Fight

Romans 7:7—8:17

Fight - Enseñanza (audio)

It is some years since John first used drugs at a party. He had tried a cigarette, and thought he wouldn’t do it again. But he did, and then some weeks later he tried something stronger. He had a hard time admitting that he was hooked, but his friends knew that was the truth.

Then one day, John was caught in possession. The police pressed charges, and the court set a heavy fine. There was a penalty to pay, but John had no money.

After a lot of heart searching, John’s mother paid the fine on his behalf, but afterwards she wondered if she had done the right thing. “I’m afraid that by paying the fine, I’m just enabling him to continue his habit,” she said.

She’s right. John still faces the problem that he is an addict. The drugs are exercising a power in his life, and if he is to be ‘saved’ that power must be broken.

When Adam and Eve committed the first sin, there were two long term consequences. Sin brought a penalty against them, and it became a power within them.

So, when God saves us through Jesus Christ, He saves us from both sin and its power.

In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul explains more about how God has done this. To help us understand his teaching, I want to introduce three characters. Their names are Hostile, Helpless and Hopeful. Try to decide which one you identify with most. Then we will see what God has to say to each of them, and to us.

Hostile: No Desire, and No Ability

The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. (Romans 8:7)

Paul is talking about a person whose mind is hostile to God. So we are going to call him ‘Hostile.’

At one time, Paul himself was hostile. He led a furious persecution of Christian believers. He was “breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples” (Acts 9:1). That’s hostile.

Then when he was travelling on the Damascus road, the risen Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him, and said “why are you persecuting me.” Paul’s violent anger against Christians was actually a reflection of a deeper rage against Christ.

You won’t have to look too far to meet Hostile in our society today. He gets very angry about public mention of God. The suggestion that there is a God in heaven who created us and to whom we are all ultimately accountable is deeply offensive to him.

You may have noticed that many kind and respectable people are hostile when it comes to the things of God. A conversation can be quite civil until God’s name is introduced. Then, it is as if a switch is triggered, and a deep hostility within the soul is opened up.

Hostile has neither the desire nor the ability to follow God’s law.

Helpless: Desire Without Ability

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do. (Romans 7:15)

In Romans chapter seven, we meet another character who we will call ‘Helpless.’

Helpless knows that God’s law is good, and he wants to do it but he doesn’t have the ability (Romans 7:17,18). He is a “prisoner of the law of sin.” It is as if he is in chains, and he cannot get free.

This leaves him feeling absolutely miserable. “O wretched man that I am,” he says “who will rescue me from this body of death?” (7:24).

Hopeful: Desire With Ability

In Romans chapter 8, we meet a third character who we will call ‘Hopeful.’

Paul tells Hopeful to “Put to death the misdeeds of the body” (8:13). That is precisely what Helpless could not do! But Hopeful is in an entirely different position! He has the desire to fight against sin in his life, but he also has the ability to prevail, and the reason is that the Spirit of God lives in Him.

Hopeful and Helpless face the same struggles. They feel the power of the same temptations. The difference between them lies not in the battle but in the outcome. Helpless faces inevitable defeat: Hopeful faces ultimate victory

Pearl Harbor

When Pearl Harbor was attacked on 7th December 1941, Winston Churchill was at Chequers, the British Prime minister’s country retreat. On hearing the news, He called President Roosevelt, who confirmed what had happened. “It’s quite true,” Roosevelt said, “They have attacked us at Pearl Harbor. We are all in the same boat now.” Churchill recorded his thoughts as he went to bed that night:

No American will think it wrong of me if I proclaim that to have the United States at our side was to me the greatest joy. We had won after all. Yes after Dunkirk, after the fall of France… after seventeen months of lonely fighting and nineteen months of my responsibility in dire stress. We had won the war. England would live; Britain would live!

How long the war would last or in what fashion it would end, no man could tell, nor did I at this moment care. Many disasters, immeasurable cost and tribulation lay ahead but there was no doubt about the end. All the rest was merely the proper application of overwhelming force. I went to bed and slept the sleep of the saved and the thankful.

The war would drag on for another four years. It would continue to be a bitter struggle, but even in December 1941, Churchill could say, “we had won after all.” The outcome was certain.

During the Blitz of 1940, Churchill had been Helpless. But now he was Hopeful. The difference lay in the involvement of an overwhelming force.

If you belong to Christ, the Holy Spirit is with you and in you. You are not Helpless, so don’t talk as if you were. God has placed you in an entirely new position “in Christ.” You will face the same battles as you did before, but there will be a different outcome. “Sin shall no longer be your master” (Romans 6:14).

Identify Your Position

Which of our three friends do you identify with? Hostile, Helpless or Hopeful?

It’s important to answer this question accurately, because you can’t take the next step forward in your spiritual life until you know where you are.

God’s Word to Hostile

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

If you are Hostile, God says, “I love you.” God poured out His love towards us while we were still hostile towards Him. He has loved you through all your struggling, resisting and fighting against Him. He loves you still, even in your hostility.

God offers an amnesty to those who are hostile. He invites you to lay down your arms, and offers you the opportunity to repent. Repentance is giving up your resistance to God. Jesus Christ came into the world and went to the cross so that those who were once God’s enemies could be become His friends.

God’s Word to Helpless

God’s word to Helpless is quite different. He already wants to do what is right. His problem is that he doesn’t have the power.

When Helpless cries out in despair “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” God’s answer is “Jesus Christ” (7:25).

The Christian life is about the power of God entering your soul to break the power that has been ruling over you. Christ will deliver you.

Come to Christ in faith. Tell Him that you cannot live this life on your own. Tell him that you need the power of His Holy Spirit so that you will have the ability as well as the desire to live a new life. Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. God will give you a new name. You will no longer be Helpless, you will be Hopeful.

God’s Word to Hopeful

God tells Hopeful to put to death the misdeeds of the body by the power of the Spirit (8:13). “Start an intentional battle against sin that remains in you, Hopeful. Learn to fight, and don’t ever say that you are Helpless. The Spirit of God is within you. Christ has put you in a position to fight and win.”

Are you making the proper application of overwhelming force? Can you identify specific sins on which you are launching an intentional assault at this point in your life? Are you praying about them? Have you formed a strategy for change, knowing that the power of the Spirit has been given to you to make this possible?

Hopeful, the Spirit of God is within you. Fight!

Remember that the enemy will try to confuse you about your position. He loves to tell Hopeful that he is really Helpless. Many of His greatest successes come from that kind of propaganda. So identify your position, and then follow God’s instructions.

If you are Hostile, repent. God’s love reaches out to you.

If you are Helpless, come. Christ will deliver you.

If you are Hopeful, fight. The Holy Spirit is within you.

Pause for Prayer

Gracious Father,

Thank you that through Jesus Christ, you have made a way for your enemies to become your friends.

Thank you that Christ has come not only to pay sin’s penalty but also to break sins’ power.

Thank you that you have made the Christian life possible by the power of Your Spirit.

Help me to make a proper application of His power in my struggles and so to prevail for Jesus sake, Amen.

Fight - Escritura (audio)

Romans 7:7—8:17

The Law and Sin

7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Life in the Spirit

1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Heirs with Christ

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

(ESV)

Use these questions to further engage with God's Word. Discuss them with another person or use them as personal reflection questions.

1How does God show His love to people who are “hostile”?
2Why is the Christian life so difficult?
3If you are “hopeful,” what are the primary battles you are fighting right now? How is it going?
4Do you believe that God’s Holy Spirit will come along- side those who feel helpless? What holds you back from believing in Jesus and asking for the help of His Spirit in your battles?

Detalles

ESCRITURA Romans 7:7—8:17

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