I have discovered this principle of life– that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. (Romans 7:21-25 NLT)
I almost skipped over this chapter because I was having a hard time seeing how it related to worship. This morning I realized that it directly relates to worship. I think this chapter explains why we have tended to confine worship to a couple of hours on Sunday morning.
Attending a gathering for a couple of hours each week where we experience some good music, perform our religious obligations, and get some good instruction is not difficult. It really isn’t difficult if you have done it all your life. Unfortunately, if that is all that is happening on Sunday morning then we probably haven’t worshiped and are ill equipped to worship through the rest of the week.
This chapter has always been challenging. Paul is writing to both Jews and Gentiles, but in this chapter, he is expressing something that is difficult for us as Gentiles to understand. Paul loved God’s law. He had probably memorized the first 5 books of our Old Testament. He was a Pharisee and the rituals that came with keeping the law were ingrained in his daily life. What he has discovered is that no matter how much he knows the law and loves the law it is not enough to keep him from breaking the law.
I think there is a parallel for us today, especially for those of us who grew up going to church. I love the Sunday routine. I feel good when I’ve been to church, participated in the singing, shared in communion, and been challenged by the message. I get to interact with people of like mind. The whole process is very comfortable for me. What about you?
Here’s the problem, especially when we view these activities as duties to perform to earn God’s favor. The Sunday morning experience can be even less effective against sin if I am attending because being there makes me feel good. All this activity is not enough to keep me from sinning on Monday morning. The problem is that through all this activity we continue to be slaves to ourselves. We are in charge and that’s a problem. If we are in charge, we will seek to satisfy our own selfish desires and the result will be sin.
There is a solution and Paul described it at the beginning of the chapter. We have been married to self and we need to be married to someone else and let that someone else be in charge. We need to worship God. We need to bow down to Him and submit our wills to His will. This requires a dramatic change of attitude. I think it is impossible to flip a mental switch and fully submit to God on Sunday morning when this isn’t what is happening through the rest of the week.
Fortunately, there is a solution and Paul will get to that in the next chapter. Here’s a question I think we all need to think about. Who or what do you love more: God or God’s law?
For my grandchildren:
Don’t fall in love with going to church. Fall in love with Jesus.
Check out mygrandmatime for more Family Bible Activities on the book of Romans.