Week 1: Know Christ, Part 1

Day 3: Law & Gospel

Read Romans 7:15-8:1

"For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

Do you ever feel like you have a civil war going on inside of you? Romans 7:15-20 is one Bible description of this internal struggle. Many doubt the existence of God, but nobody can deny that something inside all of us often fights against what we believe is right. Our inclination toward what is wrong is called sin—a disease we all inherited. As a virus produces symptoms, so we are guilty of sins. Our actions prove we are sinners—that we have the disease. But when the Holy Spirit creates faith in us through hearing God’s Word, we begin to want what God wants and not want what sin wants. Once we trust in Jesus, God declares us saints. And the internal battle begins between sinner and saint.

God’s Word applies two teachings to we who are simultaneously sinner and saint: Law and Gospel. The Law is applied to us when we are secure in our sins. The Law says, “You deserve death.” When the Law does its work, the secure sinner cries out, “Who will save me?” The Gospel is applied to saints who despair of themselves and want God’s ways to become their own. The Gospel says, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Although very different in application, the Law and the Gospel have the same goal: to bring you to Jesus.

Properly applying God’s Word—Law and Gospel—is taught by God’s Holy Spirit in the school of experience. The Law applied to a despairing saint only adds insult to injury. The Gospel applied to a secure sinner gives license to sin. And beware! We are masters at deceiving ourselves. We all need other Christians in our lives to help us live in response to God’s Word. God did not leave us to fight this war alone.

TAKEAWAY: What insight, question, or conviction did Jesus say to you in His Word and your prayer time today?