The premise of the Christian life is that believers are empowered to live above the domination of sin. Through the grace of Christ, sin does not have control over our lives. We have the ability to have control over it. But there’s a problem. Even though we are free from the power that sin holds over us, we still sin.
Maybe you can identify with Paul’s frustration in the concluding verses of Romans 7. In that familiar passage, Paul stated that the thing he wants to do (live righteously, free from sin) he can’t; and the thing he doesn’t want to do (commit sin) is what he ends up doing. Sound familiar? I’ll admit, there’s a big part of me that is thankful for this passage. Paul described a feeling 2,000 years ago that clearly resonates with my heart.
Paul completes his confession with a simple request: “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24, HCSB).
When the reader of this passage comes across this verse, I think the first reaction to it is to admire Paul’s rhetorical genius. “Body of death” sounds poetic, but this image would have meant something tangible to the ancient audience. One of the methods of capital punishment that Rome had developed was to execute a person who committed murder with the corpse of the victim. The offender would be strapped arm to arm, chest to chest, leg to leg, and face to face with the corpse and left. Over time, as the corpse began to decompose, the decomposition process would begin to eat away at the body of the murdered, thus making it possible for the murder victim to avenge his own death. Though that image is quite graphic, it gives us an insight as to how Paul felt then and articulates our own feelings of frustration with our own ongoing sin today.
But notice how Paul phrased the question. He didn’t ask “what” will rescue me. He asked “who will rescue me?” Romans 7:25 is his hopeful answer: “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Tomorrow I’ll return with part 4 of this series. Yes, Jesus is the answer to the sin problem! And His promise is found in the very next chapter.