The Struggle Is Real - Romans 7:14-25 - Nate Heitzig
Good morning and welcome to the 9:45 service at Calvary. Who's excited to be in church today? I'm excited to continue our study through Romans. Turn to Romans chapter seven. We're going to be in verses 14 through 25 this morning.
We're going to kick it off right away. I'm going to read the whole text, and I'm actually read it from the NIV, because I love the way it describes it. Then when we go back into it in a second, we'll be digging into it in the New King James. So hopefully you all brought your bibles. We're going to read it together on the screen, though, so if you you didn't bring a Bible or you don't have an NIV, you can follow along with us as I read it out loud.
"We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 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."
Are you guys following this so far? I mean, Paul is all over the place. Like, what's going on, bro?
"Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For it 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!"
Let's stop there. I'm hoping that today you and I can talk honestly. We can be honest with one another-- honest about who we are, honest about our struggles. Because I want to preach a simple message today called the struggle is real. Hey, turn on your neighbor and say the struggle-- come on, say it with some attitude. The struggle is real.
Turn to the other person. Say, yo, the struggle is real. The struggle is real. I don't know about you, but as I look at my life, I so often find that a struggle is going on. There's a battle going on inside of me. And if I'm really honest, I struggle at times for consistency.
Our staff here at Calvary-- and also, if you've gone through Life Track-- I highly recommend it-- take this test called The Five Voices. Basically, you answer all these questions about yourself, and the test basically diagnoses you and tells you who you are. It tells you what your strengths are, what your weaknesses are. It basically tells you what your personality type is.
Well after I took this test for the first time-- I've taken it several times-- I was actually excited about the strengths that it said I had. I actually liked it. I liked the things that it said I had, the potential it said I had. I accepted the weaknesses it said I had. I saw where I needed to grow.
But I had one thought after I took it. I was like, man, if I would have taken this test last week, I think the results might have been different. And I think if I take it again a week from now, the results might be different again. Because if I'm honest, throughout the week I sometimes feel like a different person.
Anyone relate to me on that? You just sometimes feel like a different person? I'm like, man, I wish there was only two versions of me, but there are like seven versions of me; Sunday Nate, Monday Nate, Tuesday Nate, Wednesday Nate, Thursday Nate, Friday Nate, Saturday Nate. You don't know what you're going to get. It's like, I wish that I could be the same person all the time. But the reality is I struggle with consistency.
And I know it can be hard, but can we just try today to be a little bit honest? Can we just try? Just for today, can we try to be honest? I'm not going to ask you to raise your hand, but let's just be honest that a lot of us struggle with consistency. Hey, do you remember January of this past year? January 1, you woke up and you said, this is my year. I'm going to be better, I'm going to grow, I'm going to be different, I'm going to overcome, I'm going to conquer.
This year, I'm going to lose 15 pounds. You gained 15 pounds. This year, I'm going to go back to school. I'm going to get that degree. This year I'm going to read more books, this year I'm going to start serving, this year I'm going to improve. Have you ever been to the gym in January? That place is more packed out than Balloon Fiesta, but come September, it's a ghost town. Right?
Because a lot of us struggle with keeping our commitments. And if we're honest today, many of us struggle with consistency. We struggle with fulfilling our commitments. And if we're really honest, many of us in here would say, I believe in Jesus. I've surrendered my life to Jesus, but Nate, if I'm really being honest with you, I still struggle with common sin.
In fact, have you ever noticed that it's typically like one or two things that each and every one of us struggle with? It's typically a couple of things that we struggle with, and we're like, man, I'm getting an A in this area of my life. I'm passing the test in that area of my life, but this one area I just can't seem to get past. These one or two things seem to always be haunting me and hounding me and chasing me down.
And we can wonder to ourselves in this dilemma, man, I must just be weak. I must just not be strong enough. I must just not be good at this. I must just not be called to this. And this thinking can happen within our lives so much that it causes us to doubt our salvation.
When we accept Jesus, many of us believe that turning away from sin means never sinning. We think that giving our lives to Jesus means that all of a sudden we're good. Like it's just going to go away, we're going to all of a sudden become righteous.
And although justification is the gift of accepting Jesus, the gift of sanctification is a daily process. Understand this, you're in process, and that's OK. It's OK to be in process. You don't have to have it all together. Maybe it's OK if you're not OK.
Maybe it's all right if you're in this place and you don't have it all together-- you don't understand everything, you're not perfect. As a matter of fact, I think accepting that truth-- accepting that fact-- brings us freedom. In our last study in Romans, we looked at the great deliverance that God has given us, not just from the penalty of sin, but also from the power of sin. And Pastor Skip did an incredible job teaching that message.
And as we appropriate these truths in our lives, we begin to experience it. And although we might recognize that this is true, we all still know what it's like to struggle with sin, don't we? Because the struggle is real. There is a struggle that undoubtedly every believer faces in some capacity. The battle between right and wrong, the battle between holiness and unholiness, the battle between the flesh and the spirit.
And in essence, the struggle here that Paul talks about in Romans seven is of a man trying to live out the teachings of Romans chapter six-- living free from the penalty and power of sin-- without the Holy Spirit. Romans seven is a description of someone trying to live out Romans six without the power of God.
As a matter of fact, in Romans seven, the word I is used 30 times without a single mention of the Holy Spirit, as opposed to Romans chapter eight, where the Holy Spirit is referenced more than 20 times. See, the outcome of this struggle is of the utmost importance within your life.
And in this text, we're going to see three things as we dive into it. Number one, the situation that we face as we look at the reality that each and every one of us are sold on to sin. We are carnal, that's the situation we face. Number two, we're going to see the struggle we fight. As we relate to Paul and say, man, I want to do good things but I don't do good things, and I don't want to do bad things but I'm always doing bad things.
And then finally, we're going to see the solution we find as we realize that it's found only in Christ. Let's look at our first point, the situation we face. Look at verse 14 with me now in the New King James version. "For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin."
The first thing we see here in our text is the situation we face. There are some facts we have to face, there's a reality we have to accept, there are some truths we have to recognize as we fight this struggle that each and every one of us are in. Now this word carnal is from the Greek word sarkikos, and it literally means belonging to the world, natural, and weak.
Paul describes the situation we face of what carnality is-- what it means-- when in 1 Corinthians 3 he says this. "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ." I want you to mark that down, because that's important.
"For you are yet carnal, for there is strife and envying and divisions among you, showing your carnality. For one of you says, I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollo's, are you not then carnal?"
We see a few things that mark our carnality-- a few things that are the reality of the situation we're in. First and foremost, carnality is an arrested state of spiritual development. I want you to know that, because it is a state of spiritual development.
Paul is talking here in Romans to believers. He's not talking about carnality in unbelievers in the world, but he's talking to the reality that each and every one of us-- every single person, no matter how far on in the sanctification process you are-- have carnality within our lives. Paul is writing an autobiography here. He's speaking of himself-- that there is a carnal nature within himself.
See, carnality is a state of spiritual development. It's just an arrested state of spiritual development. I told you before to mark down the idea that he says, just as unto babes. See, just as a baby is dependent on others to feed them and take care of them, the carnal person is dependent on other people for their growth in their relationship with Christ.
Now this is OK, initially. As we begin our relationship with Christ-- as we begin to grow in Christ, it's OK to need other people to have to help you to grow. When you come to Christ, you don't know how to grow, you don't know what to do. You don't know what a relationship with Christ looks like, so you need other people there to help you grow in this relationship with Jesus.
But eventually you have to grow up and you have to start learning how to feed yourself. You have to start learning how to read the Bible for yourself. You have to learn what it means to grow in Christ. But some people get stuck in this arrested place of spiritual development.
It says, just as unto babes. This is important, because as a child grows, they simply learn not to do certain things. Like for some kids, they really struggle with sucking their thumbs, but usually, kids just grow out of that. Some kids really like talking in baby talk, but most kids just grow out of that.
I don't see anybody in here right now-- and I even see some younger folk in here-- I don't see anyone sucking their thumb right now. I don't see anyone sitting there, talking in baby talk, and saying, Nathan, I don't like this message. No, no. Because you're adults. You guys grew up, so you put childish things away and you're now living as adults.
But some believers find this arrested place of spiritual development-- this carnality-- and they don't grow up. The carnal believer is experience oriented. That is to say church always has to be exciting. Church always has to have some thrill or some feeling that is attached to it.
Many people get saved because there is this feeling, and then they chase that feeling-- they chase that experience. And so they're always church hopping from one place to another saying, well, I really like this experience. I really like that experience. And they're chasing a feeling rather than facts.
They're chasing this idea. And that's a dangerous place to be in, because the reality is eventually that's going to bottom out. Eventually you can only go so high. Eventually the experience is going to diminish, and if you've only based your relationship with Christ on experience and on feelings and on excitement, you're going to have nothing left.
For a lot of people, the more lights, the more pyrotechnics, guest bands, the better. Now those things aren't bad-- those things can be used. We often use a lot of those things. But the problem a carnal Christian finds themself in is that the second you crack open the Bible, they shy away. They never develop a real hunger for the word of God.
They find the word of God boring. They don't want to hear it. They get bored. They don't want to hear the Bible, they think that it's all just a bunch of rules and regulations.
Carnal believers love Christian entertainment, but not committed Bible study. Carnal Christians always have time for pleasure, but never time for prayer. See, the carnal Christian is a miserable person because they can never have enough. And that can be church based. You're miserable-- a lot of people walk away from God because it's never enough. If they're always chasing that experience and that feeling, eventually it's not enough.
But it's also true, not just in church life, but in regular life-- carnal people are always looking for things to fill a void, things to make them happy. But they're never realizing that it doesn't matter how much of the world you get, you can never be happy if you're using the world to make you happy.
Do I have any Patriot fans in here? Sorry about Antonio. Tom Brady, in an interview with Steve Kroft, said this. Why do I have these Super Bowl rings and still think there's something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, hey, man, this is what it is. I reached my goal, my dream, my life.
Me, I think, God. It's got to be more than this. I mean this isn't-- this can't be all that it's cracked up to be. What's the answer? I wish I knew. I wish I knew.
Well, I know. And it's not what he thinks it is. It's not what many of us think it is. It doesn't matter how much of the world we get, that will never make us happy. And yet, a carnal believer-- someone who is in this arrested state of development-- is still looking for things in the world to make them happy when they have the thing that could bring them true joy right in front of them.
Number two, carnal believers are easily deceived. And this really goes in conjunction with this arrested state of development. Because they're not growing for themselves, because they're not reading the Bible, because they're not being nourished and they're relying on other people for that nourishment, they will accept and believe anything someone says if it's attached to "the Lord says" or "the Bible says".
This really answers the question to why the prosperity gospel has flourished so much in our culture. My wife and I were talking about this the other night, and we were thinking about this reality that you have these guys on TV who will get on there and say, I need $54 million for a jet. God told me I need a $54 million jet. So I want you to give me money to buy this jet, because I can't fly in a big tube with a bunch of demons-- that's what this preacher refers to as people. That's really good.
And my wife was asking, she's like, man, how did people buy into this? How do people accept this and believe this? You'd think that they would see this and just say, man, that's ridiculous. That's crazy. This person's a kook, I don't want anything to do with that.
But they don't. They actually give money to it. They say, OK, here. Take my money. And I talk to people all the time who've been so hurt by that, and my wife said, why is that the case?
I said, the difference is that you know the Bible. You've read the Bible, you understand the Bible, so when you hear something that isn't true-- that isn't right-- because you've grown in Christ, you can spot it as fake and false. But a carnal believer who's in an arrested state of spiritual development, who's not growing for themselves, who's not being nourished for themselves-- they hear anything and they accept anything as true. They're easily deceived.
This answers the question as to why so many bad churches are growing in America. It's not because God is blessing them, it's because they have found what is appealing to carnal Christians. There's many churches today that will have awesome programs, they'll have great music, they'll have entertaining videos, and those things aren't bad in and of themselves. They can be used. We often use those. But the problem is they never teach the Bible.
They might hint to it, they might reference it to occasionally prove a point that they're trying to prove, but they aren't teaching the Bible. I hear a lot of pastors that-- they'll open up and they'll read a verse at the beginning, and then they won't mention the Bible again the entire message. They don't talk about what they're supposed to be teaching.
Ephesians 4:14 says that we should no longer be children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, but grow up into the full measure of completeness found in Christ. See, we need to grow up. We need to stop being this arrested place of spiritual development. Grow up, be fed, be nourished, be taught sound doctrine so that we can spot the fake thing when we see it.
The third thing we see is that carnal believers are given to division and envy. We see that Paul talks about that in 1 Corinthians. He says, some say I'm of Paul, I'm of Apollo's-- see, carnal Christians are always trying to be on the winning team and get people onto their side-- to convince people to see it their way.
They blame others. They're fault finders, and they're fault finders because they're personally frustrated-- a lot like David, who was a fault finder. He saw in someone else the sin that he himself was guilty of, and he became a blamer-- a fault finder-- because in reality, he was personally frustrated about something in his own life that he couldn't see correctly.
They want other people on their side. They will mold and manipulate scripture to fit their needs. At the core, carnal Christians are bare minimum Christians addicted to the highs of sin even though it's killing them. I read a story about a toad in Australia. And this particular toad is a very, very poisonous toad, but it's extremely colorful. It's got beautiful patterns and it's really pleasing to look at. And apparently it's become a problem because some dogs have been licking this poisonous toad and getting sick and even dying from licking the toad.
Now that's not surprising, because dogs are dumb. Dogs eat anything. Like, literally, my dog will eat its own poop. My dog will eat entire things of hair ties in one gulp, and I'm like, how did you even do that? Dogs eat anything.
But what's interesting is they say that the dogs have actually become addicted to the high that this toxin gives them, so they're doing it over and over and over again. Some dogs have actually gone to the vet five or six times from licking these toads. They're literally addicted to the very thing that's killing them.
Tim Keller said, "You begin an addiction when you have some distress in your life and you look to a substance to give you relief. But you really know you're in the inescapable stranglehold of an addiction when you look to the very thing that is causing the problems in your life to give you relief from the problems in your life."
A lot of us are addicted to sin. And to defeat sin's control within our lives, we need to move up from the carnal, self-indulgent living that we're stuck in to the spirit empowered life where these other sinful things within our lives simply cannot survive. See, the point is this. If you try to battle your carnality and your sin yourself, it won't work.
If you try to use sheer willpower and determination-- stand your ground and say, I'm not going to do it, you're going to lose. Case in point-- that was the last slice of pizza I'm ever going to eat. I'm going to get healthy. 24 hours later-- it just sounds so good. That Dion's ranch-- I just can't resist it. OK, fine.
Well, if I'm going to eat pizza, then I'm going to work out. Tomorrow, I'm going to the gym. 24 hours later-- on the couch, eating more pizza. See, sheer willpower and determination can't get you through anything. If you sit up late at night and say, I'm not going to touch that bottle, I'm not going to call that person-- that toxic relationship with that boy or that girl, I'm not going to go to the website and look at that stuff.
I'm not going to do it. I'm going to choose not to-- my willpower, my determination. If you try to battle your sin and carnality yourself, you're going to lose. The only way you can defeat the carnality in your life is to focus not on your sin, but instead focus on God. Start focusing on what you've been redeemed to.
Start focusing on getting back up after you've fallen, not on the fact that you've fallen. Rise up, and the things that are bringing you down will naturally fall off. See, cardinality is a place of constant struggle and turmoil, and perhaps some of you are living in this arrested state of spiritual development. Maybe some of you are caught in this carnal dilemma right now.
That really leads us to our second point, the struggle we fight. Paul presents the situation we face-- that we're all carnal, we're all sold under sin, and there's this dilemma that we face. And that really leads him to this realization that, man, the struggle is real. The struggle we fight-- look at verse 15 to 16.
After remarking on his carnal dilemma, Paul says this, "For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice. But what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. "
Maybe you're here today and you are struggling over and over and over with a reoccurring sin. As I said before for most believers it's one or two things that we really struggle with-- that we can't seem to get away from. That seems to be what Paul is referencing. Man, I'm in this dilemma, I'm in this state, and I just can't seem to get free of whatever it is-- temper, gossip, maybe it's a loose tongue, impure thoughts, pride, greed, whatever.
As a Christian, Paul is saying that he has something in him that really wants to do good-- that agrees with the law. Says, yes, the law is right. Yes, I believe the Bible. I want to do good, but I can't do good.
But he also says something else rises in him that says, no. That says, OK, if I can't do good, then I won't do bad. I refuse to do bad. I determine not to do bad. And yet he finds himself in circumstances continually where his determination melts away, his resolve is gone, and he ends up doing exactly what he swore he would never do.
Oscar Wilde said it this way, "I can resist anything except temptation." You know, if I'm honest, Romans seven kind of ticks me off. It kind of makes me mad, because doesn't it kind of feel like Romans eight should follow Romans six? That if we have this power to resist temptation-- if we're freed from the power and the penalty of sin-- it seems like Romans eight should be the next step.
And Romans eight is so full of hope. It's so full of joy, it's so full of promises. It just kind of stinks that Romans chapter seven is in between. It's just kind of hard. It seems so anticlimactic, but unfortunately this is the reality of many Christians' lives.
So first and foremost, don't feel like you're alone. Because as I said before, we all struggle-- if we're honest-- with consistency, to some form or fashion. We all struggle with this. The things that you struggle with, the issues that you fight, someone else in here is also fighting those issues. Someone else is also struggling with those things. You're not alone.
The way you feel is the reality of human life. So know that you're not alone. Don't believe the lie that you're alone. The description we have here is of a person who's come face to face with God's perfect and holy law, and they acknowledge that it's true, but upon acknowledging that it's true, it's like a mirror-- they see their reflection, the painful truth of who they are, and they look away in horror.
He has seen himself as he really is, and he doesn't like the way he looks. I am notorious for spilling red chili and coffee on white shirts. It's kind of, like, an issue. The fact that this shirt doesn't have coffee or red chili on it right now is pretty incredible.
But I have this issue of spilling coffee on my shirts or getting food stuck in my teeth. And oftentimes I don't realize that it's there until I look in the mirror. And then I look in the mirror, and I'm aghast at the giant stain on my shirt that I've had all day long, and all the meetings that I've had and all the people that I've talked to.
Sometimes I don't even see it in the mirror. Sometimes I'll come home and at nighttime-- by like six o'clock at night-- my wife will look at me and say, has that been on your shirt all day? What do you mean? Oh. That.
And I recoil in horror. I don't like what I've seen. I don't like the reality of what have been shown. Have you ever felt this way? Not about something on your shirt, but maybe something in your life? An aspect of your life that you didn't know was there?
A part of your life that you had maybe blinded yourself to, that when you get exposed to it-- when someone points it out-- you're like, man, how long has that been there? How long have I dealt with that? How long has that been an issue? Is there a way out? Is there any hope? How do I get better?
The answer is yes, there is hope. See, though we struggle-- though we fight with the old nature, and it will no doubt be an issue until the day that we receive our new bodies-- the scripture does teach there is a way out of carnality and into a godly life. Although it's impossible to be sinless, it is possible to sin less. But a couple of steps have to be taken in order for that to happen.
Number one, look at verse 17. Paul gives us the first solution to come out of this state. He said, "It is no longer I who do it, but it is sin that dwells in me." Now a lot of you might look at that and say, Paul, that's just a cop out. That's like what kids do.
Wasn't me, it was my brother. No, no, no. It's not me, it's sin that's in me, I promise. It wasn't my choice, it was sin. Blame sin.
Just seems like a cop out. But it's not a cop out, rather it's a recognition of what we're really up against. You can't fight a battle if you don't know who you're fighting. And any good coach-- of football or basketball or soccer or baseball. Good coaches often will spend just as much time studying the enemy's playbook as they will practicing their own plays. Because when the coach brings his team into battle, if you will, he wants to make sure he knows exactly what he's up against.
Any good general, before he marches his troops into battle, will find out what kind of enemy defenses there are-- what kind of artillery the enemy has, because he doesn't want to lead his troops to slaughter. He wants to know what he's up against. We need to know what we're up against if we want to win this war. And what we're up against is the evil human nature, and it has to be dealt with appropriately.
Galatians 5:17 says "For the flesh wars against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh. These are contrary to one another so that you cannot do the things that you would." Augustine said, Lord, deliver me from my worst enemy-- that wicked man, myself. We need to know what we're up against.
Verse 18, Paul continues this idea. Verse 17, he says, it's no longer I who do it, but it's sin that dwells in me. And then verse 18 he says, in me, nothing good dwells. He had this idea that if sin dwells in me, then in me, nothing good dwells. This is a vital step to our deliverance from carnality, and that is a realistic look at who you are.
Now, this applies to even the most dedicated believers. Sure, you might say, well, this is a description of a carnal believer, but this really applies to every one of us, even the most dedicated believers. In fact, the more we grow spiritually, the more we learn of him, the more we're going to see our own sinfulness.
When the prophet Isaiah came into the presence of God he said, woe is me. I am undone. I am a man of unclean lips. David, after some years of walking with God, said, I recognize my rebellion. It haunts me day and night.
Another translation gives us added insight into that. It phrases it as this, "I know how bad I've been, my sins are staring me down." Anyone ever been stared at in public? Someone is staring at you? How uncomfortable is that, right? My sins are staring me down. The struggle is real.
David understood well the same truth echoed by the apostle John in 1 John 1:8, when he said, if we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. Here in Romans seven, this is Paul-- this is the guy who wrote, if anyone has reason to boast in glory in the flesh, I have more.
Right? Like, he's flexing, like, I'm good. I'm a good person. Have you guys ever heard of weird flexes? Like bro, that's a weird flex. Some people have weird flexes, like, for instance-- man, I can eat 10 pieces of pizza, and keep on eating more. OK. Weird flex, bro.
My truck is so big, it gets, like, five miles to the gallon. OK. Weird flex, bro. I love Justin Bieber so much, I waited in line three days to see him in concert. OK. Weird flex, bro. But Paul doesn't have a weird flex, he has a righteous flex. He's like, man, if anyone can boast, it's me. And yet, here in Romans seven, he's saying, in me, nothing good dwells.
See, the point is that we're powerless. Apart from God, we can do nothing-- all the New Year's resolutions, all the promises, all the programs, all the sheer willpower that you muster up cannot get rid of sin. Granted, you can be a good sinner, but you're still a sinner.
And is that going to be your response to Jesus when you stand before him? Well I'm good. I'm a good person. I went to church, I gave to charity, I love my family-- doesn't matter. You're a sinner.
Imagine trying to use that in front of a judge if you were guilty of a crime. Say you hit somebody with your car and killed them, and then you stood before the judge, and before he sentenced you, you said, judge, just take one thing into consideration before you sentence me. I'm a good person. I go to church, I give to charity, I read my Bible, I'm nice to people.
The judge would say, I don't care. You're guilty of a crime, and being a good person doesn't negate the crime. This is a vital step, and it has to be taken if we want to be delivered from the clutches of carnality. We have to accept that in me nothing good dwells.
Verse 22 to 23, Paul continues on. We really see the next aspect of this struggle we fight, and it's a struggle with the law. Verse 22, he says "For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members. Warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members."
Some people try to fight this battle with the law, but the law is like fighting with kids' gloves. Imagine if I got really mad at one of you and called you and I was like, you know what? You and me-- we're going to have a fight. After the service, in the parking lot, by the volleyball courts. We're going to fight like we're middle schoolers-- you know, everyone did that in middle school.
We're going to have a fight. And let's say I called you, and you're like, all right, fine. You want to fight? I'll fight. You're like, you know, 6'5", skin and bones, a little bit of fat, I can take you. So let's go.
So we go to fight-- we're set to meet to fight it out. What if I came to that fight ready to beat you up with Hulk gloves? I'm like, all right, you ready for this? These bad boys have gamma power-- like gamma radiation. You've never been hit until you've been hit by a foam Hulk glove. Let me tell you, you're in for an awakening.
You'd be like, man, this is going to be an easy fight. I'm going to kick this guy's butt. Why? Because I have no hope to win a fight if I'm fighting with kids' gloves. I need to get rid of the kids' gloves and I need to find power beyond that reality.
The law is like kids' gloves. See, the law puts the magnifying glass on our sinful natures, and in doing so, it points us to where the real power is, and that's the Savior Jesus. If we try to fight the power-- we try to fight that battle with the power of the law-- we're fighting with kids' gloves. We can't win. We're going to lose.
There's no victory to be found in the law. It's not until we shed the kids gloves-- shed the law-- and accept the Savior-- accept Jesus-- that we find real power to fight our battles. So often we struggle with consistency and fulfilling our commitments because we focus on following the law. But because of the law, we are made constantly aware of our shameful condition, even to the point of feeling like we need to leave the faith altogether.
Because we say, man, the law is so hard to keep, and if I can't win, why should I even play? I don't want to risk being called a hypocrite, so instead of being called a hypocrite-- instead of losing-- I just won't play. I'll just leave the faith. That seems easier to me.
But when we understand grace, it allows us to harness the true power through Jesus Christ and go through the process of becoming more Christlike. And it is a process. Every one of you-- every one of us-- I am in process. I am in process, and I find my power not through the law, but through Jesus.
We only become hypocrites when we stop being willing to admit that we continuously fight these struggles. Yes, our struggle is real, but we will not let the struggle we fight with sin disqualify us from the solution we find in the victorious life that Jesus Christ died for you to have.
That really leads us to our third point-- our final point, the solution we find. Look at verse 24. Paul cries out, really in desperation. "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" This is the cry of a man who is sick and tired of being sick and tired. It's the cry of a man who is so tired of this recurring condition of sin in his life, and he wants help.
The word wretched is defined as miserable, afflicted, wretched through the weight and burden-- get this-- of slavery. That should recall to you an earlier verse that we just read, verse 14, where he says, I am sold under sin. These were the words of the slave market.
Paul is saying, I am a slave to sin, and I cannot bear the weight and the burden-- the miserable state-- of slavery any longer. I need someone to save me. I need someone to rescue me. But you can only save a drowning man who's stopped trying to save himself.
Any lifeguard knows this. If you jump into the water and try to save someone who is trying to save themself-- they're flailing around, trying to swim-- they could hit you in the head, knock you out, and you could drown, too. So you have to wait until they stop trying to save themselves, and they simply put their hand out and say, help, please. Somebody.
I can't do it. I've come to the end of myself, I need help. I need rescue. This is the point-- this is the only point where God's help is given, and this is what we need to learn.
If we think we have something in ourselves that can work out our problems, if we think that our wills are strong enough, if we think that our desires are motivated enough that we can control evil in our lives by sheer determination, then we have yet to come to ourselves. We've yet to come to this place of desperation that Paul found himself.
Verse 24, he asked the question again. He says, who will deliver me from this body of death? Maybe you're caught in this carnal dilemma, you're caught in this place of sin, and you say, Nate I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. I'm tired of being a slave to my own desires, my own passions.
I'm tired of dealing with this one thing over and over again. I'm tired of feeling guilt and shame, I'm tired of feeling like I'm not good enough and I'm not strong enough, I'm tired of fighting this battle. Who can help me? No program can help you. No experience can help you. No person can help you.
An exorcism can't help you. Inner healing can't help you. A psychiatric encounter can't help you. A psychic encounter can't help you. Not even Bible study, fasting, and prayer can help you.
Cara Delevingne has 43 million Instagram followers, an incredibly successful movie career, and an even more successful modeling career, and this is what she said. We are told that if we're beautiful, if we're skinny, if we're successful, if we're famous, if we fit in, if everyone loves us, then we'll be happy. But that's not true. Modeling was killing my soul.
When we look to the world-- to the things the world says will heal our soul, and we look for that to save us-- for that to fix us, it actually does the opposite. It kills our soul-- destroys us, hurts us. And we can't bear up under that weight, under that pain, and we're left in this place saying, who can save me from this body of death?
Because drugs didn't save me, alcohol didn't save me, sex didn't save me, money didn't save me, things didn't save me, friendships didn't save me, so who can save me from this body of death? This phrase carries the idea of rescuing someone from danger. It was used in reference to a soldier going to a wounded comrade on the battlefield and carrying him to safety-- rescue.
The term "this body"-- many people believe that it's about a tribe that was near the town of Tarsus, where Paul grew up. And in this tribe, the sentence for murder-- the punishment for murder was that they would take the corpse of the person who had been murdered and they would latch it to the offender. And they would force the defender-- the person who had done this thing, done this murder, done this act-- to walk around and live with the corpse of this body, until, eventually, because of decay, disease, and rotting, the actual murderer would die.
Because the body of death was strapped to him. The body of death was latched to him. He was forced to carry around the remnant of his sin. Paul seemed to have this in mind when he spoke of this old nature, this remnant of who we were, this sin nature that is supposed to be dead, and we're supposed to be alive in Christ.
This sin nature is latched to us, and it's having the same effect on him. He's saying, it's killing me. It's destroying me. The disease, the decay, the infection from my old life-- it's eating me up. We need help. Our feelings have to be answered by facts.
You and I are wounded on the spiritual battlefield of life, and we cannot help ourselves. Who will come to our aid? Who will rescue us? Look at verse 25. "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
I opened up reading in the NIV, and I like the NIV's translation of this verse a lot better. It says this, "Thanks be to God who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord." Just as the sinner has to look outside of himself to the cross to be cleansed of sin, which is justification, so the believer has to look outside of himself to that same cross for the power of sanctification.
The answer to how are you freed from this state? How do you experience relief? How do you experience joy? How do you get rid of the guilt and the shame? How do you get rid of those thoughts that you just can't do it anymore? How do you get rid of those feelings that you're not good enough, you're not strong enough, that you should just quit? Jesus.
Jesus is the answer. He's always the answer. In him, we find the power to live a sanctified life, not just for cleansing, but also for identification. See, the secret is that once we begin to live that life and find the source of that power, we begin to walk in the power of the spirit.
Every day, we make a number of choices. What to wear, what to eat, what to say, where to go, when we drive, we make the decision of when to stop and when to hit the gas pedal. But we also make choices that have spiritual rewards or consequences within our lives. What to read, who to talk to, what to say to people. We decide if we're going to forgive or if we're going to harbor bitterness and hold on to it, let it fester.
We decide if we're going to pray for somebody or gossip about them. We decide if we're going to obey what God has told us to do, or if we're going to disobey what he's told us to do. But the wonderful thing is that the flesh is automatically overpowered when we begin to walk in the spirit. When we begin to focus on doing what God has called us to do, when we rise into the spirit empowered life that God wants for us, the mediocrity of carnality naturally fades away.
The pain and the struggle, the doubts that we have-- doubting our salvation, doubting our strength, doubting our weakness when we realize we have no strength, but Jesus is our strength-- we begin to rise, and sin begins to fall.
One last thing. If you're here today-- you're dealing with the pain and the sadness and the guilt, you're feeling like Paul, you're like, man, I don't understand myself. I don't get it, but I'm always angry, I'm always mad, I'm always sad. I always seem to be struggling with sin.
I never can find any freedom, and because I can't find freedom, I just feel so guilty and shameful. I feel like I don't belong here with these people. Number one, understand that everyone else around you has felt that same way. The people you're unwilling to talk to about your sin struggle with sin.
But number two, start accepting your forgiveness and your lack of condemnation. Romans 8:1, which we're going to hear about next week, says there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. It doesn't say no falls, no failures, no infirmities, no inconsistencies, but no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus-- for those who are in fellowship, in communion with him.
Thus when the Father looks at us in Christ, he still loves us in spite of our failures. In spite of our inconsistencies. In spite of our struggles and our broken commitments and our empty boasts. When we really enter into this union with Jesus, we find a new power that we didn't previously have, the power of the Holy Spirit. And it's only through the Spirit's power that the flesh can be overcome.
And we have to remember that it's better to focus on what we've been redeemed to-- it's better to get up after you've fallen, instead of focusing on the fall. And we can trust that when God sees us, he sees the finished work of Jesus on the cross. And so we will pursue a life of sanctification, not from a place of fear, but from a place of love for our Savior.
Lord, we thank you for your word. We thank you for the truth that it holds, for the encouragement that it gives. Lord, for those of us who are in it right now, the struggle is real. Battling our inconsistencies, battling our sin and our shame and our guilt, Lord, it's a struggle. But we find the solution in you.
So help us to walk in the freedom, the liberation, the lack of condemnation, the joy of Jesus Christ. In Jesus' name we pray, amen. God bless you guys, we will see you next week.
How will you put the truths that you learned into action in your life? Let us know. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.