"Certainly we know that the law is spiritual, but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not keep doing what I want. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 But now it is no longer I who am doing it, but it is sin living in me. 18 Indeed, I know that good does not live in me, that is, in my sinful flesh. The desire to do good is present with me, but I am not able to carry it out. 19 So I fail to do the good I want to do. Instead, the evil I do not want to do, that is what I keep doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who am doing it, but it is sin living in me. (Romans 7:14-20 – EHV)
Trying to eat healthy food over the holidays and after the holidays drives me crazy. It isn’t that I don’t know what to eat. I know how to read food labels. I know the difference between good and bad foods. I know how many calories I am supposed to have in a day. I even know that I need to exercise. But when I am confronted with a plate of Christmas cookies or a candy dish full of chocolates, my plan goes out the window. I know the food I should be eating, but it is not what I end up eating. My appetite for chocolate takes over. Is it too strong of a statement to say that at times I struggle with an unhealthy food addiction?
The apostle Paul, and us sinful Christians, are struggling with something much more serious than a desire to eat too much chocolate or junk food. Paul is sharing his spiritual addiction, an addiction we all share. It is an addiction to sin -- the sin we are all born with -- called our sinful nature.
Paul knew this "sin addiction" firsthand. He tried to stop sinning many times. But time after time he found himself right back where he started, doing things that he knew God hated, things that were wrong. This sin hurt his relationships with other people, and even worse, threatened to completely destroy his relationship with God.
Paul knew that he didn’t need to just work on “self-control”. He realized that he was the problem. He had a sinful nature. Count how many times in the verses above where Paul talks about the sin or evil living in him. And, as a result, that sin living inside of him took over the steering wheel of his life at times. He wasn’t trying to make excuses; he was just trying to state reality. I think all of us can relate to his misery.
The answer for our sinful nature does not come from inside of us. It comes from God. The first step to getting help is to do what Paul did. He confessed his sin and his inability to control his life. He asked God to help, and he did, by sending Jesus.
Every single one of us can feel Paul’s pain, because we have faced the same struggles. How many times have we wanted to do God’s will, but we did the exact opposite? How many times did we want to open our Bibles more or go to Church more, but our sinful nature won the battle and we did what was wrong? The list is endless, isn’t it?
Where can we turn? Paul reminds us that we can’t turn to ourselves. With the seed of faith in Jesus planted in his heart, Paul now reminds us of God’s forgiveness and strength which come from God. And so we acknowledge, just like Paul, that we can’t ever win this battle on our own. Paul knew and we also need to know that Jesus’ life and death is the only answer to our daily struggle against sin.
Do you have a sin with which you are struggling -- the one in which your sinful nature seems to be winning? Take heart! Jesus has won the victory, and he offers forgiveness and strength to you for your daily battles – the battles we can’t win on our own, but the battles that are already won by Jesus on the cross of Calvary.
Pastor Mark Gartner
On Sunday mornings, Pastor Gartner is leading a study on the practice of Stewardship—how God wants us to use all the gifts that he has graciously given to us—whether it’s the use of our time, our talents, our treasures, our bodies, his great creation, etc. Plan on joining us for this study on Sunday mornings at 9:15am.
On Monday mornings and Tuesday evenings Pastor Frey is studying the letters of John the Apostle. In his first letter John expertly weaves doctrine with practice—a practical letter filled with passages on the love and mercy of Christ. Please plan on joining us as we study these interesting letters to God’s people.
NOTE: We do have audio recordings and the Lesson Sheets of these Bible Classes. If you have been unable to attend and would like these sent to you, please email Pastor Frey or Pastor Gartner.
Monday Janaury 27, Pastor Brad Krause from FVL will be leading our worship service and preaching. Pastor Gartner and Pastor Frey will both be at their 2-day Pastors Conference in Sturgeon Bay on Monday and Tuesday.
Monday/Tuesday Bible Class
Please note that there will not be Bible Classes on Monday January 27 or Tuesday January 28 since both Pastors will be at a Pastors Conference for those two days. The Bible Classes will resume on the following Monday and Tuesday.