Most of the seventh chapter of Paul’s Letter to the Romans is absolute torture to read and understand. This is rather appropriate as Paul is expressing something of the torture he experiences in trying to do defeat the powers of sin in his life! I can sympathise with him very well in this regard because it is not an easy task to accomplish.

Perhaps it is a truism when they, “Dead men do not struggle.” But there are not too many better descriptions of the nature of the battle against sin in our lives. When we give up and stop struggling in this battle, sin overcomes us and death is the victor. At least if we are struggling, no matter how badly wounded, there is still hope that the Holy Spirit will come to our aid and save us from these wretched powers! This at least needs to be our hope!

We have probably all experienced at one time or another doing something that we know to be wrong but seemingly powerless to overcome the sin. It is at this stage that we most need the Holy Spirit to intervene. I know that is stating the obvious, but sometimes we need to be reminded that the Holy Spirit is there waiting to be called upon in exactly such a situation. The trouble is we either too easily forget this or are stubbornly trying to achieve that which is impossible in our own strength.

No matter how much we may wish to achieve victory on our own, let me tell you now with absolutely no doubt in my mind, that that is completely impossible. Without the help of the Holy Spirit we are doomed to failure. With and only with the help of God’s grace we can be the victor over sin.

It is this very battle to overcome the tendency within us towards sin that Paul characterises as the battle of the flesh against the spirit; the battle of law against grace. Only by the grace of the Holy Spirit are we able to overcome sin. The Law of God is helpful in pointing out what is sin, but it is powerless to overcome it. As Paul says at the end of this passage, “Thanks be to God in Christ Jesus that He has delivered us from this death.”

How do I experience this daily battle against the tendencies in my life towards sin? Do I give up and let them win or do I struggle valiantly to grow in holiness each day and thus defeat the powers of sin?

Lord Jesus, thank you again for your victory. Help me to always keep the hope of the final victory over sin in my mind as I daily battle to grow in holiness.