Even though Christians are forgiven of their sin they still struggle daily with the indwelling sin that remains in them and will remain in them until the Lord returns. This is why Colossians 3:5 calls us to “put to death therefore what is earthly in you.” Christians are called to not tolerate or put up with sin but instead make war against it every single day through the help of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:13).
One of the places we see this ongoing battle with exemplified is in Romans 7:7-25 when Paul shares his own struggle in this area. Some interpreters have taught that this text refers to Paul’s life before coming to faith in Christ but a careful reading of the text seems to reveal this is referring to Paul’s present life as a follower of Jesus. There are a few things he mentions in his fight against sin that are true of every Christian and those are what I want to highlight in this post. Christians will struggle with sin but there are some characteristics that will always be present in their war against sin.
A desire to practice righteousness. Every Christian will have a deep desire through the work of the Spirit to obey God. Part of the regenerating and saving work of Jesus is to put in us a heart that longs to practice righteousness in our lives. So no matter how strong the battle against sin is in the Christian’s life there will always be a abiding desire to obey their Lord. Through this passage you can sense Paul’s desire to do what’s right even though he says he often fails to do it. He highlights that desire in verse 18 when he says, “For I have the desire to do what is right…” That’s a mark of a true Christian in the ongoing fight against sin. It was true in Paul’s life and will be true in ours as we follow our Lord while making war with the sin that remains within us.
Delight in God. This is closely tied to the point above but Christians will delight in God. That means delighting in His presence, delighting in His commands, and delighting in our growing relationship with Him. When Christians find themselves consumed with sin and delighting in things of the world they will be unsettled. They will sense the conviction of the Spirit and will be uncomfortable. A true Christian will be miserable the longer they walk in disobedience to their Lord. They have been given a heart that delights in God and delighting in anything else doesn’t cut it. Paul mentions this in verse 22 when he says, “For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being.” He goes on to say that even still he sees the sin that remains in him that is constantly pulling him away from delighting in God. However, when Christians find themselves delighting in anything other than their Lord there will be a sense of conviction. There will at times also be correction from the Lord as we see mentioned in Hebrews 12:5-11.
Inner battle between the flesh and the Spirit. This is where all the stuff explained above comes together. The Christian has two natures abiding within them and those two natures are at constant war. There is the new man and the old man and they are going at it daily to gain ground in our hearts and lives. The presence of this conflict is not a sign that someone isn’t a Christian. In fact, it’s completely opposite because this conflict actually indicates someone is a Christian. If someone wasn’t a Christian this conflict wouldn’t be present. It’s precisely because they have a new nature that there is an inner war happening every single day. If you read through this passage you see this battle between the flesh and the Spirit happening in Paul’s life. Christians throughout history have had and will continue to have this conflict going on within them.
The good news for Christians is this battle with sin is only temporary. There is coming a day when our sin will be completely done away with. Until then we keep fighting and along with Paul we proclaim “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (v. 24-25).
For the past year or so as a church we have been going through the book of Acts on Sunday mornings. We have taken a few breaks here and there for other topical series but recently have picked it back up to finish out the book. I had the privilege of preaching this past week and focusing on Paul’s approach to sharing His testimony from Acts 22 and 26. In this sermon I focused on things that Paul did as he shared his testimony that we can apply to our own approach as we share our testimony with others.
Throughout the book of Acts you see the power of God on display. One of the places you see this power on display very clearly is in chapter 19 as Paul ministers in Ephesus. Recently I had the opportunity to preach from this chapter during our Sunday morning worship services. Below is that sermon. I hope it’s a blessing and challenge to you.
We had great nights in both our middle school and high school ministry this week. We had good amount of new students attend this week and our overall attendance was higher than normal. Not only attendance but there was good energy in the room both nights and students seemed to have a blast! Below are the details of what we did both nights.
What We Did at Porch (High School)
Video: Austin Says Goodbye to the Amish Beard
Upfront Game: Snapchallenge. We did this game last week with our middle school students and we figured we would give it a shot with our high schoolers. It’s a game from Download Youth Ministry that lets contestants see a Snapchat picture for five seconds and then has them answer a question about the picture.
Worship Set List: Let It Be Known (Worship Central), This I Believe [The Creed] (Hillsong), This Grace (Kristian Stanfill), and Raised to Life (Elevation Worship).
Teaching: We continued our Acts series by talking about Paul’s salvation story from Acts 8 and 9. We talked about who Paul was before he was a Christian, how he came to Christ, and how God used him after he became a Christian. It was the first time I have ever done a message on Paul’s salvation so it was fun to prepare and teach. Click here to listen to the message.
Highlight: Hanging out with some of our students and leaders afterwards at Pizza Hut. Each week we either go to a local wing place or Pizza Hut after. It’s always a blast and there is always good community that is being built among our group. I was reminded of how important just hanging out and talking is to student ministry as I watched our students interact with each other as well as with our adult leaders.
What We Did at Edge (Middle School)
Video: Dogs Failing at Being Dogs and Austin Says Goodbye to the Amish Beard
Upfront Game: Dueling Unicorns. This by far was one of my favorite upfront games we have done all year. It was awesome! Get a few pairs of students upfront, have them put party hats on, give them each a balloon filled with shaving cream, and have them go head to head to see who can pop their balloon over their opponents head first. We did it in rounds so that each round someone was eliminated making it so that two students went head to head for the final round. We also showed this quick video of myself and one of our high school leaders demonstrating how this game works. Click here to see a video of this game, more details, and the graphic we used.
Group Game: Clumps. This is a game that has been around for a long time but it’s an easy game that requires no set up, few supplies, and gets students mixing. Basically you have someone upfront with a metal pan and a cooking spoon and have them hit the pan a certain number of times. The number of times they hit it will determine the number students must “clump” into (basically locking arms and making a circle). Whoever isn’t in a “clump” is out. I’m sure there are a ton of different variations to this game tweak it to fit your group.
Teaching: Every few weeks we break our students into small groups and that’s what we did this week. In their small groups students continued our Acts series by reading and discussing Paul’s salvation story from Acts 8 and 9.
Highlight: The energy and excitement of the students. All the students were pumped to be there and loved every part of the night. I know it’s not all about the “energy, fun, and games,” but when over a 100 middle school students are at church, actually want to be there, and are hearing about Jesus than that is a win for me.