Romans 7: Struggling With, and Overcoming, Your Sinful Nature
Chapter 7 of Romans can be very confusing if we read selected verses out of context. For example, verses 15 through 17 read almost like a “who’s on first” comedy routine. To fully understand it requires the broader context of the rest of the chapter.
In the simplest of terms, here’s what Paul is saying in this portion of his letter to the Romans. The purpose of the law was to identify and reveal sins against God (see Romans 7:7) and then to lead Jews and Gentiles alike to a Savior in Jesus Christ. This did not suggest that the law itself was sin, but rather that it clarified what sin was so that we could recognize it and the need for release from our sinning nature.
Paul himself acknowledges his own struggles with sin (see verses 21–-23) long after his road-to-Damascus experience. He wants to live a perfect and sinless life, but he makes it clear that this is difficult, if not impossible. But the good news is that God never promised us perfection; instead we have been rescued from our sins and from death through Jesus Christ our Lord.
If you’re still wondering about the apparent dilemma of an Old Testament characterization of God that differs from the New Testament characterization, chapter 7 of Romans should begin to reconcile those differences for you. Original sin led to death and a law that identified the basis for sinful transgressions, while the New Covenant in Jesus Christ provides the ultimate path to salvation and righteousness.
A Moment to Reflect:
With what temptations and sins do you still struggle? You’re not alone. Paul, one of the universally recognized greatest voices for the Christian faith, did too (reread Romans 7:21–25). Confess them to the Lord, and don’t give up the battle. Help is on the way in the form of the Holy Spirit.