Romans 7. Only Through Jesus Can We Make Sense of the Contradictions of Life.

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.

Romans 7:1-6

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.

Verses 5-6:

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!


Romans 7:7-25.

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.


Isaiah 59. God’s Gifts to Us: Repentance, Redemption, Salvation, Spirit.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.


Isaiah 59.

This highlights in a very straightforward manner the cycle of sin, acknowledgment of wrongdoing which leads to repentance, and His gracious redemption.

“Your sins are the roadblock between you and your God. That’s why he doesn’t answer your prayers or let you see his face.” (v2, CEV). That’s pretty significant, isn’t it? Ever wonder why your prayers might not be answered? I’m not saying this is the reason behind every non-answer from God. But, examining our own heart might be a first step towards hearing from Heaven.

Confession/ Repentance.
“Our wrongdoings pile up before you, God, our sins stand up and accuse us. Our wrongdoings stare us down; we know in detail what we’ve done: Mocking and denying God, not following our God, Spreading false rumors, inciting sedition, pregnant with lies, muttering malice. Justice is beaten back, Righteousness is banished to the sidelines, Truth staggers down the street, Honesty is nowhere to be found, Good is missing in action. Anyone renouncing evil is beaten and robbed.” (v12-15, MSG). We live in an evil time, as did Isaiah. The key to a right standing with God is getting to a place where we can see our sin and repent. Turning toward God starts in a posture of humility and confession.

“God looked and saw evil looming on the horizon – so much evil and no sign of Justice… so He did it Himself, took on the work of Salvation, fueled by His own righteousness.” (v15, MSG). The Almighty turned to His one and only Son to provide our redemption. Thank you, God! “For this is how much God loved the world—he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life.” (John 3:16, TPT). Yep! He did it Himself. Wow!

Our Future.
“The Lord has promised to rescue the city of Zion and Jacob’s descendants who turn from sin.  The Lord says: “My people, I promise to give you my Spirit and my message. These will be my gifts to you and your families forever. I, the LORD, have spoken.”” (v20-21, CEV).

Let us all be thankful for His work of redemption through Jesus and the promise of His Spirit to us all!

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.
(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Messing up… and receiving God’s grace.

“What were you thinking?”  How many times did your parents ask you that question after you messed up?  How many times have you asked that of your children?  How many times have you asked that of yourself?

Messing up is a part of life.  After all, we’re only human.   When we’re faced with the decision to take the narrow path or the broad, easier path — when we are faced with temptations — how do we react?

I understand that big time messes are more than just an “Oops!”  They can be life changing, rock-your-world messes.  To you.  To others.  To those who you never thought your actions would mess up their lives too.

May I share an encouraging scripture with you?

Paul writes:  No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face.  All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. (1 Corinthians 10:13, The Message)

Now, does that mean that God will make the choice for us whether to sin or not to sin?  No. But this word says He will give us the strength to make the right choice, prompted by His Holy Spirit, who will guide us into all truth (see John 16:13).

But there are times when we do mess up.  Have you been there lately?   Sometimes the most difficult grace to extend is to ourselves, isn’t it?

Continue reading Messing up… and receiving God’s grace.