June 27, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Romans 7)

Submitted by Matthew K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Romans 7: Reflection Questions

Romans 7:1-6

  • What is it that we have died to through the death of Christ, and for what purpose?

We have died “to the law through the body of Christ.”  But law is not sinful, but sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the law, produced all kinds of evil, coveting, sinful desires, deception and ultimately death.  Thus, through the body of Christ, I died to sin and the consequences of sin.  I died to sin in order that I may belong to Christ and bear fruit of God.

What does it mean to die to sin?  It means that sin no longer has dominion over me; there is no longer any relationship between sin and myself.   I certainly do not belong to sin as I belong to Christ.  Sin cannot dictate what I do, how I live my life, or where my destiny is going to be.

It’s an incredible reminder of my new destiny–I am no longer bound by sin or law.  I have a new destiny, new purpose, and new identity.  I belong to God, who has the power to raise me from death, and I am called to produce good fruit.  What is the purpose of the fruit?  It is to demonstrate to others that the inner reality of death to sin and being alive to God is real.  It is proof of God’s power to rescue me from sin and giving me a new life.

Romans 7:7-13

  • What may be the reason why people lack personal conviction of sin, according to this passage?

One reason why people lack conviction of sin is their lack of knowledge of God’s law and his holiness.  According to Paul, he would not have known what coveting really was unless the law clearly commanded against it.  Through knowing God’s law and holiness, we become aware of our sinfulness.

  • Have I been deluded about my own sense of righteousness because of my lack of awareness of God’s holy laws?

I grew up in church for the most of life and I somehow managed to stay out of trouble for the most part.  I was a good kid at church, who did everything right in the eyes of the adults. But inside, I was full of pride, thinking that I was righteous, that I deserve God’s love, that I am a gift to our church, and that people are lucky to have me as their friend.  In other words, I was grossly deluded.

I remember the first time the word of God convicting me of my sins.  I was listening to the message on the Sermon on the Mount when the preacher talked about “Blessed are the meek.”  God’s word pierced my heart as it exposed my sin of pride.  Ever since then, time and time again, God used his word through DT and messages to convict me of my laziness, selfishness, self-preserving attitude, indifference, lack of love, etc.

Romans 7:21-25

  • What is the relationship between what’s going on “in my inner being” and “in the members of my body”?  What is my response to this?

There is a war between my inner being and the members of my own body. There is a spiritual battle going within my own life. All too often, I can ignore this reality.  I need to battle to be alert at all times recognizing that the enemy will try to take any kind of ground within my own soul.  Often it uses the members of my own body, its desire to be lazy, its appetite for sensual satisfaction, its desire to simply rest and seek comfort, etc.   Sin is always on the attack–“seizing opportunities” to claim portions of my heart that I am not guarding.
I need to be reminded of this reality of spiritual battle.  I need to daily guard myself through word and prayer.  I need to recognize the voices of sin that tempts the members of my body to take it easy, rest, seek comfort, and be lazy.

  • Can I identify with Apostle Paul’s sentiment expressed in vv. 24-25? 

At the same time, as I fight this battle, I know that I cannot win this battle on my own or through my own will power.  It is comforting to know that it’s not entirely up to me.  In fact, the bible is clear that I cannot win this battle, and I am not to fight this battle on my own.  I have been fighting this battle long enough to know that I don’t have what it takes to survive on my own.  But I can always cry out to God and I know that he will and can rescue me.  As I get older, I am learning to rely on God more and more for this spiritual battle. I simply cannot do it on my own. It’s impossible to live a victorious Christian life on my own.  The forces of evil are too strong. But I know that I can rely on God on daily basis for strength and courage to claim that I belong to God, resist sin and bear fruit.

Submitted by Vanessa O. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Romans 7:  Reflection on Key Verses

Linger over these verses, and focus on the truths contained in them.  Write a brief reflection or prayer based on these verses.

Romans 7:14-20

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

 Romans 7:24-25 

24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

It’s very daunting to think that sin has this kind of debilitating power on us where we feel enslaved, trapped, suffocated, defeated and hopeless. This is exactly what Satan wants us to feel and experience. Satan wants us to stop running this race, he wants to convince us that there is nothing good in us, that nothing will save us from this wretched body of us. Yes, the sinful nature that lies within us demonstrates this inner struggle and it’s a daily struggle we all face. Apostle Paul himself could identify with this kind of struggle when he says “15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do”.

But the good news is that this is not the end of the story. The truth is that I cannot save myself from the sin that lives in me. I cannot battle it on my own, I cannot get rid of it and I can’t do anything to make up for it. This is why I need a savior.  Who can save me from this body of death? I certainly can’t, but it’s Jesus Christ! Jesus who died on the cross for my past, present and future sins-He is the one who can save me from this body of death. And this is the great news every Christian can hold on to. We know we don’t have the power to save ourselves, but thanks be to God because He loved us so much to send his one and only son to take the punishment we deserved.

One truth I take with me from this passage is that the battle is real, the struggle against sin is hard. Many times I ask myself the very questions Apostle Paul asks, “why do I keep falling into that same sin over and over again?”, ‘why did I say or do that?’. I feel this same way when some message or prayer convicts me and I commit to fighting against some sin, and yet, again and again I fall. I then find myself experiencing the same dilemma as Apostle Paul, ‘for I have the desire to do good, but I cannot carry it out’. It’s so true, I can’t carry it out because at the core there is the sinful nature wanting to pull me away. I would be miserable if there was no solution to this sin, but Jesus was that solution.

As I get older and see how ugly sin is, knowing this truth that Jesus died for my sins, that he is the solution to my problem, helps me see the cross in such a different light. It allows me to see how God displayed his love in wanting to rescue me from this body of death and bring me to life. Yes, the struggle is hard, but my life has been transformed in a way I would have never imagined, and this makes me that much more thankful for the cross.

In all this passage give me courage and confidence to keep struggling and fighting against sin because of what Jesus did on the cross, and I’m just thankful that though this is who I am, God still chooses to save me from my own peril.

Lord, please help me in my struggle with sin. Lord, you know that my heart wants to do good, that I want to seek your righteousness, but this sin living in me pulls me the other way. Lord, at times I feel so defeated and hopeless over the same sins, but Lord, I know that you have the power to save me. Sin is not the final word. You are the one who rescued me! Thank you for not treating me as my sins deserve and for wanting to draw me closer and closer to you even though I fail again and again. Thank you for rescuing me and bringing me back to the truth that only you can rescue me from this body of death. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

Submitted by Jiseon C. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.

This is often the conflict that I witness in myself. In my conscience, I want to be that kind, benevolent, righteous person, but in practice I cannot seem to carry this out. I feel like a broken machine, I do not produce what I had intended to produce Truly I feel that I am bound to a force that is beyond my own ability to restrain.  I had intended to be gracious to that trying co-worker, but I end up being short and curt.

I wanted to that kind gracious friend and those lofty generous thoughts tug at me, and ideas of how I can meet people’s needs formulate in my mind but when the rubber meets the road, when I feel tight on my own resources or capacity, after a while, I feel like I cannot give any more. I want to lead people graciously, but I am constrained by my own fears and selfishness. The messages I hear are compelling and I want to live to those heights, but what do I act out, I act out in selfishness.

I am trapped. I am a conflicted person. I am conflicted because I feel like a person trapped in her own body that will not cooperate. At each point, there is a civil war waging in my heart, a constant battery of my good against the evil and back and forth. And in just a split seconds time all of those thoughts are just raging through my head at the end of which I am convinced that I am truly unable to control my own flesh.

Romans 7:24-25 

24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

How can I break out of the ever-present wicked desires and the heavy momentum of sin? How can I ever be freed from this constant barrage of sin and evil?

The body of death that Apostle Paul is describing is in reference to that horrific practice in warfare, where after a battle the Romans would tie up to the conquered “live” enemy soldier, limb by limb, face to face, the body of a corpse, and leave them in the summer heat on the fields until the rotting corpse spreads to destroy the man tied to him. What a horrific but accurate picture to describe what our body of sin does to our desire for righteousness. As in this case, it is so clear that we are no match for the body of death that clings to us. We have no way of escape unless someone outside of us rescues us! And this is the imagery of this verse. What a wretched, condemned man I am!

But thanks be to God! He saw me writing, struggling against my own body of death, and He gave me Jesus Christ! He is the Lord, who will overthrow this body of death when I cry out to Him. When I decide to cry out to Him He will give me the supernatural power to overcome. He is the one who is the stronger man who can overthrow the dominion of this body of death and rescue me. Rescue me so that I can start to actually carry out the good righteous intentions his spirit presses upon my heart. Rescue me so that I can be free to do the good I want to do, and to not do the things I do not want to do. To actually carry out my intentions to be faithful by persevering in a ministry of mostly sowing, as middle school ministry can be.  To restrain myself from doing what I hate to do, which is to be short and curt to trying people.

To be gracious to those who try me, to be patient to those who take advantage of me, to overcome temptations and actually start developing habits of righteousness that can please God. God, through Jesus Christ, will rescue me from this body of death, so that I can carry out the intentions of His heart that will bring Him joy and praise. Thanks be to God, I am not condemned to do only that which the body of death can do.

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