In Romans Chapter 7, Paul describes for us what the defeated Christian life is like. I’d suggest that Paul is arguing from experience. He knows because he’s been there. The first thing that characterizes the defeated Christian is confusion. That’s expressed in verse 15. It says, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” The second thing that characterizes a defeated Christian is guilt and shame. Verses 16 and 17 read, “I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience proves that I agree with these laws I am breaking.” The third thing that will characterize my life is “addictions and compulsions.” Paul says at the end of verse 17, “But I can’t help myself because I’m no longer doing it. It is sin inside me that is stronger than I am that makes me do these evil things.” Have you ever heard a clearer expression of defeat?

This is an entry from the diary of a self-professed addict: Sunday, October 14: I’m living on borrowed time. I really don’t know how long I’ll make it. I can feel my heart beat; I just wonder how long my body can take this abuse. I’m sitting at a phone booth right now, not really sure who or why to call. I know exactly what they are going to tell me. … This is so hard. It is worse than hard—when you know this is killing you and you keep on doing it. It is pure hell!!! What is so bad is that I try to think of all the people that love me and care for me. And believe me; I realize it’s a lot of people. But I just can’t quit right now.” The cry of those trapped in some addictive or compulsive behavior is that they just “can’t help themselves.” Even the Apostle Paul knows those feelings. Is there anything that describes the defeated life more clearly?

Chapter 7 or Romans ends (24-25), “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” The answer to our sin problem is not a 12 step program. It’s not a prescription. It’s not a procedure, a pamphlet or a principle. It’s a person! The war has been fought and has been won on our behalf. Chapter 8 begins with the exciting news of our victory. The first two verses read, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” When the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, “…The greater majority of the slaves in the South went right on living as though they were not emancipated. That continued throughout the Reconstruction Period.” When asked what he thought about the “great emancipator,” one slaved is reported to have said, “I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout Abraham Lincoln ‘cept they say he sot us free. And I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout that neither.” (cited by Swindoll)