We covered this before but we need to have it drilled into our spirit. When people talk about the victorious life and defend their failure with, “Well, you know what Paul said . . . in the end of Romans chapter 7: ‘Oh wretched man that I am!’” Well, you silly bunny, you didn’t need the Lord to tell you that. You already knew you were a wretched man . . .
We could stop there; we could sit in a corner and cry our eyes out—ball-and-squall all day. We could have a big pity party and console one another with how weak and frail we are . . . or, we can read the rest of the text:
“But . . .”
We could stop right there and rejoice! “You were wretched and poor . . . ‘BUT’ now you are no longer wretched and poor.”
“You were weak and helpless . . . ‘BUT’ now you are strong and full of hope!”
“You were no good and a worthless slug . . . ‘BUT’ now you stand as the ‘Righteousness of Christ!”
”But, those who follow after the desires of the flesh, are controlled by its unholy desires, because they set their minds on those things—and cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh.”
What are you going do with that?
Paul says one of the most amazing things. He says, “Who will deliver me from the body of this death?” Now what will you do? Is that the end of the story? In the original text, there are no chapters. There is no seventh chapter and eighth chapter. The seventh goes right on into the eighth. Now what do you do? Do you stop and say Paul is saying all through his life, “O wretched man that I am! I’ve another war raging in my life”? NO!!! He says, “Who will deliver me from this body of this death?” Well, can Buddha do it? Can Confucius do it? Can Mohamed do it? Can transcendental meditation do it? Can your good looks and charm do it? Can Oprah do it? Can Dr. Phil do it? No! A thousand times over. There is only one who is able to do it.
“Glory to God through Jesus Christ my Lord . . .!”
Romans 6:6 says that “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—.”
The trouble in the church today is that we preach half a salvation. We tell people how to get rid of the lousy sin, yet we don’t tell them how to get rid of that trash that has dominion over them. This is exactly what Paul is talking about in this epistle. This is why I say it is the song of the soul set free. Chapter 6 laid the foundation for our victory; chapter seven gave us a “for instance;” and chapter eight tells us how to be victorious.
What did we read in Romans 8:9? “You are not controlled by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, [how?] if the Spirit of God lives in you.” Well, let me ask you, is the Spirit of God living inside you? Are you in the Spirit, or in the flesh? Do you have secrets? What is biting you on the inside? An unforgiving spirit? A grudge? Laziness? Jealousy? Anger? Secret lusts? What is it?
He says, “You are not controlled by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if . . .”
Now listen! “if. . . the Spirit of God lives in you!”
Look at the next again (verse 10): “If Christ is in you . . .”
Look at the 11th verse: “The spirit of Him that raised up Jesus . . . is living in you.”
My, oh my! How in God’s name can you have God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit living in you and be defeated?!
Don’t argue with me about it. Don’t try to rationalize it and explain why this doesn’t apply to you . . . “You don’t know what I’m dealing with . . .” Well then, scratch it out of your Bible if you don’t believe it. Go ahead, if your problem is greater than God’s power to deliver you, then lay down and cry . . . However, if you are a Christian, you are an indwelt person! God lives in you! The Father lives in you! That is what it says. I didn’t write that. The Holy Spirit wrote it. I want you to know that if you are really born of God, God lives in you. The Son lives in you. “He that has the Son has life; he that doesn’t have the Son . . .” I don’t care if they baptized you three times a day, it won’t make you a Christian! Who is a Christian? He that has the Son! He that is born of God, and He that has the Spirit of God living in him.
Stop reading right here and backup two paragraphs. Read them again . . .
and again . . .
and again . . .
All right . . . Men have dreamed of Utopia. Augustine had his City of God. Moore had his Utopia. Francis Bacon had his Utopia. Hitler said you could dominate the world by a pure race. The Marxists said the only way to clean the world up is to get rid of the fluff and bourgeois we have around here and rule by revolution. . . . Creation moans.
Did it cost you a tear when you heard that fifty million people were killed in Viet Nam, Laos, and Cambodia? Fifty million people went into prisons! Did it cost you a tear at the millions of people massacred behind the Iron Curtain and at the hands of Saddam Hussein in this reign of terror? What about the 3000 that died on 9/11? Has it cost you a tear? —or are you still rehearsing your choir number for Sunday? Creation groans under the weight of the sin in our world.
“In all these things . . .” Take a few minutes and sort out the things Paul was talking about: Tribulation, distress, famine, peril, nakedness, sword, perils of the deep, and so forth and so on. Sort them out. After you sort them, you will find that some attack the body. Some attack the mind. Some attack the spirit. Then he says, “In all these things . . .” There is no area in your life where, as a Christian, you should be defeated.
We sing the song, “Perfect submission. All is at rest . . .” The only way you can have rest is by perfect submission—to know there is no rebellion in your spirit.
“In all these things we are more than conquerors.” Very often, we get so discouraged. We get so earthbound. We lose sight of the majesty of God. We forget that God has branded you as a child of God. He lives in you. His Spirit lives in you. Christ lives in you. And we let little rubbish around us upset us? As Rich Mullins sang, the stuff of earth competes for the allegiance I owe only to giver of all good things . . .” We let the stuff of earth drown our devotion and commitment to Jesus . . .
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Letter to Christians at Rome