Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
“24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”
“What a wretched man I am!” Can’t you feel Paul’s desperation? He expresses complete hopelessness in his own ability to please God on his own. He was incapable of keeping the law. He knew that as long as he was living in his mortal body, he would face conflict with indwelling sin and the inability to defeat it in his own strength. So he cried out in desperation: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” It was a cry of longing that ended with a question mark.
Paul’s answer to his own question was triumphant and immediate: “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Here, we find a cry of confidence and thanksgiving that ended in an exclamation mark!
Why can Paul lay out such a dire situation on the one hand and one of such confidence on the other hand? Because of the Gospel! He knew believers were identified with Christ in His death and resurrection by faith right here and now, so he’s confident they would join Christ for all eternity in new bodies, free forever from the presence of sin. He knew that our hope is only found in Christ; He is the person we put our trust in: not a system and not in our ability to keep the law. The new reality for the believer is that: In Christ we’ve been set free from the slavery of sin, from the external code.
So what do we do with this? Douglass Moo captured our application well when he wrote:
“With Paul, we should break out in thanksgiving to God when we recognize the state from which he has rescued us. I can well remember the terrible insecurity I felt before coming to Christ. I did not then recognize the source of that insecurity, but in hindsight it is clear. I had no foundation in a relationship to God and was seeking foundations everywhere else—only to have them crumble sooner or later. All of us who read Romans 7 as Christians can identify, to some degree, with the struggle and frustration Paul depicts here. Looking back at that time is good for us, for it moves us all the more to praise God for His rescue of us in Jesus Christ.
Why don’t you, like Douglass Moo, take some time now and look back over your life as a follower of Christ? Think of all the ways you struggled, all you insecurities, and all the way’s Christ has delivered you. Look at the overall trajectory of your life—the ways you’ve grown in Christlikeness. Now thank Him for the mighty work He has done in your life.
*From what you have just read and considered: What is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians; NIV Application Study Bible. The Cambridge Bible Commentary, Romans, Best, Ernest.