21 March 2012Romans 7:13-25
"For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self." (v. 22)
The apostle Paul was raised in Tarsus, a Greek city, and came
from a wealthy family who ensured he received an excellent Gentile
education. But he also received a Jewish education, under the
renowned Rabbi Gamaliel in Jerusalem, where he acquired a thorough
knowledge of Jewish law and traditions. As the son of a Pharisee,
he became a Pharisee himself and prior to his conversion, was
zealous to uphold Jewish laws.
In verses 13-25 we can see the working of Paul's mind as he puts forward intellectual arguments, trying to explain the contradictions in life, between right and wrong, and his inability to live up to godly ideals. It seemed that Paul's persistent reaching for, but falling short of, perfection was a source of frustration.
In verse 12 Paul states that the law is actually good, even though it causes a person to sin because that person is unable to live up to the standards of the law. But the problem is not with the law, but with the sinful nature.
Paul describes the experience of all Christians who wrestle inwardly against sin, by trying to keep God's rules in their own strength, without the Holy Spirit's power.
From Paul we can learn what to do about this inward struggle. Whenever he felt lost, he would return to the beginning of his spiritual life, remembering his freedom in Christ and thanking him for it.
The Christian life is not an easy one, but God has made tools available to us: the Bible, prayer, worship, Christian fellowship, service to others, and the power of the Holy Spirit to aid us as we follow Jesus.
What principles have you discovered regarding sin, the law, and God's help, from today's passage?
Have there been times this week, when you have failed to trust the Spirit to empower you when faced with temptation or sin? How will you strive for a positive way forward (eg by acknowledging your failure and seeking strength from God)?
Paul recognised the need to turn from hopelessness, to thanking Jesus for his incredible gift of saving grace. How will you express your thankfulness to Jesus, the hope of the world?