Summary: My attempt at explaining Romans 7:21-25!
Winning the Struggle
In the Wesleyan Church, we have what I believe to be a healthy emphasis on what we call holy living.
We feel that the Bible’s commands regarding a Christian lifestyle are valid, and are pleasing to God. And so we discuss these, believing that God knew what He was talking about.
However, I do have some brothers and sisters in Christ who feel that such talk amounts to legalism, and that we should focus more on the freedom we have in Christ.
And I agree to a point. We are free in Christ, and that’s a wonderful thing. But we also need to be careful that in our desire to live lives of freedom that we don’t ignore or minimize the need for holy living.
Holy living is not easy – it’s a struggle. And it’s a struggle that the apostle Paul knew intimately.
He describes it in our passage for today, and I hope that as we read this, and work our way through it, that you will find not only that Paul relates to the everyday struggles of followers of Christ, but that there is hope in the midst of that struggle.
What do we do when we are faced with temptation, particularly if it’s a temptation in an area that maybe was a huge temptation for us before we came to Christ? Maybe it had such a grip on you that it was a defining characteristic of who you were.
You were an alcoholic and now find yourself tempted to go back to that lifestyle. Or maybe it’s pornography, and you find yourself struggling against those old temptations.
Well let tell you, you’re not alone. Believers can struggle with these things and it’s not always easy, let me tell you.
But I also want to tell you that there is hope. And I think we can find it here in our passage this morning.
So please read this aloud with me, okay?
RO 7:21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but 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. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!
I want to suggest three steps you can take to win the struggle that wages in the lives of those who desire to follow Christ wholeheartedly.
I think you’ll find this practical and down-to-earth, and that you’ll be able to walk out of here today with something you can use right now.
The first step in winning the struggle against sin is to…
Recognize the struggle.
Look back at verse 21 –
When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.
Verses 23-24 also bring it out –
…but 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. 24 What a wretched man I am!
You really want to win the struggle? Let me give you a small piece of advice: quit kidding yourself about the struggle. Too many people either think they’ve got it all together, or they think they need to put up some front out of fear they’ll be looked down on.
Look, even the apostle Paul struggled. I want you to notice something here. Paul uses the present tense in his words.
He doesn’t say, “When I wanted to do good, evil was right there with me.” No, he uses the word “want” instead of “wanted,” and “is,” instead of “was.”
What a wretched man I am!
Some feel that this is Paul describing his life before he came to faith in Christ and the before he came to the point where he turned his life fully over to Christ so he could receive the filling of the Holy Spirit, empowering him to no longer struggle with sin.
And while I think there is some merit to that, I’m not entirely convinced this is the case.
Besides, I have yet to find the honest Christian who hasn’t faced this struggle at times, even after following Christ and being Spirit-filled for many years.
Is it possible? Sure! And maybe there are some. But can anyone honestly tell me that the struggle against the sinful nature died completely when you invited the Spirit to fill you completely?
Folks, it’s a struggle. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, but it can be a struggle.