The Believer and Sin (Pt. 1)
July 22, 2018
For years, the bumper sticker and slogan, “Visualize World Peace” has been both affirmed and mocked. And while people want peace, war is a reality of the world in which we live. I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that historians have compiled lists of all known wars and since the year 3600 B.C. have documented only 292 years of peace, worldwide. During these 5600 years, there have been over 14,300 wars, with 3-2/3 billion people killed. Additionally, since 650 B.C., there have been 1,650 arms races, and all but 16 of those have ended in wars. We want peace, but war is a reality.
And when a sinner comes to trust in Jesus Christ, he similarly often yearns for peace from sin and finds that in many ways his battle with sin actually increases. The fight is harder and longer and deeper than he ever anticipated it could be. We want to assert the motto, “visualize spiritual peace” — visualize a life free of temptation and sin. But it doesn’t exist.
While a believer has been set free from sin and the believer no longer has to sin, that does not mean the believer will not sin. And that doesn’t mean that the believer will not have a struggle with sin. The life of a believer is not a life free from all temptation and all struggle with sin. Consider two examples:
- Our Savior, Jesus Christ, while on this earth faced the same kinds of temptations we did, yet without sin. So Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” That last phrase is important — it means that Satan unleashed all of his guile and animosity and power at Christ in an attempt to get Christ to sin and He did not sin. We might ask, “How much of his power must Satan use to get entice us to sin before we fall?” Might it sometimes take 1% or 2%? Or 5%? Perhaps. But I think most often it is a fraction of a percent. But Christ faced 100% of Satan’s tempting power and did not fail. Here’s the point: if Christ, our Master, faced the fullness of Satan’s onslaught and He faced temptation throughout His life, why do we assume that as His followers we will not also face temptation and the battle with sin throughout our lives?
- The Bible is full of exhortations and commands that we do not sin, which implies that we are always susceptible to temptation and sin and that the flesh remains with us. Even in the previous chapter Paul said this: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (6:12–14). That he warns his readers to not let sin reign means there is a possibility that sin might reign in their lives.
So the struggle against sin is real. And that is the focus of the passage before us this morning. In one of the most well-known (and most debated) passages in the NT (Romans 7:14-25) Paul says,
The believer’s life is a battle against remaining sin.
As we come to this familiar passage, I want to help us identify whom Paul is talking about when he says, “I” and then I want to identify one lament in the life of the believer. And then next week talk about another lament and the believer’s hope and the believer’s reality.
Context: Is Paul Talking About an Unbeliever or a Believer?
- Why Paul might be talking about an unbeliever
- Why Paul might be talking about a believer
- Paul is talking about an inability of the Law
- The Believer’s Lament: I Do What I Hate (vv. 14-17)
- The believer’s condition (v. 14)
- The proof of the believer’s condition (vv. 15-16)
- The source of the believer’s condition (v. 17)
2. The Believer’s Lament: I Don’t Do What I Love (vv. 18-20)
3. The Believer’s Hope: Jesus Sets Us Free (vv. 21-25a)
4. The Believer’s Reality: Loving God and Battling Sin (v. 25b)
Download the rest of this sermon on Romans 7:14-25.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.