Romans 7:19 “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want
to do—this I keep on doing.”
There is something brutally but beautifully honest about this scripture!
A welcome admission that even saints still struggle with sin!
Undoubtedly there is a hopelessness that comes when we reject God’s standards, but there is an equally terrible hopelessness that can overwhelm Christians who strive for perfection, and give themselves no space for honesty about the very real sin we face each day.
Of course none of us want to live this way – doing what we don’t want to do – not doing the things we so desire to do!
This scripture is not telling us to just “settle-down” with sin or live with a defeatist mentality – rather, it is teaching us to understand ourselves, urging us to face the facts and from this place of honesty, make war on sin in our lives.
Romans 7 makes it clear that no Christian lives in continual victory over sin.
The question to be asking ourselves is: “What should my response be when this is how I find myself living?”
Simply put, we should “own up” to our sin and weakness. No lying. No hypocrisy. No masks and poses. No pretense of perfection.
In Romans 7 God has given us the honesty, openness and humility of the apostle Paul. It should set us free from all superficiality and blindness to our own failures, which ultimately leads us to be quick to judge others, and tardy in dealing with our own sin.
Chapter 7 & 8 of Romans portrays two pictures of ourselves that we need to constantly have before our eyes in equal measure.
The first seen in Rom 7:18-25 “I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned …. It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. Oh what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord!”
The other picture comes to us from Rom 8: 1-13 where we are told that now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. The power of the life-giving Spirit has freed us through Jesus from the power of sin. We are not controlled by our sinful nature, rather we are controlled by the Spirit if we have the Spirit of God living in us, and the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us.
Two pictures: One is a “not-so-pretty”, painful picture of imperfection. The other is an outrageously joyful picture of assurance, hope & spiritual growth!
We need BOTH of these pictures – because only when we rightly measure ourselves, only when we look at ourselves with honest eyes – only then can we truly give ourselves to this process of growing in Christlikeness!
When it comes to this issue of sin and failure, our expectations of ourselves and our fellow-believers should not be one of perfection, rather one of victory.
This is the here-and-now Christian life Christ has purchased for us. The mark of a Christian is not perfection but rather the fight of faith!
We are encouraged in Rom 8:12 that “you have no obligation whatsoever to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.”
This should be our war-cry! As we live with a joyful confidence that God alone justifies the ungodly, that Christ is our righteousness, and that we fight to love and honour Him and His ways above all things.