So far, I hope you’ve seen the importance of the truth that, if you are in Christ, you have a new identity and this identity is the basis of a life of transformation. If you have placed your faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are a saint! You have been set apart by God for his purposes. You have been set free from slavery to sin, and you have been given the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Read Romans 6:1-11, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21).
This does not mean that the struggle is over! Please understand this. My failure to understand the truth of God’s word as taught in this chapter almost drove me to despair. What helped me greatly was the discovery that the Apostle Paul struggled with the same battle that I face. Take a moment and read Romans 7:15-24. You may not understand everything Paul is saying, but I hope you can sense the emotion of utter frustration.
The truth is that we are God’s creation in process. We have been set free from our bondage to sin, but we are in the process of learning to live that way by faith.
Before I was a Christian, I was dead to God and alive to sin (Ephesians 2:1-3). I lived according to my flesh (Read Romans 8:5-8). The result was I was actively hostile towards God and I was both unwilling and incapable of pleasing God.
When I became a follower of Jesus, I gained a new identity – literally, I became a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17). Paul says, I have a new self (or a new person). Notice what he says about my new self. It is being renews in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Colossians 3:9–10 (ESV)
9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Ephesians 4:24 says that my new self is created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
This new self is the new me, but as long as I live in this dying body, I will still have the flesh in me which is still hostile towards God and still doesn’t want to submit to the law of God. The difference is that the flesh or my old self (see Ephesians 4:22 and Colossians 3:9) is no longer “me.” The real “me” is the new self that God put in me at the time of my salvation.
Paul refers to this change of identity in Romans 7:17 & 20. He says when I do the things I hate, it is no longer I who do it, but sin which dwells in me! This is important, because when you are tempted to sin, the temptation is that this will somehow satisfy or please YOU, but that is a lie!!! It will satisfy or please SIN which is in you, but you will find the real you hating the sin!
So how do I get out of the frustration of Romans 7? We will discuss the answer in the next chapter, but if you can’t wait, start reading Romans 8 and Galatians 5:16-25. It is found in the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen your new self so that you won’t just act like God, you will be like God!
This is not easy stuff to understand. I encourage you to read through Chapter 4 of Victory Over the Darkness several times, look up and meditate on the Scriptures that I’ve listed and do a lot of journaling so you can clarify these concepts in your mind. You are on a journey of transformation and it is because of the work that Jesus has done and is doing in you!
To stir your thought:
- So far, in your journey through this book, what have been some of the profound truths you have learned? What effect are they having in your life?
- How would you describe your frustration in your desire to live for God?
(see Paul’s in Romans 7:14-25)
- Do you think it is important to see the flesh as who you were rather than who you are? Why or Why not?
- What specific areas of your life does the flesh seem to manifest itself the most? How does it show up?
- Take those same areas: If you chose to live in your new nature which is created after the likeness of God, how would your behavior and words change? What would the effect in your life be?