I am in the process of listening to a sermon by Kim Riddlebarger. The text is Romans 7:14-25
"For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 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.
Paul writes of this struggle with sin as being very intense; speaking of evil almost as though it's a power or force that takes hold of him, making him prisoner - even though (in his heart) he loves the Law of God.
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
There are a couple of different ways that this short passage can be interpreted:
I can truly and genuinely relate to Paul as I read this passage. I can relate in my own struggles - that Paul, an apostle, struggled with sin can be a great relief! When I want to do right - the harder I try, the more I seem to fail. There are things that are so tempting!
Or I can see it as a warning; if I am experiencing this sort of struggle, I need to move on to the "victorious life" that Paul will describe in chapter 8. To read it this way is frustrating. If even Paul struggles - how much more so I? If Paul, an apostle, has these "issues" - how hard am I going to have to work at being "good"?
How I interpret this passage will affect how I live my life. It will affect how I view justification, sanctification, my expectations of the Christian life and how I choose to live it. It will affect the preaching and teaching that I hear in my church, how I deal with my own conscience, and even how I pray.
How I look at these few verses has a very real impact on My life as a Christian.
Is Paul writing about his present experience?
Or is he writing about that period in his life before he because a Christian?
Or is he even describing somebody else? ...continue reading