Romans 7:15-25 (ESV)
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? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
Set a bowl of Peanut M&M’s in front of me and I am powerless before
them. Even though my mind tells me that I shouldn’t eat them, or at
least not all of them, my hand seems to automatically reach for the
bowl, delivering these delicious candies into my mouth. As much I
don’t want to eat them, I eat them, usually all of them, despite the fact
that my mind tells me otherwise. I admit it. I am a slave to Peanut
In today’s reading from Romans, Paul admits a similar problem. As
much as Paul did not want to sin, he kept on sinning. “I can will what is
right,” says Paul, “but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want,
but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want,
it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me” (7:18b-20).
Paul here describes our human condition. The power of sin dwells
within each and every one of us and we are powerless to do anything
about it. As we confess at the beginning of worship, “We are in
bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.” No matter how much we
might not want to judge others, we still do. No matter how much we
might not want to gossip, we still do. No matter how much we want to
give up our addictions and bad habits, we still keep on doing them. The
power of sin in our lives and in our world is real and it is important for
us, together with Paul, to name it for what it is.
Thankfully, though we are powerless in the face of sin, Christ is not.
Through his death on the cross and rising from the grave, Christ has
destroyed the power of sin, death, and the devil once and for all and
now holds the victory over them. Though we cannot keep ourselves
from sinning, the power of Christ at work in our lives is stronger than
our human sin and gives us the strength to withstand the various
temptations and trials that we face, trusting more and more in the
promise that, in Christ, we are forgiven.
Yes, I am powerless in front of a bowl of Peanut M&M’s. And yes, I am
powerless over the sin in my life. But, thanks be to God, for the power
of Christ that dwells within us, protecting us from the power of sin and
keeping us daily in God’s safe-keeping.
Lord Jesus, as much I do not want to sin, I keep on sinning. Keep me in
the power of your grace and help me to trust more and more in the
forgiveness that is mine in you. Amen.
Written by Pastor Greg Busboom—Lead Pastor