Earlier this year, we took a journey together through the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Paul, as a learned rabbi and the author of the letter to the church at Rome, quoted regularly from the Prophet. So, let’s take the next few weeks together to look at the New Testament book of Romans.
This is a bit of a confusing, yet at the same time, encouraging passage. Paul is talking about the law and using the example of marriage and remarriage after a spouse dies. I found some clarity in The Passion Translation.
When we were merely living natural lives, the law, through defining sin, actually awakened sinful desires within us, which resulted in bearing the fruit of death. But now that we have been fully released from the power of the law, we are dead to what once controlled us. And our lives are no longer motivated by the obsolete way of following the written code, so that now we may serve God by living in the freshness of a new life in the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 7:5-6, TPT).
We are dead to what once controlled us! We are free to live and serve God in a new way, in the freshness of a new life in the power of the Holy Spirit!
That’s a freeing picture! Go find a fresh breath of God today as you worship Him!
As a youth pastor back in the day, I referred to this as the Frank Sinatra passage… “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good..” Do be do be do… (Romans 7:15-16, NIV).
Again, The Passion Translation is helpful here:
“I don’t understand my own behavior — I don’t do what I want to do; instead, I do the very thing I hate! Now if I am doing what I don’t want to do, I am agreeing that the Torah is good. But now it is no longer “the real me” doing it, but the sin housed inside me. For I know that there is nothing good housed inside me — that is, inside my old nature. I can want what is good, but I can’t do it!” (Romans 7:15-18, TPT).
We all struggle with behaviors that we know are not healthy. It’s not just the addict. It is the Human Condition. Paul is saying a life not controlled by the Spirit, is a life controlled by sin. The struggle is real. And the reality is what Paul says later in Ephesians, that our fights are not against flesh and blood and the people with whom we love. Our struggles are against the ruler of the air, who wants to take us all down (see Ephesians 6:12).
I can relate to how Paul feels when his actions fail to match his heart’s desire: “What a miserable person I am. Who will rescue me from this body that is doomed to die? Thank God! Jesus Christ will rescue me.” (Romans 7:24-25, CEV).
We are free to live and serve God in a new way, in the freshness of a new life in the power of the Holy Spirit!
It is only through Jesus that we can begin to make sense of this life of contradictions… this life where we want to serve Jesus with all our heart, and yet our human nature gets in the way. We are distracted. We are selfish. We are lazy. We are greedy. We let our guard down. And at the same time, we can be giving and loving and serving and caring. We have especially seen during this season that there are so many things in our life that we cannot control.
Yet, Jesus… Let’s go back to the beginning of Chapter 7. There is a fresh life for those who embrace the power of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, whom Jesus gives to us freely.
This sets the stage for what many believe is the greatest chapter in all of scripture: Romans 8. Paul outlines the full measure and assurance of the grace of Jesus! “There is, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Jesus!” (Romans 8:1, NIV).
We get to embrace that beautiful truth together tomorrow.
(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.