Christians are weak people helped by the Holy Spirit.
September 22, 2022
(tonight's video only has the slides...)
Prayer is both a communication and an encounter with God.
One aspect of prayer is the discovery of God and ourselves. Prayer is a significant aspect of understanding Scripture.
The Psalms deal with all aspects of relating to God and to life and very often in a practical manner. Praying the Psalms leads us to try and understand their content, which usually is some practical application about life before God, and also to pray about important things that we normally would not have. Praying the Psalms helps get out of ruts and the staleness that we sometimes turn prayer into.
We saw in Rom 8 that we are all weak when it comes to prayer and for the likely reason that in these bodies that cause us to groan, despite that we desire to do all that God wants us to, we are trying to converse with almighty, perfect, holy God. Who among us could remotely speak with Him on His level?
For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 15 For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me.
“No longer am I the one doing it” goes along with vs. 15 “I do not understand.” – one cannot comprehend the depth of sin in oneself and at times we lose control of ourselves.
The evil in our hearts is a mystery to ourselves, if anyone is like Paul in this case, a believer in love with God’s law of ethics who desires to do them, he will find, not only that he cannot be perfect, but at times he loses control. He is not innocent of this. It was his own error or bad decision or playful entertainment of lustful, evil thoughts through which he gave control away. The best of us in the body of Christ cannot maintain self-control all the time. It takes diligence, alertness, sober thinking, and prayer to maintain some control throughout the day.
This obviously is not Paul saying that he’s not personally responsible for his sins, but “no longer am I the one doing it,” means something more like, “I’m not in control of myself.” The fruit of the Spirit is self-control, and the flesh has no one to control it beside the power of God. But self-control from the Spirit is the power to do the will of God that we want to do. Paul makes clear here that he strongly wishes to do the will of God. Therefore, this does not apply to the antinomian who is looking for an excuse for his bad behavior – “It wasn’t me. It was my sin nature. Take it up with him.” Nothing from God gives this excuse and nothing from God leads anyone to the conclusion that they should give up and give in to sin.
The flesh’s lack of control means that it is more like appetite, flying from one sinful hunger to the next. When someone in the throws of sin admits that they have lost control or that they are no longer in the driver’s seat, we don’t understand this as exculpation from sins.
We must remember that Romans (chapters 5-7) depicts sin as an alien invasion into the human race. It is an alien power that brings human beings into subjection. What Paul is underscoring is the power of sin to take us captive.
Our weakness is helped by God the Holy Spirit so that we can do what He asks. We have to obey, trust, learn, pray (repeat often).
All of us have this weakness, but we must declare war on it or it will rule us consistently.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
But we don’t stop praying. Why? Rom 8.
Rather than discovering our weakness and giving up, we press on, anticipating the miracle that God is going to do.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
We are made to walk by the Spirit. We are of the type who walk by the Spirit.
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.
we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; 30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?