“There is therefore now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
I’ve been listening to a sermon series by Derek W.H. Thomas entitled “Romans 8” published through Ligonier Ministries. It breaks down this wonderful chapter into twelve sermons that, quite frankly, I find fascinating. Many, including Thomas, say that Romans 8 is the most important chapter in the whole bible. As Thomas points out, some might object to that saying that the entire bible is God-breathed, and no chapter could be better than another. He counters by asking which would you rather share with someone on their death bed, Romans 8 or one that simply comprises a list of names?
If you are looking to find out where you sit with God, look no further than Romans 8. It starts with a bold statement – that you are not guilty in the eyes of our Lord – and ends with another – that nothing can change this fact. Once this sinks in, abounding joy will certainly follow. I am reminded of the joy that Mary Magdalene must have experienced when she first recognized the risen Lord. Can you imagine that?
Indeed, this is really what we see as Paul lays out Romans. Chapter 7 is really tough, like that of the mourning Mary, in which there is the realization of just how bad the situation is. Mary was mourning at the death of Jesus, even thinking that someone had taken the body. Likewise, Romans 7 culminates with the hopelessness of sin in our bodies of flesh. Who can forget Paul’s words, “Wretched man that I am!”
It is with this backdrop that Romans 8 steps in. The plain truth is that sin is so permeated in our lives that we are not able to get rid of it. Previous chapters prove our hopeless condition – that our willful sin has made it impossible for us to reconcile with God on our own – and that through faith in Jesus we may obtain peace with God. Because of Jesus, we are now able to break the chains of sin. This is a transactional declaration with regard to our spirit and completely subject to God’s intervention in our lives. However, things are not instantaneous with regard to our flesh. That is a process, and Romans 7 describes the agonizing difficulty that one goes through in our efforts to rid ourselves of sin.
That’s the lesson that God has been teaching me for some time now. As you know, God relieved me of my addiction to alcohol in a moment – June 13, 2007 – yet there is another gluttonous-type behavior that he has not. In my mind, it should be simple. You know, mind over matter. I can do this, right? Well, some things I can, and some things I can’t. I have no problem whatsoever quitting gambling. The truth is that gambling is not something I ever even do. It’s not my sin. Overeating is my sin, and the battle to treat my body as the temple of God has completely overwhelmed me.
What’s worse is that I find that I am my own worst enemy. I am the one who desires to overeat. I am the one who decides what I put in my mouth. I am the one who willfully grieves the Holy Spirit by deliberately and intentionally sinning against the God who has had such mercy on me.
I am at a loss to understand my behavior other than to come to learn that Paul wrote Romans 7 for me just as much as he did for himself. Listen, I have all the head-knowledge I will ever need to have a healthy lifestyle. It is the sin in me that prevents it. If this is indeed a sin problem, then the answer lies only through Jesus. It has to.
Still, my pride prevents me from doing what I need to do: taking this problem to the cross and leaving it there. I feel as if I’m finally getting to the end of my pride. I hope so. I thought I was at this point several times before, but I wasn’t. I really hope I have run the course on this and am ready for Romans 8.
It occurs to me just how patient that God is with me in learning this lesson. He understands my condition.
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Hebrews 12:6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
I have this sense that the time for learning Romans 7 is over for me, and God is now taking me to Romans 8. It’s time for me to switch my mindset so that I might continue in the discipline part of Hebrews 12:6 and not risk the chastisement part. Right?
Father, keep leading me. Amen.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers