Romans 7 starts out with verses (verses 1-3) that I’ve only ever been taught and at times read as rules. They are not usually put with the verses that follow (verses 4-6) and tell the beautiful story of grace in how Christ died and left us free to marry this new life through his resurrection. We are reminded several times in the chapter that we are no longer married to our old lives. Yes, we still have flesh. I cannot control this flesh and that’s not even what God wants from me. He can control it and He just asks me to trust in that.
But what about all my sin?
Even though I know that only God can control my flesh, I still try to work on it myself at times. When I’m not trusting God to control it I do one of two things: work hard to improve the things I do that I do not want to do and/or work harder on the things that I love and do want to do. When I say it like that it does sound complicated! Paul talks about his struggle with this throughout Romans 7. He makes a clear distinction between the spirit and the flesh and a clear distinction between our lives before Christ and our new life after Christ.
When I try to work on my flesh I am not living out of my new identity. I am not living as holy, righteous and free from condemnation and shame. I am living like my sin and shame define me. Otherwise, why would I be trying so hard to change it. God has already changed me. When I rest and trust in that truth then I am free from my flesh and the frustration it brings. When I catch myself trying to work on my flesh then I will get frustrated because I can’t. It’s not who I am anymore.
Shame no longer defines me
My shame tells me that I must have it all together. It tells me that I need to work hard to keep others happy. When I live out of this shame then I work myself to death and beat myself up constantly. And at the end of the day I still don’t have it all together and someone is not happy! So I can work harder, try a new plan and still not control this shame and flesh. When I trust who God says I am and trust that my shame no longer defines me then my actions towards others come from love and not from striving. That is a relationship game changer. That is embracing God’s love.
Freedom from shame allows for maturity in my new identity
If I’m focusing on fixing my sin then I’m just focused on myself. If I take this truth described above into my everyday life then I am free to enjoy who I really am and enjoy others. This freedom also allows me opportunity for maturity in this new life. Constant focus on sin and behaviors will only lead to stagnation.
If you would like, you can sign up to receive notifications of new blog posts and announcements here: