In Romans chapters 7-8, there are some verses that can be very challenging to us as Christians. Beginning in Romans 7:15, Paul expresses an idea that he does not understand his own actions and that he follows behaviors that go against his desire. He is describing a struggle between good and evil within himself, and we are going to look at that struggle as it applies to our own lives.
The Struggle Against Evil
This struggle is real. Many Christians seem afraid to admit that they struggle against sin. We think that a “real Christian” should not have to struggle, and we think such difficulties reflect poorly on our spiritual maturity. However, we see some very strong characters in the Bible face this struggle. Right here we have Paul – author of the majority of the New Testament. Also Peter is an example of one who struggles with consistency in his own life, from zealousness to denial and back. Even Jesus, in Matthew 4, is faced with temptation for forty days, and in verse 11, angels come to attend to Jesus after the ordeal concludes (see also Hebrews 2:18). If these individuals find temptations to be a struggle, then I will as well.
We have a powerful opponent. Aside from God’s love and the saving blood of His son, sin is the most powerful force in the universe. Isaiah 59:1-2 describes sin as something that drives a wedge between myself and God. Ezekiel 18:4 and Romans 6:23 both describe sin as a killing force. However, we know that God will not allow our temptation to be stronger that what we can overcome. Ephesians 6:10-11 tells us to equip ourselves with the Lord’s word to help us stand against this enemy who does not fight fair. Satan knows how to make sin look god and enticing, and we have to be prepared to defend ourselves. (See also I Peter 5:8-9 and II Corinthians 2:11.) Satan is stronger than any of us unless we have Christ on our side.
This struggle is one of life and death. We have already looked at two verses (Romans 6:23 and Ezekiel 18:4) that reinforce this point. What happened when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden food – they suffered spiritual death, and their bodies began to die. Why did Satan attack Job? Job was spiritually alive, and Satan wanted Job to die. Even though we have an enemy, we are the ones accountable for our actions in II Corinthians 5:10 and Romans 12:14. The struggle is not what we should fear; it is the absence of struggle. It takes two to fight, and if we are not struggling against temptation, then we may have already lost.
We can overcome. Romans 7:24-25 begins in despair, but Paul turns attention to the salvation found in God, claiming that those in Jesus are free from the condemnation of sin (8:1). We are lost to Satan when we are Christ’s, but he will try to get us back. I John 1:5-2:6 tells us Christ’s blood cleanses us while we walk in the light and confess those sins that have temporarily overtaken us. John speaks of knowing our Lord through keeping His commandments and following His example. Still in I John, chapter 5:4 tells us that our faith in God is what helps us overcome those temptations that assail us. Our active, faithful obedience protects us in this struggle.
Satan is stronger than any of us, but we can find refuge and protection in Christ. We may try to win this struggle before coming to Christ, but this approach does not work. It is Jesus and His word who helps us overcome our enemy. If we but accept the help He offers and come to Him on His terms, we can be victorious in our struggle against sin.
lesson by Tim Smelser