Today, in our passage, Paul will further explain the role of the Law in the believers’ life and he will answer a common but perplexing question among believers:
“Why am I struggling with my Christian life? Or why do i find it hard to obey God at times? Or why did I do it or that sin again even though I know that it a sin, Am I really saved?”
We will learn today as the Apostle Paul will explain why we Christians struggle in our walk with the Lord.
A. The purpose of the law is to expose man’s sinfulness.
But before we go to the major part of our study Paul in the initial verses begins to explain the purpose of the Law. The Law is to expose the heart of humanity. That since the time Adam sinned in the garden of Eden, man has become depraved; that is totally corrupted by sin in all aspects of his life. Man is not totally bad but fully corrupted or influence by sin. Jeremiah declared this truth, Jer. 17:9:
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
The apostle Paul puts it this way:
“What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Rom. 3:9-12).
Two things here about the Law of Moses.
1) The Law is God’s tool to point to us our sinfulness and helplessness.
This is what is meant by Paul when he said:
For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. 13Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
The Law was introduced to show man his utter sinfulness in order that he may see his helplessness and hopelessness that will prompt him to look for his salvation or savior. This leads us to my second purpose of the Law – to lead us to the Savior even the Lord Jesus Christ!
2) The Law is God’s teacher to point to us our Savior from our sinfulness—Jesus Christ.
This is what clearly taught us in his letter to the Galatians. He said that
“Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.” (Gal. 3:23-25).
Paul clearly teaches here that the Law was God’s teacher to point us to our Savior from our sinfulness – Jesus Christ!
So, therefore, the Law was not given as a means for man to be saved but to show us our sinfulness and helplessness and to point us to our Lord Jesus Christ!
Now, this sinfulness is not just a theoretical concept but practical reality because Adam’s sin has imputed to us what theologian calls the sinful nature or also called “old nature/self.” This leads us now to our main topic today the struggle of the People of God.
B. The problem of the believer is the presence of two natures in his being.
Why do Christians struggle in living the Christian life? Why am I still sinning? Why do I still think of wicked and sinful things in my mind? Now, the answer to this question is this –Our problem is the presence of two natures in the believer’s life.
1. ) We are to recognize the presence of an old/sinful nature and a new/divine nature in our being.
The old nature or old self refers to the nature or ‘kalikasan’ that we inherited from Adam. Every person born after Adam has this nature that is hostile to God or could not relate to God. The new nature or new self refers to the nature that we inherited or imputed to us by the Holy Spirit when we acknowledge Jesus as Savior and Lord. These are two opposing forces that wanted to take charge over our life. So, there is practically a civil war or a raging battle going on in every believer ‘s heart.
This is what Paul teaches us here:
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (Rom. 7:14-20).
The first thing that we need to do is to recognize this two conflicting principle in your life right now. Know that there is there still that evil bent that lends you vulnerable to Satan’s influence and temptations and at the same time you have within you the power of God that will ensure you daily victory over Satan, your flesh, and the world. How?
2) We are to be responsible to maintain our freedom from sin by starving our old nature and feeding our new nature.
Illustration: “ White Dog Or Black Dog?”
There was this dog racing trainer who had only two dogs – a black and a white dog. He was ask as to the secret of his success as a dog racing trainer of these two dogs. He said that his secret is this: starve the one whom you want to lose and feed the one whom you want to win! Like this principle, if you want your old nature to win your daily struggle then feed him and starve your new nature. But if your want your new nature to win; then you starve your old nature and feed your new nature!
*How to “starve and feed” our two natures:
(1) Stop sinning! We actually feed our old nature by deliberately and unknowingly sinning against the Lord. The Bible teaches us that sin grieves the Holy Spirit or starve our new nature and weakens it. While obeying the Lord feeds our new nature and starves our old nature and weakens it. Thus, do a spiritual inventory each day.
a. Die To Sin Daily. Eph. 4; Col 3; Gal. 5
b. Do A Daily Spiritual Inventory. Have a regular time to examine your heart and see if there is wickedness residing there.
(2) Start Obeying!
a. Connect to the Lord! Renew commitment to practice the basic spiritual disciplines. Just like our physical body, our new nature needs to be strengthen through spiritual exercises or disciplines. Do we have a daily regular reading and meditation of the Word? Is prayer a daily practice that we do? Is worship a high priority in our weekly schedules?
b. Connect to the Church/God’s People. Be accountable to others. Commit to an e-group/cell group. If there is one spiritual discipline that I would like to highly recommend to all of us today this would this – a regular weekly commitment to an egroup or small group! Studies have shown us as well as the teachings of the Bible that spiritual growth happens better in a small group setting rather than in a one on one setting. Accountability is the KEY! As the wiseman teaches us “Iron sharpens iron!” (Pro. 27:17).
Therefore, the believers’ fight of faith is all about our struggle with sin caused by our sinful nature that we have inherited from Adam. The good news is that our Lord Jesus has given us a new and divine nature through the Holy Spirit which empowers us to live extraordinary and overcoming lives.
This message was delivered by Dr. Val Natcher at Emmanuel Church Ministries International at Makati City last May 16, 2010.