Thanks be to God…
Romans 7:14-25 (Pastor Heo)
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now 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. 21 So I find this law at work: Although 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 me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Conclusion: (v. 25) “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Today is the third time in chapter 7. The whole chapter = the Discussion of the Law.
- Our relationship with the Law (we died to the Law, alive in Christ)
- The Ministries of the Law (what the Law CAN do – there are 4)
- Reveals sin
- Arouses sinful nature
- Displays the sinfulness of sin
- The Inability of the Law (what the Law CANNOT do – 3 points)
The Inability of the Law (3 Points)
#1 Law cannot change us
v. 14 “14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.”
- The Law is holy, came from a Holy God – he is righteous in all he says and does.
- The Law is good, it reveals God’s holiness to us – and helps us to see our absolute need for a Savior.
- The Law is spiritual – it deals with the inner man – as well as the outer actions.
Problem: “I am unspiritual (sinful by nature).”
- The Law’s nature = spiritual
- Our nature = unspiritual (even though we are saved, still we are unspiritual – we have a sinful nature )
- The Old Nature does not know the Law
- The New Nature does not need the Law
The Law cannot transform the Old Nature – it only shows how sinful that Old Nature is. If we try to live under the Law, we will only activate the Old Nature – not eliminate it.
How can we be free from sin and yet continue to do wrong?
“In Christ” – we are FREE from
- the penalty of sin (judgment),
- power of sin (powerlessness),
but NOT FREE from
- the presence and
- possibility of sin.
Under grace, the Law is changed from judgment to guidance – to a character study of the one who shaped us.
Only Jesus died for us on the cross, and only HE can change you and me.
#2. Law cannot enable us to do good
Do you want to do good or evil? Good.
The Law cannot help us to do good.
“15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now 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. 21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.”
Are you confused? “I want to do what I don’t want to do, but I don’t do what I want to do, it’s what I don’t want to do that I do…….”
- Do you always do what you want to do?
- Do you always NOT do what you DON’T want to do?
Paul, personally, confessed, “I do not understand what I do. I do what I DON’T want to do. I DON’T do what I want to do.”
What does this mean? Is he declining into sinfulness? Getting worse and worse? NO. There are 3 points here.
#1: More blessing = more conscious of sin
More we become holy, the more we desire to become holy.
v. 5:20 “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.”
This means, the more we experience the grace of God, the more we become conscious of sin and fighting sin. This is a basic doctrine of Christianity. The more grace/love of God, the more sensitive to sin we are, the more we desire to become holy – and hate/fight sin.
The more blessing we receive, the more blessing we are to give.
- If you own $1000 / month, and give $100 in tithe, this is the correct, acceptable tithe.
- If you earn $1,000,000 and give $1,000 as tithe, even though this is 10x the first amount, this is not the correct amount, it is not a full tithe.
- How’s your suit/clothes? If you wear VERY expensive, wedding dress, etc, maybe you will be VERY careful about your actions and where you sit. You will be very careful to keep it clean. Even one small stain will be outstanding (noticeable).
- But if you wear casual, cheap, loose clothes, you don’t care how to move, where to sit, etc. Even if something stains your clothes, it will not be noticeable and you will not be unhappy.
i.e. “The more holy you are, the more holy you want to be.”
In the Bible, there are certain books written by the apostle Paul.
- 2 Cor = AD 56
- (chp 11:5 “I am not less than any super apostle. I’m not in the least inferior to those.'”)
- Eph = AD 60-61
- (chp 3:8 “I am less than the least of all God’s people.'”)
- 1 Tim = AD 62-63
- (chp 1:15 “I am the worst of all sinners.”)
Look at this transformation.
Is Paul becoming worse and worse? No, the opposite is true.
The more we experience the grace/love of God, the more humble we must become.
In your case? Do you find the same things that you didn’t recognize as sin before you were saved – now you recognize it as sin since you are saved?
After saving, do you find the same things 1-2 years ago, you didn’t think “That’s a sin”, but now you recognize it as sin – then you are becoming more holy.
Paul “If I do not preach, I sin a terrible sin – curse on me.” Personally, he experienced the amazing grace of the gospel – and it changed his whole life completely. Now he cannot be happy without preaching the gospel.
If we experience this same power and grace in our lives, we also cannot be happy without doing this as well.
Samuel confessed (1 Sam 12:23) “As for me, far be it from me, that I should sin be failing to pray for you.” (Not praying for others was a terrible sin – because he experienced the special grace of God in his own life)
The more grace/love of God, the more we become sensitive to sin. May God bless us all with more grace.
#2: Christian life is a struggle
I’m a fighter. Christian life is a struggle in this world.
Q: “Are you dead IN sin, or dead TO sin?”
Be clear about your answer.
What is the difference? (a single two-letter word)
- Dead IN sin (Eph 2:1 “…you were dead in your sins and transgressions…”) – we were children of the devil and slaves of sin – so at that time, we didn’t struggle, fight against sin – we just followed alone
- Dead TO sin = slaves of righteousness, children of God – no more condemnation or penalty or punishment of sin – alive to the consciousness of sin. This means we are fighting, struggling against sin.
- Dead in sin = following sin
- Dead to sin = fighting sin
Eph 5 “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. For our fighting is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world. Therefore, put on the full armor of God so that you can stand your ground when the day of evil comes.”
Paul confessed, near the end, “I have fought the good fight.” (2 Timothy verse 7)
1 Pet 5:8-9 “Be self-controlled and alert because your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist Satan, standing firm in the faith.”
Christ “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have struggles of many kinds, but take heart, for I have overcome the world.”
#3: We have responsibility
Both for our sins and our actions.
v. 17 “17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.”
v. 20 “20 Now 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.”
What is the real meaning of these sentences?
Paul is not giving up / abdicating his responsibility. But, he confesses that his desires and sin fight against each other all the time.
For us as well, because in this world, our redemption is not 100% complete yet. We are still living in the presence and possibility of sin in this world.
- Until under the grace of God, sin possessed me.
- Now still, under the grace of God, I possess sin.
- Before the grace of God, we were responsible for being sinners.
- After we were redeemed, we are still responsible for our sin.
If you fight someone, can you say “I didn’t beat you. This fist beat you.” We must always remember we are responsible for our actions, for our sins.
We must never use the power of sin/Satan as an excuse – because these are defeated enemies. Yes, without Christ’s help, sin/Satan are more powerful than we are, so we would not be able to defend ourselves against Christ’s attacks. So, we should never stand up to sin all alone. Christ is the one who defeated sin ONCE and for all. After that, Jesus promised to fight by our side. So, if we look to Christ for help, we will not have to give in to sin.
But we must always remember that we are responsible for our own actions and sins because Satan is defeated.
- Law cannot change us
- Law cannot enable us to do good
#3. Law cannot set us FREE
Do you want freedom?
v. 22-25 “22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”
It is very clear. The Law cannot give us true freedom. It is only Christ who can set us free. Only Christ can give us real freedom.
“You know the truth and this truth will set you free.”
Gal 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”
Even today, some Christians may say “Yes, salvation by grace of God through Christ, but our sanctification is by OUR actions – service, willpower, etc.” NO! Please remember that – not only our salvation, but also sanctification, growth, final glorification, from FIRST to LAST, all steps – all the course of the Christian life – is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. “Apart from me, you can do NOTHING.” This is applied in ALL areas of the Christian life.
At the same time, the Bible encourages us, “I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13?)
v. 24 “24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?”
Conclusion: v. 25 “25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
- When you look to yourself, there is only powerlessness.
- When you look to Christ, there is sure power, victory, possible through Christ.
Our proclamation: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”