About That Struggle With Sin
By Bobby Blakey on March 19, 2023
About That Struggle With Sin
By Bobby Blakey on March 19, 2023
Well, today we're here to talk about a text of Scripture that gets talked about a lot. In fact, this could be the passage that I hear people quote the most. And so, I want to invite you to open your Bible with me to Romans chapter 7. You know, sometimes when people are quoting the Bible, they'll be like, well, you know how it says in the Bible, and they can't tell you where it says it in the Bible. In fact, sometimes when people are quoting the Bible, they say, Jesus said, and then what they say are not actually what Jesus said. So sometimes people aren't very good at quoting Scripture, but it seems like a lot of people know Romans 7. And they're like, well, you know what it says in Romans 7? Well, you know how Paul sins in Romans 7, and I hear people bring this up. In fact, a man literally texted me this text of Scripture, like a week ago, and I don't think he even knows what he started that we were preaching it this Sunday morning, right? Because his point was basically this. And if you've got the handout, we're going to start taking notes right away, because there's so much talk about this text, I want to make sure we understand what people are saying. And on the “Popular Level,” people are using this text to say something along the lines of, see, we all sin, that kind of Romans 7 is one of the proof texts, that I'm a sinner, you're a sinner, we’re all sinners, let's just praise the Lord, right. I mean, that's kind of the idea. And maybe some people are even using it to excuse their sin, like their sin is not that big of a deal, because we all do it. It's just the way that it is, there's nothing I can really do about it. See, we all sin. So, people are quoting Romans 7. And that seems to me to be the point that a lot of people are making. Now, if you really start reading about Romans 7:13-25, you will see that there is a lot of controversy, a lot of debate about this passage. And on the scholarly level, there's a question, are we referring to a Christian or a non-Christian? And so, you could read and/or listen to sermons from some of your favorite, most respected Bible teachers, or some of the guys who are writing commentaries on Scripture that are helpful to read. And some of them will think we're talking about Paul in the present day as a believer, and some of them will talk like Paul is writing about who he used to be when he was just a Jew under the law before he met Jesus and was saved. And it's like, wow, I respect this Bible teacher. And he's saying, it's Paul right now as a believer, but this Bible teacher is saying it to Paul was before. So, people that you would think agree on so many things about the Bible, but then they have different things that they're teaching about Romans chapter 7. I remember one time I was watching a seminary chapel service, and this guy, Dr. Tom Schreiner, he was giving this chapel message on Romans 7, and he wrote what became a famous commentary on the book of Romans, and I think it was 1998. And then there was even a second edition that he wrote of his commentary in 2018. And he got up at this chapel seminary, and he's like, hey, I just want to tell everybody, I've completely changed my mind about Romans chapter 7. And in my new commentary, it says something totally different than the old commentary, I want to share it with you. He basically said, I've had a Roman seventh experience of Romans 7, I can't make up my mind, right. And that famous theologians and scholars throughout church history have changed their mind on this passage, or had differences of opinion. So, there's a lot being said about these verses. And our goal together right now is to get to what these verses actually say. And so, I want to invite you to stand up for the public reading of Scripture. And I want you to give your full and undivided attention to Romans 7:13-25. Let's really hear from the word of the Lord together today, Romans 7, I’ll start in verse 13. And read to the end of the chapter.
“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. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 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. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 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. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 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.”
That's the reading of God's word. Please go ahead and have your seat. Now. I love studying the Bible. I love looking at it with all of you here at church. And I love what God's been teaching us through Romans. He's been using Paul writing this, he uses these questions, he asks us a question. And now we keep seeing this common answer. By no means! This is the fourth time we've seen this, just in Romans 6 and Roman seven.
Go back. Let's just review them real quick. Go back to Romans 6:1, maybe you can help me out here. I know it's still early in the morning. But maybe you can help me. “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” “By no means!” Yes, yes. No, we're not going to continue in sin because we now have grace. And he asked another question there in Romans 6:15. “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law, but under grace?” Yeah. And then in Romans 7, he dives in on that topic of the law. That's the theme for this chapter. And because the law gives knowledge of sin, and because we even have this sinful response to the law, does that mean that the law is sin? Romans 7:7, “What then shall we say that the law is sin? By no means.” And you can see that now, in Romans 7:13, our passage begins with another question: “Did that which is good, then, bring death to me?” if I'm now going to die? If it feels like when I'm under the law, I'm going to die because of my sin. Is it the law's fault for bringing death to me? By no means? No, it's my own sin that's producing death in me. And what the law is doing is it's showing me how sinful sin really is. Now, when he begins to describe this thought, because he's thinking of himself in this passage as someone under the law, okay, that's what this is about. This Romans 7 is about how living by the law doesn't work. It never has worked for anybody, and it won't work for you. The law is God's standard of righteousness. If you're living your life under the law, where you're thinking, here's what God tells me to do. I’ve got to try to do what God tells me. Not only will you find yourself not able to do what God tells you, you will find yourself doing things you hate, doing instead of doing what God tells you. That's what people are relating to, in the experience presented here in Romans chapter 7.
But I just want you to look at some of the language. I love studying the Bible. I love sharing it with you. But honestly, thinking about this passage all week was not a pleasant experience. This is not like, hey, see, we all sin, hey, yeah, we all fall short. I hope you feel better about yourself. Have a good Sunday. That's not the point of this passage. This is not like we can all agree that we all sin. The person describing himself in this passage is going through internal torment. This person is having a very twisted and messed up experience in life. Whether people think that it's present-day Paul or Paul referring to how he used to be looking at how he describes himself.
And if you've got the handout, maybe you could circle some of these words here with me so you can see the intensity of what he is experiencing. Start in Romans 7:14, where it says “I am of the flesh sold under sin.” Could you circle that “sold under sin”? And that doesn't sound good, like sin is this heavy pressure, this burden upon me, sold under sin. Look at verse 15. He says, “For I do not understand my own actions for I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Could you circle that word “hate” right there. There's a sense of self-loathing here. There's a sense of low self-esteem, like I know what I should be doing. And not only am I not doing what I should be doing, I'm doing things I know I shouldn't do them. But I find myself doing them anyways. I hate what I'm doing in my own self. I mean, that's just how it begins. Jump down towards the end and look at Romans 7:23, it says, within his own body within his own members, he sees a principle of law at work, and circle “waging war.” What's happening in the parts of my body is waging war against my mind, he says, and he says… You can circle this: “making me captive to the law of sin.” He feels like there's an internal war going on. And he feels like he's a prisoner inside the cell of himself. And then finally circle, “this wretched man that I am.” He's not thinking, hey, we all sin, everybody. It's just a part of life. It's just how it is. No, he's feeling like he is a wretched man. And then he refers to his own body... Circle this, as “a body of death.”
So, if you ever hear somebody say, Romans 7, hey, that's like how we all sin, see, I send you sin. I just got to say, if that's how you're thinking about or quoting Romans 7, I don't think this passage means what you think it means. Because this guy is not finding any comfort, and the fact that there's sin going on, he's in a sense of torment. He's feeling like a wretch. He's hating what he's doing in his life. And he's begging, who can come and save me from myself, because I'm in trapped in a body of death, he says. So, this is not any kind of pleasant or reassuring experience that Paul's going through in Romans chapter 7.
Now, let me show you why people, some people think it's Paul when he's not a Christian. And some people think that it's Paul when he is a Christian. And I could talk about this for longer than we have even longer than I normally talk if you can believe it, right? So, there's so much. Let's just look at three verses and examine three verses closely. Let's start with Romans 7:14, because this is when he really begin speaking, like I and you could go through later on, and you could circle how many “I”s there are in this passage. So, this is an intensely autobiographical, personal passage of Scripture. And it's very noteworthy. And he says, I am of the flesh sold under sin. And then he says, I do not understand I do not do what I want. I do the very thing and you can just keep going. It's “I” all the way down to verse 25. Really, or verse 24, where he begins to cry out for help. So, because it's written in the present tense, like Paul is describing how he is right now, because it's written in that way, that is why a lot of people think it's Paul as a believer, because it's written in the present tense. Now, the counter argument to that is, have you ever tried to write a story that happened in your life from the first person? Have you ever written down like, well, when I was 10 years old, I did this, and have you found yourself when you're writing it down? Do you sometimes tell the story that happened in the past? Do you tell it in the present tense because it's just a better way to talk? It's a way that adds emphasis to the story. Even I've tried to write stories of things God's done here at our church and you sometimes even though it's the past, you write in the present. In fact, the counter argument would be, when you look at verse 14, it says, “I am of the flesh sold under sin.” How could present-day believer Paul say that he is under sin when he just taught us that we have all been set free from sin? So, how could he now go and say he's under sin? Because he can't contradict what he just said in Romans chapter 6.
Look back at Romans 6:17-18 because we just learned this a few weeks ago. Romans 6 verse 17, where he says here, “but thanks be to God that you were once slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you are committed, and having been set free from sin have become slaves of righteousness,” where Jesus gives us his truth. And the truth will set us free. And he who the Son sets free is free, indeed. As believers, are we under sin? The answer to that would be No. So how could believer Paul now say he's under sin? So, before we even get to the points of the sermon, if you're taking notes, just write this down. Roman 7 does not contradict Roman 6. Let's just make that very clear. If you hear anybody or if your own thoughts try to say, see, we all sin, so, I guess I'm not really supposed to live a life where I'm dead to sin. And I've been set free from sin. And now I'm supposed to present myself to God and walk in a new life in Jesus. See, you can't really do that Romans 7, Paul didn't explain that so carefully to us, throughout all of Romans 6, to then just go and contradict himself in Romans 7. And while you're writing that down, you might as well say, Romans 7 also doesn't contradict Romans 8 that he's about to get into, about how we have the power of the Holy Spirit. And look what it says in Romans 8:2, that the law of the Spirit, hey, let me tell you about what the Holy Spirit does. The law of the Spirit of Life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
So, you can't reuse Romans 7, to say, see, I'm still sinning, we're all sinning, and we're all under sin, and use it to try to contradict the fact that Romans 6 just taught us those who are in Christ are set free from sin. And Romans 8 is going to teach us that those who have the Holy Spirit are set free from sin. And so, you can see this is how the debate gets going. It sounds like Paul's describing his current status. Well, no, that I don't think it's that because maybe he's describing a past status, because how could he be under sin when he's already taught us we're set free from sin?
Let's look at another verse here. Look at Romans 7:18 with me. He says, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flesh.” And then this line right here, “I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. I have the desire to do what is right, but I am not able to carry it out.” And so, you can see how some people would use this verse to say, see, this has got to be unsaved Paul, because in Christ, we are able to obey his commands, like, once we are saved in Christ, God gives us a new heart, God gives us his Holy Spirit. And the Spirit causes us to walk in God's ways. The Spirit enables us, empowers us, and so that we can be careful to obey God's commands. So, see if you're not able to do what the law says, if you're not able to do what is right, you've got to be an unbeliever. But then other people, they might point out that Jesus says, we’ve got to remain in him in John 15:4-5. And apart from Jesus, how many good things are you able to do, everybody? Nothing, not one thing. See, so you can see, well, if somebody's really not able to do what God says they are, they're an unbeliever. Well, but even believers, if they focus on themselves, and they don't remain in Christ, what are believers able to do? They're not able to do anything in and of their own strength. So okay, so you can see people can take a sane verse, and they could try to take it towards either one of these points. Perhaps one of the most contested about verses is Romans 7:22. And this verse is really used as an example that it has to be Christian Paul writing this, because it says in verse 22, For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being see something has happened inside of Paul, and how can somebody really delight in the law of God, unless God's done a work in their heart, and maybe God's written his law in their heart, that's why they delight in it. And so, this verse 22 is a verse that people use to say, see, this has got to be Christian Paul. In your inner being your inner man, you don't delight in God's law unless you've been saved.
And you could write down a couple of passages that do give that same idea written by Paul. 2 Corinthians 4:16 says that our outer self is wasting away, but our inner self is being renewed day by day. See, once we're saved. God's word it sanctifies us, the truth renews our minds. So, here's the reference to the inner man being renewed through the Word of God. Or Ephesians 3:16. Paul's praying that according to the riches of God's glory, he may grant you to be strengthened with power through the Spirit in your inner being. So, I'm praying that God by his Spirit will empower you in your inner man. So, it's true that sometimes when Paul is used by I mean, the other times that we see Paul using this idea of the inner man, he's referring to believers, and he's expecting God to do something in their heart because they've been saved.
But go back to Romans 1:32. Because look at the way Paul has said some of the things about people who do not believe, right here in the book of Romans. It does seem in the book of Romans, and remember, when you're trying to figure out what a Scripture says, two of the best things you can do. One is, use other scripture to interpret scripture. But maybe the number one rule of hermeneutics. In fact, some people would say, the top three rules of hermeneutics are context, context, context, everybody. So, has Paul implied in Romans that unsaved people know what God has said in the law, and try to keep the law, even though they're not really able to do it, and they end up doing evil. Instead, we'll look at Romans 1:32. And this is talking about people who have exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and God has given them over to sin. And it says, though, they know God's righteous decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die. So, here's people that Paul just said, have been given over to a debased mind, yet he still thinks they know the law.
Look at Romans 2:17, because this is something he says about the Jews, the Jews, who would have told you, they loved the law, he says, if you call yourself a Jew, and rely on the law, and boasting God, and you know his will, and you approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law, and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, you're a light to those who darkness, you're an instructor of the foolish, you're a teacher of children, because you have in the law, the embodiment of knowledge and truth. So, look at all those things. He said, the Jews, they know the law, they think they can teach it to other people, they have the truth and knowledge in the law. But then he says in Romans 2:24 that the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you. So, he's implying that they do have some understanding of the law, like maybe you could even say about them, they do delight in the law of God, but they still have this real problem of sin in their life.
Go to Romans 10. This is a passage that is really helpful about the law in Romans. This is kind of the climactic passage about the law in Romans, Romans chapter 10. And I've heard a lot of people talking about this verse here at the church, Romans 10:2, and he's talking about his fellow Jews, his Jews, the Jews who would have been trying to live by the law. He says, “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge, for being ignorant of the righteousness of God.” They're seeking to establish their own righteousness because they did not submit to God's righteousness. And here's the climax. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes, the Jews, they are getting into the law, they do have a zeal for the law, they're just not getting the point of the law, that the law is meant to reveal your sin. And the law is not some standard that you can live up to. You need to be saved by Jesus. That's the only way but the Jews could you say about the Jews that they delight in the law in their inner being? Well, that might have been a way that Paul could have referred to himself before he was saved. So those are just three examples, that you can see how you could take this verse. And you could use it in your argument that Paul is a believer, and he's writing as a present day Christian. Or you could see how some people would think that this is Paul, even though he's writing in the present tense, he's referring to himself as an unbeliever back when he was one of those Jews trying to keep the law but never really able to do it.
So go back with me now to Romans chapter 7. And if you want to keep studying and reading about that there are people at this church and some of the people at this church strongly believe that this is Christian Paul, and there are other people at this church that I've talked to who strongly believe this is non-Christian Paul. The good news is we can still be friends at church after this, all right, because whether you are a non-Christian living in the struggle of sin, or whether you will have been saved, let me ask my brothers and sisters who have been saved: Is there still a struggle with sin in our lives? Yes, there is. See, the thing is, whether we're talking about an unsaved person or a saved person, this is relatable to all of us. And so, whether you think that Romans 7:13-25 is about unsaved Paul, or saved Paul, it doesn't make you a heretic if you've got the wrong view, and it doesn't make you a hero. If you have the right view, okay? Because either way, do unbelievers need to get saved out of trying to keep the law by Jesus? And do those of us who have been saved need to stop thinking of ourselves as trying to live up to some standard? And do we need to rely on Jesus Christ every day? So, we can all relate to that struggle with sin. And I think any of us could think the wrong way that is represented here in Romans 7. Romans 7 is not an example of how to think it is getting real about a wrong way that we do think, and we should learn from Roman 7 as a bad example of a way of thinking. We should learn to stop thinking the way that's described here. There is a way to stop doing things; we hate doing away to stop feeling like there's a war going on within us. And you can see that the problem in Romans 7 is, it is all “I, I.” It's the Greek word, ego, that's the word for “I, I.” And if you get trapped in your own thoughts, and it becomes up to you, too, here's what God tells you to do in the law. And now it's up to you, I’ve got to go obey God. But I don't want to obey God, I don't feel like I'm able to obey God. Now I'm doing something that's the opposite of obeying God. Now I hate myself. But don't worry. This week, I'm going to try harder to obey God. If all your thoughts are “I” Thoughts, it's never going to work in your life.
Point number one, let's get it down like this: You need more than an ego, you need more than an ego, you need more than you, you need more than I. I. You cannot just let all of your thoughts run wild about me, myself and I, and what I'm going to try to do and what I'm going to try not to do, you will find yourself in a tough place where you will always be trying to live up to God's standard and never getting there. And you will be doing things even against a part of your own will and you will hate yourself for it. If it's up to you, you will not be able to keep the lock. Can I get an Amen from anybody else on that? Okay, so we’ve got to get out of our thoughts
Go back to Romans 7:5-6. Let's just review this. This is a preview of coming attractions here that we saw in verse 5. And here in verse 5. Paul is clearly referring to his old self, okay, and he's saying, wow, we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for debt. So, it is clear that Paul's discussion of being in the flesh and the law revealing your sin, he started out by talking about before we were saved there in verse 5. And then in verse 6, he says, “but now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the” who, everybody? “The Spirit.” So, the law reveals how sinful your flesh really is. And you will never solve the problem of yourself, by yourself. The opposite of living in the flesh is living in the power of the Spirit. And that's what you have to become very mindful of. That's the new way that you need to learn how to think so really, just studying the end of Romans 7 isn't learning the whole lesson, because going into Romans 8, we have one of the best, clearest teachings in all of the Bible about the power of the Spirit in our lives.
So yes, point number one was flesh. But we’ve got to get to point number two, which is Spirit. And if you're just living in your own head with your own flesh, it's going to be a rough experience. But if you get your mind on the things of the Spirit, if you let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, and you get filled with the Spirit, you will find a power and an ability to live for the Lord Jesus Christ in your life. So, you can't just do this by yourself. None of us should be thinking just in a Roman seventh way, we need to get to Romans 8 and learn about the Spirit.
Go with me to Galatians chapter 5, where it says this very clearly. And this is referring to the life of a believer here in Galatians 5:16-18. So these three verses are something we can all agree on here at Compass HB, this is what we all need to do about our problem with our own self, our flesh, it says here in Galatians 5:16, but I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh, you will always be stuck trying to do what is right, but finding that evil lies close and you want to do what is wrong, you will be in that place forever in your own flesh, until you are walking by the Spirit. The Spirit is the power for you to stop being you in your life. And so that's the key, you’ve got to walk by the Spirit. That's the way you won't give in to the desires of the flesh, for the desires of the flesh, verse 17, the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh. For these are opposed to each other to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Hey, that sounded like Romans 7 right there. So, you're either going by the Spirit or by the flesh. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Oh, man, I love that verse right there. And what I would love to happen from this time in God's Word together this morning, is that you would stop thinking this wrong way, whether you're a believer slipping back into this way of thinking, or maybe honestly, you live in this way of thinking, here's what I got to do. Here's the law. And here's me. And I’ve got to somehow live up to that standard. Any time you think that way, that's the wrong way to think, that when you're led by the Spirit, you are not trying to live up to some standard. Jesus already perfectly fulfilled God's law and established the standard of righteousness. Jesus already died for your sin and gave you his righteousness. Jesus already rose from the dead. And now you've got a new life to go and practice his righteousness. And Jesus sent his Holy Spirit to live in you. It is not just you, Jesus has done everything. He's given you his Spirit. Now you can go live your life. But if you keep thinking, well, here's me, here's what I'm supposed to be doing. And here's where I am. Any day, you think that way will be a bad day in your life. But if you are led by the Spirit, man, when you are filled up with the Spirit of the Living God, and you've gotten God's Word on your heart, and you're prayed up, and you're ready to go, you can do more in the day, you can care about other people in a way that you never would have seen yourself living, because it's not just your ego. It's not just I anymore. It is the Spirit of the Living God living in me. And now we're really cooking with gas. Can you still say that these days? Is that okay? Now really the fire has been lit. And we are going now. Right? That's the idea. Do you have more power than you in you? Because you need it. Okay. We’ve got some people here in the room maybe this morning that think, well, I'm not as bad as some other people. I'm a pretty morally neutral person, actually faster. I'm actually I would say I'm trending towards the good side of the general human population. See? No, that's not how it works. If you here's the standard, the standard is perfect righteousness. The standard is what God says, always putting God and other people as more important than yourself, you are not able to get to that standard. That's what we're supposed to be learning from Romans 7. Like I want to do what's good, but I'm not able to do it, I actually end up doing things that I don't really want to do. And then I don't like myself for doing those things. The law reveals that no one lives up to the standard. That is what the law teaches us. And so, by the end of this whole thing, we're in his mind, he knows what is right. I mean, think about how divided this guy is as he's speaking to us in Romans 7, like in my mind, I know what God's telling me, but in the members of my flesh in my body of death, I want to do something different. And here's God speaking to me and here's what I want to do. And you can just see there is a war going on inside of him. Like he thinks he's a good person, and then he knows he's not, all in the same thought. And at the end, I mean, this is the part that really stood out to me in praying and studying in Romans 7. Can you turn back there with me? And can you look at verse 24? Because at the end of this, this guy is not saying to his fellowship group, see we all sin, he's not saying to somebody, well stop judging me because I'm just going to sin. Not at the end of this whole conversation that he has with himself from verse 14 to verse 24. He cries out, wretched man that I am. Like, I am messed up. I have one sick, twisted soul, that's who I am. I cannot get myself right. That's his conclusion. See, when you say see we all sin, you are addressing this on such a superficial level, we're not supposed to find comfort in the fact that we all sin, we are supposed to come to grips with the reality that I am one messed up person, that's who I am. And I will try to show you I'm good on the outside, while I want to do something evil on the inside. I'll know what God tells me to do, and I'll try to do it, give up and do something else, instead. That's me. And I'm not supposed to find comfort in the lowest common denominator with everybody else. I'm supposed to realize God has a holy standard, and his law is pure and righteous and good. And the problem here is, I am a wretched man. That's the idea.
See, a lot of us, we understand the concept of sin. I don't know if we've really gotten down to the bottom of how messed up our sin actually is. That's what Romans 7 is giving us a glimpse into. that the guy who really can see himself in light of God's law, when the truth of God's law is shining into the darkness of his soul. And he sees this war raging and how he becomes captive in his own body to do things he doesn't really want to do. But he does them anyway. He cries out at the end of it, I am just a wretch. And the problem with some of us is we're like, yeah, I sin. And in a way that's not that big a deal. Rather than crying out, I am a wretched person, Jesus actually said, this is the reason that so many people in the church are the lukewarm, okay? When Paul refers himself as wretched. There's another place where people are referred to as wretched in the Scripture. And it's something Jesus says in Revelation chapter 3, so Will everybody please grab your Bible? And let's hear what Jesus says. He says it here to the lukewarm church, the church in Laodicea. Revelation, chapter 3, starting in verse 15. And I've been going to church in Southern California, for most of my life. I've been going to churches, in Orange County or LA County. And, and a lot of times people will refer to the general state of the church in California, basically, from the 80s to today, people will say it's kind of lukewarm. Okay, we've been saying it's like that for decades, and nothing has really changed about the lukewarmness. And you'll hear people say, yeah, the church is just kind of lukewarm. Well, that idea of a lukewarm church comes from what Jesus says here to this church in Revelation 3:15-16. Look at it with me, “I know your works. You are neither cold nor hot wood that you are either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, you're neither hot, and you're not cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” Now who's ever heard Jesus say that before? Anybody ever heard this passage before? What does it mean there when he says, I'm going to spit you out of my mouth? It's a nice way of saying, I'm going to vomit you, I'm going to throw you up, like you make me sick to my stomach. That's what Jesus is saying about these people because they're lukewarm. What is the solution? Look at Revelation 3:17. “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” The problem is, you're over here saying, see, we all sin. It's not that bad. It's just the way that is. No, no, no, Jesus is saying, you’ve got to really see who you are. You are one wretched individual. Well, this is what Jesus is saying to this church. You are someone that other people should have pity or compassion for. You are someone who is poor, you are spiritually bankrupt. There is no capacity to do good inside of you. You are actually blind, like you think you can see things. You think you know what Romans 7 says, you may not really be aware of who you actually are. You are “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked,” he says at the end. Remember that story of The Emperor's New Clothes? Or the Emperor parading around like, hey, everybody, look at me. And really, he's walking around naked. That's what Jesus says. Because the reason that people are lukewarm in their response to Jesus is they don't realize what kind of a sinner they really were, and how much they needed Jesus to come and save them.
And I'm asking you, have you ever had a time in your life where you cried out, wretched man, or wretched woman that I am? Did you really get down to the depths of your depravity and see that in me nothing good dwells? In me, I do things that I hate in me, I can't do what God is calling me to do in me. I am wretched.
Have you, point number two? Have you recognized your wretchedness? You’ve got to recognize your wretchedness. See, when you hear that story of the person who is out there, and this person, maybe they broke the law of the United States of America, and they did time in jail. And maybe they were a terrible person in their family, and they hurt their family members. Maybe they lived a life that would be seen by everyone as immoral and out of control. And then this person who was seen as a radical sinner, then they get saved. And now you look at this person and they're on fire, go getter, loving Jesus. And you think well, yeah, that person. Of course, they love Jesus like that. Because look at how messed up they were, of course, they're really glad that they're safe. Have you ever had a moment that you realized you were that person? That you're the person like it? Yeah, maybe you didn't go even externally do some of the things that your friends maybe did. But you have that same evil within you. And you're not doing what God says. In fact, you're over here doing other things, instead of what God says. Have you had that realization because Jesus here, he's actually knocking on the door of the church of Laodicea. And he's saying to the people there, hey, well, you guys open the door, so I can come in and dine with you, and you can eat with me. And we can actually, I think Jesus is saying to these people, like, yeah, you know, maybe that you're a sinner, but you don't really know who you really are. And you need to realize who you really are so you and I can even have a relationship. That's what Jesus is saying. He's saying, hey, this lukewarmness that you have is because you can't see yourself as wretched. Like Jesus is inviting himself to eat with this church, implying that he's not having fellowship with this church because they're just thinking they're okay, and they don't really need Jesus. And they're not seeing what their problem really is on the inside.
See, there's a story in Luke 7. We're like a religious leader, he invites Jesus over to his house for dinner. And while he's having dinner with this religious leader, a lady shows up, and she just starts kissing the feet of Jesus during dinner. And I wonder sometimes, what kind of Christian am I? Am I the kind of Christian who's like, Jesus, you're such a great guy. Why don't you come over for dinner? Or am I the kind of person who's like, Jesus, why would you save a wretch like me? And I can't stop kissing his feet. Because some of us, we just were like, yeah, we’ll hang out with Jesus. He's a good guy. And some of us are like without Jesus. Let me tell you how many good things I’ve been able to do in my life without Jesus, let me tell you the sick, twisted stuff I'd still be doing in my life right now. Like, I don't have anything if I don't have Jesus, because I'm a wretched man. Do you know that to be true about yourself? Those who are forgiven much, love much? How much have you been forgiven for? Because Romans 7 said, see, we all said we are wretched people and I don't know if we've all really seen that we all sin like that. And Jesus is saying the reason maybe, that there's a lack of love in your heart for Jesus. It’s actually because there's a lack of seeing yourself for who you really are. And if you understand you see yourself as a sinner, what Jesus has done for you will be even more amazing. And how could you not respond, he says here in Revelation 3:19: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” I'm telling you this not so you'll stay lukewarm. I'm telling you this. So you'll have a zeal. So you'll turn from your sin, you'll own up to who you really are. And then I'll come and then I'll have fellowship with you.
Go back to Romans chapter 7. Because after he cries out, “wretched man that I am,” he says a second thing here. And this is to me something we all need to take with us. As we leave here today. He says, wretched man that I am. Okay, getting down to the depths of his depravity, wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death, like I'm going to be captive to sin within myself. I'm going to be in this war endlessly unless somebody comes and delivers me. Now, this is a word we've learned about here at our church before. Maybe you remember that when Paul was on his trip to Rome, there were several things. When Paul was going to Rome after he appealed to Caesar, there were several times where he had to get delivered, or he had to get rescued, there was a bunch of Jews who were trying to kill Him. And God sent the army, the Roman army, to rescue him. Maybe you remember the storm, he was in the snake bite, and that happened to him, and how we saw over and over God delivered or rescued Paul. It's that same word here is this idea that I'm in a situation that I am incapable of saving myself, I can't be my own lifeguard on this one. I can't get myself out of who I really am. And so, I need someone else to come and deliver me. I'm a captive that needs to be set free. I'm somebody who's in need of rescue because I can't save myself. So hey, not only am I a wretch, but see, once you see what a sinner you are, you realize the only hope for me is a Savior. And I need someone to deliver me from this body of death. And so, the thought, this torment that Paul is in here, this war that's raging within him, the only way out of that is when he stops thinking “I-thoughts” and he interrupts his thoughts with a prayer that I need a rescue, I need to be delivered. And then we go right into verse 25. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So, we all need to learn this from Romans 7 not so we can go endlessly back into a cycle of Roman-seven thoughts. But when you find yourself in a cycle of “I, I” thinking where I'm trying to do this, but I'm not able. And now I'm starting to do something I kind of don't even really want to do but here I am doing it. If you're thinking that way, you should learn to interrupt your thoughts with prayer.
Let's get that down for number three: Learn to interrupt your thoughts with prayer. Oh, no, I'm caught up in my flesh again. I'm caught up in thinking all me myself and I, oh, Lord, help me, Jesus, I need a rescue. That's how we need to learn how to think. Don't endlessly think about what you're going to try to do all week long. All day long. When you wake up and you're just… we have those mornings we wake up we are just in the cell a trapped in our own thoughts. Well, I need to pray right now. Because as soon as I bring God into my thoughts, I get freed from that wrong way of thinking. So, I'm going to start praying, who's going to come and rescue me and thanks be to God for Jesus Christ our Lord. Can I get an Amen from anybody on this? Alright, so you’ve got to learn to stop just letting your mind think in an endless “I” stream of consciousness. And you’ve got to start thinking, No, Jesus, he's going to rescue me. And maybe there are some people here today, you need to ask Jesus to deliver you from your body of death for the first time. But even if Jesus has saved you, we all need to pray this way on a daily basis.
Go to Matthew chapter 6 and let's look at the Lord's Prayer. This is how Jesus taught the disciples to pray. And he taught us to pray in a way where we regularly address the sin we find within ourselves. And these are ways that hopefully, you've learned how to pray. And we get the idea of praying this every day because it says, Give us this day our daily bread. And then it says, Look at verses 12 and 13. Forgive us our debts. If you find yourself doing things you hate, if you find yourself in evil lies close at hand, and you're doing something you shouldn't be doing, you can cry out for God to forgive you, you can confess that sin, and you can start turning away from that sin at any time. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This thought that many people think in their head, well, I've already started thinking about sin. So, I might as well do it. You need to learn how to interrupt that thought. And you need to pray right there. Father, forgive me for thinking this way. Forgive me for acting this way. Forgive me for speaking this way. And right what right then when you call it sin, and you own up to the wretchedness that it is, you can start turning to the Lord, right from that moment when you interrupt yourself. And then look, not only can you get out of it when you're in it, but when you're getting ready for the next day or the new day, you can pray, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us, rescue us from evil or the evil one. See, now I'm saying I know because I know how I am, I could be tempted to do something I shouldn't do. And because I know how Satan is and the world is I know there's evil coming at me. So today, Jesus, I know what I'm capable of nothing. And I know what you're capable of righteous perfection. And so, I need a rescue today in my life, Lord Jesus. Today, please don't lead me into temptation. Today, please, please, Lord, rescue me from evil today. See, if you're praying like that, that's going to make a big difference in your life. God is there, he is with you. You don't have to solve your problems or fight your battles or figure out life by yourself. You can pray to God at any place, anytime, and he will be there with you. And so why do we spend so much of our time in our headspace thinking about what I've got to do when I could direct that thought in prayer to God, and God will do what I'm not able to do. And he'll keep me from doing what I shouldn't be doing. That's the way we got to learn how to pray. And so, I want to invite you to have a time of prayer like this in your fellowship group. If we're going to really study Romans seven7 and we see all this sin going on the torment within the man, and that ends, the only sense of relief is when he cries out when he realizes who he is. And then he prays, and he cries out for a rescue to the Lord. Well, then, we need to learn how to pray in that same way. And let me just get very clear, if you find yourself in this place, where you are always trying to do what is right, and you're never able to get there. And you find yourself doing things you hate. And that's the whole story of your life. You could call out to Jesus today, and he will rescue you from your body of death. I mean, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus, no matter how wretched we are, no matter what we've done, when we call on Jesus to save, he saves every time. If we're sinners all the way down to who we are, every time Jesus is the savior. That's who he is, every time. And so, if you call on Jesus, maybe for the first time somebody in this room right now, I don't know why you want to keep going back to this endless cycle of trying hard to do what is right, but only finding yourself doing what is wrong. You could be out of that today if you call on the name of the Lord Jesus. And for those of us who have called on the name of the Lord Jesus, let's keep calling on him on a daily basis, to forgive us to lead us not into temptation, and to rescue us from evil. Learn to interrupt your thoughts with prayer. Let me pray for us right now.
Father in heaven, we thank You that we could dive into what Paul says in Romans seven. And I pray that when we talk about this passage this week at our church when we talk about it right now, after the service in the courtyard when we talk about Romans 7 from the future, I pray that nobody would be using this to say, yeah, we all sin, like it's not a big deal. I pray that this would be a passage that shows us our utter inability to keep your law, and reveals to us the sinfulness of sin, the sinfulness beyond measure the fact that our flesh is twisted. And we are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked without Jesus. And I pray that we could come to grips with who we really are. So that we could call out for the Savior, we really need. And Father, we want to just thank you so much. I want to thank you on behalf of my brothers and sisters, that all of us that got to this place of torment in our lives, all of us who had this captivity that we could see in this war raging within us that when we cry it out to you, you rescue us, that all of us, who called on the name of Jesus, all of us who came and confessed our sin, we have been delivered from sin and death. And we have been given a new life in Jesus Christ, and you have put your Spirit within us so we don't have to go in the ways of the flesh and be under the law anymore. But we can now be led by the Spirit and bear fruit of eternal life. And so, Father, we thank you for answering the prayer of the wretched man, we thank you for answering the prayer. When we realize how sinful we really were and we called out to you that you were there for us. And you heard us, and you answered us. And Father, I pray that you will hear that prayer today that people who are here lost in sin, that they will cry out to you and be found in Christ. And for those of us who know Jesus, that we will keep praying every day. I need a rescue and that you will hear our prayer in heaven and answer us here on earth. We ask you to do this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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