Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Romans 7:7-25 - God's law and our sinful nature
Remember, Paul's first readers included a lot of Jews who thought they were made right with God by observing the law. The problem was they had a lot of pride and like a lot of people today, they thought they were good enough for God and that God owed them somehow. Paul's trying to get them to see that they still have a sin problem and he wants to show them that God's only solution for it is Jesus, who died in their place for their sin so they could have forgiveness, friendship with God, life to the full and life forever. Paul's not slagging off the law though. Jewish readers would have been concerned about this. Paul says the law is still good but its purpose was to highlight sin and the need for mercy and grace from God though Jesus.
We might be tempted to think that we're good and maybe compared to some other people we are. But God's law shows us that compared to him, no-one is good. Not really. Paul describes how we can't stop sinning. We can't even meet our own standards, let alone God's. We try to be better but we can only get so far. The sin sickness is always right there with us and our consciences (if we're still listening to them) remind us of our guilt when the symptoms come out. And when some people don't feel guilty any more it's either because they've been forgiven by Jesus or because they've ignored their God-given conscience for so long that they can't hear it anymore.
A young girl once said conscience was like a triangle inside us and when we do things wrong, it spins round and the corners make us hurt. She said the more we ignore it and keep doing wrong, the corners start to wear off and in the end it becomes a circle and doing wrong things doesn't hurt us like it should. Consciences can be broken so that people are blind to the sin problem and they feel good enough just as they are. They don't know how good God is, how much he loves them or what he has in store for them.
Christians aren't good people. Christians are those who know they're bad and need forgiveness from God. They are those who still struggle with sin but now they are forgiven, made right with God and are slowly changing to be more like Jesus through the power of God the Holy Spirit who lives in them. And when they do something good and right, it's not out of guilt, to try and earn God's favour or love but it's out of freedom because they already have it.
We're not fine as we are. And we can't save ourselves. We need Jesus for that.