Yesterday, in our series through Romans, I had the privilege to preach the concluding verses (24-25) of Romans chapter seven. As you may know, the seventh chapter of Romans is one of the most difficult passages to interpret in all of Romans—indeed in all of the Bible. There are many questions to answer including identifying the “I” of the chapter and explaining the relevance of the law of God for new covenant Christians.
In the final verses, we see both the crisis and comfort of the Christian life—which was not only true for the Paul, but likewise, for all who follow Jesus Christ in this life.
After a lengthy and raw autobiography of his own struggle as a mature Christian who lives with tension between the law of God and the law of sin—Paul launches into a sincere confession, “Wretched man that I am. Who shall deliver me from this body of death?”
Paul’s crisis is often our crisis. However, Paul provided a true confession of his situation as he refused to sink back into sin or look inwardly for the solution. Paul understood that the answer to the crisis was external—and he likewise understood that he was greatly limited and unable to save himself.
Far too often Christians reach a point to where they become board with John 3:16. They believe that they’ve already cried out “wretched man that I am” at the point of salvation, why would anyone need to do that again? Isn’t that what 1 John 1:9 teaches? True believers, even mature believers, will often need to confess their sin to God and cry out in distress for deliverance. J.C. Ryle rightly states, “A right knowledge of sin lies at the root of all saving Christianity.” When was the last time sin in your heart scared you? When was the last time sin caused you to cry out to God for deliverance?
Paul finds his comfort in the none other than his Savior Jesus Christ. Paul didn’t turn to self-esteem or psychological counseling techniques in order to elevate his opinion about himself or his situation in life. Paul turned to the only true solution for his crisis—Jesus Christ the Lord.
Notice that Paul didn’t simply say, Jesus. He referred to Jesus as the Christ and the Lord. This is critically important because we know that Jesus means “Savior” and Christ means “anointed one of God.” On top of that, we see that Paul references Jesus as Lord—meaning “master, owner, sovereign.”
The exclusive hope for fallen sinners is Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). The exclusive hope for guilt-plagued Christians is Jesus Christ the Lord. He is the sovereign Savior—the one who never leaves us and never forsakes us. That means when we find ourselves in the darkest night and overcome by the most intense guilt and shame of sin—the Lord will come to us as we cry out for help.
How does Jesus provide hope and comfort in this present evil world?
- Present Peace: As we live in this world, we live with the blessed assurance that Jesus has overcome death and that he alone can save sinners. What he began in us will be completed for his glory (Phil 1:6). There will be no drop outs along the way.
- Future Peace: Whether it be through physical death or the return of Jesus—we have the assurance of a future eternal peace as we will be separated from this body of death and will receive a new body at the return of Christ. That’s why Paul could say, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).
Before we can enjoy the truth of Romans 8, we must first become honest about our struggle with sin and cling to the work of Jesus Christ our Lord as our hope now and for all eternity. We can likewise be encouraged to see that as Paul struggled in sin and found comfort in the Lord, so can we when we find ourselves struggling in our journey of faith.