We are still in the third main section of Romans where Paul is proving that grace gives victory over sin. In his first supporting point, he has shown that any notion that grace makes sin unimportant is simply false. Now in the next supporting point, he returns to the proposition, that grace brings victory over sin. Here he will support his case with 2 sub points, first that we do indeed struggle with sin (7:14-25) and then that victory comes through the Holy Spirit (8:1-13).
In this post, we have the first sub point, that we do indeed struggle with sin. If you have read the verses (please do read them) they paint a very dire picture, and if they stood all alone, I might be inclined to take back my comments about “The Fall” and our being “fallen” from yesterday, but praise be to God, for this is the set up for Paul’s point, not the point itself!
Humanity is weak and all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; who can argue against that statement? Jesus Himself noted it on that fateful night in Gethsemane when He observed that the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. We live in a world that is full of the consequences of sin. Our human world often glorifies and romanticizes sin; it models sinfulness for us every day and so it is no wonder that we struggle with sin; for us to avoid sin altogether is asking a great deal indeed. It could be likened to being on a diet and sticking to it in a bakery when nobody is looking: Oh, the temptation!
But nobody held a gun to our heads and forced us to buy those sticky buns; we were just weak.
This is what Paul means when he speaks of our sinful nature. Here, why don’t I just come out and say it? Paul is not teaching the Doctrine of Total Depravity in these (or any other) verses; that doctrine doesn’t work. Total Depravity teaches that because of “The Fall” we are born sinners and totally depraved all of the time; we are not capable of making decisions to follow God or to do anything other than to be depraved sinners. If that were so, then why is Paul writing this persuasive piece that keeps throwing a choice at us; if we are totally depraved then we cannot be persuaded, and we cannot make the right choice, for we would of necessity, be utterly incompetent to do so. Sometimes dear reader, it is helpful for us to actually consider the meaning of the words people throw at us, before we just accept a non sequitur as being true.
We human beings are not totally depraved, but we are fallible, we do make mistakes and errors of judgment; each of us has struggles as we try to live in a harsh world… but do not let anyone convince you that God made you depraved. God did not make you depraved, dear reader− He made you His precious child.
We must not stop reading at the end of chapter 7. If we stop now, we will walk away with entirely the wrong idea, for in 8:1-13 Paul will show us that not only does grace pay the price for our sins, but that it will make it possible for us to overcome this whole sin struggle business once and for all, and we will see how he does it next time…