Romans 7:7 – 25
September 9, 2001
I. Introduction: What are The Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Heavenly Virtues? Quiz the audience. (On overhead or PowerPoint place the answers)
“From the website www.deadlysins.com here they are!”
- Seven Deadly Sins:
- Seven Heavenly Virtues:
1.Faith – trust.
2. Hope – reliance
3. Charity – mercy
4. Fortitude – courage
5. Justice – fairness
6. Temperance – restraint
7. Prudence – thoughtfulness
Question: As you look at these lists, which sin(s) do you struggle with the most? And which virtue(s), do you wish you consistently practiced in your life?
Transition: Ronald Reagan is quoted as saying that “middle age is when you have two temptations and you choose the one that will get you home by nine.” What would make want to you stay out till nine?
In 1982, Leadership, a journal for pastors and church leaders, published an article entitled, “The War Within: An Anatomy of Lust.” It was the story of an unnamed church leader and his battle with lust.
In telling his story he made this statement “I tell my struggles because they are real, but also to demonstrate that hope exists, that God is alive, and his grace can interrupt the terrible cycle of lust and despair. My primary message is one of hope, although until healing did occur, I had no faith that it ever would.
Scores, maybe hundreds of times I had prayed for deliverance, with no response. The theologians would find some fault in my prayers, or in the faith with which I prayed them. But can any person assume the awful right to judge the prayers of another who writhes in mental torment and an agony of helpless unspirituality? I would certainly never assume the right, not after a decade—long war against lust.”
There is an inner battle that rages within every single human being – a battle to do what is right verses what is wrong and this struggle is highlighted in our study of Romans this morning as we look at chapter 7. Paul’s honest admission of his struggle with sin – of any kind – is one that we all must do because all of us struggle with sin.
II. We struggle with sin as we become aware of right and wrong – Romans 7:9
Paul says in verse 9, “I felt fine when I did not understand what the law demanded. But when I learned the truth, I realized I had broken the law and was a sinner, doomed to die.”
- What did the law demand? In a word, perfection. Absolute perfection. As Paul says in verse 7, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would have never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”
- The truth that Paul learned as described in verse 7 made him aware of the reality of sin – of imperfection in his life – that took advantage of the Law and as we read in verse 8 “aroused all kinds of forbidden desires within me!”
- This awareness made Paul aware of the large and profound struggle that there is a battle raging within him – the battle between doing what is right and doing what is wrong. A battle that all of us face!
Transition: Remember Flip Wilson’s famous line, “The devil made me do it?” Paul says something different. “Sin made me do it!”
III. We struggle with Sin – a powerful, all encompassing spiritual force. Romans 7:22-23
- What is sin?
1. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, sin is defined as an offense esp. against God 2: fault 3: a weakened state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God.
2. In their Introduction To Christian Theology, Wiley and Culbertson say this about sin: Theologians have defined sin in various ways, but rarely is the fact overlooked that sin exists both as an act and as a state or condition.
3. Paul addresses both aspects of sin in this passage of Romans. He speaks of doing what he does not want to do and of the inner turmoil that he is aware of his heart, mind, and soul that speak to the state of his life.
4. Sin is a reality of life.
- Notice Paul’s statements regarding the power of sin in his life in verses 14 – 23.
- Vs. 14 – The trouble is not with the law but with me, because I am sold into slavery, with sin as my master.
- Vs. 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.
- Vs. 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.
- Vs. 21 – It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.
- Vs. 22/23 – I love God’s law with all my heart. But 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.
- Vs. 24 – Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?
- How would you describe Paul at this point? Can you relate to him? Have you felt the way Paul is feeling in this passage?
- Let me point this out – this is Paul talking. And he is talking several years after his conversion experience. He is not a new follower of God. He has been a follower of God for many years now. He is a mature Christian and he is admitting that the struggle to be a pure follower of Christ is still there.
Let me also point this out – chapter 7 does not end with verse 24 does it? IT ENDS WITH VERSE 25!!!
IV. Because of what Jesus Christ did – we are not left to flounder. Sin does not have to have the last word. Romans 7:25
THANK GOD! THE ANSWER IS IN JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD. SO YOU SEE HOW IT IS: IN MY MIND I REALLY WANT TO OBEY GOD’S LAW, BUT BECAUSE OF MY SINFUL NATURE I AM A SLAVE TO SIN.
A. Paul informs both the Roman believers and us of two things:
- Through and because of Jesus Christ that we can be freed from a life that is dominated/controlled/directed what ever you want to call it, by sin.
- We will still struggle because of our sinful nature.
B. Which statement is true?
- It is not possible to sin.
- It is possible not to sin.
Statement number 2 is correct. It is possible not to sin. We can resist temptation and not sin. But, until the day Christ returns or we die and go to the presence of God, the possibility of sin will always be present in our lives.
V. Conclusion: So what does this mean? How do we begin to win and keep winning the war within? Two important ways came to mind during the Promise Keepers gathering in Indianapolis this past Friday and Saturday.
- Dr. Joe Stovall, president of Moody Bible Institute spoke on the work of the Holy Spirit. As part of his comments he quoted Galatians 5:17 – 18, “The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just the opposite of from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from conflict. But when you are directed by the Holy Spirit, you are no longer subject to the law.” So we need to admit that we are engaged in a battle that is always just around the corner.
- Then in the program booklet that we received as we entered the field house on Friday night I noticed a tract that made the following statements:
- “Give up your ‘I can fix it myself’ isolation”
- “Confess your sin and admit your temptations and weaknesses. Ask God to forgive you, and then empower you.”
- “Set your sights on God’s standards. Get into a relationship with God and an accountable relationship with other Christians to study and live God’s word.
- In other words, if we want to gain the upper hand in our struggle to do what is right, if we want to win the war that is within, then we have to make a decision to end our isolation and seek help from God, be honest about our struggles and temptations, and find at least one other Christian that we can be honest with about what really goes on inside of us. Why? Because it breaks down the wall that denial and shame raises and keeps us from having the inner victory to win the war that is within us.
I Corinthians 12:26 “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.” Paul is talking about the church, the Body of Christ. And one of the ways that the body suffers is when its members suffer in silence about their struggle with sin. My challenge today is two-fold: 1. That we will go to God in prayer for one another at a new level of support and intercession so that we can be free from the burden of sin! 2. That we will ask God to help us have the honesty and desire to no longer be a slave to sin. Amen.