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Good Cop, Bad Cop – The New Man and the Old

Strength in the Lord church prayer meeting with God

Bible Reading Romans 7:15-25

14-16 I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.

17-20 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

21-23 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

24 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

What’s it all about?

When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, what happens is that you are reborn in terms of the spirit part of you that has been separated from God by the effects of the Fall. With this rebirth, we get protection from the punishment of hell, and a guarantee of eternal life, and we have access to a new way of thinking and the exciting anticipation of paradise.

But the problem is – and there is a problem as even the Apostle Paul acknowledges in today’s reading – that whilst we’ve been given all these new things because of our rebirth, we’re still in the same body on the same earth, and still facing the same temptations as we were before our decision to follow Jesus. Unfortunately, satan is still hanging around to remind us how much fun sinning used to be, and how boring our lives are now – even if our lives aren’t boring, he will try to convince us that they are!

Don’t be surprised then, when there’s a civil war inside you and you feel torn between doing what you know is right and what you know is wrong. We have the promise of eternal life, but our sinful selves will not give up without a fight. But even satan, who is called the prince of this world, has his weaknesses, and ultimately, the battle is already won if you have genuinely made the decision to follow Christ.

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