Romans 7:14 - "The law is good, then. The trouble is not with the law but with me, because I am sold into slavery, with sin as my master." - Paul has outlined how sin is defined, revealed, and comes alive through God's law. Without the law we would not recognize that our sins exist. This, however, does not make the law bad. It, instead, reveals how far we are dwelling from the holiness God has planned for our lives.
Key Verses: (NLT)
15: "I don't understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate." - This is the human struggle. As we develop an understanding of what holy living looks like we also begin to see how often we fail at living the holy lives we are destined to live.
18: "I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I can't make myself do right. I want to, but I can't." - We are used to being able to fix things in our lives. We are controlling and manipulative. However, when it comes to sin we discover that we cannot fix things by ourselves.
22-23: "I love God's law with all my heart. 23But there is another law at work within me that is at war with my mind. This law wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me." - This battle over sin is not unique with Paul. The demons he faced are the same demons that try to gain rule over all of our lives.
24-25a: "Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? 25Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord." - There is hope. In fact, victory is guaranteed. Points to Contemplate:
Do you understand yourself?
Do you know what makes you tick? Are you in control of every thought that passes through your mind or every word that crosses your lips? Do you fully understand what it means to live a holy life but still find yourself, more often than not, living on the outside looking in? Do you lose your temper and chastise yourself for losing control? Have you dedicated yourself in love to another but still have a wandering eye and a lustful heart? Do you strive to serve others but always find yourself focused on your own needs? Does your list of shortcomings seem longer than your list of Christ-like traits?
Why can't you gain control? You are now a Christian. Shouldn't things be different? Shouldn't you be able to do what is right and avoid doing what is wrong? As you look to the "good" Christians around you, do you feel that there is something wrong with you? Does it appear that everyone else is better at being good than you are? Are you broken and beyond repair? Do you feel "rotten through and through?" Is your case hopeless?
Are you a miserable person? Do you wonder if you will ever be free from the bondage of sin that controls your life? Do you get depressed as you learn that everyone, even St. Paul, has similar struggles? If there is nothing you can do to win the battle, why bother? Why not give in and let sin rule your life? Do you see that without Jesus Christ, this would be your only choice? Do you accept that it is only through Christ's love for you that there is any glimmer of hope at all? Promises of the Gospel:
Christians are supposed to be good people. The standards have been set and everyone, Christians and non-Christians alike, has a working understanding of what holiness means. We know how we are supposed to act. The problem is, simply put, we don’t act the way we should. Eventually, each of us, like Paul, will come to the realization that no matter how hard we try we are going to fall short of the "holiness" standard that God expects from us. With this realization comes despair and hopelessness. We have become Christians and yet, we are still broken. The sin that brought us to Christ is still prevalent in our lives. It is a daily battle - a battle that we are losing. So what can we do to gain control over lust and desires; over anger and selfishness? Is there no hope? Should we simply accept our miserable fate and become slaves to our sinful nature? "Who will free (us) from this life that is dominated by sin? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord."