This Sunday, we'll begin a new sermon series titled, "A Harvest of Peace." As you prepare to engage with the message, take about 10 minutes to watch this video as Paul Washer explains the peace that comes from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We have come to our final week of study in what is commonly called the Lord’s Prayer, recorded in Matthew 6 and Luke 11. It is our hope that this study has been beneficial for you as you pursue a fuller prayer life. It has been challenging, thought-provoking, and refreshing.
Our final study is on the phrase “lead us not.” The sermon will address the matter of temptation and the Christian. Obviously, this is a topic that we all deal with and can all benefit from for our daily walk. If you are new to the faith, it will give you a good footing as you start on the journey. If you have been on the path for some time, it will remind you of some of the pitfalls and rocks we find that are so easy to stumble over.
For this week’s blog post, I want to camp in Romans 7 and give you some words of encouragement as you face the struggle. Let me reproduce a section of it here:
15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Romans 7:15-24 (ESV)
As you read that, can you sense the tension and frustration that Paul is facing? More importantly, does that feel as familiar to you as it does to me? Let me draw out a couple of thoughts.
- Because of our sin nature, our struggle with sin is never over. We will fight this until we are home in Heaven.
- We don’t have the strength to conquer sin on our own.
- No matter how much we want to do what is right, we simply don’t have the ability to do it, either.
Don’t worry; I remember that I said I was going to give you some words of encouragement. I’m not going to leave it hanging there. I just want to be honest about the struggle we have with sin as frail human beings. It is important for us to own up to this struggle. Too many Christians add to the struggle by feeling that “by now” they “should” be past whatever it is that they are struggling with. If I’m not where I believe I “should” be by now, there are a few options as to why that could be.
Perhaps I’m not saved. If a person has never trusted in Jesus as their only hope of salvation, they cannot expect to have long-term victory over the sinful habits they want to conquer. That is because they are battling in their flesh. Paul made it plain that we do not have the ability to win this war “in our flesh.”
Maybe it is because deep down, though I am a follower of Jesus, I have never actually submitted this area to Christ. Maybe I actually love this sin more than I love the Lord. That’s hard to hear, but it is sometimes the harsh reality.
Possibly I am just not taking advantage of the resource that is mine in Christ. I didn’t quote verse 25 when I copied the passage from Romans 7 above. After Paul’s exasperated “wretched man that I am; who will deliver me” statement; he concludes with: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” There’s the encouragement we are looking for. I do continually struggle with sin. I do not have the ability in myself to overcome temptation. But as I submit myself to Christ as Lord and trust His grace to work in me, I find the grip of sin diminishing. Never forget the power of the gospel. It doesn’t just work to save me from the dominion of sin (though it does do that). It also continually works in me transforming me into the image of Jesus as the Holy Spirit takes the Word of God and uses it to cleanse me. The gospel saves me; it keeps me, and it sanctifies me (makes me more and more like Jesus). That’s something to be encouraged about.