I love Christmas cards! At least the ones that are NOT politically correct and celebrate the birth of Jesus. This verse is one of the ones that always shows up on a card – and I love it!
Matt 1:21 – She will bear a Son and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.
An angel told this to Joseph in a dream so he would take Mary as his wife, but also to make sure that Joseph, the earthly father of the child, would give the child the name Jesus – which means Jehovah is salvation.
Jesus – salvation – for He will save His people from their sins.
We’ve followed along with Paul in the first 7 chapters of Romans – focusing on the sin that everyone is born with and from which no one can escape. In our text today, Paul describes himself as “a prisoner of the law of sin.” Do you relate? Aren’t we all prisoners of sin – try as we might, we are locked under the curse that came when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit.
But Jesus – His name means salvation and He came to earth to save His people from their sins.
I heard a recent teaching by Jon Courson that explained how Jesus did this, is doing this, and will do this for us – save us from our sins past, present and future. I’d like to share my paraphrase of what he preached.
First, Jesus – our savior – took care of the penalty of sin. Romans 3:23 says the wages of sin is death. The penalty of sin is death – eternal separation from God and all that He is – goodness, lovingkindness, light, beauty, joy. Jesus bore all our ugly sin on the cross and experienced that separation from the heavenly father so we don’t have to. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? he cried from the cross. God’s answer to our Lord’s question is Love. Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
Jesus took away the penalty of sin, which is our justification. Just as if I never sinned – each believer is now and always seen by God as holy and blameless. He has tossed our sin as far as the east is from the west, and He forgets it, the Bible says. Truly! Psalm 103:12, Heb 10:17
Then, Jesus takes away the power of sin as we live our lives here on earth. This is sanctification. In chapter 6, we learned that we are no longer slaves to sin. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. The power of sin is overcome and we can be slaves to righteousness and walk in newness of life.
Finally, when we leave this earth – either when our bodies die or the upcoming rapture soon and very soon! – Jesus takes away the presence of sin. That sin that’s always under the surface wanting to get out will no longer be with us. 1 John 3:1 says Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see him just as He is. Just like Jesus who never sinned.
And when you read about heaven in Revelation, there will no longer be any curse and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bondservants will serve Him, they will see His face and His name will be on their foreheads. It sounds glorious! And the enemy, the accuser of the brethren, who speaks lies into our minds and makes us feel condemned so much of the time, will be silent!
We will actually be free of the presence of sin – that is our glorification.
So Jesus – whose name means salvation – has taken away the penalty of sin (past) – for our justification.
Jesus – whose name is salvation – takes away the power of sin (present) – for our sanctification.
Jesus – Jehovah is salvation – will take away the presence of sin (future) – for our glorification.
I just wanted to start this study in a Glory Hallelujah yay Jesus way. I know we are going to jump in here with Paul wrestling with sin. But I think it’s important for us to always remember that despite the fact that we wrestle with sin every single day, the victory is won.
But thanks [be] to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. [1Co 15:57 NKJV]
Your sin has been taken care of – past, present and future. I think if we focused more on what Jesus has accomplished on the cross for us, we would be able to focus less on the sin that wants to entangle us.
What does Hebrews 12:1-2 say? – Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares [us], and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of [our] faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. [Heb 12:1-2 NKJV]
We are running that race right now, so let’s see what the Lord would have us learn about it in this chapter. So starting in Romans 7:14-23, let’s read about Paul’s struggle with the sin that so easily ensnares him.
14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.
16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.
17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.
22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,
23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. [Rom 7:14-23 NASB]
We want to do the right thing, but we are constantly messing up. We don’t want to sin, but it comes to us as naturally as breathing. We agree with God’s law, but we break it constantly.
How often I have been angry at my husband, or nagging him to do something, and even as I’m saying the words, my mind is telling me to shut up and stop, but I continue to spew forth the venom. It’s as if I cannot stop.
Or, talking with a friend, and a morsel of gossip just bubbles out of me, when I’m fully aware that it’s wrong to share. I hang up the phone and then call the friend back, apologizing and making her promise not to share that piece of gossip. But will she be able to conquer the sin that dwells inside her? I obviously didn’t.
Or the stupid TV show, “How I Met Your Mother,” that glorifies sex and alcohol, but I find it so funny and somehow endearing that I continue to watch it?
Or I find myself jealous of what someone else is doing – in her ministry, or on vacation, or a cool job, or a cute shirt. What’s with coveting someone else’s life?
Yet in all these things above, I know what is right. There is a still small voice inside me telling me the truth, urging me to do the right thing.
Why don’t I listen to it?
Verse 22& 23 – For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
It is a war, isn’t it? Paul is talking about believers here. Despite the fact that we are justified and the penalty of sin is gone, sin continues to dwell within us. When we looked up the word dwell in our study, I found it interesting that it can mean co habitation – sin and the Spirit together in my house.
Galatians 5:17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. [Gal 5:17 NKJV]
Ever since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, sin dwells inside us. Jeremiah 17:5 says The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it? I looked up desperately wicked – it means incurable, very sick, even a malignant disposition of the mind.
And who does know it? Just in case you thought you could hide it: Verse 10 goes on, I, the Lord, search the heart. I test the mind.
So that is the body of death that we are stuck in. And there’s different ways that Christians look at this scenario: some just give up but a lot of Christians who look at this battle and start fighting it.
For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.
We hate ourselves for our sin, so we try harder not to sin. We are fighting the battle, but we will never win it if we fight it in our flesh. We know the flesh is carnal. We know the flesh is evil. We know the flesh is the body of death. Why would we think we can fight sin in the flesh?
Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? [Gal 3:3 NKJV]
This is legalism – trying to be good on your own merit and Paul has addressed it in the previous chapters. I read a good commentary on it to share with you:
- Legalism always brings a person face to face with their own wretchedness, and if they continue in legalism, they will react in one of two ways. Either they will deny their wretchedness and become self-righteous Pharisees, or they will despair because of their wretchedness and give up following after God.
I have done the latter before I discovered God’s grace in my life.
But you have to get rid of yourself, you have to “crucify yourself with Christ” step aside, surrender and let God take over. David Guzik notes that Paul referred to himself 40 times between Romans 7:13 and when he finally comes to the end of himself in verse 24.
O wretched man that I am! [Rom 7:24 NKJV]
Chuck Smith comments that the ancient Greek word wretched is more literally, “Wretched through the exhaustion of hard labor.” Paul is completely worn out and wretched because of his unsuccessful effort to please God under the principle of Law.
Who will deliver me from this body of death? The answer that we all know – it is Jesus! I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Of course, I ask the practical question – how will Jesus deliver me from this body of death? How will Jesus stop the warring members of my body that make me a prisoner of the law of sin?
There’s lots of answers throughout the word, but let’s stick to our chapter. I think we can find a few hints right here in Romans chapter 7.
Verse 4 – calls us to bear fruit for God. In verse 6, we are reminded that we can serve in newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
So, first of all, be filled with the Spirit.
Gal. 5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. …
5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. [Gal 5:16, 25 NKJV]
How are you filled with the Spirit? The only requirement is that you believe in Jesus. John 7:37
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’
Eph 5:18 commands us to be filled with the Spirit, so we know it’s the will of God. So when the struggle with sin is real, that’s the time to ask God to fill you again…and again. It’s His will to do so and He will do it.
14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. [1Jo 5:14-15 NKJV]
With answering this request, the Holy Spirit may also call upon you to surrender your will, to confess any ongoing sin, but faith is the only requirement.
Once we are filled with the Spirit, we can bear fruit for God as verse 4 tells us.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. [Gal 5:22-23 NKJV]
Another hint I see in Chapter 7 is that the Law is spiritual – verse 14 – and the Law is good – verse 16, and the law of God is in my inner man – verse 22.
Bury yourself in Psalm 119 this week and see all the benefits of the Law. We have seen here one benefit of the Law is that it shows us our sin, but another huge benefit of the Law is that it keeps us on the right path.
1 How blessed are those whose way is blameless, Who walk in the law of the LORD. 2 How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, Who seek Him with all their heart.
Following the law blesses us, but I was surprised in Psalm 119 at how much God is involved in us following His law. It’s a natural flow – we seek and He answers.
9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. 10 With all my heart I have sought You ;Do not let me wander from Your commandments. 11 Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.
12 Blessed are You, O LORD; Teach me Your statutes. 13 With my lips I have told of All the ordinances of Your mouth. 14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate on Your precepts And regard Your ways. 16 I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word. [Psa 119:1, 3, 5, 9-16 NASB]
This is what we are doing here at Bible study – we are rejoicing in His testimonies, we are meditating on his precepts, we are regarding his ways and we will not forget his word.
The last hint is in verse 25 – So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. [Rom 7:24-25 NASB]
With my mind – God has given us the mind of Christ. 1 Cor. 2:16 says.
Verse 12 explains – 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, [1Co 2:12 NASB]
God has put His Spirit in our inner man. God has written His word on our hearts. God has given us the mind of Christ so that we may freely know all things given to us by God. Allow the Spirit and His Word to rule your heart and there will be no battle. Our captain, the Lord of hosts, is Jesus Himself.
When a great multitude of soldiers were coming to war against Israel, Jehosphaphat had all the people gather, pray and fast for deliverance. The Lord spoke to them: ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.
24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
I think verse 1 of Chapter 8 should accompany this passage: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.