A Winnable War
Read This Week: Romans 7
Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 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. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! – Romans 7:21-25 NIV
As we genuinely attempt to follow Christ, do good, and be faithful to God’s Word, we sometimes forget that in the middle of this pursuit is a warring agent that wants to knock us off-kilter and destroy us. We sometimes lose sight of the fact that we’re in a struggle of such magnitude that it is described as a war in the Bible.
Romans 7 begins with Paul building off of his assertions in chapter 6 that we’ve been rescued from God’s judgment and are no longer under the law that leads to sin and death. He writes in verse 6, Now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit.
This section indicates that we used to be controlled and governed by our rebellious hearts. We were dominated by our natural sin that leads to death. But through salvation in Christ, we have died to the power of sin and are delivered from the law to follow God by the power of the Holy Spirit. We no longer serve ourselves according to our sinful nature, but, in His grace, we serve the Lord Jesus. However, Paul points out that there is still tension between the sinful flesh and the Spirit that lives in our hearts:
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. I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 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.
He says we have the desire to do what is good and right, but it is often difficult to do so. Difficult because of the conflict between our inner being that has been captured by God, and our flesh that wants to sin and do evil. Paul goes on to describe this conflict as a war waging against the law of our minds and trying to make us prisoners of the law of sin. While we are under the power and influence of grace and the Holy Spirit, we live in this fallen world and our flesh wants desperately to sin. It is a war.
But, there is good news – the war is winnable. In fact, the war has been won. As Christians, we know that our hearts and lives have been transformed by faith in Jesus, and we have been rescued (v.24), set free from the law and sin. And although we constantly struggle with what we want to do and what we should do, Christ has given us power and relief from that struggle. He has given us the ability to win the war; the power to do what is good and honors God while fighting off the desire to do the opposite.
This chapter ends with Paul’s joyous battle cry of victory: Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Jesus neutralized and ultimately destroyed evil through His death, burial, and resurrection. He gives us victory over our flesh and empowers us to be successful amid the reality of our fallenness. With him on our side, we cannot lose.
Romans 7:6 says, “The law used to control us. But now we are free. It is as if we died in relation to the law. So we can serve God in the new way of the *Holy Spirit. We do not serve in the old way of the *written law now.
God is sharing this with you and me, “I Am with you. I have set you free. I have to give you my Holy Spirit to be your friend, to help you, guide you in a new way to serve, to grow in My ways because it’s always going to produce good for you and for those around you. The goal of your new life with Me is to learn to replace bad habits with good habits. Be encouraged because I Am with you to help you and guide you in the right direction because I love you.”
What this means to me is that God sent Jesus here to set us free from the old way of living. He was a good example, to help us to live a good life while we’re here. He gave us His Holy Spirit so we can learn how to choose the right way of living over the ways that are not good for us. Thank you, God, for your love. We are blessed with his Holy Spirit.
This is a great word, Heidi. It is so encouraging and freeing to have the truth of God’s power through His Holy Spirit reflected but to also know that power is there to shape, teach and guide us as we do life every day. I also love how you included the benefit of God’s work in our lives to those around us:
I gave you my Holy Spirit to be your friend, to help you, guide you in a new way to serve, to grow in My ways because it’s always going to produce good for you and for those around you.
As we are made new in Christ and walk in His ways, sometimes we forget that not only benefits and blesses us but everyone in our lives. They are beneficiaries of our benefit in Christ.
In reading Romans 7, this is what God was saying to me, “You are free from the law so that you can be ‘married’ to My son Jesus, and so that you can bear fruit to Me. Your freedom is not given so you can stop serving Me, but so that you can serve Me better. You would not have known sin except through the law. It exposes your sin. You want to do what is right, and you know what the right thing is. Your problem is a lack of power.
As a Christian, you must own up to your sin, but you should realize your impulse to sin does not come from who you really are in My son Jesus Christ. Your challenge is to live as I have made you. You can not obey Me in your own strength. You can not battle sin in the power of self. Your desire must go beyond the hope to be better. You must see Jesus standing between yourself and Me, bridging the gap, and providing the way to Me. Thank Me for this victory in Jesus. There is victory over sin, hate, death and all evil as you surrender your life over to Him, and let Him live out a victory through you. You need a Savior!”
What this said to me was I have to give up the control I try to have and give Him the control, and He will walk with me and lead me. If I trust Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I will have victory over the sins that pull me in.
I love this take on Romans 7, Kathy especially this line: Your freedom is not given so you can stop serving Me, but so that you can serve Me better. What a hopeful and empowering statement about discipleship and sanctification. We’ve been delivered and freed to be more and do more through the power of the Spirit.
It seems counterintuitive to what the indwelling of the Holy Spirit does for the believer when we use our freedom in Christ to do nothing. As you said, it should propel us to serve God better and bear more fruit. Freedom leads to greater impact not apathy.
This week in Romans chapter 7, God gave me a song called, “Thanking You”:
Thanking you, thanking you, thanking you, our Lord
Serving and walking in your Spirit
Setting our minds on you
Trusting, believing, and filling our hearts with your love
Your forgiveness never comes to an end
You died and with your blood, the price was paid
My Father, My Savior, My best Friend
Thanking you, thanking you, thanking you, our Lord. Amen.
Walking in the Spirit, we can do all things. We are blessed because of His forgiveness.
Thank you for your song this week, Alma. It makes me thankful for my salvation and for what God has done for us. It filled my heart with gratitude for His forgiveness, grace, mercy, and love. Your lyrics reminded me of a song I’ve been listening to by Maverick City Music called, “Thank you”:
I’m standing in the promise now
You’ve been so faithful on my journey
You’ve kept me through the desert and the wilderness
I’m in the promised land now
I’m standing in the promise
Surrounded by Your goodness
You have overwhelmed us
I just wanna thank You
For your goodness
I just wanna thank You
Your loving kindness
I just wanna thank You
I’m so, I’m so grateful
God gave me a word this week from Romans chapter 7 verse 1. God was saying to me, “As I see you grow with me, you know that you are only bound by the laws of this world while you are here on earth. But as you pass from here to eternity, you will come into the light forever and be full of all knowledge. You will soon be truly free from all of the sin of this world.”
I can’t think of a more encouraging, truth-filled word, Sam, especially in these times we currently live in. To be reminded of and know that one day we will stand in God’s eternal light and presence, free from sin and oppression and the troubles of this world. It is a beautiful and hopeful picture. Thank you for sharing that!
God gave me a poem on anxiety:
We do not need to live in worry, nor to a be anxious with worry
Because we know God’s in control and He can handle it.
God knows what things worry us and cause us to greatly fear
What we feel may threaten us, may or may not be here.
The Word of God gives the power to have faith to overcome,
To rely upon God’s Holy Spirit and trust in His risen Son.
What that means to me is that next time you find that you are unsure of what might be causing you fear and anxiety, look to God, and know that you can have His eternal peace.
I love this poem, Jeri. It is not only rhythmic and poetic, but it is filled with the hope and peace of God amid our anxiety. As someone who has wrestled with this a various times in my life, I am thankful for your reminder through this artistic expression of the Holy Spirit’s definitive power over fear and worry.
We have the power to overcome and live in freedom and I appreciate you bringing the truth of God’s eternal peace through Christ to our hearts and minds.