Sunday, September 16, 2012

Day 14: The Struggle of Sanctification

Romans 7:7-25

What might make you uncomfortable:

There is no "quick fix" to gain personal holiness or easy excuse out of the battle for sin.

Today's Devotional:

In today's devotional Paul tackles an important situation, our struggle for sanctification.

Remember, to "sanctify" means to "set apart or declare holy" (New Oxford American Dictionary). When we become followers of Jesus we are immediately justified (made righteous before God) but not sanctified (made immediately perfect and sinless).

The Purpose of the Old Covenant: to REVEAL sin

First, in today's reading Paul addresses the purpose of the Old Covenant made with Israel. Remember yesterday's devotional? God made a covenant with Israel and we read about it through the Old Testament.

Paul says that the Old Covenant was established so that "that sin might be recognized as sin" (7:13). Without knowing God's standard for holiness men would not be aware of sin and therefore not recognize the need for salvation.

Paul moves forward to answer some objections to this thought. Even though the law revealed sin, the law was holy (7:12) because God gave it. Furthermore, the law produced spiritual death (7:13), that being the result of sin. BUT it's not the law's fault that people are separated from God - sin is produced from our "covetous desires" (7:8). The law didn't make us sin - it was a mirror revealed a condition that was already there.

To reiterate, the law was God's diagnostic tool to show us our disease... a virus called sin. It's a fatal virus.

Jesus came with the cure for that virus!

The Purpose of the New Covenant: to REMOVE sin

As an aside, the reader should know that the purpose of the New Covenant between God and man is to remove our sin. The removal of sin sets us right with God and allows us into relationship with Him.

Explaining our Struggle With Sin

Here's the rub: The Old Covenant revealed sin. The New Covenant through Jesus removes sin.... so why do we still struggle with sin today?

To finish our devotional today, let us explore three possible answers:

  1. Christians can't sin: If Jesus came to destroy sin and we are part of the "Grateful Dead"... dead to sin and alive to obeying God...I guess we can't sin, right?

    Wrong. Nearly every letter Paul wrote to New Testament Churches addressed some kind of sin (He was writing to Christians). Paul himself wrote to believers to teach them how to repent of sin (2 Corinthians). In another passage, the Apostle John warned Christians about sin (1 John 1:8).

    The Bible says that "if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves" (1 John 1:8).

    If you are a Christian, God has called you to holiness... but you are still going to sin. How you respond to that sin will effect the ongoing transformation in your life by the Holy Spirit.

  2. Christians can't have victory over sin: A reader may say, "Well... if Christians can sin, then I guess I can't win. I am doomed to struggle and sin."

    Wrong. This is also an unbiblical approach to this passage and to sin in general.

    The Bible teaches that we can confess our sins and be healed (James 5:16). Jesus told a woman to "go and sin no more" (John 8:11). There are clear pictures in the Bible of totally transformed people, who after experiencing an encounter with God had huge victories over sin... the Apostle Paul being one such a person!

  3. Christians live in a war against sin but can be victorious:We will sin, but we can also fight against the struggle of sin. Beyond fighting, we can also have victory!

    Consider the following Scripture:
    Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. (1 Peter 2:11)

    Paul writes to one church and mentions their previous sins, saying "some of you WERE" sexually immoral, idolaters, prostitutes, homosexuals, etc..." (1 Corinthians 6:11). We CAN be changed. Jesus IS powerful.
Today, we live in a war against sin.

Winning the War

How do we win the war against sin? The Bible gives us a great recipe:
  • RECEIVE: Receive and understand your new identity in Christ... The past few chapters of Romans Paul has been teaching us that we are dead to sin. The first step to winning the war is knowing we already have the victory in Jesus!
  • REBUKE: Rebuke the devil and his demons... Be active in prayer, knowing you are in a spiritual battle.
  • REPAIR: Repair your brokenness through inner healing... Many of us are predisposed towards sin because of deep wounds in our heart. Jesus can heal these wounds!
  • RESIST: Resist your sinful passions... We all have unhealthy desires that lead us into sin. It is our job to fast, get accountability, and fight these weaknesses with the power of the Spirit.
  • RENEW: Renew your mind through the reading of Scripture.
  • REPLACE: We are to replace our old life with a new life in Christ... Develop new and Godly behaviors by obeying what God is telling you to do.
  • REJOICE: Rejoice that you have victory in God...He is bringing transformation into your life!


The list above is a great way to practically think about your struggle against sin. What areas are missing from your own life?

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