Revealing God's grace through the 

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Empowering Grace Teaching

"Understanding the sin-struggle"

Look at what Paul said in Col 1:5-6— “(5)... you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, (6)... you heard and knew the grace of God in truth”. Notice how Paul linked together the words, “the truth of the gospel” and “the true grace of God” (I rearranged the words of the last phrase for understanding). I like the word given to both— the gospel and grace— the word “TRUTH”! This is God’s truth and there’s nothing higher than His truth— not our truth, or somebody else’s truth. So what is God’s truth? Unlike our truth, His truth is not SUBJECTIVE, but it’s OBJECTIVE. To say that something is “subjectively true”, means that it is true for the people who are making the assessment— it changes as those people’s assessment change. But to say that something is “objectively true”, means that it is true for people of ALL cultures, times, etc— it never changes. The gospel of Jesus Christ and the word of His grace are objectively true, because it’s God’s truth! 

Another facet seen here is that God’s grace is His good news to you (meaning of the word “gospel”)— it’s not His bad news to you. Why is grace God’s good news to you? Because unlike the law of the Old Covenant where they had to do the work for God (and if they didn’t, they’d get punished), the New Covenant grace is God doing His work for you (see what I mean in Heb 8:10 and 10:16). 

So from a natural viewpoint, the true grace of God seems scandalously ridiculous, because God does the work for us as we believe. 

People over the years have concluded that if you teach grace this way— where God works favors for you, instead of you having to labor hard for Him— than you give people a license to sin and to live their life any ole way they see fit (People accused Paul of this very thing, see Rom 3:8). But honestly, when you tell people that they still have a sin-nature inside of them that pulls them in the direction of sin, that gives people a license to sin and, in frustration, to live their lives any ole way that they see fit. These are the people who see the first part of Rom 6:23— “For the wages of sin is death”— as their portion in life, instead of the last part— “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

This leads us to Paul’s teaching in Romans 7. Many Christians like to use this chapter in defending the normality of sin’s struggle in one’s life. The thinking goes like this, “If Paul so clearly struggled with an inner sin nature after becoming a Christian, then it’s perfectly normal for us to struggle with it too!” But here’s the absolute truth regarding the true gospel of grace as I explained above, it doesn’t have mixed messages. By mixed messages, I’m referring to paradoxes, or contradictions that people come up with regarding Scriptures (see what James said about this in his teaching from James 3:14-4:4). I want to show you a great contrast between what Paul said in Romans 6 and what he said in chapter 7.

Dead to sin from Romans 6: the reality of every believer in Christ— 

v.2— “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” 

v.6— “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with”.

v.7— “For he who has died has been freed from sin.”

v.11— “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Alive to sin from Romans 7— 

v.17— “But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.”

v.20— “Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.”

v.23— “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which (sin) is in my members.”

Not slaves of sin from Romans 6: the reality of every believer in Christ—

v.6— “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him… that we should no longer be slaves of sin.”

v.14— “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (sin having dominion over you is being a slave to it.)

v.17-18— “(17) But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. (18) And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”

v.22— “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.”

Still slaves of sin from Romans 7

v.14— “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.”

v.15— “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” (It’s clear that Paul is talking about being slaves of sin.)

v.23— “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”

v.25— “So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”

Looking at these mixed messages from Romans 6 and 7, is there any wonder why most believers are confused about the true grace of God, what happened inside of them when they were born-again, the power that works in them as they believe, and aren’t able to walk in the newness of life? 

“So then, Paul, what gives? Why did you write these 2 chapters in Romans that apparently contradict each other and give mixed messages?” Well in Romans 6, Paul gives us the record of the reality of grace that took place inside every believer when he came to Christ through his identity with Him in what He Redemptively did in His death, burial and resurrection. In Romans 7, he gives us the record of his personal life BEFORE he came to Christ in trying to live up to God’s holy standard of the law. He’s showing us, in spite of his best efforts to live up to and by the holy standard of the law, the sin-nature that worked within him, kept him in captivity to the law of sin and death. He lets us know that we all needed a glorious, drastic change in our once, deadened spirits. And remember, this is the guy who said that on the outside that he appeared to be, “a Hebrew of the Hebrews, as concerning the law, a Pharisee” (a Pharisee was considered at the time to be the highest order of all religious sects, known for their devout separation to God). However as he wrote in Romans 7, he knew that he was living a lie and always coming up short of what God wanted.

Why is Romans 7 a record of Paul’s life before he came to Christ? He plainly tells us this in v.9— “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.” When was Paul “alive without the law”? It was before the age of accountability (Under the law of the Old Covenant, it was before the age of 13 for boys and 12 years old for girls. According to their custom, that was when they reach their appropriate ages and became responsible men and women. It’s known as the “Bar Mitzvah”). Paul says that when the commandment came to his life at his bar mitzvah, he became aware of sin and it was as if it “woke up” inside of him and he knew at that moment that he died (Meaning that he knew that he never could reach the state of life that was in God). 

Here’s another important fact about Romans 7. From v.9-25, mentioned over 40 times are the words, “I, me” and “my”. Not only does this show us that Paul is specifically talking about himself, but also that one trying to live up to God’s holy standard of the law seen in the Old Testament, is HIS works for God, not Him working inside him (which is grace).

conclusion to these lessons from Romans 6 and 7

There you have it— my little synopsis of Romans 7. I do, however, want to sum up 2 important things that we have seen in Romans 6 and 7. The first thing that I want to point out to you is the dynamic sequence of grace working in as you believe.

1) Knowing, v.3, 6, 9; 7:1 

2) Reckoning, v.11

3) Presenting, or, “yielding”, v.13, 16, 19 

4) Walking (which is taught in chapter 8).

These 4 words that Paul used show what grace causes you to know; what grace empowers you to reckon; what grace enables you to present; how grace anoints you to walk

It’s important that you realize that these 4 actions of grace in Romans 6, 7 and 8 are consecutive— meaning that one cannot walk before he knows and etc. 

The second important thing that I want to bring your attention to is our spiritual death. We have died to 2 things:

1) realizing that we are dead to sin (from Romans 6)

2) realizing that we are dead to the law (from Romans 7)

In order to experience our newness of life that was provided by the resurrection of Christ, we are to know and reckon that we have died to both, sin and the law. This is so we can properly present and walk in the newness of life. The 2 main obstacles that hinders believers in growing in Christ is still trying to die to sin and still trying to live by the law (taking Scriptures from the Bible as something to try to “work”, or to “make happen” in their lives— all the while, God, by His grace, wants to work His word in and for them).

Look at what Paul clearly recorded about us in Rom 7:4 and 6— “(4) Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God (what every believer wants to do for Him). (6) But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what (the law) we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter (again, what every believer wants to do for God).” In these 2 verses, he told us twice that we have died to the law— “have become dead” and “having died to (the law)”— and said one that we have been delivered from it— if you died to it, then your delivered from it!

So now let me make this personal for you. Without realizing these 2 dynamic realities— that you are dead to sin (you don’t have to die to it) and that you are dead to the law (you no longer have to use Scriptures as a standard to have to live up to, you can let God do it for you as you believe)— you will always struggle with sin. 

Simply put, our sin struggle comes from not realizing that we have died to both sin and the law!

Thinking that one still has to die to sin causes it to dominate his life and thinking that the law still has to be kept to please God, get something from Him, or to live successful in life, strengthens sin in one’s life through condemnation. 

Now we can understand the simplicity of what John said in 1 John 5:4— “this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith (believing).” Your believing causes you to overcome everything that happens to you from this world— it’s believing in God’s unconditional love for you seen in Christ and in His grace in performing His faithfulness in your life! So stop all of the DOING and keep BELIEVING!


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