I was able to attend a Christian school for junior high and high school. During my freshman year, one of my teachers told us to get our Bibles out and a pen. He had us open them up to Romans 7. We were instructed to read it once, then go back through it with our pen. Each time we read the words, “I, me, my, myself,” etc., we were to circle them. We were then told to read Romans 8. After we read it, go back through it and circle, “Spirit, God, Jesus, Christ,” etc. Once finished, we had to go back and count them in each chapter. There were a lot of circles in my Bible between the two. Towards the end of chapter 7, Paul wrote, “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong” (NLT). He then said he was a wretched, miserable person trying to live like a Christian on his own. He wrapped up that chapter by asking, “Who will free me from this life dominated by sin?” He then answered his own question with Jesus.
Chapter 8 starts off by reminding us that there is no condemnation for those in Christ. I love that he included that because so many times we condemn ourselves because we fall prey to what Paul was talking about in trying to follow Jesus by willpower alone. He then starts writing about the battle between the Holy Spirit and our flesh, and how they’re always at war because they have two different goals. One is to please yourself, and the other wants to please God. He then makes a bold statement saying, “For if you live by its (the flesh’s) dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.” It becomes clear at this point in the chapter that we must learn to let the Spirit lead our lives if we’re going to live how God wants us to. It becomes a matter of who we choose to listen to.
As I read Philippians 2, it talks about us needing to have the mind and attitude of Jesus. He lived a Spirit led life doing what God wanted Him to. After encouraging us to live the way God wants us to, he encourages us in verse 13 with, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” God is at work in you and me, helping us to live Spirit led lives. We don’t have to try to do it on our own. His Holy Spirit resides in us, guides us and works in us to build us up into the people He’s called us to be. If you’re struggling like Paul wrote about at the end of Romans 7, remember that Jesus is working in you to free you from the mindset that you can do it on your own. Let God do His work in your life. Give the Holy Spirit control. Then remember that there is no condemnation for you. There will always be a struggle with your flesh as long as you live in it, but God’s Spirit is in you, working to give you the power to live a life that pleases Him.