When we focus all attention on ourselves and fight the spiritual battles of life with our own resources, we will always fail. We will live defeated lives. 41 times in Romans chapter 7 Paul uses the first person pronoun to describe his battle with sin; I, my, me, myself, etc. Not once is there a mention of the Holy Spirit. In Chapter 8, over 20 times the Spirit is brought as the source of our strength and power to withstand the onslaughts of the enemy. Chapter 7 is the picture of the defeated life; confusion, guilt, shame, compulsions and addictions, self-condemnation, frustration all leading to discouragement, defeat and despair.

But although chapter 7 ends with an explosion of despair, it is followed by an explosion of praise and thanksgiving. He writes, “O, what a terrible predicament I’m in! Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature?” Then comes the praise! “But thanks be to God, it has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He set me free.” (Romans 7:23-25). There is no doubt that we have all failed in our struggles against the sin that dwells within us. We’ve all fallen short of God’s standard and we all sin. Paul clearly says that God “cancelled the record of the charges against us.” God wipes the slate clean for you and me through our faith in Jesus Christ. How did God erase all our sin? Let me go on with the rest of the quote from Colossians 2:14-15. He not only cancelled the record of the charges against us, but also he “took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.”

The victory was won on the cross for us all. Duguid, in his commentary on Numbers, explains it in a beautiful way. He writes, “At the cross, mercy and justice joined hands as God’s glory was made manifest most fully. Jesus Christ, our faithful pioneer, walked through this sin-tangled world with perfect righteousness not for forty days but for thirty-three years. In so doing, he earned life through his faithfulness, not just for himself but for all those who are united to him by faith. In his perfect life, God’s righteous demands on us are satisfied. In his substitutionary death, God’s justice is satisfied, and at the same time his mercy is displayed to outcasts and rebels. Everyone who looks to him and cries out in the wilderness, “Lord Jesus, be merciful to me, a sinner” finds in him God’s invitation to eternal rest. That offer is open to you, no matter who you are or what you have done. You don’t need to strive in your own strength any longer or to lament the depth of your failure. You are indeed no contender in the fight for eternal significance and never could have been, but Jesus Christ has contended for you and has won the victory on your behalf.”