One of the most difficult passages in Scripture to truly believe, Romans 8 declares the truth that despite our deep rooted sin that we war against daily, there is no condemnation for us and we are safe in Christ. We were brought before the judge guilty and condemned, but the judge has declared us “Not Guilty”. We are righteous in Him and freed to walk in the spirit.
We can all easily relate to Paul in this section of Romans. We all have some kind of sin that we just can’t beat. We all desire to present ourselves to the world and to God as Dr. Jekyll, but we continually do the deeds of Mr. Hyde. So how do we respond? We can despair at our inability to correct our behavior. We can resign ourselves to losing to sin and sin all the more. We can convince ourselves that if we try a little harder, we can still win on our own. Or…we can accept that we cannot win our war against sin—that we are wretched—but that Christ has won it already and we hope in His grace.
It’s said that Romans 7 is one of the easiest chapters to believe, but one of the hardest to enjoy. Why is that? Paul identifies with the ongoing war we have with our sin, describing it as a “body of death” chained to us. We are wretched people who, despite a desire to do what is right, are wholly incapable of obedience to the God. But there is hope, thanks be to Christ Jesus, and we are not left in despair because whether we are having our best day or our worst, because God’s satisfaction with us and love for us isn’t rooted in our progress, but in Jesus.
Moralism and legalism make for a pretty miserable life. Whether it’s the Law or any laws that we make for ourselves, a standard is held up that we don’t stand a chance of attaining to. And when we fail, we’re left to either ignore our failures or simply despair. In Romans 7, though, we start to see how sin within us uses the Law, but also how the Law makes the Gospel good news. We are freed from the Law to serve in the Spirit. The Law breaks us down and shows us the depths of our need, driving us to the Gospel that makes it possible to meet God’s standard through His Son.
We’ve spent the past two weeks talking about how we have died to sin and been freed from our slavery to sin and now serve Christ and now we talk about our relationship with the Law. We’ve seen earlier in Romans that those with the Law have it as a witness against them before God, but is the Law a bad thing? In grace we are freed from the condemnation of the Law, but does that mean that the Law has no place in our sanctification?
On the Tri-Village Campus’s one-year anniversary, it would seem odd that we would celebrate by remembering that we’re slaves. We are all slaves to something; we can’t just float along “freely” on our own. We were all, at one point, enslaved to sin. The good news of the Gospel is, though, that we have been freed from sin! But we haven’t been freed to just do our own thing and live on our own. We have been given to a new Master (a Master who became a slave for us), a new Mission (presenting ourselves to God for righteousness), and a new Motivation (our new Master is the only one who can live up to His promises of life and joy).
What we do is heavily influenced by our identity—who we are. This is a tough pill for us to swallow because this passage tells us that we are slaves. We aren’t creatures that can simply float about “freely”; we always worship, love, and present ourselves to another. We can either choose to be enslaved to sin, whose fruit and wage is death and despair, or we can choose to be slaves to righteousness, in bondage to the slave-master who has sacrificed Himself for us, yielding the fruit of sanctification and life.
Returning to Romans, we begin a new series on Sanctification asking: “If grace is good and I get more grace when I sin, shouldn’t I sin more so that grace may abound?” Paul’s answer both reveals how ridiculous it is and goes deeper to show us more of the nature of our salvation. We didn’t just have the guilt of our sin removed, but the person enslaved to sin was killed with Christ and we were raised to a new life in Him. Sin is no longer our slave-master! Yet, rather than present ourselves to God and righteousness, we choose the chains and present ourselves to our old master.