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Summary: In this sermon we learn five practical truths about the Christian’s war with sin.

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Scripture

The second half of Romans 7 is one of the most difficult sections in the entire Bible to understand. Last week I drew your attention to Romans 7:14-20. In that section I showed you that Paul is talking of himself as a growing, maturing Christian struggling with sin. In our study today, Paul continues with that same theme.

So, let us read Romans 7:21-25:

"21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin." (Romans 7:21-25)

Introduction

Dr. Ligon Duncan, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, MS, and also a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, tells the story of a famous and godly man who climbed up the steps to the pulpit of a Bible College chapel. He began to preach a sermon in which he promoted to the students the view that Christians ought to live a higher life, a victorious life, in which they got victory over sin, which set them free from conscious sin.

In the course of his sermon, he said to this gathered assembly of students, “I have not sinned in three years.”

In the group of the people attending that particular chapel were two young students. They had just been married for about a year. They had met at the Bible College. They were both committed to the Lord. They both wanted to go into missions. Both of them had come to that desire before they ever met one another.

But like many Christians, they were struggling with sin—sin from their past, sin that was impacting their relationship and giving them enormous struggles.

As they sat there and heard this man say that he had not sinned in three years, they heard him go on to say this, “And if you’re still struggling with sin, it is because you don’t have enough faith. If you only had enough faith, you would have victory over sin, and you could live the higher life, the blessed life, and experience perfect love.”

They asked some friends who heard the same message, “Have you experienced this higher life? Have you found victory over sin?”

“Oh, yes,” they were assured by their friends around them.

So they began to wonder, “Is there something wrong with us? Are we the only people struggling on this mundane plane with sin? Have we failed to achieve the higher life—just because of a lack of faith?”

That is the impression they got from the preacher and from their classmates.

After Bible College, the couple went to Reformed Theological Seminary under enormous emotional and psychological pressure from the sense that they were somehow failing God, because they were continuing to struggle with sin in their lives.

While at Seminary, however, they were greatly relieved to find that the teaching they had heard was not in accord with the Scriptures, and that the Scriptures’ teaching actually liberated them from their false guilt in order to deal with the real guilt with which they needed to deal.


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Talk about it...

Darrell Howard

commented on Jun 30, 2008

It seems to me that taking Romans 7:15 - 7:25 as a struggle that Paul was currently experencing as he wrote it is out of context. Note verse 7:13 which starts the particular passage... it is in past tense and the argument continues... Plus, this particular dialog is sandwiched in between Romans 6 and 8 which Paul clearly emphasizes that life is free from sin by being in the Spirit... I'm not disagreeing with the point of your sermon that we are free from sin even as we sometimes struggle... but Paul's message even though in first person... is a message about man's struggle with the law and sin as he tries to handle it on his own... You are made alive in the Spririt which I believe Paul continually experienced.

Mark Fowler

commented on Jul 25, 2014

If everything that Paul says in verses 1-23 is past experience before coming to Christ then the conclusion he comes up with after giving his answer at the end of verse 25 still supports the idea that we struggle with two natures as Christians. We are capable of choosing to follow the Law of God with our minds but if we follow the flesh we serve the Law of Sin. In verses 1-23, it seems as if Paul is showing that before Christ we were captive to Sin; in bondage to it with no recourse. However, now we are no longer captive to it or bound to it against our wills. In Christ we have an alternative but it still suggests that we are capable of choosing to follow the flesh. So there is still an ongoing battle but it is winnable because of Jesus, where before it was not. We were without hope. Those who are in Jesus walk or practice a life serving the Law of God and there is no condemnation. For those whose life is marked by living for their fleshly and sinful desires, that is another case.

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