We all know what it is like to have a heart to please God, but to find ourselves consistently doing the opposite.
The question we must ask is whether it has to be that way. I believe the answer is no.
Frequently it is argued from Romans 7 that such struggles are inevitable for a Christian. They look at Paul describing his own struggle in the first person and conclude that if this was his experience then it must be ours too.
The problem with that view is that Romans 7 was not talking about believers.
Think about how Paul has already described the normal Christian life just one chapter earlier:
- “We know that the old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” (Rom. 6:6)
- “One who has died has been set free from sin.” (Rom. 6:7)
- “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 6:11)
- “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” (Rom. 6:14)
This is hardly consistent with Romans 7’s description of inability to do good, but rather the indwelling sin doing evil instead. That sounds like enslavement and dominion to me. The word ‘captive’ is even used in verse 23.
Do a quick search in Romans 7:7-25. How many times do you see the words: law, sin, death?
What about the words: grace, faith, Spirit, Jesus?
That’s because if you are a believer, Romans 7 is not about you.
In Romans 1 and 2, Paul describes immoral pagans, moral pagans and religious Jews and shows how each group falls short of God. The third group lived under the law. They tried by their own strength to please God, and they couldn’t do it. This is what is described in Romans 7, not the life of the Christian believer.
There is hope for anyone who can identify with the struggle described. You should have found just one mention of Jesus in the passage, and that is in the final verse. Paul asks who can deliver him from what he has described, and concludes that the answer is Jesus. He explains how this works in the opening verses of chapter 8.
For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Rom. 8:2-4)
Don’t believe them when they tell you there is no escape from sin.
He’s called Jesus, and his Spirit lives in you.