It is a difficult passage, but the meaning is clear when we realize that he is talking about his struggle with sin before becoming a Christian. As a child, Paul did not know right from wrong and was not accountable to the law of God. He “was alive once without the law” (v. 9). After coming of age, he realized he was a law breaker and now under the condemnation of the law. The problem was not with the law; it was “holy and just and good” (v. 12). The problem was with Paul; he was a sinner (vv. 13-14).
Paul described his struggle as a sinner (vv. 15-23). He knew what the law said and knew that the law was good, but he stilled sinned. Sin dwelled in him. He was controlled by the flesh. Evil was present with him. So, he did what he did not want to do, what he knew he should not do, and he did not do what he wanted to do, what he knew he should do. His mind was taken captive by his flesh.
How is a person to navigate through life with all its challenges? There are so many decisions, changes, problems and questions. Who? What? When? Where? How? Why?
None of us has all the answers. You can read a lot of books and still not know what to do. Some just let life take them down whatever path it leads them. Others have their own mind about what they want and where they’re going.
But the Bible teaches us to let God be the navigator of our lives if we want to be truly blessed. This is the wisdom of Proverbs 3:5-7. Here we learn how to let God navigate life for us.
2 Timothy 3:12 “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
Is it your desire to live godly in Christ Jesus?Do you suffer persecution? How you answer the first question will determine your answer to the second. If we are faithful Christians we will have persecution.
More and more we are hearing about Christians being persecuted, tortured and killed around the world. We have all experienced the ridicule, mockery, snubs; been called names, been treated unkindly or differently than others because we are Christians.
Just as the world hated Christ, so it hates His followers. Jesus was not put on a cross because of anything He had done wrong. None of us should be surprised when we are persecuted.
There are many challenges facing the church today. The sinful morals and attitudes of the world have greatly influenced the church. We are fighting both liberalism and anti-ism from within. There are always the problems of hypocrisy, envy, discouragement, indifference and neglect among church members.
Such challenges are not new. The first century church faced the same. Much of the New Testament was written to churches, Christians and ministers to help them meet these challenges. We, too, can learn how to successfully face these same challenges as they appear in our day.
Robert Dodson is the Preaching Minister for the Northwest Church of Christ.
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Fort Worth, TX 76135