A personal walk with God and stuff learned on the way

Posts tagged ‘Romans 7’

Don’t fight half a battle

As Christians we are always conscious of the need to avoid sin.  There are numerous scriptures that describe those practices that we are to stay well away from and every believer knows that it is a constant battle.  Often we can find ourselves losing the battle again and again and we can give in to despondency when nothing seems to be changing.

Paul describes this battle very well in Romans 7

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. (Romans 7: 15)

There can be a number of reasons why we seem to be constantly stuggling, but one of them, I have learned, is that we are only doing one half of what we need to do.

A regular theme in the Bible is the command not just to reject evil, but also to replace it with good. Put simply, if we’re not replacing our bad behaviour, thoughts, speech or attitudes with the right thing, we are only fighting half the battle, as the scriptures below show us.

Psalm 34:14 Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph 4: 22-24)

Eph 2: 28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands

Rom 12:9 Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

Rom 12:11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord

Rom 12: 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Col 3: 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things

Deut 15:7-8 do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted towards your poor brother. Rather be open-handed and freely lend him whatever he needs.

Ephesians 5:4 There should not be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving

In Matthew 12 Jesus describes this principle of replacement. Although the context here is demonic possession, it does show the importance of replacing evil with good in our lives.

When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it.
Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.
Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. (Matt 12 43-45)

As we replace what we shouldn’t be doing, saying and thinking with what God wants, we give sin less room to operate.

Fight both sides of the battle.

Why do I sin?

If Christ died for my sin so that I could be declared righteous why do I still sin?

I have heard this question asked by Christians and there never seemed to be an answer that quite hit the mark. This subject is tackled in Romans 7 and it comes as a relief to many of to know that the great apostle Paul who spread the gospel to the Gentile world, planted churches, groomed leaders and wrote a large chunk of the New Testament was human and flawed just like the rest of us.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do … when I want to do good, evil is right there with me.

For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? (Taken from Romans 7: 15-24)

Surely if Christ died to take away my sin, I shouldn’t sin any more. It is certainly true that when someone becomes a Christian they become different – they are a ‘new creation’ as 2 Cor 5:17 puts it. We have a new ‘want to’. When we do sin, we don’t do it comfortably, but why do we do it at all?

I recently heard an analogy given by John Bevere whose teaching I really love. This helped me understand this whole idea much better. He said that an unbeliever can be compared to a country who is ruled by an evil leader, but when they become a Christian it’s as though a good king came overthrew the evil ruler and established a new kingdom. However there are still fortresses in the kingdom owned by the former king. It is our job to enforce the law of the new king and overthrow these strongholds.

Think of Germany after the 2nd world war. During the Nazi period Hitler was in charge and there was nothing that anyone could do because they made the law of the land. Once Hitler was defeated in 1945 and the allied forces took control, then everything changed because he was no longer in charge. Imagine, though, if there had still been pockets of resistance in Germany that were still loyal to Nazism? They were still in operation, but now they were there illegally. Then those who were in charge now have the authority to arrest them and put them in prison.

Satan operates in our lives illegally because he has no business being there! We, as believers in Christ, have been given God’s power and authority to remove Satan from working in our lives.

Those the Son has set free are free indeed (John 8:36)

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