture.
Let me explain my fancy chart. The left column lists four different theological systems, Wesleyan- which would be Methodists and Nazarene churches; Keswick- which isn’t really a denomination, it’s more a teaching that emphasizes that Christ is everything and we are nothing. The Contemplative view- this is more of an experiential and emotional view of sanctification. And then finally the New Covenant view- which, if you know anything about graphs or list, must be the right one because it comes last.
Across the top are some key questions that will help us identify the differences in these views.
The first question is- is there some 2nd religious experience after our initial conversion that brings us closer to sanctification? The Wesleyan and Keswick views say yes. At some point, through disciplines and holy living we can break through the barrier of sin and find freedom. Some on the Wesleyan side even go so far as to say that a person can reach a point in their lives where they no longer sin at all.
The contemplative and New Covenant views don’t believe that there is a second experience. All the tools we need are given to us from day one. There is no greater indwelling or empowering of the Holy Spirit that comes later.
The next question has to do with the nature of the human heart after conversion. Is it still black, is it cleaned up, is it new? The Wesleyan view is that the heart becomes completely clean once a person reaches the right level of holiness. The growth chart for them starts off slow, but once you experience that breakthrough of holiness you jump way up to the level of near sinlessness. That’s why their key concept is entire sanctification. They believe that we can complete the sanctification process here on earth.