Who Am I? A sermon on Romans 7:14-8:2

Who Am I?
Romans 7:14-8:2

In Jesus Name

May the love of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ help you realize who you are…in Christ.

  • Paul hits hard…

When I read stuff by the Apostle Paul that I don’t like, I remember the words of the Apostle Peter about Paul:

Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction.   2 Peter 3:16 (NLT2)

And I agree, some words of Paul take a lot of thought, something I don’t want to invest.

I will admit, I want to apply those words of Peter’s to some of the clearest words of Paul, like where he says,

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Romans 12:14 (NLT2)


Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good.   Titus 3:1 (NLT2)

Unfortunately, there is nothing hard to understand about those two passages, and really, there is nothing hard to understand about today’s passage either.

“And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway” Romans 7:18-19

This bothers the heck out of Paul, ever after talking about the glorious truth that we died with Christ, and because, praise God, He is Risen, we are risen indeed. It bothers the heck out of me as well, because it is true, and I understand why Paul felt like a wretch!

Too bad Peter wasn’t right about this!

  • Ergon versus Poieo

It gets even worse when you look at it in Greek.

You see, when Paul is talking about desiring, not just wanting, but to desire to “do” what is right, he uses the word we get “ergonomics” from—simply work that we do, even without thought. Paul wants to do what is right like he breathes—to simply do it.

And he cannot.

But when he talks about doing what he does instead, doing what is wrong, what is contrary to the plan and order of God – he uses a different word—the word we get poetry and poem for—a word that means to artistically craft something, putting effort and imagination into it.

So Paul wants to do what is holy and right automatically, just because of being alive, and he puts a ton of effort into his sin, planning, executing and defending it.

Thank God that none of us are like the Apostle Paul! (let the sarcasm drip like water flowing over Niagara Falls)


This is where John Newton, when he wrote Amazing Grace, found the line he adapted to describe himself—“that saved a wretch like me!” Here the translators went with “what a miserable person I am,”. How much we suffer, both because of the consequences of our sin, and when we realize we sin and we get down on ourselves, as Paul is doing here. The word picture for this feeling is even darker.

  • Your living conditions!

You see, Paul talks about living with sin, and being a slave to it. The word picture is that sin, makes its home with you. It dwells incredibly close to you. It is that body of death Paul wants to be delivered from…

Back in Paul’s day, you literally had to live with your sin and the consequences of your sin. If Bob killed me, the Emperor could and order me to be tied to Bob for the rest of Bob’s life, or until all my body parts fell off. Imagine Bob inviting you over for steaks, about 3 months after that sentence. Wouldn’t be a pretty sight to see, or to smell!

That is what Paul is talking about, when he asks who will deliver him from the body of death tied to him.

But that is where this principle of life comes in. Let me read the first two verses of Chapter 8 again,

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

Here is our answer, if God declares you are not condemned, that body of death that is sin cannot be attached to us.

This is the greatest statement about you that has ever been made. It defines you as one of God’s precious children,

That body of death, the sin that you live with, it is gone.

Was it there? Yes

Did it create a war inside your very soul? Yes

Did it cause guilt and shame? Yes

Did it win? No

You have been freed from it, you are welcome in the holy, glorious presence of God because you belong there, for you belong to Jesus, and you find life, not with sin strapped to your back, not with it making its home in your life… but you finding your life is in Jesus.

The reality of our struggle with sin is that we need to realize Jesus killed off the sinful part of us, that He has freed us from the guilt and shame.

In the last two weeks, Bob has pointed us to the altar and the blessing of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. I would point us to the third sacrament in Lutheran theology… hearing that the power of sin and death, and the grip it has on you has been shattered in your baptism, and confessing it and hearing you are forgiven, for you dwell in Jesus, bring you to the table of the Lord.

You are free, you are forgiven,

For you dwell in Jesus, because the Spirit has given you life. Not because, as the song said of what you’ve done, but because of who you am, in Christ.  AMEN!




For those interested in the pushishment refered to, here is one citation. There is also a reference in one or Virgil’s poems to the concept for an older source.  It is graphic… but powerful things often are!

Who will rescue me from this body of death?

This is a reference to the Roman method of punishment in which the body of the murdered person was chained to the murderer. The murderer was then released to wander where he might, but no one was allowed to help or comfort him upon penalty of suffering the same punishment. In the hot Eastern sun the dead body would soon begin to decay, overwhelming the sentenced person not only with the smell but also with infection from the rotting flesh. It was perhaps the most horrible of all sentences that the imaginary Romans ever devised. To Paul our putrefying body of sinful flesh is like this, and only Christ can rescue us from it.

James M. Freeman and Harold J. Chadwick, Manners & Customs of the Bible (North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998), 537.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on July 9, 2023, in Devotions and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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