Summary: the struggles of life
Romans 7:18, 19
The struggle within
Introduction: We learn that this is Paul writing to the Christians in Rome and believers everywhere for the purpose to introduce Paul to the Romans and to give a sample of his message before he arrives in Rome.
The same wind that will blow on your back on your way to hell will blow in your face on your way to heaven. After the initial euphoria of being saved and accepted into the family of Christ, you find yourself assailed by thoughts and forces you thought were no longer part of your life. This can throw you, because you’re not yet grounded in God’s Word. You’re discovering that your new birth didn’t do away with your old nature; it just brought it into sharp contrast.
Listen to Paul: (Read Rom 7:15-21). Sound familiar?
1. When we believe on the Lord Jesus, he enters our hearts and lives in us
a. Through faith we are declared righteous by God (Rom. 5:1) and accepted as his children (John 1:12).
b. Through faith we are cleansed by the blood of Christ (Rom. 5:9; 1:9) and changed in our inner selves as well as in our outward standing with God. As such, we are transformed from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light (Acts 26:18; Col.1:13; 1 Thess. 5:4, 5; 1 Pet. 2:9; 1 John 1:6). This reconciliation (Rom. 5:11), transforms our former enmity with God, into friendship (Rom. 5:10).
2. But the believer continues to live in the same human body and struggles with sin
a. We are mortal and therefore, subject to physical decay and death. Because we are in the body, we are called (Rom. 7:14, “fleshly, corpulent, and made of flesh”). This present composition of our earthly personality we cannot help. Christ is also our mortal body, however (Rom. 8:11; 2 Cor. 4:11), and the time will one day come when our flesh will be redeemed (Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor 15:53, 54).
b. We may either let our bodies control our spirit or vice-versa. In 1 Corinthians 3:1, Paul calls the Corinthians believers “carnal,” as contrasted to mature, spirit-controlled believers. A carnal Christian is one who allows his natural body to pull him down rather than permitting his redeemed spirit to lift him up. This state is to be distinguished from that of the unbeliever, who has a mind-set after the flesh (Rom. 8:55-9, 12, and 13). Through faith the believer is crucified with Christ and his flesh no longer has preeminence in his life (Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20). The dedicated believer continues to put down his old nature, which is a continuous struggle for the rest of his life. It is this battle which Paul describes in Roman 7:14-25.
c. Furthermore, we as believers must also contend with an unredeemed environment (Rom. 8:20-22).
3. The believer does not continually sin willfully
a. “For that which I do, I allow not; for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I” (Rom. 7:15). A believer cannot love the evil that he does. What he hates, he will cease to do. Conversely, he cannot have the mind-set of the flesh and be willfully obedient to the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:7).
b. “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me: (Rom. 7:17). This “I refer to the new man that the believer receives in Christ Jesus along with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and this new spiritual creation desires no sin and does no sin, but is the renewed image of God. This contrasts with and is in conflict with the fleshly part of the believer who is pulled toward sin and continues in sin (Rom. 7:18-21).
4. Victory, however, is possible at all times
a. The battle describes in Romans 7 closes on a triumphant note: “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God [I do what God expects of me]; but with the flesh the law of sin” (Rom. 7:25). I do not serve the law of sin; only the unredeemed flesh in which I dwell serves the law of son.
b. The final victory of the Christians life is then described in Romans 8:37, “Nay, in all things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” This is the only place in the New Testament where the verb “to be more than conqueror,” occurs. Through the power of the indwelling Spirit we can defeat that subtle enemy of our souls.
When Rebekah the wife of Issac prayed, God answered and she conceived twin boys, Jacob and Esau. But they struggled with one another in her womb causing her distress. So she enquired of the Lord, “Why… am I this way?” (Gen 25:22 NAS). God answered, “Two nations are in your womb… one people shall be stronger than the other; and the older shall serve the younger” (Gen 25:23 NAS). There’s a lesson here for you: even though God has redeemed you and made you His child, you still have (2) natures within you wrestling for control. What’s the answer? The oldest (your flesh) must submit to the youngest (your new nature). Who will win? The one you feed, protect, and develop most!