Struggling with Sin (Day 16)

Read Romans 7:14-25
   “Sold under sin” may be a reference to the old nature that seeks to rebel and be independent of God. If I, being a Christian, try to struggle with sin in my own strength, I will slip into the grasp of sin’s power. 
   Paul shares three lessons that he learned in trying to deal with his old sinful desires: 1) Knowledge is not the answer. Paul felt fine as long as he did not understand what the law demanded. When he learned the truth, he knew he was doomed. 2) Self-determination, struggling in one’s own strength doesn’t succeed. Paul found himself sinning in ways that weren’t even attractive to him. 3) Becoming a Christian does not stamp out all sin and temptation from a person’s life. 
   Being born again takes a moment of faith, but becoming like Christ is a lifelong process. Paul compares Christian growth to a strenuous race or fight (1 Corinthians 9; 2 Timothy 4). Thus, as Paul has been emphasizing since the beginning of this letter, no one in the world is innocent; no one deserves to be saved: not the pagan who doesn’t know God’s laws, not the Christian or Jew who knows them and tries to keep them. All of us must totally depend on the work of Christ for our salvation. We cannot earn it by our good behavior. 
   This is more than the cry of one desperate man; it describes the experience of all Christians struggling against sin or trying to please God by keeping rules and laws without the Spirit’s help. We must never underestimate the power of sin and attempt to fight it in our own strength. Satan is a crafty tempter, and we have an amazing ability to make excuses. Instead of trying to overcome sin with our own human willpower, we must take hold of God’s provision for victory over sin: the Holy Spirit, who lives within us and gives us power. And when we fall, He lovingly reaches out to help us up. 
   “The devil made me do it.” “I didn’t do it; the sin within me did it.” These sound like good excuses for sin, but we are responsible for our own actions. We must never use the power of sin or Satan as an excuse, because they are defeated enemies. Without Christ’s help, sin is stronger than we are, and sometimes we are unable to defend ourselves against its attacks. That is why we should never stand up to sin all alone. Jesus Christ, who has conquered sin once and for all, promises to fight by our side. If we look to Him for help, we will not have to give in to sin. 
   The law at work within is the sin nature deep within us. This is our vulnerability to sin; it refers to everything within us that is more loyal to our old way of selfish living than to God. 
   This inward struggle with sin was as real for Paul as it is for us. From Paul we learn what to do about it. Whenever Paul felt lost, he would return to the beginning of his spiritual life, remembering that he had already been freed by Jesus Christ. When you feel confused and overwhelmed by sin’s appeal, follow Paul’s example: Thank God that He has given you freedom through Jesus Christ. Let the reality of Christ’s power lift you up to real victory over sin. 
   Paul shows that the law is powerless to save the sinner, the law keeper, and even the person with a new nature. The sinner is condemned by the law; the law keeper can’t live up to it; and the person with the new nature find his or her obedience to the law sabotaged by the effects of the old nature. Once again Paul declares that salvation cannot be found by obeying the law. No matter who we are, only Jesus Christ can set us free.