My doctor told me that he isn’t satisfied with containing the cancer in my body he wants to eradicate it. When he said that I realized that we should have the same attitude with our sin, we shouldn’t contain it we should kill it!
Those were the words of Ed, a man in my church who has stage four cancer raging through his body.
I really appreciated his perspective. Despite the fact that he hates the fact that he has cancer, he hates something else even more–sin.
I’ve been thinking about what Ed said ever since. I recently had the opportunity to preach on Romans 7, and I’ve been struck with the similarities between what Ed said and what Paul is saying in this passage.
The issue I’ve been considering, though, is the seeming dichotomy we face as believers. We are to kill sin in our lives, but no matter what we do, sin will always be present until our very last breath.
Romans 7 is one of the most controversial passages in Scripture as far as debates are concerned. The big question people ask is, is Paul referring to a believer as he talks through Romans 7:14-25? Even among those who agree that he is speaking about a believer, there is much debate as to whether the person described is a mature or an immature Christian.
I take the view that this is describing the type of Christian we should all strive to be. This, in other words, is the most mature of believers, and I have four reasons why.
Paul Hates His Sin
Paul is very clear that he doesn’t want to sin. He hates it. That is in direct opposition to how he describes non-Christians just four chapters earlier. In Romans 3:10-23, he describes unbelievers as not being able to do good. As being swift to shed blood. As people who do not seek after God. In Romans 1, he lists an incredible list of sins, and then declares that unbelievers practice those things and give approval of those who do them! Paul does not seem to believe that unbelievers have the capacity to hate their sin. In fact, I would go as far as to say that unbelievers are blinded as to the extent of their sin.
In Philippians 3, Paul, on the other hand, describing himself before Christ, though he had kept the law perfectly. He says that he was blameless as far as the law is concerned. He didn’t hate his sin before Christian, he was completely blinded to it. In Romans 7, it’s a different story. He says in verse 15, “I do the very things I hate.” In verse 19, “the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” In verse 21 he says, when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.” These are the words of someone who hates sin and wants to please God.
One of the ways you can know that you are a Christian is if you hate your sin. Of course, everyone hates the consequences of sin, but believers–those who have received a new heart–hate the fact that their sin displeases their Savior.
Paul is Humble
True humility is an impossible trait for an unbeliever to possess because true humility only comes when you believe in the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible demands that you believe three things about yourself. That you are a sinner (Rom. 3:23), that you deserve hell for eternity for your sin (Rom. 6:23), and that you believe that you can’t contribute one iota to your salvation (Eph. 2:8-9).
Paul is marked by humility throughout Romans 7. He calls his actions evil in Romans 7:19, 21. He says that, “nothing good dwells in me” (Rom. 7:18). He calls himself a “wretched man” in Romans 7:24. This is a humble man who realizes that without the Lord’s help he can’t be saved nor can he be sanctified.
Another way that you can know that you are a Christian is through your humility. You needed to be supernaturally humble to be saved in the first place, but humility continues and marks your life once you receive a new heart.
Paul is Happiest When Holy
One of the things that struck me about studying Romans 7 is that Paul is happiest when he is holy. This man is despairing in his present state.
In verse 22, Paul shouts a truth that is only true for born-again believers. He says, “For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being.” Like the man in Psalm 1, His delight is in the law of the Lord. He understands that true joy is only found in those who listen to God’s Word.
Psalm 32 is a great example of this. David experienced turmoil because he was a child of God. When he kept silent about his sin, his body wasted away. But when he confessed his sin, it produced gladness and much joy (Psalm 32:11).
One of the ways that you can knowyou are a Christian is if your love for Jesus causes you to desire holiness above all else. Obeying God’s Word is the desire of your heart.
Paul is Hoping in Heaven
Because Paul’s greatest goal in life is holiness, his greatest desire is Heaven. After walking through the despair of the Christian life, the knowledge of the fact that he will never be fully successful in his quest to put to death the deeds of the flesh, his only solution for it all is to rejoice in the deliverance found in Jesus Christ. (Rom. 7:25)
The Christian’s greatest desire on earth is to be with his Savior in Heaven. Our Savior will wipe away our tears, remove all pain, and will do away with the consequences of sin in our lives. Sin is the root of all problems that we face in this life, and a true Christian can’t wait to be with Christ in perfect holiness.
Joni Eareckson Tada, who has constantly battled pain throughout her life, said it best when she said,
“Don’t be thinking that for me in Heaven, the big deal after I get to see Jesus is to get my new body, no, no, no I want a glorified heart! I want a glorified heart that no longer twists the truth, resists God, looks for an escape, gets defeated by pain, becomes anxious or worrisome, manipulates my husband with precisely timed phrases…”
Joni vocalizes our greatest sentiment as believers. That to live is Christ and to die is gain (Phil. 1:21). Non-believers cannot comprehend this fact. Paul, according to Romans 7, must be a Christian because he hates sin, he is humble, he’s happiest when holy, and he reminds us that his greatest hope is in Heaven where Jesus is, sin is eradicated and holiness is the way of life.
True believers long for Heaven for many different reasons, but the greatest of which is that they will be with Jesus and worship Him without any sin holding us back.
Do you long for Heaven?