URC Daily Devotion 4 August 2023

4 August 2023 
 

Romans 7: 14 – 25
 

For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.  Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good.  But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.  For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.  So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand.  For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self,  but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.  Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.

Reflection

Here is one of the many passages in Paul’s letters which have layer upon layer of meaning. At one level it is easy to ridicule some parts of the passage.  Paul was not known for his brevity and often causes us to want to say ‘come on man spit it out!’  This passage in Romans is one such.  Contradictory statements within a single sentence, confusing assertions at every full stop.  But this is the apostle Paul writing, surely there must be some significant message contained within the whole.

And then we have the ‘characters’ of the story.  Sin and evil, law and ‘I’, all, from time to time bring their own possibility for tensions as ‘I’ try to determine what to do in any given circumstance.  There is an element of childishness “I do not understand my own sin” reminiscent of the child who finds it easiest to blame the soft toy or imaginary friend for some misdemeanour.

But as I pondered the passage I wondered whether this confusion does not describe many of us when we think about our lives and our call to follow Christ.  How many of us have said ‘I know the environment is important and I ought to:

  • walk instead of taking the car
  • eat more vegetables
  • use eco-friendly cleaning materials 

but then try hard to understand the implications of any given course of action and give up, defeated by the complexity of the subject?

We could certainly join Paul in the words “I delight in the law of God in my inmost self” whilst at the same time confessing “with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin”.

Here is a reminder that we should continually examine our actions and measure them against the law of God as we know it.

Prayer

Thanks be to God through 
Jesus Christ our Lord 
who died and rose again for our salvation. 
Thanks be to God through 
Jesus Christ our Lord 
for the freedom obtained through his grace.
Thanks be to God 
through Jesus Christ our Lord 
for the guidance of the Spirit.
Amen

 

 

 

Today’s writer

Val Morrison, Elder, URC in Doncaster

 

Copyright

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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