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The Assurance of Freedom

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
August 22, 2022 2:00 am

The Assurance of Freedom

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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August 22, 2022 2:00 am

Join us as we study Romans 7 and the Christian's ultimate victory over indwelling sin.

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All right, we're going to turn to Romans chapter 7, and we're going to be looking at verses 14 through 25. Last time I preached on Romans chapter 7 verse 1 to 13, I thought, well, I'll just go to chapter 8, read the first parts as I go on through, but thought, no, this is a very interesting passage of Scripture which people debate.

Okay, so we shouldn't skip it. But it's a great thing about the grace of God that He shows us in our daily life, and if you struggle with assurance of salvation sometimes because of things you have in your heart and mind, this passage may help you see that Christ is battling for you and with you to help you get through life. Okay, the two natures that we have, Romans chapter 7 verse 14. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am a flesh sold in the bondage to sin. For what I am doing I do not understand, for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the law, confessing that the law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body waging war against the law of my mind and making me prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am, who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other with the flesh the law of sin. So ends the reading of God's word.

You may be seated. Let us pray for a moment. Father in heaven, do we do pray that you would open our eyes and our minds to the glories of your word, that you do not hold back on truth, you do not hold back on what you tell us to be true about ourselves, and you do not restrain your grace to your people. Father, pour out your grace upon us and give us understanding of the marvelous work of Christ which he has wrought and what he's given to us in him. Father, bless us this evening through this word of your word.

In Jesus' name, amen. You know, when you read this passage of Scripture, there's a number of people that say on the one hand this part where Paul is talking about the struggles with sin in the law of his mind or the fact principles sin in his body in his members that well some say that this means that Paul is talking about his pre-conversion days before he was a Christian. Others say no no no no this refers to the time Paul is actually talking about Christians, things that Christians experience. Well, I'll do some reading and William Henderson says that for the first four centuries first four centuries most early church fathers thought yes this is Paul's pre-conversion statement but since that time even Augustine changed his mind said no this is talking about Paul's experience even as a believer and all the reformers that's what they believe that that was what was happening that this is Paul's description of his own struggles even after his conversion and so we one of the two reasons for that is if you'll look at verse 14 and verse let's see let's see I believe it's yeah 23 verse 14 it mentions that he is sold in the bondage of sin and verse 23 mentions he's a prisoner of the law of sin so he said oh that means he's a prisoner of sin even though he's not saved right however I don't know if any slave that wanted voluntarily went there or any prisoner that voluntarily went in so that's something to think about we'll talk about that in a minute but as we look at this we we realize that there is a real struggle going on and I think that we can say this the the proposition for tonight is this is that Christ sets us free from the bondage and imprisonment of our sinful natures we still struggle with them but he sets us free from those things ultimately and one text that parallels this is galatians 5 17 remember that five galatians 5 17 and here's what it says for the flesh sets its desire against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh for these are in opposition to one another so that you may not do the things that you please so he's talking about the struggles that Christians face in their in their lives now there's something else interesting about the the comments of the apostle paul as he talked about his own awareness of his sin things he had done in the past and his own condition in the present so if you around ad 55 now watch the timeline here around ad 55 paul was writing his first letter to the corinthians and in chapter 15 9 he says this i am the least of the apostles not fit to be called an apostles because i persecuted the church of god now he's referring back to time before he was a christian but five years later in ad 60 approximately that time paul is writing to the church in ephysis and he makes this comment he says to me the very least of all the saints was this grace given to preach to the gentiles the unsearchable riches of christ now he's not saying he's he's he's an apostle he's talking about even me i i am a lowly saints what he's saying but then five years later approximately ad 65 paul writes to timothy as he's ministering to him and teaching him about the ministry and he says in chapter 1 verse 15 christ jesus came into the world to save sinners among whom i am foremost of all he's using that in the present tense he sees himself as a sinner we are sinners and saints saints and sinners hyphenated that's what i think we who we are so in the new testament as you read through the books of the new testament all the epistles that paul wrote he's addressing sins the sins of the christians there is no perfectionism there uh so that's why we read a ephesians 6 10 we put on the armor of god to battle various things or in philippians 1 6 where he says i am confident of this very thing that he who began a good word in you will complete it until the day of christ jesus and that is true he's talking about our growth in grace all along so christ does set us free from the bondage of sin and from the imprisonment of our sin natures that we we still deal with those so in verse 14 we have a main point here he sets the stage here as he goes through this he said we need to be assured that god in the scripture addresses our struggle with our sin nature so you may have a struggle with your assurance of salvation going through this passage and getting to the conclusion may really help you so because we all struggle but we we do struggle with our sin nature and that's what he's saying in verse 14 he says this for we know that the law is spiritual but i am flesh sold into bondage to sin so two things one the law is spiritual there's nothing wrong with the law of god but there is something wrong with me they said there's something wrong with us and our sin nature remains and seeks to drag us down and and put us in bondage so the commandments of the bible the ten commandments all of the word of god is good it's holy it's true it's god's work inspired by him for our edification for our correction and to bring sinners to christ it's it's all good but it clearly makes it plain that the ten commandments the laws of god are never a means of salvation never have been since the day that adam and eve first sin we're all saved by grace and looking toward the savior who came so paul is making it clear that the fault is not in is not in the law and salvation is not in the law so he talks about the facts in in this passage scripture he's talking and speaking in the present tense his own experience he's relating that to you god has inspired him to to share and open up his heart to be very vulnerable before you and i and say this is the struggles that christians have even great famous christians so the law is good but we struggle with indwelling sin until we meet the lord in heaven and are in his presence okay so paul asserts also that he is carnal it means just simply that he has a sin nature he still has his sin nature and so if you could turn to james chapter 4 1 it's asked where that where is the source of quarrels and and and and strife and strife among you he says well it's in here it's in our hearts so the phrase sold as a slave or sold into bondage to sin that that troubles a lot of people but that that similar phrase in making me a prisoner to the law uh that that's paul's struggle that's what the our sin nature does to us it's trying to entrap us because a slave and a prisoner that's not a willing event you're not willing to paul is not willing to be enslaved by sin he doesn't want his old sin nature to dominate him or influence him so he talks about this and he talks about this to the first christians in Corinth he says brethren i could not speak to you as to spiritual men but as to men of the flesh as to infants in christ he says that they're carnal their fleshly nature is at war with their new nature in christ so we do not desire to be under sin do we not desire to be controlled by sin if we're if you're a believer in jesus christ in fact romans 6 14 back in that verse that part of the book it says this for sin shall not have be master over you for you are not under the law but under grace you're not saved by the law you're saved by grace and sin will not be a master that's what that's saying that's a great reassurance now when we get the chapter verses 14 15 16 to all through 20 you could lump all of these together in in one group and you could say this is paul talking about the dynamics of our struggle so when we go through this we're going to kind of just go down one to the other and you realize you're making different points about the struggles that you and i have with sin things that we encounter some is repetitious but he's he's driving it home this is a christian experience so one dynamic is the deceitfulness of sin and our old sin nature has us doing things that we really hate and we really love how about that that's what he says he every i thought had had these kind of experiences um i shouldn't have said that that just popped out of my mouth oh where did that thought come from that was terrible or i should have thought before i acted or i should have done that i knew i should have helped out but i didn't that's the way we are that christians have that experience however a lot of people have those similar experiences but a christian sees their negligence their thoughts their actions their failures they see that there are sin their sins they repent and they turn to jesus christ they look to him now non-christian may have a similar experience but they say i'm sorry about that i just regret it but i'll just go on but they're not turning to christ they're not repenting so there's a difference in the way you handle your failures and the things that are going on in your life so verse 15 says for what i am doing i do not understand for i am not practicing what i would like to do but i'm doing the very thing i hate that's a strong statement to say you hate or loathe a particular sin that does not come from the heart of an unbeliever a christian knows that the right and wrong and they feel it deeply they don't want to sin but they know they do sin so he's talking about the manner of being sold into slavery that's something that adam did to every one of us from the very day that he and eve took that fruit but this sinful nature it does reside in us but a christian grieves over their sin they re they not only regret it but they grieve over it and they want they repent and they turn to christ again there's another dynamic that he takes says is taking place not only do we hate sin but in in our new nature as a christian we agree without any argument that the law of god is good it is righteous it is spiritual we know that verse 16 but if i do the very thing i do not want to do i agree with the law confessing that the law is good so when i do what i don't want to do i i what i shouldn't be doing i know that it is sin and the converted person knows in their heart they know internally that the law is good the believer agrees with the truthfulness of the word of god they they they see that it came from god who's in his holy character and god's word is true and holy and pure so one mark of a christian you could say is this they aim to be free from their sins they want to be free from sin they don't want to sin and the christian has a god-given desire to restrain and to to to try to not sin against god but to please god the desire is to be delivered from sin from the power of sin that's what's in the heart of a believer now there's a third dynamic that's taking place and that is believers we have to realize we as believers really do face the power of indwelling sin we do have that sin in us paul is not denying his accountability here one person has put it this way and one phrase there he's using somewhat figurative language when he says it is no more i that do it but he's getting to the root of the problem the problem he sees is sin it's the fact of sin it's the existence of sin it's the principle of sin operating in the human heart this is our problem this is the world's problem okay yes paul is really a man we're really people and we do sin we we willfully do so and sometimes out of neglect we do not avoid our accountability but paul is making it clear that we have two natures there exists in the believer the remaining nature a sinful nature and the new nature in christ so we face the power of indwelling sin we all do so the but the problem really is that sin nature in us now there's another dynamic that's taking place in verse 18 believers know that they are naturally sinful we're descendants of adam so paul begins by saying i know we know what does he know that nothing good dwells in me that is in my flesh for the willing is present in me but the doing good of good is not so he's got this conflict tremendous conflict and so we have a sinful human nature which we've inherited from our first parents adam and eve they adam sold us into sin he made us a prisoner of sorts with our sinful nature so believers want to obey and do what is good they want to obey the lord but yet they struggle with this remaining indwelling sin we know that sometimes we are not doing good we know it so we are all affected affected and i guess infected with sin you could describe it that way we struggle with it and we fall and we we know adam and eve just fell and and we've inherited that problem but there is some good news in that verse he says for the willing is present in me i'm willing to do good where did that desire come from it didn't come from a sinful nature it came from his the new mindset that he had in jesus christ because he's a convert he has a desire to good do good there's an inclination in the mind of paul to do what is right to please christ because he has this new mind in christ and so we see the spiritual conflict does exist in believers but god is graciously showing us the dynamics that work out in our inner being now if you took a personality test there's a problem with the personality test or whatever kind of other types those types of tests how can they measure the work of the holy spirit in the life of a christian they really can't do that but god is at work and god has loved us and said and says yes you're sinners but i'm going to call you holy i'm going to change your hearts and lives i'm going to love you this way and uh you're i'm going to pour my grace out upon you so that dynamic is happening in the believer's life along with that struggle with that old sin nature god is so gracious to us the the if you look at the fifth dynamic it kind of reviews the existing conflict that we have in the in the christian life verse 19 says this for the good that i want i do not do but i practice the very evil that i do not want notice paul is naming it this is sin this is this is good he knows right and wrong his eyes are open the believer wants to obey and wants to please christ that desire is in there it may be weak at times but it is there and but the practice of doing things that doesn't always add up that doesn't we don't always come through uh so we know what is good and we uh but we then act according to our sinful natures and we see that there is a spirit terrible spiritual conflict at different times in our lives we struggle now the first the sixth point of this dynamic is the main issue why do i or you as a christian sometimes do the things you do you and i do not want to do the things that we know are sin why do we do that well the answer is it's the principle of sin that sinful human nature in us verse 20 but if i am doing the very thing i do not want i am no longer the one doing it but sin which dwells in me that's a true description of the principal problem that we face as well but be assured if you're a believer in jesus christ you're in the struggle we share some of these struggles we share these struggles together we're not uh different we we have this problem and we were reminded by the word and the spirit that oh yes this is a sin or that is a sin and but this is part of our process the process of sanctification that god brings us along and he chips off this part that part of our life and he makes us more and more like christ but it's a process and so he's preparing us to meet christ when he he calls us home or when we meet him in the air he's in this is a part of that process as we as we turn more and more and look to him now verse 21 gives us sort of a summary statement here it says that sin is present and that is our problem even though we know what is good we struggle we know what we should do but yet we understand what's going on so we look to christ we run to christ verse 21 says this i find then the principle that evil is present in me the one who wants to do good the reality of sin is in this world you know there's some people who claim that they are they have become a christian and they've reached perfectionism i remember hearing evangelist guy i'm glad he was there but i think he'd mess things up over at unc charlotte and he was declaring among all these people out there and they were listening to him they were declaring that since he had become a christian he had not sinned anymore i'm sure that really went over well with the audience but i but i mean obviously i mean obviously i thought oh this is they're creating skepticism here okay but he was sure he was convinced that he had matured in christ and he had reached perfectionism well there's a problem with that think about this a minute when when the fall took place the earth was cursed storms earthquake troubles disease you name it and in romans chapter 8 verse 22 it tells us that the earth groans for the redemption when christ returns the earth is waiting for christ to return because it's cursed and christ is going to remove that curse well then in romans 6 5 we are told that we in our physical bodies we we uh we're waiting for our perfect redemption we're waiting to meet christ in the air or we're mating for that day when we will be resurrected from the grave so we struggle with disease and death right now well those are those are not perfections so why do i think it if the world is struggling and if my body is not there yet why do i think internally i haven't sinned and i have no more sin that that's the perfectionism just doesn't match those things because there is no perfectionism in this side of heaven in the presence of christ anyway we can be assured in verses 22 and 3 23 of this one thing that there are two contrary laws he refers to it as laws here or principles at war with each other in us so verse 22 states that paul delights in the law of god that he rejoices in god's law and god's truth and uh william henderson makes some comments on that he says the christian to the christian the law is not a dead letter it's not dead no we delight in the law of god because our hearts are changed and we know that we're forgiven we're not afraid of the law it's it's good it's good it brought us to jesus also the law of god is in no sense a means of salvation never is that that's true but the law of god is the ruling principle for the expression of our gratitude to christ we can see how we're growing how we're not growing we can see where we are but the believer in the inner man in the in their heart of hearts they love the law of god they are delighted like david was in the law of god because god is gracious and it rings true so jesus was so specific about some things he says that the we know that we sin and he said that sin is personal and he said you know if your eye causes you to sin pluck it out of your hands call you to sin cut them off he's thinking speaking metaphorically but sin was a real problem but now he's in the epistles paul's are saying over and over again let the mind of christ dwell in you richly you have a new mindset your new creation in christ as a christian and jesus says specifically he says my sheep hear my voice and i know them and they follow me there is that assurance that that we are god's children so then verse 23 comes back and it talks about what is it what is this law that is opposing the new mind that we mindset that we have in christ what is that law that's opposing our new nature in christ he says but i see a different law in my members the members of my body that he means in his flesh waging war against the law of my mind here are those two natures the old sin nature which we're getting rid of and which is being sanctified and and uh repented of and the new nature we have in christ has been a gift to us by jesus christ those two are at war so what is the sinful nature trying to do trying to captivate you trying to drag you off to sin against god to war against your new nature to cause you to stumble and feel unworthy and guilty and so you say i can't go go back to christ but you can is it to blame you and pull you down and pull you away from from christ that's what your sinful nature is is it battle with inside of you the conflict is real but the great news comes in verses 24 and 25 of this passage of scripture paul's complaint his prayer he's crying out to god and then he's he's he's asserting this assurance of deliverance this assurance of freedom in verse 25 paul describes the conflict the spiritual warfare he says i am a wretched man when i struggle with this sin in my life and i haven't overcome it and i and i know what god wants me to do or i'm struggling with one particular issue right now it's tough but he says i'm the struggle is wretched it's it's painful because i love christ because he's changed me he's made you a new creation in him so there is struggle does exist the sinful inclination of our old self it causes us spiritual pain if you're a believer it should cause that pain our sinful propensity to to uh to act in ways that we shouldn't that should cause us grief and um this should just grieve us in our hearts and our minds and our natural tendency is to sin is a spiritual distress we don't want to sin against god we want to be more and more pleasing to christ we want to be more like him we want him to rule over us and reign in our lives yet it's good to be honest and say sometimes we're giving into a sin or we we are struggling with this sin because that creates humility when i discreetly confess you know i'm struggling with this sin that's good for me when i tell my brother or sisters this is a struggle you know i didn't like what that person said to me and i struggled with my reaction that's you don't have to be explicit but you can be discreet and and we can say god pray for me i need the grace of god to get me through this conflict to this inner struggle that i have because we are all brothers and sisters we are all in that same spiritual battle now remember what we saw this morning what we've said before we we profess that when we joined the church we profess that we are not perfect do you acknowledge yourselves to be sinners in the sight of god justly deserving his pleasure and without hope saving his sovereign mercy that's one of the type of questions that are asked before people actually profess Christ in joining the church so verse 23 that does point out our sinful nature and then 24 does as well but 25 verse 25 teaches us to rejoice in the assurance of our freedom in Christ that we are set free from the powers of sin in our lives he overcomes for us paul says i thank god so when you see these things i was on the road i thank jesus well i wonder what are you thanking him for well we need to thank god that he has redeemed us he has helped us and when we are struggling with our own sins the ones that remaining sin in us he is there to help us that day we turn to him so who has affected paul's deliverance what has affected your deliverance jesus christ our lord he delivers us jesus comes to rescue us and he always rescues us these two natures even in that very last birth paul reiterates it again he says with paul's mind paul says with his paul's mind his mind in christ his new nature he serves the law of god and with his flesh his old sinful nature he serves the law of sin that struggle goes on but remember what jesus said in john 834 very interesting verse he's he's talking to a number of people who are unrepentant and he says to them truly truly i say to you everyone who everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin in other words if you're given over to sin if you practice it over and over again you're a slave of that thing but christ is our master sin is not the master of the christian there is a huge difference the very last sentences of verse 25 reiterate this he says i myself paul with my mind serve the law of god but only the hand of flesh but what is the delivering who delivers him christ does he said so we should be assured of our freedom in christ sin is not your master jesus is your lord so when you pick this up and you say thanks be to god through jesus christ our lord he is our redeemer he has set us free he helps us overcome those struggles with our sinful nature it is not ourselves it is our lord who does that so we should be assured of the power and the presence of christ working in our hearts he is at work so we rejoice in our victory over sin he has won that victory and he is winning it for us so we can be assured christ has paid all that is needed to take away our guilt we can be assured that christ is the propitiation who's taken away the wrath of god from us we can be assured that christ is our shepherd who is going to guide us and we're going to hear his voice and follow him we can be assured christ is our daily deliverer from personal sin we have a sin nature to battle but thanks be to god through jesus christ our lord we are victors so the proposition i gave you at the beginning was this jesus set us free from the bondage imprisonment of our sinful natures christ jesus assures us of spiritual freedom let's rejoice in him let us pray father we thank you for the fact that you have won the victories you have conquered all those things that we are yet to conquer you're going to lead us through them you're going to overcome them you're going to sanctify us mature us and we run to you every time we hit these struggles you are our lord you are our master you are our king come and reign lord jesus we pray this in we pray this in jesus name amen
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-07 15:26:49 / 2023-03-07 15:38:53 / 12

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