BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For Sunday October 9, 2011
IT’S ALL ABOUT VICTORY
(Struggling with sin)
After Paul had finished arguing how “Law” and “Faith” are incompatible in principal, he moves on to show how a believer can be legally free from obligation to the Law, and, why it is also necessary and essential. In the Greek, the word Paul uses here for “law” is “nomos” (nom-os), which means, “law through the idea of prescriptive usage”. In other words, it is to be used only when it applies to a given situation, even though it is always, in principle, the law.
In this particular passage, the law represents the Old Testament revelation of standards that are regarded as “righteous behavior” by GOD. Rarely has Paul written a more complex passage than the one we see here. Its basic thought is rooted in the old adage that “death cancels all contracts”. In Romans chapter 7, verses 2-3, Paul uses the example of how a woman, who is married, is only bound to her husband for as long as he is alive. After he dies, she is free to remarry without being guilty of adultery according to the Law, and is thereby freed from the law that once bound her to him.
In the same way, Paul says, we as Christians are no longer bound by the law, because we, in effect, died to its power when we died with CHRIST on the cross, or, in other words, when we became Christian believers. We are now united with CHRIST, the ONE WHO was raised from the dead, and we can now serve GOD fully, not in the old way, by obeying the letter of the law, but rather, in the new way of CHRIST JESUS, which is by the HOLY SPIRIT (Romans 7:4-6).
Paul also wants his readers to be clear on one other thing, and that is that, the law itself is not sinful, but rather, it was given to us to show us how sinful we are. We would never have known that adultery, or murder, or lying, or stealing, or coveting, or any other thing that is wrong was wrong, had GOD not given us HIS Law to reveal it to us (Romans 7:7).
The Law itself is divine, because it is the very voice of GOD speaking to us. In fact, it is holy and just, and it is designed by GOD, for our greater good. And so, the Law creates sin only in the sense that it defines and identifies sin to us. Some people are frightened by the idea that we, as Christians, have no obligation to keep GOD’s Law per say. And here in this passage, Paul shows how we are actually freed from such obligations, because CHRIST has already died for all of our sins, past, present, and future. HE died for all mankind in general, and all Christians, in particular. GOD now calls for us to form a new relationship with HIM, through CHRIST JESUS, by way of the HOLY SPIRIT in us. And so, we see that freedom from the Law, does not promote sin, but rather, it promotes righteousness, and a desire to obey the Law of GOD at all times (Romans 7:8-13).
In the biblical Greek, the word used to describe “sin nature” is, “epithumia” (ep-ee-thoo-mee-ah), and “it is that battle that rages on inside of each of us, between the “reason” to do what is right, and the “passion” to want to do what is wrong”. Human nature is so corrupted by sin that we cannot respond favorably to GOD in our own power. We need the power of the HOLY SPIRIT within us to be able to win the battle against our own sinful nature, and be able to respond to GOD in a positive way.
In Romans 7:14-25, Paul reveals to us in the most vivid of pictures, the truth about the struggles that are contained in this first act of the “human drama”, which is our life right now, here on earth. Before we come to CHRIST, and receive the infusion of the HOLY SPIRIT, our “reason” and “passion” comes from the same source, which is our sinful nature within. We can’t possibly win in our struggle with sin, because our desire to sin isn’t going to counter itself. It can only agree with itself, and therefore, more often than not, when we have to make the decision between doing what is right, and doing what is wrong, too often we choose to do what is wrong. In fact, we can sometimes even lose sight of what the right thing to do is.
We even begin to use our “human ingenuity” to justify our wrong with an attitude of indifference, convincing ourselves that there is no right or wrong, and, that we should do what makes us happy. We end up living in an unstructured existence that has no boundaries, and we can care less who we hurt, physically, or emotionally, in the process.
But when we receive the power of the HOLY SPIRIT, HE becomes our power of reasoning, and as a result, our reason and passion no longer comes from the same source. We then have a GODly sense of influence, or “reason” to combat our human sin nature, or “passion”.
Here in this passage, Paul is writing about his own experiences as a believer, and it undoubtedly parallels the experiences of all believers, then and now. We are in a constant struggle to do right, but seem to fail again and again, even after we first become Christians. It is only as we mature in the faith, that we seem to get a grip on our inner struggles with sin, and begin to become more and more like CHRIST in our thinking and behavior. We, through the power of the HOLY SPIRIT, develop a conscience for when we are about to move out of the will of GOD, and we can thereby “repent”, or have a “change of mind” before we sin, not after.
As Paul writes in verse 14, GOD’s Law is, and has always been good, and, it will always continue to be good. The trouble is not with the law, but rather it is with us, as we have been sold into the slavery of sin since the Garden of Eden, and sin has remained as our master, throughout the generations.
Because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to GOD in the Garden of Eden, man had fallen out of a relationship of friendship with GOD. Most of the time, we know perfectly well when we are doing wrong, but, we do it anyway, because it agrees with our natural desire to sin (Romans 7:16-17). It took the life of CHRIST to restore that lost relationship of friendship with GOD. CHRIST JESUS’ obedience to GOD in the “Garden of Gethsemane” offset Adam and Eve’s disobedience to GOD, in the “Garden of Eden”.
Since GOD offers forgiveness of sin, through CHRIST JESUS’ sacrifice at
Golgotha, we are no longer under the bondage of sin. CHRIST has already died to pay the sacrificial price for all of man’s sins, past, present, and future, and we no longer have to be slaves to our desires to transgress against GOD, and indeed, against our own bodies. Now, we are free to serve GOD, because we now live in the SPIRIT, and walk in the newness of life, that is, CHRIST JESUS, our LORD.
(1). If you are dying to find a new way to live, only an introduction to JESUS will
help. JESUS is the only ONE, WHO knows what is wrong, and HE is the only
ONE WHO can set things right, and we can find HIM, in the word of GOD.
(2). When we read the word of GOD, and study and meditate on it, our inadequacies
are revealed to us, little by little.
(3). Most people will agree that it is a struggle to do the right thing much of the
time, even though we really want to. Our only hope is to stop struggling, by
turning our lives over to CHRIST. We must accept the fact, that, we as humans, cannot
live a life of joy, apart from GOD.
Pray for continued strength, through CHRIST JESUS, that you can learn to hear and obey the prompting of the HOLY SPIRIT more clearly, and then, have the strength and courage to change your mind about sinning, while still in the thinking stages, from this day forward.
KEY VERSES: 7:24-25a
DEVOTIONAL PASSAGES: Isaiah 59:1-2, Matthew 5:27-30, John 8:1-11