Romans 7. Only Through Jesus Can We Make Sense of the Contradictions of Life.

Earlier this year, we took a journey together through the Old Testament book of  Isaiah. Paul, as a learned rabbi and the author of the letter to the church at Rome, quoted regularly from the Prophet. So, let’s take the next few weeks together to look at the New Testament book of Romans.

Romans 7:1-6

This is a bit of a confusing, yet at the same time, encouraging passage. Paul is talking about the law and using the example of marriage and remarriage after a spouse dies. I found some clarity in The Passion Translation.

Verses 5-6:

When we were merely living natural lives, the law, through defining sin, actually awakened sinful desires within us, which resulted in bearing the fruit of death. But now that we have been fully released from the power of the law, we are dead to what once controlled us. And our lives are no longer motivated by the obsolete way of following the written code, so that now we may serve God by living in the freshness of a new life in the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 7:5‭-‬6, TPT).

We are dead to what once controlled us! We are free to live and serve God in a new way, in the freshness of a new life in the power of the Holy Spirit!

That’s a freeing picture! Go find a fresh breath of God today as you worship Him!

 

Romans 7:7-25.

As a youth pastor back in the day, I referred to this as the Frank Sinatra passage… “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good..” Do be do be do… (Romans 7:15-16, NIV).

Again, The Passion Translation is helpful here:

“I don’t understand my own behavior — I don’t do what I want to do; instead, I do the very thing I hate! Now if I am doing what I don’t want to do, I am agreeing that the Torah is good. But now it is no longer “the real me” doing it, but the sin housed inside me. For I know that there is nothing good housed inside me — that is, inside my old nature. I can want what is good, but I can’t do it!” (Romans 7:15-18, TPT).

We all struggle with behaviors that we know are not healthy. It’s not just the addict. It is the Human Condition. Paul is saying a life not controlled by the Spirit, is a life controlled by sin. The struggle is real. And the reality is what Paul says later in Ephesians, that our fights are not against flesh and blood and the people with whom we love. Our struggles are against the ruler of the air, who wants to take us all down (see Ephesians 6:12).

I can relate to how Paul feels when his actions fail to match his heart’s desire: “What a miserable person I am. Who will rescue me from this body that is doomed to die? Thank God! Jesus Christ will rescue me.” (Romans 7:24-25, CEV).

 


We are free to live and serve God in a new way, in the freshness of a new life in the power of the Holy Spirit!

It is only through Jesus that we can begin to make sense of this life of contradictions… this life where we want to serve Jesus with all our heart, and yet our human nature gets in the way. We are distracted. We are selfish. We are lazy. We are greedy. We let our guard down. And at the same time, we can be giving and loving and serving and caring. We have especially seen during this season that there are so many things in our life that we cannot control.

Yet, Jesus… Let’s go back to the beginning of Chapter 7. There is a fresh life for those who embrace the power of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, whom Jesus gives to us freely.

This sets the stage for what many believe is the greatest chapter in all of scripture: Romans 8. Paul outlines the full measure and assurance of the grace of Jesus! “There is, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Jesus!” (Romans 8:1, NIV).

We get to embrace that beautiful truth together tomorrow.

 

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.
RichlySpeaking.com.

 

Romans 3, Part 2. We are Sinners, But God!

Earlier this year, we took a journey together through the Old Testament book of  Isaiah. Paul, as a learned rabbi and the author of the letter to the church at Rome, quoted regularly from the Prophet. So, let’s take the next few weeks together to look at the New Testament book of Romans.

Romans, Chapter 3 introduces us to the beginning of the so-called Romans Road. Paul takes the reader through several stops and outlines the basic plan of salvation. It begins with the definition of the human condition — we are all sinners — and leads us to God’s plan for our salvation through Jesus, the Messiah.

Paul first quotes from the Psalmist, who imagines God looking down from heaven upon mankind: “All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Psalms 14:3, NIV).

In his own words, the Apostle says it this way: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23, NIV).


Jesus freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins.

On the journey of this pathway to heaven, every single one of us must ultimately make this confession: We are sinners. The word “sin” means to miss the mark, like an archer who’s arrow falls woefully nowhere near his intended target. There is no way that any of us can be as holy as God is holy. Paul is not pointing fingers at other people’s behavior either, for he says about himself in the letter to his pupil Timothy: “Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof—Public Sinner Number One—of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy.” (1 Timothy 1:15, MSG).

Our first stop on the Romans Road is your problem and my problem too! We are human beings, created in God’s image, but we are not divine. We will never become God. There is nothing we can do to earn our way into His presence. Yet He is fair; He gives us all a choice: “God treats everyone alike. He accepts people only because they have faith in Jesus Christ. All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, he freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins.” (Romans 3:22‭-‬24, CEV).

We are sinners… But God! Jesus welcomes us all! He sets things right for us. It’s a pure gift, which is undeserved since we are all sinners. But thanks be to God and His grace! HE sets things right! Always! And, indeed, we can be so very thankful! And humbled that He loves us.

“God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear.” (Romans 3:25, MSG).

Yesterday we talked about “dialing in” to God’s frequency; turning our hearts and ears to intentionally listen to Him and His ways for our lives. Like a child who must crawl before he walks and walk before he runs, it begins with this first step. We must admit to God that even our best actions are flawed. As humans we are sinners.

So does this mean we are free to not “do right?”  Paul asks and answers this same question: “Does emphasizing our faith invalidate the law? Absolutely not. Instead, our faith establishes the role the law should rightfully have.” (Romans 3:21, TPT).

Some may ask, why? Why is it that none of our best attempts to follow God’s decrees are good enough for God? I believe it’s because it sets Jesus apart for who He is… 100% man and 100% God. He is the only one who never sinned. So, it is only through the recognition of His sacrifice, only through Jesus that we are truly free.

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.