I knew exactly what I was doing, and I can tell you that G.I. Joe got it wrong, knowing isn’t half the battle! I knew that eating the really big piece of the ice-cream cake that I found in the freezer would give me stomach cramps and make me feel sick 30 minutes later. But, in the moment, it didn’t matter to me. Actually, in the moment, I found that the warning against this behaviour excited me and I wanted to see if I could get away with it! Well, it’s 30 minutes later, and I didn’t get away with it. Wether our rebellious nature compels us to do mildly rebellious things like eating too much ice-cream cake, or much bigger things with greater penalties, it consistently hurts us and takes us away from the life we really want to be living. So, what’s the solution to our rebellious nature?!
In Romans 7:7-12, I believe that Paul is sharing with us The Solution To Our Rebellious Nature
Here are my personal thoughts about what Paul writes, and the solution I believe that he comes up with.
1. Our rebellious nature seizes every opportunity to rebel
Romans 7:7, “What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’” NIV
The rebellious nature that I’m drawing attention to is something that Paul also calls the sinful nature. Generally speaking, people desire the forbidden, and are compelled to do what is forbidden. We are so consistent that Paul asks if the Law is sinful because the Law produces sin within people. Even though the Law was intended to bring life, what actually happened is our rebellious nature seized an opportunity to act on the new knowledge of the forbidden that was revealed in the Law.
2. Our rebellious nature sees the Old Testament’s “forbidden list” as a “to do list”
Romans 7:8, “But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead.” NIV
Because we wouldn’t know what sin is apart from the Law, Paul asks if the Law empowers sin. Of course, he knows the law does not empower sin, but he wants to be really clear about revealing the kind of nature that people have.
There is a rebellious nature within us that controls us. Our nature is to look for opportunities to rebel (or sin), and when a chance is found our own nature deceives us by making us believe that the forbidden is good and beneficial.
3. Our rebellious nature isn’t subdued by rules, it’s fed by the opportunity to break rules
Romans 7:9, “Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died” NIV
When Paul writes that he was alive before the Law was given I think what he means is that the sinful nature was dormant. Because the sinful nature had no opportunity to pursue the forbidden, Paul had no inclination to sin. It was only when the Law was introduced that the sinful nature took hold. And, because we are compelled by our nature to rebel we follow those sinful desires.
4. Our rebellious nature cannot bring us into alignment with Jesus
Romans 7:10, “I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.” NIV
The Law found in the Old Testament is good because it reveals the nature of God. However, the Law also reveals human nature. Where God perfectly fulfills the Law because God acts on His own nature, people perfectly break the Law because we act on our rebellious nature.
5. Our rebellious nature is hurting us
Romans 7:11, “For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death” NIV
Our own nature is hurting us, deceiving us, and looking for every opportunity to lead us farther away from God. Left on our own we are hopelessly and forever disconnected with God because our natures are misaligned.
So What Is The Solution To Our Rebellious Nature?
1. Give up trying to be good.
It’s impossible for anyone to impress God based on an ability to be good. I’m not suggesting that you should pursue evil, but I am suggesting that you should stop trying to impress God by showing Him that you can be good. He’s not looking for how good you can be, because you’ve already shown Him how rebellious you really are. The “I’m a good boy/girl” opportunity is lost to us, so stop trying to impress God by being good, and start looking for another way to get connected with God.
2. Place your faith in Jesus
The only way you can personally engage with Jesus is to do things His way rather than your way. You need to be 100% reliant on your belief in Jesus. Jesus knows we’re not rule keepers, so He took away the rules. The condition for personal engagement with God that results in eternal benefit is faith in Jesus.
In this case, faith is a relational kind of trust, taking Jesus at His word. Because we’re told “everyone who believes in Him… will have eternal life” (John 3:16) we trust that God’s told us the truth and He’s able to deliver on his promises.
3. Press into the friendship
You’re a new person when you believe in Jesus. You are no longer dominated by your rebellious nature because God changes your heart by giving you a friendship (and His Spirit) instead of rules. So, with your changed heart, grow in your love for Jesus and grow in your love for others.
1) Believe in Jesus. 2) Love God. 3) Love others.
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