Tag Archives: romans 7

Pleasing God

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.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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Trusting Grace

My six year old son has been asking me a lot of questions about sin lately. He asked me if I sin. When I told him that I do, he wanted to know why. I explained that I don’t want to, but sometimes I do. It’s just part of being human and having sin live inside us. Then he wanted to know if it upsets God when I sin. I told him that it does, but God is faithful to forgive us of our sins when we confess them to Him and are sorry for doing them. Then he wanted to know if he sins and the circle continued.

I love that he’s already concerning himself with wanting to live a life that pleases God. I also want him to understand that sin is an ongoing problem in all of our lives. There is no one who is perfect and can keep from sinning. This problem is outlined perfectly in Romans 7. Verses 17-20 say, “I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway” (MSG). It’s the struggle we all face.

No matter how much anyone of us want to live a sinless life, we eventually fall short and sin. Paul is very clear in this chapter that the problem is not us, but the sin that is inside of us. We are all dependent on God’s grace instead of our ability to live sinless lives. I love how Romans 8:4 puts it. “The law always ended up being a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it.” Trying to live a sinless life doesn’t fix the problem; it only covers it up. Living a perfect life is not our goal. Learning to trust God’s grace is.

God’s grace and the Holy Spirit working in us is the remedy to our sin problem. When we try to put a Band-Aid on our sin and do things on our own, pride comes in. The answer is to quit trying to live a sinless life out of sheer will power because we can’t. God’s Spirit is living in us and working in us. We must learn to live Spirit led lives, trusting the Holy Spirit to guide us in the life that He wants us to live. The Spirit wants to lead us into a life of freedom instead of constant condemnation because we fail constantly. Rip off the Band-Aid and let God heal you from the inside out.

Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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An Elijah Moment

As I stood on top of Mount Carmel looking across the valley, I remembered the story of Elijah. The land hadn’t seen rain in three years. The now fertile valley was dry and bare. King Ahab was looking for grass to save his horses from dying of starvation. Elijah, whom the king wanted dead, told him to gather all the prophets of Baal and to meet him on top of Mount Carmel. The prophets of Baal made an altar and so did Elijah. They were to pray and ask for fire to ignite the altar. The god who answered would be the real god. After the prophets of Baal had prayed all day with no fire, Elijah poured water on his altar three times then called down fire from Heaven. It consumed the altar from top to bottom drying up all the water as well.

In 1 Kings 18:21 Elijah addressed them, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” (NLT) When I read that, I can’t help but internalize it. Our lives are a constant battle between our flesh and our spirit. We waver between wanted to give into the desires of the flesh and doing what God requires. As long as we go between them, we are miserable as Paul described in Romans 7. According to James 1:8, it also makes us unstable in all our ways. That’s not the way that God wants us to live. In order to live that way, we need to have an Elijah moment in our lives where we force ourselves to choose the way God wants us to live.

Colossians 3:5 says, “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” We need to put to death the things that we have put before God. Verse 10 tells us, “Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.” We all have this choice to make. Either we will continue to live unstable, idolatrous lives or we will put on the new nature that’s been given to us. It starts with calling down fire from Heaven into our lives consuming the things that are not of God. It’s a continuous process, but it starts with an Elijah moment.

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Fighting The Flesh

In the mid 1990’s, DC Talk had a song called “What if I Stumble”. At the beginning, they read a quote from Brennan Manning’s “Ragamuffin Gospel” that said, “The greatest single cause for atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” That quote has always spoken to me and has challenged me.

When we get close to Easter, the story of Peter denying Jesus three times usually gets brought up at some point. We give him a hard time because he denied Jesus with his lips, but we often don’t think twice about things we do that deny Jesus with our life. One of my favorite quotes has been, “Preach at all times, and use words when necessary.” It’s a challenge for me to try to live a life that points others to Jesus. The problem is that in our flesh, it’s impossible. There is a constant struggle in each one of us between our flesh and God’s spirit living in us.

Paul perfectly described our feelings in this struggle in Romans 7:24 when he said, “Oh what a miserable person I am!” (GNT) He went on about the struggle, and how to win it, in Romans 8. Verse 12 says, “Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.” To win the battle more times than not, we have to learn to repeatedly tell our flesh a resounding, “No!” We are not obligated, as Paul said, to obey the flesh.

If you struggle telling your flesh, “No,” you’re not alone. It’s something we all struggle with. We can get better at it by learning to deny our flesh through fasting and prayer. We can do it by reading God’s Word instead of something else. If we want our lifestyle to match the words that come out of our mouth, it begins by listening to God’s Spirit within us and being led by Him. Jesus forgave and used Peter despite his vocal denial. God can forgive and use us too. Winning this battle within us and living a lifestyle that preaches God’s Word starts with one “No” to the flesh. Thanks to God who gives us that power by living in us.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

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Trusting Grace


My six year old son has been asking me a lot of questions about sin lately. He asked me if I sin. When I told him that I do, he wanted to know why. I explained that I don’t want to, but sometimes I do. It’s just part of being human and having sin live inside us. Then he wanted to know if it upsets God when I sin. I told him that it does, but God is faithful to forgive us of our sins when we confess them to Him and are sorry for doing them. Then he wanted to know if he sins and the circle continued. 

I love that he’s already concerning himself with wanting to live a life that pleases God. I also want him to understand that sin is an ongoing problem in all of our lives. There is no one who is perfect and can keep from sinning. This problem is outlined perfectly in Romans 7. Verses 17-20 say, “I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; i decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway” (MSG). It’s the struggle we all face.

No matter how much anyone of us want to live a sinless life, we eventually fall short and sin. Paul is very clear in this chapter that the problem is not us, but the sin that is inside of us. We are all dependent on God’s grace instead of our ability to live sinless lives. I love how Romans 8:4 puts it. “The law always ended up being a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it.” Trying to live a sinless life doesn’t fix the problem; it only covers it up. Living a perfect life is not our goal. Learning to trust God’s grace is.

God’s grace and the Holy Spirit working in us is the remedy to our sin problem. When we try to put a Band-Aid on our sin and do things on our own, pride comes in. The answer is to quit trying to live a sinless life out of sheer will power because we can’t. God’s Spirit is living in us and working in us. We must learn to live Spirit led lives, trusting the Holy Spirit to guide us in the life that He wants us to live. The Spirit wants to lead us into a life of freedom instead of constant condemnation because we fail constantly. Rip off the Band-Aid and let God heal you from the inside out.

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Quit Being Self-Confident

  
In life, we tell people the way to be successful is to believe in yourself. We say. “Don’t doubt. Have confidence in yourself.” We’ve learned that when Henry Ford was right when he said, “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.” A lot of success in life comes from being self confident. If you believe in yourself, others will too. Self- confidence is contagious and people want to be around others who are confident.

I looked up the definition of self- confident, and bing.com says, “Trusting in one’s ability, qualities, and judgement.” In many areas of life, that’s a good thing. In our Christian life, being self-confident is a bad thing. Salvation isn’t earned by what you do, it’s only through what Jesus has already done. Your abilities have no say on whether you get it or not. It’s only through humbly asking the One who paid the price for your sin to apply His grace to your life.

When it comes to living like a Christian, so many of us think it’s just a matter of will power. We think we can force ourselves to live right. Ben Franklin tried that. He kept a daily journal of his sins so he could focus on them and thereby not do them anymore. What he found was when he corrected one, he ended up doing another. He ended up getting frustrated trying to live a good life on his own.

In Romans 7, Paul wrote about trying to live the Christian life in your own ability. In verses 21 and 24, he summed it up this way, “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” (NLT) He couldn’t do it and neither can we. The life we are called to live can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit.

In I Corinthians 10:12, Paul wrote, “Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence” (MSG). We can’t live the life we are called to live in our own abilities, qualities, and judgement. It’s only through God’s, that we can be successful. If we continue to try to live it in our own, we will be miserable like Paul was until we learn to live this life like he did through the Holy Spirit’s ability. Cultivate your God-confidence when it comes to living righteously and you will be successful.

I encourage you to read Romans 8 where Paul goes into more depth about living a Spirit-led life.

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Target Practice

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I spent some time recently with my family doing target practice. We were shooting at the target from about 30 yards away with a 9 mm. I aimed at the bullseye, squeezed the trigger and hit the bottom left of the target. I aimed at the bullseye again and got the same result. I adjusted my stance and aim, then lined up again and hit the bullseye. Out of ten shots, I was only able to hit it three times. I found that I was inconsistent at trying to hit the mark.

Living the Christian life is a lot like that. We aim for the perfect Christian life, but over and over again, we miss the mark. We adjust our approach, we change our stance and do what we can to hit the bullseye. We get it right some of the time, but a lot of times, we just don’t measure up. When that happens, we try harder. Sometimes that just messes things up worse. In the end, a lot of us get frustrated because we just can’t be consistent and live this life the way we wish we could.

Paul faced a similar struggle. In Romans 7, he described the struggle well. In verse 15 he said, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” He continues in verse 19, “I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” Paul understood the frustrations of trying to live a perfect christian life. In fact, in verse 24, he said trying and failing just made him miserable. He knew that no matter what, He couldn’t do right all the time. Sound familiar?

We fail when we think that being a Christian is within our own power and abilities. We are not perfect and therefore cannot be perfect all the time. Besides, our salvation is not dependent on our actions, but rather on the work that Jesus did on the cross. Yes, we should try to live godly lives in response to what He did, but don’t get misled into thinking that living a perfect life is how you get into Heaven. Our lives should be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:5-6 says, “Those who live as the Spirit tells them to, have their minds controlled by what the Spirit wants. To be controlled by human nature results in death; to be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace.”

If your life looks like my target and you’re miserable because you can’t live up the the perfect expectations you’ve placed on yourself, spend some time in Romans 7 and 8. Paul found that the answer is not in our own abilities, but in His. Jesus” death on the cross makes up for all the times we miss the mark. We have to accept His grace and allow Him to apply it to our imperfect lives. It starts with admiring you can’t do it (Romans 7) and finding that the answer lies in Jesus (Romans 8). Don’t give up. Keep living for Him and learn to rely on His grace instead of your actions.

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