Christians in Romans 7 - So What?

So What!

How should knowing that Romans 7 refers to believers shape my life today?

  1. As a Christian, I am confronted with the fact that Christianity carries high expectations.  I need to know that the demands of the lordship of Christ are far-reaching. Assumption: lordship salvation rather than decisional regeneration. Contrary to Joel Osteen, who at the conclusion of a message that made no mention of the gospel of Christ and only token use of the Bible, looked into the camera and said something like…we never like to close our broadcast without inviting you to pray a simple prayer…Jesus I invite you into my life… if you prayed that prayer I believe you just became a Christian..(Viewed 10/9/07)
  2. As a Christian, I should expect to struggle with sin. Real Christians really do battle sin. This concept is underscored here but it is an obvious teaching of Scripture elsewhere (for instance see Eph 6:10-17). So, the abundant life promised by Jesus (John 10:10) does not eliminate spiritual quagmires!
  3. As a Christian, I should expect the struggle with sin to intensify as I mature in Christ. Even the most spiritually mature Christian will struggle with sin. This chapter is not dealing with spiritual dwarfs as some suggest (for example: regenerate but prior to the second blessing; or extremely carnal Christians; or legalists). I believe Paul has mature Christians in mind. They, not immature Christians, realize how far they are from God’s standards. They are grieved over their sin. They refuse to trust themselves. They are marked by genuine humility.
    1. In fact, Paul is probably referring to his life as it matures. The more he moved toward Christ, the more he realized his own sinfulness. As his ministry progressed, he thought himself “not fit to be called an apostle” (1 Cor 15:9).  He told the believers in Ephesus that he was “the very least of all saints” (Eph 3:8). By the end of his ministry, he even viewed himself as the “foremost of all sinners (1 Tim 1:15).
    2. It is somewhat shocking to realize the extent of our corruption. Sin has pervasive influence over the best of men, under all circumstances of life, until the end of life!
  4. As a Christian, I must adopt a realistic plan for dealing with the stuff of daily life. I must plan on how I will deal with the struggle with sin. It will happen. Problems don’t disappear simply because I became a believer. Unfortunate are the evangelistic pitches to the contrary – if you just believe your life will get easier. As a matter of fact, the NT indicates it might get more difficult.
    1. Now, I did not say we should dismiss the struggle with sin as no big deal. Doug Moo (Application Commentary 246) nails it. “(We must avoid using this text) … to justify sin or stagnation in the Christian life.”… “(Believers must not have the attitude that), I am really struggling with a sin, and it keeps getting the best of me. But that’s alright – Paul had the same problem…We should never regard the sins we commit with complacency. They are not supposed to be there. God hates them, and he has given us the power to get rid of them.”
    2. But I am saying we can’t afford to stick our head in the sand by planning not to struggle. Radical Pentecostalist, Jessie  Duplantis, declared, “I go long periods of time without sinning…” He views this as normal. (Viewed 10/8/07).
  5. As a Christian, it is okay to become frustrated with my struggle with sin. And it is okay to express frustration. In fact, vs 14-25 may be nothing more than a crescendo of verbal despair. There is pain, exasperation, and maybe even disgust in Paul’s words! Can you hear it in v 24, “O wretched man that I am.” This is strong language of “self-condemnation and self abhorrence” (Hodge 247). In fact, this exasperation may be itself a mark of genuine salvation.
  6. As a Christian, I can come to understand that the struggle with sin may be a vehicle used to bring about spiritual growth. This doesn’t make sin good! This doesn’t make the struggle enjoyable. It is somewhat like the viewpoint of trials in life outlined in James 1:2-4. However, sin is clearly not in view in James.
  7. As a Christian, coming to grips with my inability to overcome sin should cause me to cast myself upon the indwelling Holy Spirit for enabling power. Perhaps the most fundamental truth in this section is that the Mosaic Law can never give us victory over daily sin. All should be able to agree on this.
    1. Some suggest, perhaps rightly, that there is a cycle involved in spiritual growth. We realize our failures; then we fall on God for strength; then we try to do it on our own or by following some formula (like Law keeping); then we realize our failures. And the cycle starts again.
  8. As a Christian, I can encourage others by speaking of my struggle with sin. I don’t mean I should share the graphic details. However, people need to know that they are not alone in their daily struggle. Paul is very candid.  
  9. As a Christian, I can take heart over the assurance that, at the end of the day, sin is no longer my master. Sin is a powerful enemy but I have a new relationship with both sin and Christ! But we must re-emphasize that “the Christian’s victory over sin cannot be achieved by the strength of resolutions, nor by the plainness and force of moral motives, nor by any resources within himself. He looks to Jesus Christ, and conquers in his strength.” (Hodge 246). 

© Copyright. Joseph Flatt. 2015. All rights reserved. May be used for educational purposes without written permission but with a citation to this source.