Ephesians 2:1-3 — “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
TEXT: Romans 7:14-25
MESSAGE: “Our Inward Struggle”
“The ultimate question of human nature: Why do we repeatedly violate our most deeply held values and beliefs? For all our therapies, resolutions, self-help programs, and the vast religious and ethical literature available to men and women today, we return again and again to the same limiting and predictable behaviors, vowing to do better “next time.” — Jacob Needleman “Why Can’t We Be Good?”
Three lessons on why we struggle within from this text…
- The Gap Between (v. 14-16)
14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
– Romans 1:20-21
“Is no one any longer guilty of anything? Guilty perhaps of a sin that could be repented of or atoned for?…Anxiety and depression we all acknowledge, and even vague guilt feelings; but has no one committed any sins? Where, indeed, did sin go? What became of it? “I believe there is ‘sin’ which is expressed in ways which cannot be subsumed under verbal artifacts such as ‘crime,’ ‘disease,’ ‘delinquency,’ ‘deviancy.’ There IS immorality; there IS unethical behavior; there IS wrongdoing. And I hope to show that there is usefulness in retaining the concept, and indeed the word, SIN…” – Karl Menninger
- The Enemy Within (v. 18; 22-23)
“18 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…22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 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.”
“His (Paul) point is that the Jew under the law, and by expression, other non-Christians, do have a genuine striving after the right, as defined by God. But this striving after the right, because of the unbroken power of sin, can never so ‘take over’ the mind and will that it can effectively and consistently direct the body to do what is good.” – Douglas Moo
- The Already, Not Yet (v. 24-25)
“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 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.”
John Newton wrote to a man who was discouraged because he couldn’t get past his sin: “You say, you find it hard to believe it [is] compatible with the divine purity to embrace or employ such a monster as yourself…We have little to rejoice in ourselves, but we have right and reason to rejoice in him.” – John Newton
TAKEAWAYS: How do we overcome our inward struggle? Let me ask three questions…
- Are you struggling?
- Do you know how to fight?
“Either this book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book.” – John Bunyan (Written in the cover of his bible)
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
– Hebrews 4:12
“…sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” – Genesis 4:7
* Have you trusted God to kill sin in your life?
Romans 8:13 — “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
“Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” — John Owen