Summary: This sermon illustrates the ongoing struggle Christian's have with the flesh
Romans 7:14-25 – The War Within
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.
For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.
Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 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.
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
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.
On the outset, let me say that this passage of scripture is a very difficult one to preach. It’s “difficult” because scholars are divided as to WHO this passage is describing: whether it is talking about
Paul’s OWN struggle with sin; OR, if it is describing the experience of a LOST person.
IF it describes PAUL, then we find him struggling to do what is right, OFTEN falling short of his AND the Lord’s expectations.
We can relate with that struggle, can’t we?
As a believer, I KNOW what I SHOULD do, and in my HEART I always want to honor the Lord, but my flesh constantly challenges my desire for what is right. So I find myself struggling between what I SHOULD do and what I WANT TO do.
If this describing the lost man, we can understand THAT too… though created in the image of God and able to recognize the excellent benefits of living in obedience to God, he finds himself frustrated time and time again – that – even at his very BEST – he will NEVER measure up to God’s perfect standard.
BOTH are very good interpretations of the experience Paul describes in Romans 7.
Regardless WHICH view you hold, whether you believe that
Paul is describing how the Christian struggles with SIN - OR -
how the lost man struggles with the LAW,
there are truths here that we can gleen from EITHER view.
There are three important subjects in this text:
1. FIRST, we learn about the Nature of Man.
Regardless what you have been led to believe by modern psychologists, man isn't basically good… no, far from it. We are fundamentally, inherently SINFUL. At our core… we are depraved. We are born in a fallen state and when we come of age, we CHOOSE to sin.
We generally associate the word ‘depravity’ with the worst possible forms of sin: murderers, rapists, pedophiles – these people we often call “depraved”
But THAT isn’t the definition of “depravity.” When we say that man is “depraved” we mean that not only is he sinful... he can do nothing, in and of himself, to improve his status with God. He is born in sin and all that he IS and DOES is infected by his sin nature. There is absolutely NOTHING that a man can do to EARN God’s favor.
It was not so in the beginning. When God first made Adam, he was perfect in his creation – nothing prevented him from walking with God or enjoying His fellowship. Before sin, Adam was able to relate perfectly with His Creator – in fact, he was created in such a way that it was natural for him to fellowship with God.
Genesis explains that man was created “in God’s image.” This doesn’t mean PHYSICAL likeness, but that he was created a rational, emotional, and spiritual being – just like God.
When God created man, he was given a Free Will – though influenced by God to choose RIGHT, God still gave Adam the ability to choose WRONG. Without freedom of will, man would have been little more than a robot – a machine. But God desired the love of a creature that was not FORCED to love in return – the affections of another that came from its free choice.