If there is one thing that I hear over and over from Christians it is this: “Man, I do love God, but I mess up daily… every time I turn around I am struggling to do what I know is right. I am trying to do good. But I always seem to do the wrong… But thank God for His forgiveness!”
So many Christians find a relatable connection with the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 7:15-25. There, the Apostle talks about the frustration of trying to live a Godly life – but always failing. There is the wanting to do right. But it always ends with doing wrong. His summary of this condition: “Wretched man that I am!” (7:24a)
“Amen, Paul. We hear you,” we agree. And conclude: “See, even the Apostle struggled with living the Christian life. At least we have the hope of the Apostle in our lives, too – even though we are a mess, there is ‘no condemnation for‘ us!” (8:1)
But we are missing the point. We are missing the context of the Apostle’s words (chapters 6 and 7:1-14) – and failing to see the reason behind his triumphant declaration in Romans 8:1.
In Romans 7:15-25 the Apostle talks about being a slave to sin, about wanting to do what is right but never having the ability to do so – and of knowing the truth of God’s law, but possessing no power to keep it. We latch onto these words like they are words to live by (or, at least, they offer us a strange comfort).
But in Romans 6, the Apostle talks about being a slave to God, and of being dead to sin and alive to God, and of having escaped the power and dominion of sin, making this powerful summary statement:
Well, which is it, Paul? Are we slaves to sin (and always going to struggle to do what is right [Romans 7:15-25])… OR are we delivered from the mastery of sin (and able to leave sin behind us and live for God [Romans 6 – 7:14])?
The answer is… Yes.
IF we see ourselves as the same old person, always struggling to try and do what is right (trying to live according to God’s Law, by our own efforts) we will always be a slave to sin. The Law can never deliver us from the power of sin to rule over us.
But IF we turn to Jesus, receive what He has done for us – and realize that we died with Him (Romans 6:6), were raised with Him (6:4), and are now totally connected with Him (6:3) – AND that our righteousness is already accomplished through Him… then, sin has no power to be our master… ever!
I have noticed something deeply seated within our human nature. Because we desire to do right… it is so hard to accept that the right has already been done for us. Jesus has done what we could never do for ourselves (see Romans 8:1-4). But there is this stubborn thing within us that still wants to try – that still thinks we can… and should.
The message of grace is… STOP! Cease the striving to do what we could never do (or else we will always live in Romans 7:15-25) and simply trust completely in the One Who is the Source of all righteousness, for all of our days.
It is our choice. Either live endlessly trying to do what is right (and failing)… OR live IN the One who holds us in His righteousness (living daily in His victory!).
Oh yeah… the reason why “there is therefore now no condemnation” is because we are IN Christ Jesus. IN Him, we are no longer under the Law… we are now under His grace!
Prayer Focus: God, my heart needs to trust in the completed work of Jesus on my behalf. Teach me to know the fullness of resting in Your grace.
I am almost foolish enough to think that you are writing these just for me… maybe ‘wholly’ for me, but certainly not ‘solely’ for me!
Thank you again!