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Summary: Why do we do what we don't want to do? Etc, etc. In this message we look at the why and how of the sinful nature

Wow that was depressing. I would have expected more from Paul, but this just sounds like whining. I half expected him to check himself into a rehab centre by the time I got to the end of this section.

But at some time in our Christian life most of us could probably identify with what Paul is saying, we want to do good things and we don’t want to do bad things, but that isn’t the way it always ends up. It seems like it is a constant struggle and we end up berating ourselves for blowing it yet again.

Really, wouldn’t it be great if it was as easy to do the right thing as it was to know the right thing to do? And wouldn’t it be great if it was as easy to the do the right thing as it was to resolve to do the right thing?

I’m not going to ask for a show of hands but how many of you have experienced this struggle in your Christian life? You do something, and then you hate yourself because you did it? Kind of feel like that old Roger Miller song that said “Dang me, dang me they oughta take a rope and hang me.” In each verse of the song he talks about the rotten things he does and in the chorus he talks about how sorry he is for what he did, but he keeps on doing them in the next verse.

Different people take different views of this scripture, some take the view that Paul was writing about his present situation and that he is describing a flawed Christian experience, something that he struggled with on a daily basis. I don’t take that view.

Instead I like what Adam Clarke wrote about this passage of scripture almost 200 years ago. “It is difficult to conceive how the opinion could have crept into the Church, or prevailed there, that "the apostle speaks here of his regenerate state; and that what was, in such a state, true of himself, must be true of all others in the same state." This opinion has, most pitifully and most shamefully, not only lowered the standard of Christianity, but destroyed its influence and disgraced its character.”

Others like Clark challenge that assumption, saying that Chapter 7 finishes with the distress of the sinner and that chapter 8 begins with the joy of the saved. That Paul was talking about the past, what he had been like before meeting Jesus or early in his Christian walk.

That it is not just the turning of a page but the turning of a life. It is the description of a man struggling to live under the law of Moses and then the victory of the man who has discovered the grace of God described throughout the first part of this letter. And that of course would be reflected in what Paul wrote to the church in Corinth: 2 Corinthians 5:17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

And so to properly understand the struggle that Paul describes in these verses we need to understand that Paul’s thought line does not end at the conclusion of Chapter 7. Chapters and verses are arbitrary division put in by men to make it easier to find specific points in the scripture.

So instead of drawing our conclusions at the end of chapter 7, we need to read on into Romans 8:1-2 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. In other words, that is what was and this is what is, that was old this is new. Paul has spent the previous chapter talking about sin having control over his life and over the decision he makes and then he dismisses the entire previous 25 verses by stating “the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” I wish he had added though, “If you choose to let it.”

Reminds me of a story of two older men who were talking about this very subject, doing the right things or doing the wrong things. And one of them says “It’s like there are two horses pulling on me, and one is pulling me to do good and the other one is pulling me to do evil”

His friend asked: “and which one wins?” to which the first one replied “Whichever one I say giddy up to.”

And you know that you’ve been there yourself and you’ve had to decide: which one do I want to win? Which horse do I encourage? And that problem is at that stage is we make two mistakes.

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