Wednesday in the Sixteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Romans 7:13-25

Set Free—But Still at War

The passage before us today is one of the most contested in all of Scripture, but only because it touches us so deeply.  It seems as if Paul is agonizing over his own inward struggles, and we read it fully aware of our own struggle with sin as well.  But the question remains: Is Paul speaking about a person before coming to saving faith or after, about an unregenerate person or one born again?  The question is as old as the Ancient Church, and the greatest scholars of today line up on both sides of the issue.  It goes without saying that I will add nothing to the debate in this short devotion, but it is my conviction that 1) since Paul was writing to believers, and 2) since the inward struggle he describes is so personally felt by believers (and certainly myself), it is my conviction that Paul is describing the individual believer as each struggles with indwelling sin, the sins which so easily beset us, which are deeply personal for each one of us, yet shared by all of us.

Paul writes, “For I do not understand my own actions.  For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”  How many of us know this frustration and experience it every day?  I would suggest all of us.  Paul continues, “For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”  This is because “nothing good dwells in me,” and “when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.”  Paul delights in the law of God “in [his] inner being” (hardly something an unregenerate person would do), but sees “in [his] members another law waging war against the law of [his] mind and making [him] captive to the law of sin that dwells in [his] members.”

As Christians, we are only too aware of this “law of sin” that dwells within us.  And we hate it, or we better.  And this is because we have been transferred from darkness into light, and have been set free from sin, the law, and death.  Through the work of our great High Priest, we stand before God completely whole and clean.  We have experienced His saving grace.  But we still need His sanctifying grace to walk in holiness before Him.  God intends for us to struggle mightily against sin, which we can only do in His power.  And the fact that we shall never be perfect in this life only makes us lean on Him all the more.  And all of this leads seamlessly into the next chapter where Paul speaks of the Holy Spirit abiding within the Christian, the one who leads us into the battle against indwelling sin and who shall ultimately finish the work within us which our Lord began (Philippians 1:6).  Yes, we know the wretchedness of which Paul speaks, but we can also say with him, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

Leave a Reply