Romans Chapter 7 is all about the many things that characterize the defeated Christian. They are confused, overwhelmed with guilt and shame, are susceptible to compulsions and addictions and they are also awash in self-condemnation. I like the way the Living Bible translates verse 18. In it Paul says, “I know I am rotten through and through…No matter which way I turn I can’t make myself do right. I want to, but I can’t.” When we attempt to find righteousness through our own efforts we always come away the loser. Job defended himself before God, but at the end he recognized that he didn’t have a leg to stand on when confronted with the perfect righteousness of God he exclaimed, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (42:5-6). When Isaiah got a glimpse of the grandeur and glory of God he also exclaimed, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5).

Whenever we lay ourselves alongside God’s perfect standard for righteousness it should drive us to our knees. That’s its purpose! We can either live in constant awareness of our failure which Paul refers to “a mind set on the flesh” or we can live with our “minds set on the spirit” and experience victory. Although our lives condemn us, the law of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ declares us “not guilty.” We have been set free from this self-incrimination. John puts it this way, “…whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:20). It is a matter of living by faith not by works. Works, lawkeeping, accentuates our sinfulness. Salvation by grace through faith accentuates our righteousness in Christ. In Romans 10:8, Paul tells his readers that this salvation from condemnation under the law is right here in this Gospel. He says, “But what does it say? The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming.” Commenting on this verse, Redford writes, “Here is the difference between the way of law-keeping (works) and the way of faith. We do not have to travel to a distant realm and accomplish daring feats in order to impress God. The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart. The message is close to us and ready to be accepted—if we respond in faith. Salvation is not a matter of trying through our own efforts to reach God; it is accepting God’s love that is offered to us. Righteousness is received, not achieved.”

Chapter 7 of 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.”