Despite the fact that we are involved in a battle against enemies who seem, at times, immune to our attacks and unlimited in their resources, the glorious truth is this: the victory has already been won—on a cross outside of Jerusalem 2000 years ago.
The longer I am a Christian, the more I realize how great a sinner I am. This realization is not necessarily a virtue in and of itself: if I am only acutely aware of my sin, I will wallow in despair and fear. On the other hand, it is by recognizing the depth of our sin that we can be brought to greater joy in Christ. This appears to be Paul’s understanding in Romans 7:13-25.
In verses 13-24, Paul openly and honestly wrestles with the sin that still resides in his heart and that actively opposes his new nature. The thing he wants to do—fully obey Christ—he is not able to wholly accomplish; at the same time, he finds himself committing the very sin he hates. This struggle with indwelling sin culminates in verse 24 where Paul cries out, “Wretched man that I am!”
Perhaps you have felt like this—perhaps you often feel like this. The question is whether or not the pervasiveness of our sin causes us to search for a remedy the way Paul did. Immediately after Paul cried out in agony over the depth of his sin, he asks rhetorically, “Who can save me from this body of death?” The answer? “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (v. 25). The implication? It is only God through Jesus Christ who can save Paul from the relentless power of sin. With this in mind, I see two conclusions we can draw from this passage.
1. Dealing honestly with our sin can and should lead us to resting and rejoicing in Christ.
Paul would not be a good example of spiritual growth and discipleship had he stopped at verse 24. Yes, we are wretched. Yes, we are sinners of the highest order. Yes, we have despised and ignored and spurned a holy God. But that is not the whole story. There’s more. It’s called the gospel.