In writing the Romans, Paul made it clear that a Christ-follower is no longer under the control of sin. Jesus has emancipated them from the power and authority of sin. It cannot master them any longer.
But the apostle also made it clear that this is not the same as saying that they have been removed entirely from the reach of sin. While sin can no longer force them to do anything, it is still a powerful influence in a Christ-follower’s life.
That’s just being real!
Sin is still going to present itself to us as the attractive alternative, and constantly try to woo and win us over. Evil is going to be a constant presence in our lives, inviting us to do things that are pleasing only to our selfish, sinful nature — but not to God!
In other words, a Christ-follower is not leaving the battle with sin behind when he or she becomes a Christian. The exact opposite! They are stepping onto the field of battle!
And on that field of battle there will be some victories — all to the glory of God, and only by his power! But because we remain sinful, there will also be frequent failures large and small, and some massive. We can expect these defeats to be hurtful and harmful to others, and self-destructive as well.
Which means, in our struggle with sin, while there will be times when we bask in the glory of Christ’s victory over sin (which is also our victory over sin!), there will also be times when we are left feeling destroyed and decimated. Wretched, as Paul puts it.
Yes, the final victory is already ours. But for the battles along the way? Devastating losses will occur, and not infrequently. Paul says it so beautifully here: We remain wretched sinners, but Christ also still very much remains our Deliverer!
Thanks be to God!
“So I find this law at work: Although 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 me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin” (Romans 7:21-25, NIV).
Our Bible reading for Wednesday, July 22, is Hosea 6:1 – 7:16, Romans 7:7-25 and Psalm 88:9b-18.
Lord Jesus, thank you for coming to deliver me from sin, guilt, shame and death. I am a sinner. I am still tempted daily to cave in to sin’s call. Forgive me. And create in me a clean heart. Give me the will and the strength to do your will each day to display my gratitude for your salvation.
Header image based on "Ball and chain" by Thomas Quine, CC By 2.0