She sat down in my office and immediately started crying. When she could talk again she blurted out, “Pastor, I think I am the worst person in the world!” She explained that before she started coming to church, she felt good about her life and about herself. Sure, she did bad things sometimes, but basically, she felt like a good person. Learning about the Bible changed her understanding of right and wrong, and she had started to make adjustments to her life in obedience to God. “But, now that I know what’s right, I can’t seem to do it. I just feel like God is so mad at me.” I smiled and told her it was going to be okay. I knew God had her right where he wanted her.
- Do you think you are a basically good person or a basically bad person? Why?
READ THE WORD: ROMANS 7:13-25 (ESV)
13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- According to this passage, who is to blame for the sin we commit? Is it the law’s fault, someone else’s fault, or our fault? How does the passage explain it?
- In what ways can you relate to what Paul was saying in verses 13-20?
- Give an example from your life of a time when you knew the right thing, wanted to do the right thing, and yet, did the wrong thing.
- When is struggling with sin, like Paul did in verses 21-24, a good thing? Why?
- Answer Paul’s question for yourself: “Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
RESPOND TO GOD
Learning what God thinks about right and wrong can be a difficult experience. When we begin to realize that God’s standards cut past the outward behavior, all the way to the attitude of our hearts and thoughts of our minds, we begin to see ourselves for who we really are. Greedy competitiveness, lustful thoughts, arrogant judgments, addicted behaviors, or vengeful anger plague our lives even when we know it is wrong. The good news is that feeling the wretchedness is the first step towards crying out to God for help. All who cry “Who will deliver me?” will come to shout “Thanks be to God!” as they experience the freedom of grace in the face of their sin. It is right where God wants us, because it leads us to himself.
- Spend some time crying out to God about the ways you identify with feeling “wretched.” Be honest with God, and if you do not feel that way, ask God to allow you to see yourself through the lens of his perfect law.
- Think about the ways in which you are thankful to God. Spend some time expressing in your own words, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”