Seeing through the Grace Lens – Pastor Aaron Porr
If you’re looking for an interesting Bible study soon try Romans 7 and 8.
Romans chapter 7 has been used as the basis for the claim that we are all still under the power of sin even though we strive against it. And actually, that is exactly what that chapter is saying. Romans 7 describes the experience of the frustrated christian wrestling against sin on his own.
Are you seeing your struggle with sin through the lens of grace?
Romans 7:21-25 – I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 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 is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God — through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
Am I reading that correctly? I SERVE THE LAW OF SIN in my members? Is that what I see everywhere else in the Bible? We serve God with out minds and we serve sin with our bodies? And yet that is how this chapter is interpreted……or should I say misinterpreted many times.
We all know how it feels to fight and resist an urge to sin in some shape or form only to find that our own efforts aren’t enough.
We find ourselves once again in the discouraging place Paul describes in verses 15 & 16, “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. If, then, I do what I will not to do.”
The temptation is to stop there and believe that there are only two choices before you:
- Resign yourself to the inedibility of the “sin nature” winning out over your desire to live a holy life or…
- Mustering all your strength and resisting sin with all of your resources and strength.
Those who choose to keep reading find another solution in chapter 8. Remember, Romans, just like the rest of the epistles is a letter written to a church. It wasn’t meant to be divided into chapters and received as segments like we do. While chapter 7 describes a law that rages in our members, chapter 8 describes another law that overcomes the law of sin and death.
Look at verses 1 and 2 in chapter 8…
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
Chapter 7 describes the experience of STRIVING against sin in your own strength, not so good. Chapter 8 describes LIVING in the newness of Christ where He has already overcome sin. It’s a new reality, a new IDENTITY! Righteousness is not what you DO. It’s who your ARE!!
2 Corinthians 5:21 – For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
You are as righteous as Jesus. Not because you do good things or successfully resist sin. It’s because the very righteousness of Christ has become yours through the cross……”In Him”!
Wow, that should be a game changer.
You live out of a new identity. The old nature is dead, nailed to a cross. Jesus rose from the dead but he left our old sin nature to rot in the grave and we won’t see it again.
That is such good news because that means that when God looks at you He sees the righteousness of His Son! God doesn’t recognize or acknowledge your “old man”. There is one who comes and reminds you of “your” sin and how hard it is to resist it and overcome it…..and it’s definitely not God.
If you feel weighed down, oppressed, or burdened with guilt over sin, remember, condemnation does not come from God. “…there is now no condemnation for those who are IN CHRIST.” Your sin has already been dealt with. It’s in the past. It’s history! What once separated you from God has been removed by Jesus and “cast as far as the east is from the west.”
You may still live in a world where sin resides, but you are not of this world. You’re an ambassador from another world spreading the good news. 2 Corinthians 5:20. If you struggle with a sinful habit or temptation the first step on the road to freedom is understanding who you are. What does God see when He looks at you? Is He mad, is He disappointed? Or does He see the righteousness of His Son Jesus? Don’t let religion try to convince you that you and God aren’t on good terms until you get it together. You are never going to be good enough on your own to measure up. That’s why the perfect Lamb of God came to this world to take our place. Your striving and struggling can’t add to what Jesus has done. You can’t make your redemption any more complete than it already is. The Father isn’t in Heaven telling Jesus, “I know you did a lot to redeem Aaron, but I sure hope he is up to the task to finish the job.” NO! “It is finished” is what Jesus cried before He surrendered His Spirit.
It is finished! I am His! He is mine! I am in Him and He is in Me. Our Spirits are now mingled and my identity is in Christ. The old is gone the new has come. Sin has no power over me. The “ME” that was vulnerable to sin is rotting in the grave and will never return. When we walk around struggling with that old man it’s like digging up a stinking corpse and walking around with it….that’s just weird, and gross. We’re not supposed to be doing that.
At times in my life when one temptation or another has gotten the better of me, the key to victory has always been remembering who I am in Jesus and shaking off wrong thinking, shaking off the lie of the enemy that I am still locked in that old nature. I thank God that it doesn’t depend on my ability to resist sin with will power alone. None of us have that kind of will power. But there is no sin that has the ability to overcome God’s power in us. When we walk in our new identity sin has no power. What does it mean to “walk” in your new identity? It’s all about choices you make. If you have struggled with lust you probably shouldn’t be looking at things that incite lustful thoughts. If you struggle with alcohol you probably shouldn’t be hanging out at the bar or the club. It’s not about rules and regulations it’s just about making common sense, wise choices. Be intentional. Pursue Jesus! Seek the Kingdom of God! If you do these things, anybody can do these things, you will find that the power of sin diminishes and eventually disappears.
Religion will tell you that everything depends on your works. Religion is defined as mans attempt to reach God. God hates religion because it separates Him from the ones He loves. It deceives people into thinking that He doesn’t love them when in fact, He radically loves them!
Grace tells you that everything is based on Christ’s works. It’s how we’re saved, it’s how we’re healed. It’s how we live a sin free life. It makes the impossible possible. Grace is becoming the person that God sees when He looks at you.