14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
There are countless people throughout the world who will tell you that they try to live a good life. Of course there are some people who are really nasty pieces of work, but they’re the exception. The vast majority of the human race are what we would call ‘nice people.’ And I know that all of us here today try to be just that.
Yes, there are times when we go a little off-track and we might lose our tempers and we may say and do things we regret, but generally speaking we’re not that bad, because despite our all too obvious flaws, human beings are capable of doing some really good things for each other.
So why then did God have to go to such extremes?
Why did Jesus have to die for us?
These are important questions for us to consider, because it is one of the main arguments we face as Christians. I’m basically a good person, and as far as I possibly can, I try to do the right thing. I’ve never really harmed anyone, at least not deliberately, so yes; I believe there’s a God, and that when I die, I will end up in Heaven.
There is however, a fundamental flaw in this statement.
The world tells us that we are basically good, and that God just loves us, isn’t that wonderful and we’re all going to be one big happy family in heaven one day.
But that’s not what God tells us. It is simply not true.
And this is satan’s biggest lie and his greatest deception. If he can get us to believe the lie that we are basically good, then he has made huge strides in drawing us away from God’s truth, and also blinding us to our greatest need – salvation.
In John 8:44 Jesus is talking about satan when He says, “There is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
And the biggest lie of all is that we’re basically good.
If satan can get us to believe that, then everything changes. Truth and reality will no longer apply.
It’s important that we understand the crucial difference between our sins and our sinful nature.
If I take something which is not mine, then I have committed a sin.
What causes me though to want to take it, and my inner motive, is my sinful nature, and that is my deep-rooted problem.
My sinful acts are the symptoms of an inner cause.
It’s not so much that my sins make me a sinner, although that certainly is true.
The bigger problem is that I am first and foremost a sinner, and therefore I commit sins. My sins are simply an expression of my inner self – the real me.
Now this is where we can begin to go off track.
I can train and teach myself to not take something which doesn’t belong to me.
We can all do that, and we can achieve this goal with varying degrees of success.
And it is here where we so easily begin to believe the lie of satan.
If I see something which is not mine and I’m tempted to take it, but I resist the temptation, then that must mean that I’m not such a bad person after all.
I feel good about myself because I have done something good. I haven’t taken something which isn’t mine, so I’m basically a good person.
But this is not the picture that the Bible paints of the human condition.
Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”
This is the reality of our situation without Jesus Christ, but tell that to an unbelieving world and what do they say?
“Don’t be ridiculous. Man is basically good. A loving God could not possibly send anyone to hell.” And so it goes on.
The apostle Paul though, certainly understood the truth. “What a wretched man I am!”
In Galatians 5:17 he writes, “The sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”
We have to be so careful. We need to be constantly praying that God will grant us the discernment to filter out the lies which the world keeps bombarding us with.
We have our faults yes, but we are essentially good, and because of that there is no need for a Saviour. But think of the logic here.
If there was no need for a Saviour, why would Jesus have come and subjected Himself to what He did?
God is all-knowing and He has wisdom infinitely greater than ours, so why would He have sent His Son to die unless if it was necessary?
Let’s just consider that for a moment. If it was not necessary for Jesus to die, then we could live our lives here, being as nice as we can possibly be, and God would weigh up the good versus the bad at the end of our lives, and this would determine whether we go to heaven or not. Factor in His love for us, and guess what? We’ve all got a pretty good chance of making it!
Does this sound familiar?
It should, because this is exactly what the world teaches. It’s that same lie again.
A lie that does not and will not take into account our biggest problem – the sinful nature that Paul writes so passionately about at the end of Romans 7.
Sin destroys us from the inside.
James 1:14-15 says: “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.”
You can try to resist temptation, and you may even succeed.
You can try to be a nice person and succeed at that too.
But you can do nothing about the sinful nature within you.
That is your biggest problem, and salvation is your greatest need.
Ask any child why Jesus died, and they will usually say, “To save us from our sins.”
And that is quite correct. We all know John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
But we often fail to read what comes after John 3:16, because in verse 18, Jesus makes it very clear that it takes belief in Him to be saved.
Salvation is not for everyone. It is offered to everyone, but it is only given to those who put their faith in Jesus Christ, and what He did for us.
Verse 18 says, “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because He has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.”
Jesus also said in John 8:24, “If you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.”
You are not a good person. I am not a good person. We are sinners who have betrayed God, who deserve eternal condemnation.
But, as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”
The glory of the Gospel is that Christ died for those who put their faith in Him.
Salvation is not found in our own righteousness, but in His.
Salvation is in Jesus Christ, and in Jesus Christ alone.
Homegroup Study Notes
Read Romans 7:14-25
This passage of Scripture stands directly opposed to the general belief in the world that most people are essentiality good (although we do make the occasional mistakes here and there).
Discuss the major difference between these two statements:
“I commit sins, therefore I am a sinner.”
“I am a sinner, therefore I commit sins.”
Which is the more Biblically accurate statement, and why?
If you feel able, share some of your struggles in this area.
How has your understanding of the Gospel grown as you have wrestled with your sinful nature?
How would you respond to a non-Christian who tells you that we are basically good?
How would you point them to the death of Jesus Christ as the answer to this question?
Pray that in the weeks leading up to Easter, that your understanding of the Gospel and our need for a Saviour would become clearer in your own mind, and in those who have yet to turn to Jesus in repentance and faith.