Greetings all, here is your e-votional…
“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”-Romans 7: 21-25
Tasha and I will be spending the preaching month of June in the 8th chapter of Romans. I am always wary of preaching from Romans without delving deeply into it as it is such a complex and interconnected book. Paul chose his words very carefully and, although they can seem confusing from time to time, purposefully. The reason that Romans can be challenging is because of one of its central tenets; that the Law (here Paul means Torah Law) actually facilitates sin. Let me repeat that. The Law which had been the bedrock of the Jewish faith for centuries was actually, in Paul’s mind, a problem. It would be like me claiming that the Gospels are undermining our Christian witness. On the surface, it makes no sense.
But hear Paul out. His point is a simple one. If I tell you, “keep your hand out of the cookie jar,” my law may be well intentioned. I don’t want you to spoil your dinner, get a stomach ache, or become obese. But what have I done? I have planted, perhaps permanently, the idea of the cookie jar in your head. By warning you about the cookie jar, I have instead focused your mind upon it. This is the core of Paul’s argument. Because we are sinful, because we are of the flesh, that is selfish and idolatrous by nature, we cannot help but be attracted to whatever sin from which the law tries to steer us. Our sin has made a failure of the law.
With this truth in his hear, all Paul can say in the face of his sin is, “wretched man that I am!” So why don’t we all say that? Well our answer is the same as Paul’s. Jesus. When we root our faith and hope in Jesus Christ, instead of the law, we are oriented away from sin and death and toward salvation and life. The life we cannot find in the law is revealed in the suffering, sacrifice, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus, not the law, is our ultimate salvation.
So, I admit, this is a little less devotion-y than you may be used to, but now I feel better knowing you have a little context when Tasha offers the first verse of Romans 8 on Sunday, “Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Prayer: Holy God, we thank you for your love and grace. Help us this day to serve you more perfectly and to remember that the source of our hope, grace, salvation and, indeed, our very lives, is Jesus Christ. It is in his name that we live, work and pray. Amen.