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Romans 7:14-25

PAUL'S SPIRITUAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY - PART 2

Intro: This is one of the easiest passages in the Bible for me to identify with. It tells the absolute truth about the life of the believer!

Some commentators feel that Paul is describing the life of a carnal Christian. That he is telling us how saved men who refuse to yield to the Spirit of God live their lives. Yet, I read these verses and to me they are intensely personal. It is as if Paul rips the covers back from his life and gives us an intimate portrait of himself and of how he struggles through life.

No, this isn't a description of a carnal believer! This is a portrait of a maturing saint! It is the way life is for the child of God; described with no punches pulled and no holds barred. This is how life was for Paul.

However, most of us, if we were honest, could say that we can identify with everything Paul says in these verses. While Paul is writing his own autobiography, he is, at the same time, writing about our lives as well. Let's look into these verses this evening and see ourselves, as we are portrayed in this passage.

I. V. 14 PAUL STATES THE FACTS

A. The Law Is Spiritual - Paul has just stated in the previous verses that there is a problem between himself and the Law of God. The problem is not the Law, the problem is Paul. He reminds us that the Law of God is spiritual in nature. The Law is a good thing and it lays down rule for proper living. The very fact that it originated with God is proof positive that it is not bad. The problem does not lie with the Law, but with man!

B. The Flesh Is Sinful - The word "carnal" means "fleshly". While the Law would teach man how to live godly, Man's flesh is only interested in that which is sinful!

(Ill. What Paul is telling us here is that there is a part of him that is still under bondage to sin! The old nature, that is to be reckoned dead indeed unto sin, is in fact alive and well! There is a part of us that cannot sin! Our spirit has been redeemed and has been forever sealed from sin. We cannot sin in that part of our beings! However, this flesh is as wicked as it ever was! It is as mean as it ever was and it still possesses all the same old, ungodly, worldly appetites that it has always had. It is as Paul states here "sold under sin". It always has been and ever will be the slave of sin! The flesh is wicked!

(Ill. Sin is so wretched and powerful in the life of even the redeemed person that it contaminates everything he touches and is ever striving to dominate all of life! We are locked in a battle this evening that is difficult, but it is one that is described in detail in these verses!)

I. Paul States The Facts

II. V. 15-20 PAUL STATES HIS FAILURES

A. V. 15-16 The Contest - Paul describes the struggle that exists within every believer this evening. The word "allow" in verse 15 means "to know". Paul is saying that he does not even know why he does what he does! He wants to live right, he wants to say the right things and think the right things, but before he knows what has happened, he has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

The simplest way to understand what the Apostle is saying is that there is a part of him that affirms the Law. That new man, who came to life on the Road to Damascus, wants to do the will of the Lord and strives to do so, but at the same time, there is another part of Paul that yearns for everything the Law denies. When God says something is good, the flesh wants just the opposite. When the Law says something is bad, the flesh says that it is good. It is a contest between the old man and the new man, Gal. 5:17.

B. V. 18-19 The Contestants - Paul tells us that there are two "Pauls". One wants to do right and the other wants to do wrong. These two men share one body and they fight over everything. He finds that he is hindered when it comes time to do the right thing and he is helped when it comes time to do the wrong thing.

(Ill. How many of us can identify with this tonight? There is a part of us that wants to please God in everything we do, but there is another part of us that fights us at every turn. Friends, this can be a very frustrating way to live life!)

C. V. 17, 20 The Conclusion - Twice in these verses, Paul tells us that the problem is his old sin nature. The good news is that it isn't the saved, new Paul that is constantly doing the evil and avoiding the good. It is the old Paul, who still longs for wickedness that is at fault here.

(Ill. Paul isn't making excuses for his sins! Paul isn't throwing up his hands and saying, "Oh well, why fight it? If it feels good do it!" That isn't his attitude at all, and that will become clear in a moment. However, that is the attitude that has been adopted by many believers this evening. Many people grow weary from the struggle and give in to the will of the flesh. There will never be victory when that happens! No! Paul's statement is not one of resignation, it is one of victory! He is telling us that there is a new man living in his body and that new man is above that old sinful lifestyle. That new man loves the Lord and that new man will fight until the day he is delivered from the fight and from the body of sin and evil!)

I. Paul States The Facts

II. Paul States His Failures

III. V. 21-23 PAUL STATES HIS FINDINGS

A. V. 21 A Companion - Paul's discovery is that every time he tries to do the good, evil is always there! Every good word, every good deed, every good thought, every good motive and every good thing is challenged by evil. If we are able to any good thing, it is always the result of a battle!

(Ill. Isn't it true that when we would do good, there is always the temptation to do evil? Isn't it hard to keep your motives pure? Isn't it difficult to control the thought processes so that good wins out? Sure it is! The only people who do not struggle with a sinful nature are those people who are lost in sin! They are following the course of nature, Eph. 2:1-3. However, when a person tries to go against the grain of the flesh and the world, there will always be a struggle! Sin is a constant, wicked companion!)

B. V. 22 A Confession - Paul now lets us in on a secret concerning himself. He loves the Law! Whatever God has said in His Word is a delight to the new Paul!

(Ill. This is true for every saved individual! If you are saved by the grace of the Lord, you love His Word! When the Lord reveals His will to you, you are delighted and want to do it with all your heart. That is a good sign! If a person hears the Word of God and hates the thoughts of doing things God's way, that tells me that a person is not saved. However, when the Word of God is our delight and the standard for living, that is a sign that we are dealing with a saved individual!)

(Ill. I praise the Lord for His Word! I want to do it with all my heart, don't you? However, this flesh that I live in just does not like the Word! There is a battle raging in me that will endure until the end of this earthly life. The same is true for you as well, isn't it?)

C. V. 23 A Captivity - Although Paul's heart is set on doing the will of God, there is another part of himself that fights him at every turn and seeks to bring him into captivity! As Jesus Himself said, "The spirit indeed is will, but the flesh is weak.", Matt. 26:41.

(Ill. Again, this is a situation with which all of us can identify. The inner man wants God, the fleshly man wants the world! Thankfully, there was nothing wrong with Paul's salvation, and there is nothing wrong with yours! Even though Paul struggled with his flesh, he was still right with God. In fact, at the instant of salvation, the believer is as right with the Lord as he will ever be, and that state can never change! We are justified by faith and the condition of the flesh can never change that truth. Now, that is not a license to sin, that is a motivation for holiness!)

Paul's problem is that the flesh is ever trying to bring him into bondage. That is a problem we all face day to day. If we are not diligent in our struggle with the flesh, we will be defeated by our sin! If we do not take our stand against the flesh, it will win the day! Paul fought his flesh, 1 Cor. 9:25-27; 1 Cor. 6:12-13. While we are saved by grace, and that salvation is forever, we must fight sin every moment of our lives. It is a battle that will never end!

I. Paul States The Facts

II. Paul States His Failures

III. Paul States His Findings

IV. V. 24-25 PAUL STATES HIS FAITH

A. V. 24 Paul's Problem - Paul expresses his desire to be free from his decaying, fleshly nature. He wants to be free. I think he was frustrated and defeated by his own inability to overcome evil. He wants to be free! Ill. That is the desire of all of God's children this evening! How many of us are truly pleased when we face the truth of how we actually live? The answer is that none of us can be pleased with the way we are. We need to be free!

(Ill. Paul's description of himself! Paul calls himself a "wretched man" Surely, this doesn't describe the great Apostle does it? I think so! I believe that as a Christian matures in the Lord and learns more about God, that person becomes more keenly aware of just how wicked he really is. I know that has been my experience! The older I grow in the Lord, the worse I look beside Him. We are a wretched people!)

B. V. 25a Paul's Prospect - Here Paul states where his victory is coming from. He reminds his readers that the day is coming when the children of God will be delivered from the wretched bodies. When the Lord comes for His own, whether it be by the clods or by the clouds, we will leave this flesh behind when we leave this world behind. I long for that day! How about you?

(Ill. However, I think there is another meaning in view here! I believe the Apostle is praising the Lord for the victory he has right now, in the midst of his battle. Even though we fail and fall into sin, even though we come short so often, there are times when we grow in the Lord. There are times when we get His will right. There are times when we love like He does, live like He does and look like He does. Those are victorious times! Even in the middle of my worst day, Jesus is still working on the clay and He is making me in His image! That is a victory, no matter how it is sliced!)

C. V. 25b Paul's Proposal - This verse is not a declaration of Paul's defeat. He is not saying that he will just keep wanting to do what is right in his heart while he keeps doing what is wrong with his body. What he is saying is that he is not giving up the fight! There will be good days and there will be bad days, but he is going to stay the course! He is not giving up, he is resolving to fight!

(Ill. What a lesson for the children of God! Instead of rolling over and making it easy for the flesh to gain its victory, let us fight and take our stand for God. Fight the flesh, fight sin, fight the will to do wrong. Determine this evening to renew the fight against evil and to live for the Lord.)

Conc: Have you seen yourself in these verses? Well, I have! I have seen the same struggle in my life that Paul wrote about, and I am encouraged! I will leave you with the request that you examine your life right now and see how well you are fighting the fight. Are you giving in too easily? Are you allowing the flesh to gain the upper hand without a fight? If the flesh will make inroads into your life and mine, let's determine that it will not do so without a fight!




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