By Daniel Larsen

Date: June 21, 2019

Category: Worldview and Culture, Devotional, Political

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15 ESV).

In July we celebrate Independence Day to commemorate when the American colonists declared themselves a nation independent from England. This Declaration of Independence brought the Revolutionary War into full swing, ultimately leading to a complete break from the mother country.

Romans 7:15 describes a different kind of revolution, a war that rages on in the heart of every Christian. It’s a battle between flesh and spirit, sin and holiness, good and evil. You might call it your own personal revolutionary war.

The American Revolution was fought against the tyranny of the British Empire; we Christians fight against the tyranny of sin. Sin once controlled our lives, so that we could neither do good nor desire it—not true goodness, anyway—not the kind that makes you right before God. Left to ourselves, the fight against sin would have been a slaughter.

We aren’t left to ourselves, though. God knows our plight, and He has provided what we need. He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place. Jesus died the death we deserve, exchanging His righteousness for our sin. Then He rose again to give new life to all who trust in Him by faith.

That faith is your declaration of independence. Christ declares independence from sin for all who trust in Him. Sin no longer has a hold on you. You are a new person, a free person—free to live the life you were created to live. Sin doesn’t rule anymore!

But now look at the American Revolution. Was the Declaration of Independence the end of British tyranny? No way! The Americans declared independence, and an entire war ensued. Huge battles were fought. Many died. America was a free nation, but they were at war with the very tyrants from whom they had cut ties.

So it is with you. Christ has declared you free from sin, and so you are! But sin won’t go down without a fight. And just as in revolutionary America, the war against sin is fought at home—in our own bodies and minds.

That war is what Paul describes in Romans 7:15. His redeemed soul wants to do what is good, but his sinful flesh fights that effort. You can hear his frustration, as well. “Wretched man that I am!” he says in verse 24, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” It tears him up inside! Even in his independence from sin, part of him is still enslaved.

Yet he immediately answers his question: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!” Paul clings to the same hope to which you and I cling: that our Lord will set us free from our sinful flesh. We fight this war now, but the victory is sure. Jesus Christ will come again. And when He does, He will raise up for us new bodies that will neither die nor lead us to death. And on that day, the revolution will be won!

Rev. Daniel Larsen is pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church, Wabasso, Minnesota; Trinity Lutheran Church, Sanborn, Minnesota; and Zion Lutheran Church, Springfield, Minnesota.

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