Old Testament Reading: Exodus 17 & 18
Psalms Reading: Psalm 37
* New Testament Reading: Romans 7
Romans 6 talked about God’s requirement that Christians die to sin. Romans 7 points out that we can’t do this in our own power alone. Romans 8 will give us the solution.
But today, we’re stuck in a quandary. We know that God requires that we put to death the sinful nature in our life. How do we do that? The obvious first thought is by following a long set of rules. (We call this Legalism – the idea that we can get right with God by following a bunch of rules.)
For a while, things seem to go along well. We’re following the rules, and we feel more spiritual. We develop a long list of “dos” and “don’ts”. Over time, the list grows, and it gets harder and harder to follow. The problem with this is that it addresses our actions, but doesn’t change our hearts. In our mind, we want to follow God, but our sinful nature wars against our mind, wanting to do whatever our sinful nature wants.
Paul said it like this in Romans 7: 15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do.” And in 7:19, “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep doing.”
Over time, it gets harder and harder to follow all the rules. If we carry legalism to its logical conclusion, eventually, either we get to the point where we just pretend (we become a hypocrite), or we abandon the whole farce and just walk away.
Paul sums up the desperation like this in Romans 7:24, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” If we are perfectly honest, I suspect all of us who profess to be Christians have experienced this.
Fortunately, the chapter doesn’t stop there. Paul goes on in 7:25a, “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord.” We don’t get into the details until Romans 8 of how we can not just overcome, but be “more than conquerors.”
In Romans 6, Paul said that we must die to sin. Here in Romans 7, he goes on to say that we also die to the law. This may seem crazy, since God’s law was good – pointing out what sin was. So we’re not bound by the law, and we’re not free to continue to sin. What is the solution?
We’ll find out tomorrow.
Romans 8:10-11 says, “But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.”
- What has your experience been with your sinful nature? What good do you want to do that you haven’t? What evil have you done that you didn’t want to do?
- Have you had any experience with legalism? How did you do at trying to follow every rule? Where was your heart? Did you tend more towards hypocrisy and going through the motions or giving up and walking away from God?
- What is God’s desire for you? How do you know? What does He reveal about Himself in your reading of His words today?