Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 142 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Romans 7 today and our focus is on How Are We Slaves To Sin and Who Can Rescue Us? We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Bihar, India, Lagos, Nigeria, Parts Unknown, Spain, Auburn, Maine, St Louis, Missouri, Monterey California and Waco, Texas. Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
So yesterday we talked about death leading to eternal and abundant life, and today we begin talking about slavery, but will mainly focus on freedom. In today’s passage, the Apostle Paul – highly regarded writer of so many books of Scripture, and maybe the most important and fruitful evangelist of Jesus that ever lived – is going to tell us that he is a slave to sin, and so are we.
14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold as a slave under sin. 15 For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. 19 For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one that does it, but it is the sin that lives in me. 21 So I discover this law: When I want to do what is good, evil is present with me. 22 For in my inner self I delight in God’s law, 23 but I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am serving the law of God, but with my flesh, the law of sin. Romans 7:14-25
This is one of the most profound and utterly transparent pieces of Scripture in the entire Bible. I can so identify with what Paul is saying here, and I bet you can too. This does NOT give us a license to sin, of course, but it does show that inside the heart of every follower of Jesus there is a struggle going on between the desires of the flesh and the desires of the Spirit. I can’t put it better than Paul did in vss. 22-23 – He says that in the deepest part of himself – his inner self – he delights in God’s law – knows it is good and wants to follow it. That said, in his body, he sees a different law that fights against his mind – one that tries to take him prisoner to the law of sin. I have sometimes had well-meaning Christians try to tell me that Paul was not struggling with sin when he wrote Romans 7, but he was talking about how he struggled with sin BEFORE he met Jesus, but honestly, I don’t see any cause to believe that in this passage. Romans 7 seems to be Paul transparently outlining his ongoing struggle with the desires of his flesh and his deeper desires to follow the Spirit. It is a battle – the spiritual life is often a battle between the flesh and the Spirit, and the stakes are very, very high, as Galatians 6 will tell us:
For whatever a person sows he will also reap, 8 because the one who sows to his flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. 9 Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up Galatians 6:8-9
I love how John “Amazing Grace” Newton talks about this struggle in a letter he sent to a friend:
Yet, alas! I must still charge myself with a great want of watchfulness and diligence; the enemy cannot destroy my foundation, but he spreads many nets for my feet, to weaken me, and to interrupt my peace; and, to my shame I must confess, he too often prevails. The Lord in great mercy preserves me from such sins as would openly dishonour my profession; and a mercy I desire to esteem it, for I can infer from my heart what my life would be, if I were left to myself. I hate sin; I long to be delivered from it, but it is still in me, and works in me. “Oh, wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me?” I bless God for Jesus Christ my Lord. To his grace I commend each of you.
John Newton and Richard Cecil, The Works of John Newton, vol. 6 (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 21.
Let’s read our passage and see where hope for us lies in the midst of this struggle with sin.
I love Romans 7. 1st because it is so honest, vulnerable and transparent, and that is great, because I appreciate honesty and have no patience for pretend piety. I love Romans 7 even more because of how it ends:
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord
That is the exact and proper focus for a saint of God – a mature follower of Jesus. #1 the realization that we have been saved by Jesus, but we are still in a corrupt body of death that desires to sin and #2 and most importantly, we have been rescued by God through Jesus, and He is putting that old nature to death and bringing new life to us, sanctifying us through and through that His desires would become our desires. Thanks be to God!
Bible Memory verses for the month of May: Matthew 28:18-20 18 Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
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