Part 5 – Don’t Listen To The Flesh
This message and the next one (maybe two) will focus on the last half of Romans 7 – the so-called ‘confusion section of double talk’. Pastors and others often stumble at this section for two reasons:
- People are sure who Paul is referring to (himself before his conversion; all people; an ‘unsanctified Christian’, etc.
- The wording and repetition of certain words and phrases sounds like ‘double talk’ and frustrates readers.
To set the record straight, the best way to understand or interrupt this section is to look at the vast number of personal pronouns that Paul uses in describing this person’s spiritual dilemma. Paul uses the personal pronouns I, me, my, and myself a total of 43 times in these fourteen verses, which indicates to me that that Paul’s main purpose here is to describe the struggle the Christian will face IF he tries to live out the Christian life IN HIS OWN STRENGTH or the FLESH.
The section that specifically speaks this way will be examined in the next messages, but today’s few verses introduce Paul’s point by emphasizing that the law of God is good, holy, and righteous, but it is the sin in man (sinful nature of unbeliever, and flesh of believer) that is the source of trouble. The Christian has been truly set free from the domination of sin and from the need to follow the law in order to be justified, but whenever the Christian starts believing and then acting within the confines of his selfish, as-of-yet-unredeemed, or immature flesh (mind – the way he thinks, feel, and chooses) then it is as if the believer is back in bondage and slavery to sin. We are NOT back in bondage, but we act and think that we are, which only discourages the believer and hinders his effective walk with Christ and his personal sanctification, or spiritual growth,
Let’s just face the facts: We will struggle with the crybaby cravings and desires of those areas of the flesh/mind that are still ‘immature’. However, living a life in the confidence of Christ’s finished work, and by keeping in step with the Spirit, the believer will face the temptations of the flesh and the world with greater and humble strength – strength and confidence in God’s grace and Spirit.