ROMANS 5:9 – 7:20

Something to Boast About - Romans 5:9-11

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

What is our attitude as believers? Indeed, our sins remind us of our unworthiness before God. But that doesn’t mean that we believers need to walk around in a perpetual state of gloom. Look at verse 11. The word which is translated “rejoice” is usually translated “to boast.” So, it would be reasonable to translate that verse, “Not only is this so, but we also BOAST in God through our Lord Jesus Christ …”

We boast? Sure! Because we have a God who saved us! As sinners we “were God’s enemies” but “we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son” and we are “saved from God’s wrath through [Jesus].” God has declared us to be innocent in his eyes, “since we have now been justified by [Jesus’] blood!” We boast because through Jesus “we have received reconciliation”—we are now FRIENDS with GOD.

Yes, we are friends with God because of Jesus who lived a perfect life for us, and bore the punishment for our sins by his death, and risen from the dead he now lives as our Lord. So yes, through Jesus we are innocent in God’s eyes, forgiven by God, and friends with God forever.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like something to boast about!

Prayer: O Savior, thank you for all that did to make me a friend with God. Fill me with proper confidence that stems from the love which you have shown me.

Person of Influence - Romans 5:12-14

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.

Lists have been compiled of people who have had great influence in the course of human history. Included on those lists are people like Isaac Newton for his advancements in science, Albert Einstein for his theories in the field of physics, and Johannes Gutenberg who aided rapid dissemination of information through his invention of the printing press. Who would you add to this list?

Influential people have revolutionized societies, cultures and countries through the thought process they proposed or the invention they introduced. Yet despite the amazing people you might find on these lists, none has universally affected every person of the world. Just by the fact that they appeared at a point in history negates their ability to influence all of history.

Except one.

One man and his actions affected every human being after him, in fact the whole world. The man? Adam. The action? Breaking the law of God. When Adam ate the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (see full story in Genesis 3), the result was that “sin entered the world through [Adam], and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” No matter what the invention, thought, or new land discovered, no one man has had such profound or dire consequences on the human race.

You included? Yes, you too.

We may find ourselves not wanting to admit it or trying to avoid the thought that we too are sinful, but the truth is…we are sinful and live under its consequence. Every news report of death reminds us of this reality. Every funeral we attend is a reminder of the consequence of breaking the law of God. Death came to all people, you and me included, because all sinned…yes, you too…and me as well.

Influential people saw a problem and sought to change it. Newton took the unknowns of the universe and proposed theories to explain them. Gutenberg considered the time consuming task of hand copying books and created the printing press. Who is the person of influence to change the death grip of sin in our lives and that of the world?

Jesus Christ.

What Gift Should I Get for_____? - Romans 5:15-19

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. 18Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

When our calendars turn over to the month “December” the crunch is on to get everything ready for Christmas. Most important is probably a list of names for whom you would like to buy gifts…the challenge? What do you get for them? Toys? Clothes? Power tools? Electronics? Combining your budget with a gift that will be appreciated and used by the recipient can often be a challenge.

Before stressing out or thinking too hard, reflect on a couple truths of Scripture. Recall the previous devotion on Romans 5:12-14…the person of influence, Adam, who brought sin and condemnation of death to the world. Yes, you and every person on your shopping list are in the same condition…sinners who are unable to get right with God on their own and as a result deserve, “condemnation for all men.”

So while individuals may have things they want for Christmas, the one thing we all need is a solution for sin. Instead of power tools, electronics or clothes, God gives the Gift we all needed: his Son Jesus Christ.

Therefore, “…how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!”

Unwrapping a gift is an exciting thing…but then when you realize what it really can do, the excitement builds. The story of Jesus’ birth is probably familiar to many, but do you really know and appreciate the Gift that’s “wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger”? Romans 5:15-19 unwraps God’s gift to help us realize this “gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.” The perfect life of Jesus was the “right”ness that we all desperately needed. As a result we are justified, declared not guilty. This wonderful Gift brings forgiveness instead of condemnation. This Gift of God brings life, instead of death.

The Baby Jesus wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in the manger is the Gift we all need and the best gift you can share at Christmas or anytime!

Prayer: Thank you, LORD, for giving me the greatest Gift I could ever have, your Son Jesus. In him I know I am forgiven and by your grace will have eternal life, not condemnation. Use me to share your Gift with many others. Amen.

Our Great Need…God’s Greater Gift - Romans 5:20-21

The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In the previous devotion we reflected on the challenge at times we have to give a gift a person really wants and needs. The need is really dependent on the condition of the recipient. For the person who lives in the upper Midwest and doesn’t have a winter coat that fits, a new heavy winter coat will be much appreciated. The same gift given in South Florida would be looked at with a question, “Why do I need this?” When the gift matches the need, the gift is much more appreciated.

The Gift God gave in Jesus can be the same. For some he is received as a tremendous gift, for others he is dismissed like a winter coat in Florida. What determines our appreciation for the Gift of Jesus? How much do we realize our need?

God shows us our great need. He spelled out his unchanging will for our lives in his law. God wants us to know what pleases and doesn’t please him. If we didn’t have God’s written law, our only guide for right and wrong would be our consciences. This would provide some guidance, but our consciences are good at justifying our actions and making us feel OK, even to the point of feeling like we have done little or nothing wrong. Only when we are faced with the written law of God in the Ten Commandments do we realize we are not as good as we thought we were. God gave his law to show us our sin, as his word says: “The law was added so that the trespass (sin) might increase.”

The more we realize our sin, the more guilt we carry. The more guilt we carry, the more, I pray, we desire a remedy for that guilt. The more we see the need for forgiveness, the more we appreciate the Gift that God gives us in Jesus Christ.

This is what Paul is talking about in Romans 5:20-21. The more we are aware of our sin and need for a Savior, “grace increased all the more.” The more we understand our need for a Savior and how “sin leads to death”, the more we can appreciate the Gift of God that brings “eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Yes, the more you look at and apply the law of God, the more you are aware of your sinfulness. BUT the more you realize that truth, the more you are led to cherish and appreciate God’s perfect Gift of grace in Christ.

Prayer: Thank you, LORD, for your law which shows me my sins. I don’t like admitting them, but when I do, I realize how great the Gift is that you have given me in your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

Baptized into Death - Romans 6:1-3, 6, 7

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? … 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—7because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

In these verses, the apostle Paul tells us that it’s good to be baptized, because when you are baptized, you die. Wait, what?!

Let’s back up a step. In the first five chapters of Romans, Paul made it clear that we are forgiven and saved through faith in Jesus, who paid for all our sins by his death on the cross. But he doesn’t want us to get the wrong idea. Someone might say that if we’re forgiven of everything, we should just go ahead and sin all we want.

Paul combats this wrong idea by talking about baptism. Through faith in Jesus, baptism ties you to everything Jesus has done to save you. His crucifixion is your crucifixion. So baptism is indeed a death, but it’s a good kind of death. Paul says that in baptism, “your old self was crucified.” He’s saying that baptism is the death of your sinful nature. Martin Luther called it a drowning. The point is this: you can’t fix your sinful nature. You can’t improve it. It has to die. God accomplishes this in you when you are baptized.

If it weren’t so, baptized people would think of God’s forgiveness as though it were a free pass to commit all kinds of sins. If your sinful nature still held sway after you were baptized, God’s forgiveness would actually drive you away from him, because you’d always be using it for your own purposes instead of his. When you die in baptism, so does your desire to live apart from God.

In fact, long after you’re baptized, your baptism continues to serve as an incentive and a reminder to deal with your sin the only way you can. It can’t be fixed. Don’t even try. Just drown it. Kill it, by confessing your sin to God. In these verses from Romans, Paul gives Christians the key to Christian living. Now that you’re forgiven, should you keep sinning? No, because that’s not who you are. All who are baptized into God’s name belong to him.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed. I’ve sinned by what I’ve done, and by what I’ve left undone. In you alone do I find forgiveness and peace.

Baptism is a Daily Resurrection from the Dead - Romans 6:4-5,8-10

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. … 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

Should a Christian keep on sinning, now that they’re forgiven? “No!” says the apostle Paul. The opening verses of this chapter show us that a Christian’s baptism is a daily confession of sins, a daily drowning of the old sinful nature. But that’s just the beginning of what baptism means. Spiritually speaking, baptism is also a daily resurrection from the dead.

The Bible speaks of a day when all who believe in Jesus the Savior will be raised from the dead, glorified, and taken to heaven (Philippians 3:20,21). Think what it will be like for people to be raised from the dead. No one has ever awakened so refreshed. Their whole heart is now perfectly in line with God’s. Now they can serve him without weakness, in perfect joy. And they will hear Jesus say to them: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, take the inheritance, the kingdom that has been prepared for you since the creation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).

That same clean heart, that same joy, and that same anticipation is yours in baptism, and it’s there for you every day. Listen again to Paul: “We were therefore buried with [Christ] through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4).

Have you ever wished you could have a do over? A fresh start? Baptism is a fresh start for you every day of your life. Baptized into God’s name, you are a new person. Baptism means that you can handle your troubles with new strength. Baptism means that you can serve God and others with new joy. How can baptism do such great things? It’s not the water. It’s the promise. In baptism, God connects you by faith to Jesus, your Savior. Baptism is a daily resurrection from the dead.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, in you alone do I find life and peace. Refresh me through your saving word. Amen.

Christian Identity - Romans 6:11-14

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

Although it doesn’t happen quite as often in real life as it does in soap operas, people do get amnesia. Due to some kind of trauma, a person can lose vital pieces of their memory. Once in a while there are victims of amnesia who retain almost all of the knowledge they had before. They retain skills they had learned like playing musical instruments, typing and reading maps. They simply forget who they are.

What if you had this kind of amnesia? The skills that you now have and use every day would become very mysterious. You wouldn’t know why you are able to do what you do. You would become disconcerted, frightened, maybe even angry. Certainly you could never rest or be at peace as long as your identity eluded you. If you have no identity, then you have no purpose.

Sometimes Christians forget their identity. It happens when they define themselves according to their sins. They may know what they’re doing is wrong, but they say, “Well, I guess that’s just who I am.” In today’s reading, the apostle Paul reminds Christians of who they really are, and tells them what this means.

He writes, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Being “alive to God” means you can converse with God, delight in him, praise him, and love him and others. Paul says, “count yourself alive to God.” He’s reminding us that every believer has been brought from death to life. He’s telling believers, “This is who you are.”

You may be a son, daughter, father, mother, grandparent, student, teacher, employee, employer, professional; you are a citizen. Each calling gives you purpose for your existence on this earth. But there is no greater calling or purpose than that of being a Christian. A Christian’s connection to God brings meaning and purpose to everything you do. It’s all an offering of thanksgiving to God. In short, whenever you remember what Jesus has done to save you, life becomes worth living!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me remember what you’ve done for me, so that I never forget who I am. Let everything I do be one big sacrifice of thanksgiving to you. Amen.

Who is Your Master? - Romans 6:15-21

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. 19 I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!

We are free. Jesus earned freedom for us when he shattered the shackles which bound us to sin. He laid down his life as the ransom price for the sin which held us all captive. When he picked his life up again, he proved that not only he, but all who follow him in truth are free. Sin is no longer our master.

How sad when we let sin control us. How shameful when we convince ourselves God’s freedom gives us license to live any old way we want. As much as we might try to fool ourselves into thinking that serving sin is freedom, it is not. Slavery to sin does not bring any good consequences. Offer yourself to sin and it’s your last free act. Offer yourself to sin, and what does it get you? Nothing you are proud of now.

“But thanks be to God!” Through faith in Jesus created in us by the power of his Word you and I have been “set free from sin.” The liberation of our Savior Jesus gives us freedom from the guilt, the sorrow, the death which are tied to a life of disobedience.

Our life is not our own, and thank God for that! We were purchased for God by the precious blood of Jesus. Trusting in Jesus who sacrificed himself for us, we belong to God and are free to offer ourselves to God. That’s a freedom which never quits. Jesus’ blood is the balm which has healed all the wounds we inflicted upon ourselves and others when we were slaves to sin. His resurrection has flung open endless opportunities for us to care about God and care for others.

What endless joy and peace is ours now that God has done everything necessary so that we can truly live in his freedom!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I love the freedom I have in you through Jesus. Grant me your grace to silence sin’s temptations when they come and find joy in serving you.

The Gift of God - Romans 6:22-23

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The frenzy that goes along with the celebration of holidays can be exhausting. This is especially true at Christmas. The commercialization of this holiday can have that effect on us. By the time the day after Christmas arrives, we may be all Christmas-ed out.

Much like a commercialized Christmas, enslavement to sin gets old really fast. That tempting master never satisfies. He only takes. And in return for a lifetime of service, the pension is death.

But can the real Christmas celebration ever grow old? Christmas reveals God’s base of operations in his campaign against sin and death. It was a campaign into which he sent his Son to fight victoriously from the cradle to the cross. As a result, you are no longer a slave to sin. Sin may badger you. Sin may threaten you. However, when sin comes knocking, you don’t have to answer. When sin makes demands, don’t listen. Sin has no authority over your life.

Through faith in Jesus, you have a new, life-giving master. He has made you into a new creation. He gives you the freedom to be who you were created to be. He created you to be healthy in holiness, not sick in sin.

In some countries the day after Christmas is known as Boxing Day. Originally, Boxing Day was a day when servants would receive gifts from their masters. What a great reminder for us about God’s gift to us!

The gift which we receive from God, wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger, is a gift that always amazes. For when we were at our worst, God gave us his best. And no matter how long we’ve had it, God’s gift of a Savior, Jesus Christ, never gets old. For his salvation outweighs our sin; his grace covers our guilt; his rescue ends our rebellion and gives us life.

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for giving me the gift of life for free in exchange for the death I deserved eternally. Amen.

We Die and Live - Romans 7:1-6

1Do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to men who know the law—that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? 2For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. 3So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man. 4So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. 5For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. 6But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

If you ask Christians to talk about what this devotion’s title might mean—We Die and Live—many will tell you that when we die, God promises to give us eternal life. Perhaps they might quote a part of the Bible, like John 11:25-26: “Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.’” That’s a great, true and hope-filled Biblical answer.

When the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, he explained “We die and live” in a different way. Paul said that we die and live NOW. When those Christians believed in God, they also died to the law, belonged to Jesus and bore fruit to God.

What did Paul mean when he wrote that? When Paul says that “you also died to the law”, he’s reminding them of what he told them in Romans 6 (see Romans 6:3-4). In baptism, God connected them to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Through their baptism, God removed the law’s hold on them. They were God’s children and belonged to God. They didn’t belong to the law, they belonged to Jesus. Because they were connected and belonged to Jesus, this made a huge impact on NOW. They were spiritually alive and bore fruit (good works) to God.

What does this mean for you and me? It’s essential for you to know how your relationship to God works. We belonged to sin and death, but God rescued you and me. In baptism, he connected us to Jesus’ death and resurrection. God made us spiritually alive. We belong to God, and live like it, too. Paul calls this bearing fruit (doing the good things God wants us to do). Because we are connected and belong to Jesus, this makes a huge impact on us NOW.

Take a few moments and consider:

1. I died to the law. In what ways have I lived like I still belong to sin? Like I still belong to myself? What sins do I need to confess?

2. I belong to God; I am his treasured possession. How does this change how I view myself?

3. I am to bear fruit to God. What good things can I do today in thanks to God?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for making me your own. You graciously give me what I do not deserve – forgiveness, life, peace and heaven. Let me give you what you do deserve – my endless thanks and joyful living for you. Amen.

A Deadly Reaction - Romans 7:7-13

What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. 13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

You probably have seen the volcano science project. The student builds a model volcano, perhaps out of paper mache. Inside the “volcano” is a bottle with water, detergent, food coloring and baking soda. Then vinegar is poured in. The baking soda and vinegar produce carbon dioxide and the volcano “erupts.” On their own, the baking soda and vinegar don’t do much. When you mix them, you see a pretty cool reaction.

Let’s change the ingredients to what Paul listed when he wrote to the Christians in Rome. Let’s take us. We might not seem that bad or evil. Then, let’s add something very good and holy—God’s law. What happens? Paul tells us that a violent and deadly reaction erupts.

Why is that? We are not harmless and benign, like baking soda. We have a sinful nature that is corrupt, evil, wicked and an enemy of God. Often it doesn’t seem that way. We can remember nice things we’ve done. We look at our lives and perhaps don’t see any horrible wickedness (no murders, no bank robbery, etc.) We might think we’re harmless, but when we bump into God’s holy law there is a deadly reaction.

When our sinful nature collides into God’s law, it 1) produces sin and death, and 2) is exposed. Our sinful nature sees God’s holy laws and rebelliously craves to do the exact opposite of what God commands. Instead of less sin, we produce more sin. And when our hearts and lives are compared with God’s law, we clearly see our sin.

Is this collision bad or good? Sin is bad, and sin that we produce in rebellion to God’s law is bad. But this collision is good, too. It’s good because it shows us what we really are on our own. We can’t pretend that we’re pretty good people that God should just naturally love because we’re such swell folks. When our sinful natures collide with God’s holy law, we clearly see our completely lost and helpless condition. This deadly collision is good because we see what we are (sinners), what we have (death), and what we need (life and a savior).

And God provided the exact Savior we needed—Jesus. When Jesus collided with God’s law, he didn’t break it; he kept it and fulfilled it perfectly in our place. Jesus was holy, righteous and good, but he embraced the death our sins produced. God raised Jesus to life. Through Jesus, we now truly and eternally live.

Prayer: Holy God, in more ways and times than I know, I have rebelled against you. Thank you for showing me my sins. Thank you for providing the exact Savior I need. With the life you give me, let me give thanks to you. Amen.

The Beast Within - Romans 7:14-20

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

Trying to eat healthy food drives me crazy.

It isn’t that I don’t know what to eat. I know how to read food labels. I know the difference between good and bad foods. I know how many calories I am supposed to have in a day. I even know that I need to exercise.

But when I am confronted with a plate of cookies or a candy dish full of M&Ms, my plan goes out the window. I know the food I should be eating, but it is not what I end up eating. My appetite for sugar takes over. Is it too strong of a statement to say I struggle with an unhealthy food addiction?

The apostle Paul is struggling with something much more serious than junk food when he writes these words to the Romans. He is sharing his addiction, an addiction we all share. It is an addiction to sin.

Paul knew this addiction first hand. He tried to stop sinning many times. He tried to be kind and loving and compassionate at all times. He had plans to put others first and to control his thoughts of lust, envy, greed, selfishness and anger. He had a great plan.

But time after time he found himself right back where he started, doing things that he knew God hated, things that were wrong. This sin hurt his relationships with other people, and even worse, threatened to completely destroy his relationship with God.

Paul knew that he didn’t need to just work on “self-control”. He realized that he was the problem. He had a sinful nature. And, as a result, that sin living inside of him took over the steering wheel of his life at times. He wasn’t trying to make excuses; he was just trying to state reality. I think all of us can relate to his misery.

The answer for sin addiction does not come from inside of us. It comes from God. The first step to getting help is to do what Paul did. He confessed his sin and his inability to control his life. He asked God to help, and he did, by sending Jesus.

With the seed of faith in Jesus planted in his heart, Paul now had good inside of him – good that came from God. And so he committed himself to the daily struggle against sin.

Do you have sin with which you struggle? Take heart. Jesus has won the victory, and he offers strength to you for your daily battle.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I do things I don’t want to do all the time. Please forgive me. Take away my guilt. Give me strength to continue to struggle to do what is right. Amen.

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