Gospel Centered Authenticity

Dr. Steve Viars March 15, 2020 Romans 7:1-25
Outline

1 John 1:3 - …what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

1 John 1:5-7 - This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 1:8 - If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.

1 John 1:10 - If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

John 3:20 - For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 2:1-2 - My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

Romans 6:11-12 - Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts…

3 reasons the gospel produces genuine and practical holiness

Romans 7:19 - For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.

I. You Are Free to Be Authentic Because Your Salvation Is Secure – vv. 1-6

A. The law has no jurisdiction over you

Romans 7:1 - Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives?

“If a criminal dies, he is no longer subject to prosecution and punishment, no matter how numerous and heinous his crimes may have been. Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy, was never brought to trial for that act because he himself was assassinated before his trial began. Law is binding only on the living.” (John MacArthur, Romans, p. 359)

1. Not because there is anything wrong with the law

Psalm 119:97 - O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.

2. But because of how the law impacts us apart from Christ and His righteousness

B. You died to the law and were married to Christ

Romans 7:2 - …if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband.

Romans 7:3 - …if her husband dies, she is free from the law…

Galatians 3:24-25 - Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

Romans 7:4 - Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead…

“‘Were made to die’ translates the aorist tense of thanatoō, which emphasizes the completeness and finality of death. The verb is also passive, indicating that believers do not die naturally or put themselves to death but have been made to die by the divine act of God in response to faith in His Son. Though it was a result of Old Testament salvation by grace, obedience to the law was never a means of salvation (Romans 3:20). The law has power only to condemn men to death for their sin (Romans 6:23), but no power to redeem them from it. Paul has already pointed out that God’s grace extended by faith in Jesus Christ brings death to and freedom from sin (Romans 6:3-7). He now declares that faith in Him also brings death to the Law and consequently freedom from the law’s penalty.” (John MacArthur, Romans, p. 360)

“Romans 7:4 - So, my brothers, you also died to the law through Christ’s body, so that you might become the wife of a different man…” (Jay Adams, Christian Counselor’s New Testament)

“What an incredible metaphor—we are married to Christ! To be a Christian is to fall in love with Jesus and to enter into a legal, yet personal, relationship as comprehensive as marriage. When you get married, no part of your life goes unaffected. So though Christians are now not ‘under law,’ they have every aspect of their lives changed by the coming of Jesus Christ. No area is untouched. Being ‘married to Christ’ is the final answer to the question: Can a Christian live as he or she chooses? No, because we are in love with Christ!” (Tim Keller, Romans, p. 157)

“A Christ-centered, grace-based approach to sanctification that rightly accounts for the significance of our union with Christ will accomplish much more than a man-centered, fear-based legalistic model ever will.”

C. The Holy Spirit enables us to live and serve with an entirely different motivation

Romans 7:6 - But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

“The law is still important to the Christian. For the first time, he is able to meet the law’s demands for righteousness (which was God’s desire when He gave it in the first place), because he has a new nature and God’s own Holy Spirit to empower his obedience. And although he is no longer under the law’s bondage or penalty, he is more genuinely eager to live by its godly standards than is the most zealous legalist. With full sincerity and joy, he can say with the psalmist, ‘O how I love Thy law!’” (John MacArthur - Ps. 119:97)

“As believers, we are dead to the law as far as its demands and condemnation are concerned, but because we now live in newness of the Spirit, we love and serve God’s law with a full and joyous heart. And we know that to obey His law is to do His will and that to do His will is to give Him glory.” (John MacArthur, Romans, p. 364)

“So does the Christian ignore the moral law of God? Not at all. We now look at it as an expression of God’s desires. He loves honesty, purity, generosity, truth, integrity, kindness, and so on. We now use the law to please the One who saved us. So we are not ‘under the law.’ We are not married to it. We are married to Christ; we are seeking to please him, and so the law’s precepts are ways to honor the one we love. They are now not a burden—we have a new motivation (love for our husband) and obey in a new framework (acceptance on the basis of Christ, not us, fulfilling the law).” (Tim Keller, Romans, p. 158)

II. You Are Free to Be Authentic Because Your Sin Has Been Exposed – vv. 7-13

A. The law explained to you what sin is

Romans 7:7 - What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.”

B. The law incited rebellion in your heart

Romans 7:8 - But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.

Romans 7:9 - …when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died…

“How does it do this? The basic answer is that there is a ‘perversity’ about our hearts. ‘Perversity’ is a desire to do something for no other reason than because it is forbidden. It is a joy in wrongdoing for its own sake.” (Tim Keller, Romans, p. 162)

C. The problem was never the law, but your sin which was revealed and magnified

Romans 7:13 - Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.

“The villain of the piece is Sin; Sin seized the opportunity afforded it when the law showed me what was right and what was wrong.” (F.F. Bruce The Epistle of Paul to the Romans [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963], p. 150)

Free from the law, O happy condition, Jesus has bled, and there is remission;

Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall, Grace has redeemed us, once for all.

Once for all, O sinner, receive it, Once for all, O friend, now believe it;

Cling to the cross, the burden will fall, Christ has redeemed us, once for all.

III. You Are Free to Be Authentic Because Your Struggle Can Be Addressed – vv. 14-25

A. Be honest about the power and presence of indwelling sin

Romans 7:15 - …for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.

Romans 7:19 - For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.

“The more seriously a Christian strives to live from grace and to submit to the discipline of the gospel, the more sensitive he becomes to…the fact that even his very best acts and activities are disfigured by the egotism which is still powerful within him—and no less evil because it is often more subtly disguised than formerly.” (C.E.B. Cranfield - A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans [Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1975], 1:358)

B. Joyfully agree with what God’s Word is seeking to do in your heart

Romans 7:22 - For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man…

C. Let the depth of the struggle cause you to continually cry out to your victorious Savior

Romans 7:24 - Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?

Romans 7:25 - Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

- one of our church’s signature events each year is our Biblical Counseling Training Conference

- it’s really amazing how the Lord has chosen to bless the BCTC…many of us scratch our head each year as now over 2000 persons come from around the country and even from several foreign countries to study what God’s Word says about counseling and soul care…

- the event started when a missions executive spoke at our church over 35 years ago now and urged the church family to allow Pastor and Mrs. Goode, our former senior pastor and his wife – and Dr. and Mrs. Smith to make more international trips to teach biblical counseling principles to missionaries around the world…

- the truth was that the church family wasn’t holding any of that back – but Pastor Goode and Doc Smith believed a more effective approach would be to host those guests here in Lafayette for a week of training while the missionaries where in the US on furlough because it would be better for them to see the philosophy of ministry in action…

- that’s why the event was originally named the missionary training conference…

- over time, pastors and other lay leaders who lived too far away to drive for 11 consecutive Mondays to our basic training program asked if they too could come to the one-week conference in February…

- so eventually we even renamed the event to indicate our willingness to let that happen…

- over time we’ve even increased the number of tracks available to six, have completely rewritten the curriculum, and are always thinking about what new material needs to be presented and what can be left out or reduced to make room for everything that’s new…

- one lecture that has remained however is the one we have always given at the end of the first day of the conference – it’s an exposition of 1 John 1:1 – 2:2 entitled Walking in the Light…

- our thought process has been that the best counselor is first a good counselee…and that passage as well as any prepares our guests to hear all the other lectures because 1 John 1 speaks about the importance of Walking in the Light

- the passage begins by holding out the wonderful possibility of having greater fellowship with God and other people…

- 1 John 1:3 - what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

- fellowship is the Greek word Koininia – and it means having a warm, intimate relationship with someone…

- it’s never used of the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT – a book called the Septuagint to describe a human’s relationship with God…but remember, after the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ – things are different…

- Jesus even told His disciples that He no longer called them His servants, but He called them His friends…

- imagine the possibility of having a warm, intimate relationship with the very God of heaven and earth…

- then John goes on to explain how that can occur…you have to walk in the light…

- 1 John 1:5–7 - This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

- so the principle is clear – fellowship with God comes from walking in the light…

- that’s all well and good, but what exactly does that mean?...sometimes we use Christian phraseology without carefully thinking about the actual meaning…

- if I asked you – have you been walking in the light in the last week, how would you answer – and what evidence would you give to support your answer?...

- that’s why verses 8-10 help us so much…

  • 1 John 1:8 - If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.
  • 1 John 1:10 - If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
  • A Christ-centered, grace-based approach to sanctification that rightly accounts for the significance of our union with Christ will accomplish much more than a man-centered, fear based legalistic model ever will

- see, that’s what light does – it exposes…John 3:20 - For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

- so the idea is – fellowship with God comes from walking in the light, and walking in the light means I have an open attitude toward admitting my own sinfulness…

- well, the next question is – how can I know if I’m doing that?...

- that’s where probably what is the best known verse in the chapter comes in - 1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

- see, show me a person who is walking in the light, and I’ll show you a person who is regularly confessing sin to God, and asking forgiveness of the appropriate persons…

- well, most of us would say that’s hard to do…and it is…which is why John goes on to say this…

- 1 John 2:1–2 - My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

- if you’ve been with us in our Romans series – you recognize one of those words…propitiation, or satisfaction…

- that’s part of the position each person who has genuinely trusted Christ as Savior and Lord now enjoys…Jesus is our Advocate, and Jesus is our propitiation…

- how does all that fit together logically and theologically?...

- the more we understand and value our position in Christ, the easier it is for us to walk in the light – to have an open attitude toward admitting our sinfulness…

- that’s the exact same point that Paul discusses in Romans chapter 7…we’re talking this morning about being Free to be Authentic

- with that in mind, please open your Bible to Romans chapter 7…page ____ of the back of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- this year we’re doing a verse by verse exposition of the book of Romans as part of our annual theme of Celebrating God’s Truth

- this point of our study has brought us to Romans 6-8, the most extended discussion of the topic of Christian growth, or progressive sanctification, found anywhere in the Word of God…

- last week we saw incredible truth about the power of our union with Christ…

- we’ve died to sin and have been raised to new life in Him….

- our responsibility is to learn to reckon that to be true in daily life situations…

- Romans 6:11–12 - Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,

- that’s how the gospel transforms us…

- well, now it’s time to see how the assurance of our position in Christ frees us to be authentic about the ways we still need to change…

- as I read, please be looking for 3 reasons the gospel produces genuine and practical holiness.

- read Romans 7:1-25

- so we’re talking this am about how we can be Free to be Authentic

- and with the time we have remaining, let’s work our way through these verses and find…3 reasons the gospel produces genuine and practical holiness.

- the most surprising aspect of these verses is when Paul acknowledges…Romans 7:19 - For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.

- that sounds a lot like walking in the light…having an open attitude toward admitting one’s sinfulness…

- it’s also the opposite of the way Adam and Eve responded when they sinned – as you recall, they ran, they hid, covered up, blamed it on each other…

- so how could Paul be so authentic?...what enabled him to walk in the light?...

I. You are Free to be Authentic Because Your Salvation is Secure – vv. 1-6

- these first 6 verses of chapter 7 contain ideas that are shocking, that are helpful, that stretch our minds, and are crucial for the Christian growth process…so Paul starts by affirming that…

A. The law has no jurisdiction over you.

- Romans 7:1 - Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives?

- you probably noticed as we read, that the word “law” is a major emphasis – it’s used 23 times in this chapter, 8 times in the first 6 verses…

- one of the challenges we have to face is that the word law is used in several different ways throughout the book, and even in this chapter…

- in verse 1, Paul’s talking about any law – even secular law…

- but the point is – the only time any law has any authority over you is if you’re alive…John MacArthur explains…If a criminal dies, he is no longer subject to prosecution and punishment, no matter how numerous and heinous his crimes may have been. Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy, was never brought to trial for that act because he himself was assassinated before his trial began. Law is binding only on the living (John MacArthur, Romans, p. 359).

- now to be clear, Paul is not saying this because…

1. Not because there is anything wrong with the law

- we should be able to say with the Psalmist - Psalm 119:97 - O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.

- so why do we need to find a way to get out from under its jurisdiction?...

2. But because of how the law impacts us apart from Christ and His righteousness

- in and of ourselves, we never measure up…

- we experience constant guilt and fear and shame...or pride and defensiveness and self-righteousness…

- later we’ll see that it actually incites rebellion in our hearts and bears the fruit of death…

- so we have to find some way to change our relationship to the law…that’s another great benefit of our union with Christ we saw in chapter 6

- Lee Harvey Oswald isn’t the only dead person in this conversation…so are you and me (if we’ve trusted Christ as Savior and Lord)…

B. You died to the law and were married to Christ

- Paul uses an absolutely fascinating illustration to help us understand this point…

- it’s what happens when a person’s spouse passes away…

- do you see the argument in v. 2 – Romans 7:2 - …if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband.

- he says the same thing again in v. 3 - Romans 7:3 - …if her husband dies, she is free from the law…

- we would all say – well, of course that’s true…that’s why a couple’s wedding vows include something like…for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till…death do us part…

- the point is – when a spouse dies – it changes the nature of the surviving spouse’s relationship and responsibilities to the one who has passed away…

- that’s what happens to a Christian…

- you are “released from the law” in the sense that you no longer wrongly believe that you have to keep it in order to be saved…

- it can’t accuse you anymore (in the sense that it can’t say you’re not saved because you failed in some way) because now you know – that your stand before God is based on the finished work of Christ and His imputed righteousness…

- that’s why the words redemption, propitiation, and justification are so delicious…

- that does not mean that the law was ever bad or unimportant – it’s just been right-sized…

- you allowed it to fulfill its ultimate purpose – which was what?...to point you to your need of a Savior

- Galatians 3:24–25 - Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

- now, you might say – does that make me some kind of “spiritual widow, or widower”?....

- what’s the answer to that question?...

- Romans 7:4 - Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead

- John MacArthur explains – “Were made to die” translates the aorist tense of thanatoō, which emphasizes the completeness and finality of death. The verb is also passive, indicating that believers do not die naturally or put themselves to death but have been made to die by the divine act of God in response to faith in His Son.

Though it was a result of Old Testament salvation by grace, obedience to the law was never a means of salvation (Rom. 3:20). The law has power only to condemn men to death for their sin (6:23), but no power to redeem them from it. Paul has already pointed out that God’s grace extended by faith in Jesus Christ brings death to and freedom from sin (Rom. 6:3–7). He now declares that faith in Him also brings death to the Law and consequently freedom from the law’s penalty (John MacArthur, Romans, p. 360).

- I’ve always been helped by the way Jay Adams translated this verse in his Christian Counselor’s New Testament…Romans 7:4 – So, my brothers, you also died to the law through Christ’s body, so that you might become the wife of a different man

- this is one of the primary reasons grace-based sanctification is so far superior to legalism in producing genuine, authentic, practical holiness…

- Tim Keller explained it like this – What an incredible metaphor—we are married to Christ! To be a Christian is to fall in love with Jesus and to enter into a legal, yet personal, relationship as comprehensive as marriage. When you get married, no part of your life goes unaffected. So though Christians are now not “under law,” they have every aspect of their lives changed by the coming of Jesus Christ. No area is untouched. Being “married to Christ” is the final answer to the question: Can a Christian live as he or she chooses? No, because we are in love with Christ! (Tim Keller, Romans, p. 157)

- this is why we can confidently say -

- because our union with Christ is just like a marriage…if you love your spouse, you don’t just have to do things…you want to avoid the things that displeases that person and do the things that pleases them…it’s acting out of affection, not duty…

- cf. the question – “honey, do you think we ought to get fresh mulch for the flower-beds this year”?

- a question for you to consider is -- How are you doing, and what are you doing, to get to know your new spouse?

- The primary way is to know your spouse’s love letters to you—God’s word…

- The one who died so that you might live…

- The one who was a man of sorrows so that you might have joy

- The one who took the shame of your nakedness so that you might be clothed in his righteousness

- You learn this more and more through your study of this spouse’s love letter to you—“The word of Christ”

- You do that personally, though Sunday morning attendance FCI, putting yourself in positions where you are exposed to the way of life your new spouse loves

- now, the other piece of this “being freed from the law and married to Christ puzzle” is:

C. The Holy Spirit enables us to live and serve with an entirely different motivation

- Romans 7:6 - But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

- John MacArthur - The law is still important to the Christian. For the first time, he is able to meet the law’s demands for righteousness (which was God’s desire when He gave it in the first place), because he has a new nature and God’s own Holy Spirit to empower his obedience. And although he is no longer under the law’s bondage or penalty, he is more genuinely eager to live by its godly standards than is the most zealous legalist. With full sincerity and joy, he can say with the psalmist, “O how I love Thy law!” (Ps. 119:97).

- As believers, we are dead to the law as far as its demands and condemnation are concerned, but because we now live in newness of the Spirit, we love and serve God’s law with a full and joyous heart. And we know that to obey His law is to do His will and that to do His will is to give Him glory (John MacArthur, Romans, p. 364)

- Tim Keller – So does the Christian ignore the moral law of God? Not at all. We now look at it as an expression of God’s desires. He loves honesty, purity, generosity, truth, integrity, kindness, and so on. We now use the law to please the One who saved us. So we are not “under the law.” We are not married to it. We are married to Christ; we are seeking to please him, and so the law’s precepts are ways to honor the one we love. They are now not a burden—we have a new motivation (love for our husband) and obey in a new framework (acceptance on the basis of Christ, not us, fulfilling the law). (Tim Keller, Romans, p. 158).

- one question for all of us to consider is – what does your joyful obedience to the moral law of God say about the depth of love you have for your Savior?

- now, what do we see in the next verses?...

- and this is critical for where this chapter is heading – once we are free from the law – in the sense that we understand and believe our stand before God is based on Christ’s righteousness, not ours…

- we can actually get closer to the law without being afraid of it…

- you might say – what do you mean by that?...well, what is the opposite of being authentic?...

- shallow, fake, or inauthentic…like Paul in Philippians 3 where he’s building his own spiritual resume (Keller says) – circumcised the 8th day, of the nation of Israel, or the tribe of Benjamin…putting confidence in the flesh…

- please remember this - when we try to “be our own Savior by keeping the law in our own strength” – we invariably have to develop a shallow view/definition of sin

- so you keep the law at arm’s length because it shatters the illusion of self-righteousness

- you don’t want to be honest about the depth of your heart struggles because that makes achieving self-righteousness harder…

- friends – we don’t have to do that any more – we’re freed from the law and married to Christ…so we can actually get closer to the law without being afraid of it…

- that’s what Paul does in these next verses…

II. You are Free to be Authentic Because Your Sin has Been Exposed – vv. 7-13

A. The law explained to you what sin is

- Romans 7:7 - What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.”

- this is the opposite of what we do with law if we’re living in the flesh…

- we have a habit of looking at law and trying to justify our innocence…

- well, I keep that one, and I keep that one and I keep that one…

- what’s the least I can do and still keep that one?...

- which may be why of all the 10 commandments Paul could have mentioned…which one is singled out?...covetousness…the most inward of the 10…

- we can’t weasel out of that one – but we don’t even have to try…if we’re secure in our union with Christ…then we can really get after it by admitting…

B. The law incited rebellion in your heart

- Romans 7:8 - But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.

- every parent knows exactly what that verse means…just tell your child not to stick something in that electrical outlet – and now, what is your child’s sole existence focused on?...

- that’s what verse 9 means… Romans 7:9 - …when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died;

- Tim Keller – How does it do this? The basic answer is that there is a “perversity” about our hearts. “Perversity” is a desire to do something for no other reason than because it is forbidden. It is a joy in wrongdoing for its own sake (Tim Keller, Romans, p. 162)

- friends, do we all agree that’s true?...and what makes it easier to admit it?...being secure in our union with Christ…the gospel reality that our stand before God is unshakeable because of the imputed righteousness of Christ…frees us to explore the recesses of our sinful hearts without fear that if we’re honest…our spiritual resume is in jeopardy…

- [it’s just like the way a pool-builder trowels out the final concrete right around the main drain – have you ever wondered how we do that?...you place a long ladder on the deck across the pool…you have your strongest guy lay down on the ladder – and then you let him hold you upside down over the center of the pool where you reach out as far as you can and trowel out around the drain – and then he pulls you back up. The more secure you are in his strength, the easier it is for you to reach out as far as you can to finish the job]

- so, this means…

C. The problem was never the law, but your sin which was revealed and magnified

- Romans 7:13 - Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.

- commentator F.F. Bruce said - The villain of the piece is Sin; Sin seized the opportunity afforded it when the law showed me what was right and what was wrong (The Epistle of Paul to the Romans [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963], p. 150).

- why aren’t followers of Jesus Christ afraid to admit that?...because as hymn writer Phillip P Bliss wrote:

Free from the law, O happy condition, Jesus has bled, and there is remission;

Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall, Grace has redeemed us, once for all.

Once for all, O sinner, receive it, Once for all, O friend, now believe it;

Cling to the cross, the burden will fall, Christ has redeemed us, once for all.

- now, how does this passage end?...with an incredible illustration of how…

III. You are Free to be Authentic because Your Struggle Can Be Addressed – vv. 14-25

- isn’t it amazing and refreshing that the apostle Paul can…

A. Be honest about the power and presence of indwelling sin.

- Paul says…

- Romans 7:15 - …for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.

- Romans 7:19 - For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.

- one of the interpretive questions here is – is Paul speaking here as an unsaved man, or as an immature (carnal) believer, or as a mature believer?...what do you think?...

- our position is that this kind of authenticity is a sign of significant maturity…

- commentator C.E. B Cranfield wrote - “The more seriously a Christian strives to live from grace and to submit to the discipline of the gospel, the more sensitive he becomes to … the fact that even his very best acts and activities are disfigured by the egotism which is still powerful within him—and no less evil because it is often more subtly disguised than formerly” (C.E.B. Cranfield - A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans [Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1975], 1:358.

- so that leads to a straightforward question, doesn’t it?...do you have this kind of openness about the ways you need to change because you are secure in your position in Christ?...

- are you allowing the gospel to develop spiritual authenticity in your heart and life?...

B. Joyfully agree with what God’s Word is seeking to do in your heart

- do you see where this leads in verse 22?...

- Romans 7:22 - For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,

- and we all know this is true…

- what happens when you acknowledge sin and ask God’s forgiveness?...increased freedom and joy in your relationship with Him…

- what happens when you acknowledge sin and ask another person’s forgiveness…increased freedom and joy in your relationship with them…

C. Let the depth of the struggle cause you to continually cry out to your victorious Savior.

- we see the intensity of this struggle with our flesh…this cluster of sinful habits in both our inner and outer man…when Paul even says….

- Romans 7:24 - Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?

- we don’t know this for sure – but John MacArthur explains that near where Paul was born, a certain tribe would punish convicted murderers by strapping the body of the slain person to the convicted murderers back…where the decay would eventually infect and then take the life of the guilty person as well…

- if that’s true – you can imagine the agony of the person making this cry…

- regardless – the struggle is real…if we’re honest about it…

- and what frees us to do so is the security we have in our union with Christ…

- that’s why we can say with Paul…Romans 7:25 - Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video