Let us pray: Dear Savior, as we struggle with the inner war between our sinful side and our saintly side, remind us of Your struggle in Gethsemane and on the cross. Remind us that You’ve already fought our fight and good triumphed over evil. And also remind us that because of your grace given to us, we will triumph, too. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR LOVING SAVIOR!
TEXT: Romans 7: 15-25
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
Every Christian Church service should have a confession of sins somewhere within it. The reason for this is: we need to be reminded of exactly what God has saved us from. We need to give our inner evil to Him in order for Him to replace it with His love and forgiveness. We need to confess our sins because it is the ultimate in humility and honesty.
The older liturgies usually spoke of sin in general terms. The confession we used today is more specific. It is basically a repetition of the catalogue of sins that Christ used on numerous occasions in His sermons. If you’re like most people, you probably find it easier on your conscience to confess sin in the abstract rather than in specific terms. My lust, my envy, my anger, my greed—those are more personal and harder to escape from than generalities. And so it should be when talking directly to God Almighty.
God’s Church is the home for conflicted souls. And let’s be honest, every believer is conflicted. That’s because although forgiven, converted, and regenerated—we still possess our old Adam who is quick to revert to ungodly ways. We may not always outwardly lie, cheat or steal. We may not outwardly commit adultery, or murder someone, or let greed control our lives, but we sure are sorely tempted to at times! We certainly day-dream about getting even and hurting those who have hurt or abused us. This inner warfare, this conflict, weighs heavy on our souls and destroys our good Christian equilibrium.
All believers struggle with it, too. No less than St. Paul did battle with it on a daily basis. Here he talks about it. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Yes, even though we know better, we still engage in sin, don’t we?
How often have you done something that you knew was a violation of one of God’s commandments, yet you did it anyway? You probably chalked it up to being “weak.” And yet, it ate away at your soul and weighed heavy on your conscience. Paul addresses that issue, too. “And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.”
This clash between sin and grace, between the old Adam and the new man began when you came to faith and will continue until heaven comes. It’s not fun. We don’t talk about it a lot because it’s o so personal and quite mordifying. And it is the reason why coming to church every week and confessing your sins to God is so important. Because when you confess, you share. You give all that guilt to God. Then you’re not in it all alone. Then, via the absolution, you have God’s help and God’s strength to continue the battle and eventually come out a winner.
Paul now explores this psychological battleground. “So, I find this law (principle) at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law (principle) at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
After that heart-rending lament over who and what we are: sinners; Paul utters the greatest words of comfort and victory known to man! Out of the depths of inner struggle and conflict, Paul humbly turns to Christ, just like you, and Christ lifts him up on eagle’s wings! Yes, the Gospel, the news of Christ’s triumph over evil is the antidote to our daily battles with it. Christ is and was the Gospel. He was God’s love and God’s good news of salvation personified. And when we turn to Him, focus on Him, and employ the message of the Gospel the conflict is resolved. Forgiveness is extended to us. Inner peace returns. That’s why after every confession of sins the Gospel in the form of an absolution must follow. The Gospel it what heals wounded souls.
This is the case for every believer and every hero of faith. Adam experienced it. Abraham went through it. King David had to struggle with it. Peter, Paul, and John went through such conflicts as well. All of them eventually were made stronger Christians and were drawn closer to God as a result. This conflict refined their faith and the Gospel purified their hearts. So, WHEN IT COMES TO INNER CONFLICTS, YOU’RE IN GOOD COMPANY! Or, as Paul concludes: “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.” Yes, may our loving God continue to deliver us from evil. Amen