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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
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"Thanks Be to God" -- Romans 7:14-25

romans%20fragment.jpgThe Eighteenth in a Series of Sermons on Paul's Epistle to the Romans

According to the Apostle Paul, the normal Christian life entails an intense struggle with sin.  Although there are times of great progress in the Christian life, these momentary victories serve to point us to that glorious day when we will completely triumph over sin.  But until that day comes–at the time of our death or the Lord’s return, which ever comes first–every Christian must certainly empathize with Paul when he laments that even though he delights in the law of God, he still does the very thing he knows is wrong.  Even though he has been set free from sin, death and the condemnation of the law, Paul knows himself to be a wretched man, sold as a slave to sin. 

Beginning in Romans 5:12-21, Paul contrasts what we are “in Christ” with what we were “in Adam.”  Thus all believers have been transferred from the dominion or realm of Adam to the dominion or realm of Christ.  But even though this transfer is a reality for all Christians (not just those who supposedly live victorious Christian lives), in Romans 7:14-25 Paul tells us that because we remain in “the flesh,” we will struggle with habitual (or indwelling) sin until we die.  Having been set free by Christ from those things that once enslaved us in Adam, the struggle that each one of us now faces is to act like the free men and women that we are.  We must stop acting like the slaves to sin we once were.  This is the essence of the struggle with sin described by Paul in Romans 7:14-25.  And this struggle is one important characteristic of the normal Christian life.

As you may recall, last time we tackled the critical question to be faced by all those who encounter this passage.  Is Paul talking about his own experience in these verses, or is he describing a hypothetical Jew struggling with the conviction of sin brought about by the law, which provides no relief from sin’s guilt and power?  If Paul is indeed talking about his own experience, then the question is whether or not Paul is describing that time before his conversion (as he did in Romans 7:7-13), or his present struggle with sin, even though he be an apostle.  Since we discussed this in some detail last time, let me simply state here that in my estimation, the evidence is overwhelming that Paul is speaking of his present experience as an apostle, and that the struggle with sin depicted in this passage is that of the normal Christian life.

Having addressed the critical interpretive question regarding this identity of the “wretched man” last time, we now turn our attention to the details of this passage and we will also address some of the ramifications of the inevitable struggle with indwelling sin.

To read the rest of this sermon,
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Reader Comments (1)

"O wrethed man that I am!" Centuries ago, Archbishop Cranmer used the words "lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness" in the Collect for Ash Wednesday. Reformation realism and honesty. In this life, though declared righteous by faith, we remain wretched sinners.

Would that St. Paul would be more closely read and heeded!
March 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

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