Summary: the frustration of failing in regard to law-keeping leads us to cry out to God and discover the power of the Holy Spirit available for all who trust in Jesus
15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good that I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God –through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Today, I want to give thanks to God for the people who make road signs and put them up. Where would we be without them? Road signs are beautiful things.
I heard that during WWII that a lot of road signs were taken down so that the Germans would get lost if they invaded. The problem was that a lot of English people got lost in the meantime. Road signs are great. They show you where to go. Road signs can also be a bit annoying, especially if you are a man. My dad was a classic case – we would be heading somewhere and someone in the car would suggest stopping to ask the way… no, no, no, I know the way… and then 5 miles later there would be a signpost, cheekily standing there telling us we were heading in completely the wrong direction. It would’ve been great if this clever signpost, that knew the way so much better than we did, had actually got into the car and driven us there, rather than just pointing while we went the other way. But signposts don’t do that; they have no power, they just point.
The story so far in Romans is that Paul has been explaining that ‘The Law of Moses’ never helped Jews become right with God. A relationship with God has never been about works, but about faith (eg. Abraham). Faith in God to do the business - Jesus’ death reversing the sin of Adam. You see, Paul says, being married to ‘the Law of Moses’ just leads to death. But being married to the Spirit, through Christ, brings life and peace, a right relationship with God.
Suddenly a cornerstone of the Jewish faith has been ripped apart by Paul. Being married to ‘the Law’ does not lead to righteousness, but to death! Arrgghh! But just before Paul’s hearers throw their Scriptures (our Old Testament) in the bin; Paul calls them to a halt… don’t be so hasty, let’s look at what we’re saying…
Paul, sits us down with the Jewish and Gentile Christians to show us what the function of the Law of Moses is.
Paul basically says that the Law of Moses is like a signpost. The Law is a signpost pointing to a relationship with God and life. If you want to know the way to life and a relationship with God, this is the pathway. This is the road. Go this way.
But as soon as this signpost is put up, it’s like a big spotlight has come along to shine on sin. The signpost is there clear as day showing up sin, highlighting sin for what it is, total disobedience to God. The Law is a signpost and it shows that the people of God are all heading the wrong way.
With this signpost up, the people of Israel come to experience sin for what it really is. Woah, we are disobeying God!
Just for example, Paul takes the command, “Do not covet!” which is number…?… of the commandments? Paul takes number 10, representing all of them.
“For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘Do not covet.’…”(v.7)