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October 29 | Romans 7:14-25


 

DAILY READING

 

REFLECTION


Held Captive

by Mary Alice McGinnis

If you have been following this series on the Covenant, last Sunday we heard the story of Joshua. He challenged the children of Israel who had been delivered from bondage in Egypt.


“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)


But then in verse 19, just four verses later, Joshua said to the people,

“You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; He is a jealous God.”


Isn’t this our human condition? We set our hearts to serving the Lord our God, but too soon the troubles of this world, the distractions of life, the luring of our wandering hearts soon take over, and once again we find ourselves wrestling with God over our idols.


This is what Paul describes in today’s reading. This constant proneness of our sinful hearts to wander from our One and Only God.


Paul describes it in this heartfelt lament:


“For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.”



Picture in your mind what it might look like to be a prisoner.


What does the prison cell look like? Picture yourself in this place.


Is it dark? Are you hungry? Are suffering? Are you lonely and afraid?


This what the power of sin does to us! The very things we chase after end up consuming us, carrying us away - hopelessly shackled and powerless as prisoners and slaves.


Then Paul uses this powerful imagery.


“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?”




In ancient times, tyrants who wished to inflict the ultimate torment on someone would strap a corpse to the prisoner’s back. The prisoner’s already miserable captivity was intensified by having a rotting, putrid, decomposing dead carcass that they had to drag around with them every moment of every day. I know it isn’t pleasant, but can you picture it?


Notice in verses 7 to 23 how many times Paul used first person pronouns - I and me. After looking to his own resources, he sees how hopeless it is to look within himself for the answers he seeks. Even his desire for life, for joy, and for living in God’s will and perfection is not enough. He finds himself doomed.


Paul longed to be free from the wretched body of sin and death that clung to him.


In verse 24 there is a shift. Paul realizes he is not able to rescue himself, so he cries out to God, “Who will rescue me . .?”


The answer?


“Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”


PRAYER PRACTICE

Sit with God quietly for a few minutes. Picture yourself in captivity, held in slavery to sin. What does your cell look like? What does this dungeon feel like?


Clasp your hands tightly. Can you feel the tight grip of the shackles on your hands and feet? Can you feel the pull of sins deathly weight pulling you down?


Allow specific sins to come to mind and how they are enslaving you. Confess them to God.


Release to Him your desire to try to rescue yourself. Lift your hands and cry out to Him, pleading with Him for the sake of Jesus, to rescue you!


Bring your closed hands to rest on your lap. Slowly open your them now. Jesus announces to you, “I have taken your sin on Myself. You have been set free!!” Feel the weight of sin's powerful shackles being released.


Raise your released arms to heaven in grateful praise with these words:


“Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”







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