Summary: The Christian life is a constant struggle to make the right choices.
A. Do you ever struggle with the doing the right thing or making the right decision?
B. Do you ever feel as if you are losing the battle in obedience to God?
C. Do you ever feel guilty because you are still waging this war even though you have been a Christian for a long time?
D. The good news is that the struggle is evidence of our relationship. If it did not bother you to fail God, then you would be following the dictates of that sinful nature inherent from birth, and your actions would be evidence that you have never experienced the new birth.
E. While we might not enjoy the struggle, it does hold benefits for us.
I. The Believer’s Struggle With Sin (vv. 14-17)
A. Was Paul describing his current status or referring to his pre-salvation existence?
1. It would appear Paul’s struggle was a current struggle and not a reference to the time before he trusted Christ.
2. Prior to his trusting Christ there would not have been a struggle.
3. He would have had no inclination or desire to do good for he would have been following the dictates of his sinful nature which would have always taken him toward rebellion against God.
4. Since he had no relationship with God through Christ, this direction would not have bothered him.
5. That the struggle concerns him is evidence that he is speaking of a present state.
6. The same is true for us. If we can sin and it doesn’t bother us then this is evidence of alienation. John deals with this extensively in his epistle (I John).
7. On the other hand, if a struggle ensues when we do something God forbids or when we choose a direction we know is against his will, it is evidence of belong to Christ.
8. At that point, our conscience kicks in-that God instilled mechanism that is part of our human makeup and that his Spirit works through when we choose to disobey.
9. While believers and unbelievers alike have a conscience, and while God’s Spirit works to some degree even in unbelievers, it is not the same work as that in the believer’s life.
10. So if you feel you are in a war zone most days that is good news. It signifies God is working in your life to mold and shape you in his Son’s image.
B. Paul’s perception of God’s law. (v. 14)
1. If the law stirs up our desire to sin, it must be defective.
2. Paul concluded that it wasn’t. Rather, the law is good because it demonstrates what God’s standards are.
3. While it doesn’t give us the power to obey them, it at least shows how far we are missing God’s mark.
4. In fact, the trouble is not with God’s law. He gave it, and in that sense it is perfect.
5. The trouble is with us and the sin nature that resides in us. It is not “the devil made me do it” but “me made me do it.”
6. We cannot pass the buck for sinful actions as Adam and Eve attempted to do. The buck stops with us.
7. “The Buck Stops Here” was a sign placed on President Truman’s desk, and it should be placed on ours as well. We cannot blame anyone else other than ourselves for our sin.
8. James deals with this individual responsibility in his epistle when he writes; “Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires. These evil desires lead to evil actions, and evil actions lead to death.” (1:14-15)
9. When Paul says he is sold into slavery and that sin is his master, this almost appears as if he is speaking of a prior Christ state but further consideration still seems to show he is in the present.
10. This may simply be a reference to the “flesh” which is our old pattern of living learned before Christ and the part that still gives us trouble after Christ.
11. It is the part of us that still wants to rebel and be independent of Christ’s rule and authority in our life.
12. Paul’s struggle is our own. While free from the power and penalty of sin, we still struggle with its presence.
13. Under grace, the law changes position. No longer is it our judge. It is now our guide for right living.
C. The Confusion of the Struggle (vv. 15-16)
1. Paul admits he does not understand himself. Have you ever felt the same way?
2. He wants to do the right thing but instead does the wrong thing.
3. He knows what he is doing is wrong, and the law confirms it, but he does it anyway.
4. His helplessness is attributed to the sin inside him. This is what James is referring to in the above mentioned verses.