Romans 7:21-23 (NLT)
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.
There are times when an epiphany happens or sudden revelation takes over that I like to call an
“ah-ha” moment. It can happen just about anywhere and usually when I least suspect it. I tend to listen to Christian music when I workout because in the midst of huffing and sweating I am not always cognizant of the words that are playing in my head so I choose to be on the safe side. It is important that we guard our hearts by protecting our minds from influences that lead to bad choices. Even what seems mindless can be used to change our minds from goodness and godliness to accept rebellious thoughts and sin as acceptable. No, I am not telling you to go out and smash all your CD’s and avoid department stores blasting secular music only a subtle reminder that we should guard our hearts and minds when it comes to righteousness less I digress. Back to the “ah-ha” moment at the gym, a phrase in a song popped out that stopped me mid set. It was one of those times when you know what you heard was expressly for you wondering if it really was there or if you just heard it that way. The singer crooned, “It’s not about what I do for you but what you have done for me!” Now maybe you are thinking, that’s it. You’re kidding. Of course, it is all about Jesus and not about me. Oh really…is that how you are living because I know in my own heart and mind – it was a relevant reminder. It’s never about what I do for Jesus Christ but always what He has done for me! We all want to do what is right. Nobody wakes up in the morning hoping to find themselves bound by sin before the end of the day. In fact, saved and lost folks alike wake up hoping that today will be a good one. God has placed Eternity in our heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11) so faith and hope are natural if we allow them to operate in our life because it is not here yet but something we seek to obtain. Nobody wakes up wanting to die that is in their right mind. The life that I want and hope for “eternal life” is only possible when I concentrate on what Jesus has done for me and not what I am going to do for Him.
Romans 7:14-20 (NLT)
So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
Salvation is set for Eternity. We are not delivered from sin completely until we meet the Lord face to face. “Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) If men or women were able to uphold the Law of God and separate completely from their sin, then the Blood of Jesus would not have been necessary. But people became filled with sin or developed a sinful nature meaning they lean to or favor sin over righteousness. It is a form of pride or self-exaltation that can also take hold of believers if we are not very careful in our pursuit of Jesus Christ. All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. (Romans 3:23) The wages of sin are and always will be death. (Romans 6:23) A single sin calls for our death according to God’s Law so to think that fulfilling parts of the Law make us worthy of righteousness is ridiculous and untrue. The Law is not the problem it is spiritual (from God) and always good (because God is good). The problem is our rebellious nature that refuses to remain humble. We are slaves to sin and must daily approach God’s Throne boldly through the Blood of Jesus Christ to remain righteousness. Even if I do my very best to follow the example of Jesus Christ, I still nothing more than a sinner saved by His Grace. Even if my life is marked by prosperity including mind, body, and life if my soul fails to prosper I have nothing. Prosperity of the soul begins and ends in the Grace and Love of Jesus Christ. There is nothing I can do to ever earn it – it is a Gift from God to me. I want to do what is right. I do not want to do what is wrong. I will still fail. I am going to fall down which only further proves that it is never about what I do but about everything that Jesus Christ has done for me!
Romans 7:4-6 (NLT)
So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God. When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds, resulting in death. But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.
There is an old saying that “familiarity breeds contempt” which in essence means that the more you become familiar with someone or the more you experience the less respect you will have. When it comes to other people, the more you get to know them the more you recognize their shortcomings which will lessen your regard for them. Or when it comes to other things, you basically break the code or learn to work the system so you can take advantage of it again lessening one’s respect for it. Familiarity with the Lord works differently. Familiarity with God breeds contentment. Contentment is marked by faith and trust in the Lord. Contempt is identified as fear and doubt. When we are content in Jesus Christ, we will strive to do His Word and walk in His Ways to please Him. When we hold contempt for Jesus Christ, we will work to find a way around grace and enter His Kingdom through living to the Letter of the Law. Grace is all about love. Not our ability to love the Lord completely, but the fact that He loves us completely and unconditionally not based on who we are or what we do but solely on who He is! If the Power of the Law died with Christ, then whether we successfully live it or not is irrelevant to one’s salvation. It is all under the Blood and we have been raised to our new life in Jesus Christ. It is our sinful nature that leads us back to death by attempting to find another way into God’s Good Grace other than the Way He provided through His Son, Jesus Christ. We seek the Blessings from God’s Hand without loving Him with all our heart.
When my husband and I were first married, we faced the struggles of all couples forming a bond that is two becoming one. I had a certain set of expectations and a definite way of doing things as did he. Over the years, this has molded into a routine of mutual respect and a great deal of give and take as we learn to work together. It has taken a whole lot of Jesus to make things work first and foremost because our sinful nature definitely wars to take over marriages. The enemy hates such unions. The devil is not about covenant but division. There are certain things that I do now because it satisfies His Heart. He likes things a certain way and my love for him provokes me to do them even when I must step over my pride. He prefers order but I am okay with a little less order. My love for him has allowed me to become more organized. Do I have to do it? No. I am free to do as I choose. He is not my owner or boss but I do it because I love him with all my heart. The Law of God is a list of qualities and characteristics that please God, as well as some definite do’s and don’ts. My sinful nature does not agree with them or it would do them naturally. Before Jesus Christ, I was under the Authority of God’s Law and destined to die due to my rebellion. The Grace and Love of Jesus Christ pardoned my sin and the penalty associated with it allowing me the freedom to escape death and enter Eternity. When I chose to accept this Gift of Love, I entered a covenant relationship with the Lord. Now I do the precepts of the Law because I love God with all of my heart and want to please Him. But I must not forget about His Grace in the process. No matter how hard I try to please the Father, I will never find Eternal life outside of the Son! I must never let my pride tell me anything different less I wander off course. Pride will try to take the credit. My sinful nature will always battle for control. But this I know…”His Grace is sufficient for me!” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Romans 6:12-14 (NLT)
Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.
In order to give ourselves completely to God, we must fully accept the freedom of God’s Grace offered in His Only Son – Jesus Christ. Sin can no longer be our master. However, it will continually fight to make pride take charge again. Our sinful nature will try to convince us that in doing the Will of God that we somehow have warranted the Grace of God. It will change your position from relationship to religion before you know it. To keep nine of the Ten Commandments is not enough. To live a holy life without humility is absolute failure. You can keep your hands and feet from doing evil but if your mind is wandering you are already condemned outside of the Love and Grace of Jesus. We must not think more highly of ourselves than we should. We are all sinners saved by His Grace. We could do nothing for ourselves until Love came down to set us free from it. It will take everything in us and every ounce of His Mercy and Unfailing Love to keep us until the end. It will require endurance because just about the time we think we have arrived, we realize that there is so much farther to go!
Galatians 5:1 (NLT)
So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.
How does one become entangled in slavery to the Law? Anytime we think obedience outweighs grace, mercy and love. How do we do that? Anytime we think that something we do can get us closer to God than everything Jesus Christ did on the Cross. Righteousness is obtained through Jesus Christ alone. (Romans 3:22) It is maintained by unwavering faith in Him alone. (Philippians 3:8-9) Faith becomes confident hope when it is undivided. In other words, faith is secure in Jesus Christ alone. (Hebrews 6:18-20) The only way to live a life in this freedom is by His Spirit who makes us more like Jesus Christ defying on our sinful nature – this is nothing that we can do but God in us allowed to move and grow because we have humbly given our life to Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 13:6-8)
Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
I must let God transform me into a new person by changing the way that I think. This does not happen in a moment, day or even a year but is a lifelong process of revelation. The sin in my life goes much deeper than the things that I do or do not do. It begins with the way that I think. I must learn God’s Will for my life beginning with the understanding that I can do nothing to earn my place in His Presence except to yield more and more of my mind, soul and body to Him. He will pull me closer. I can come boldly for no other reason than Jesus Christ died for me and I have accepted His Gift of Love. I will never feel better about my sinful nature or be able to excuse my bad behavior or poor choices. I can only put them in the Blood of Jesus and let Him wash them away. Filling my heart with His Word allows me to know what pleases the Father and strive to do it in my life. When I am unsuccessful (which I am on a regular basis), His Mercy is new the next morning so I can try again. The only thing that I can do is live to love and trust Him more by walking in His Way, following His Word and accepting His Gracious Gift of Love each day that I am alive. It seems so futile and small but that’s just how great the Love of God is. (Ephesians 3:18) I will never reach its parameters or match it with my own! As the New Year approaches let me remember in each day that it is not about what I do for Jesus but every day is about what He has done for me!
Galatians 6:14-16 (NLT)
As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.”