The Enemy Within

God and Evil  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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A Fight We Can’t Win

We are in a struggle today that we can’t win.
We are facing something that is beyond our power and ability.
We are looking in the face of an enemy that is more powerful than anything we can overcome regardless how bad we may be.
This enemy is nothing more than the same enemy that has plagued the world since the serpent asked Eve, “Did God really say?”
Did God say that this was not to be done? Don’t you think He really meant that He does not want you being like Him?
Go ahead and eat that and see how amazing things become. Wait until you can see all that God does. You will be amazing and above all.
But when Eve and Adam ate that fruit they were not powerful, majestic, great, and above all things, they were ashamed and embarrassed.
They experienced the great enemy that we all still face today: SIN.
Sin is the enemy that we can’t overcome on our own.
We may think we can look at the Bible and see the commands of God His Law and follow that we will be great.
We are wrong we can’t do that. We can’t be perfect and live that way.
We see this in this section of Scripture from Romans.
Paul wrote that the thing He knows is good and right and that He wants to do, He does not do because he does what is wrong instead.
Oh how we want to do the right thing and live with honor and be pure, but we fail always because we are sinners and still fight against sin.
We also, try and make it through by our strength which only shows us how weak we are.
This section we will examine in a moment tells us that we are powerless against sin in our lives. That it is only through giving ourselves entirely to Christ that we can overcome sin.
You see this section of Scripture illustrates the struggling Christian who tries to control sin by inappropriate use of the Law of God.
It is about those of us who try and be perfect by trying to do something we cannot do.
We see this in Romans 7:14-25
Romans 7:14–25 ESV
14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
We see several observations in this text, the first one is...

We All Have Sin Within

Even after our salvation, we have sin in us.
Yes, we are a new creation and in Christ, but we still live in this sin filled fallen world.
In this world we will see things and feel drawn to it.
Sin still has an appeal. We see it and we want it.
That same old lie crops up, “Did God Really Say?”
We know inside because we are in Christ that sin is bad, sin is wrong, sin is evil, and that sin is against God.
But it looks good and we start justifying the desire.
Then we justify the looking.
Then we justify the sin.
Paul is saying in this section that we have nothing good dwelling in us, in our bodies, that we are sold under sin, we know the Law is good but we can’t do it because we are not good.
Simply, we can look at this as the internal struggle between the Holy Spirit in us and the sin nature that is still present.
As one commentator said, “As long as believers live in this world as men and women of flesh and blood, they will face a constant tension—the conflict between their sinful nature and their new spiritual life.” (Barton, Veerman, and Wilson, Romans, Life Application Bible Commentary, 141).
We face a daily battle with sin and faith.
We daily struggle with not doing evil and wickedness.
We daily face situations where we know that we should not say that, do this, look at that, act this way, or become bitter.
But we fail a lot and then we get discouraged.
We become defeated and down right where Satan wants us.
We will say things like:
If only I could stop this.
If only I could change.
I try so hard and still fail.
Look at what Paul said, “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”
We have sin within and this sin is a battlefield we all face.
We face this just as Paul did and we need to realize we can’t do it.
We can’t be good…alone that is.
We can’t because even after we are saved and in Christ, we still have a fight against sin.
Which leads to the next observation...

We are the Battleground

We are because sin is still within us it is still around us it is always present.
You may be asking how is this so when we have Scripture that says
Gal. 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
and 2 Cor. 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
How can we still be in this battlefield?
We may be new and living life through the faith in Christ and wearing the battle gear as described in Eph. 6:10-20, but the war is raging. The fact that we are to wear this battle gear demonstrates that we are in a battle that is able to destroy us.
One slip, and we do the things we do not want to do.
You see, the old nature in us continues to hinder growth.
It crops up and begins to battle against the new position we have in Christ.
Sin in us is deeper than we realize.
Hence Paul saying the Law of God is good and spiritual and that he delights in the Law in his inner being, but his mind makes him captive to the law of sin that dwells in his members (v. 23).
Sin is deeper in us than we realize. This is why we can’t overcome sin alone.
If we try and live our lives in constant comparison to the perfect Law of God, we will become distraught.
You see when we do that, we cause that deep sin within to want new life again.
It wants to be free and back doing what we always did before Christ.
Think of any dependence you may have had in life.
Alcohol, drugs, snuff, cigarettes, or anything else.
Think of those cravings that come back even after months, years of being free from that addiction.
There is nothing in you that is still addicted to that thing but your mind.
Your mind makes you want it.
It is not that the drug, drink, or nicotine is still in your system, but it is in your mind.
I know this well.
I still crave a cigarette with my first cup of coffee in the morning.
I hate the smell of cigarette smoke now, but my mind still tells me that it is so comforting and calming to have that smoke first thing in the morning.
That is what sin in our inner self, is telling us too.
That is why we fail and falter is because we give into what the inner self says because we are fighting alone.
If you are fighting alone trying to compare yourself, or follow the Law of God alone, you will fail.
We can’t do it.
We are helpless alone.
We are weak alone.
We are pathetic alone.
We can’t do it alone, but there is hope.

By the Power of Christ We Prevail

We may want to live right but until we give it all to Christ, we will fail because we are trying to live to a standard we can’t live up to.
Here Paul makes a pronouncement that we all must make in admitting we can’t do it alone.
Romans 7:24 ESV
24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Wretched man that I am.
We are wretched and unable to do it, we are weak and frail even if we think we are not.
Again, as Paul said about his inner self wanting to do the Law of God but the evil inside would not let him.
Just having the inner desires to want to do something right does not mean we will overcome the evil inclination inside us all.
If you only think the right mindset will make you overcome evil, you are wrong.
It takes dependence on the one who has overcome sin.
The one who has given hope.
The one who has saved your soul and promised to never leave you.
The one who has given you the powerful Spirit of God.
The one who is still mediating for you right now even when you fall into sin and evil.
This is Rom. 7:25
Romans 7:25 ESV
25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
Jesus is the cure and the way.
He is the one who delivers us from this body of death.
He is the one who carries you.
You see, resisting sin is more than a matter of will power. Until we see how wretched we are, we will continue to fail.
We must stop thinking, “I need to battle these sinful urges and obey the law in my own power.”
Instead think, “I am a free child of God! I am dead to sin and dead to the law because I am married to Christ. His power enables me to walk away from sin, free in Christ.”
We do this by focusing our minds on Him and letting Him change us.
Know that we are not saved by grace then made holy by our works and efforts. No, we are saved by grace and made holy by His grace. All we do is trust Him and set our minds on Him and allow Him to develop us.
He is the one who transforms us.
He is the one who conforms us to Him.
It is in Him alone that we have peace.
Look at Rom. 8:1
Romans 8:1 ESV
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
In Christ you are not condemned, you are saved and with the one who gave it all for you.
If He gave it all for you, do you think He will leave you to fight alone?
No, He is with you.
So...

Application 1: Recognize you are Weak

We are to constantly rely on the Spirit to guide us and correct us.
When in a bad situation, pray to Him to guide you.
When doubting, pray to Him to strengthen you.
When weaker than normal, pray and look to His promises in His word to you.

Application 2: Trust the Lord

Let every trial and triumph bring you closer to Christ. Know He is in control and working.
Look at what He has said about how powerful His grace is. Know that He is for you and not against you.
Let His grace fill you with peace and power to make it forward. Give worries and anxieties to Him by laying them down at His feet every morning in prayer before getting out of bed.
But in all these application points, know that we do not do this alone. We do this in the grace of the Lord.
But know that a good group of people around you can encourage you and help you rest in the grace of Christ. Get together regularly with a few members of the church outside of church and study God’s word and grow.
Let me share a story of how to do this in your day-to-day life.

Total Dependence

Some years ago, before the fall of Soviet communism, there was a pastor from Russia who was living in Canada. He had a burden to take the Word of God into the Soviet Union, even though the Bible was forbidden there. This pastor told about his first experience of crossing the Soviet border with a load of Bibles in the trunk of the car. He didn’t want to smuggle the Bibles in or use any other dishonest tactic. He simply counted on God to help him get the Bibles into the Soviet Union somehow.
He and a friend loaded the boxes of Bibles into the car and drove toward the border. The closer they came to the border, the more anxious they felt. Just a mile from the checkpoint, the pastor’s friend said, “How do you feel?”
“Scared,” said the pastor. “Let’s stop and pray.”
So they pulled to the side of the road and poured out their hearts to God. “Lord,” they said, “we’re scared. We’re afraid of being arrested. But we know that You have led us to do this because You want Your Word to reach the people of the Soviet Union. We’re willing to take this risk, but You’ve got to see it through. We don’t have the wisdom to handle any problems that may come up, so if You want Your Word to go into that country, You have to make it possible.”
As he prayed, the pastor felt totally helpless and dependent upon God—but he also had a sense of peace. The two men got back on the road and drove to the checkpoint. There, the guard examined their car and said, “What do you have in the trunk?”
“Some boxes,” the pastor answered truthfully.
“Let me see them,” said the guard. The pastor opened the trunk. There, in plain sight, were the boxes of Bibles. The pastor waited for the guard to open the boxes and find the Bibles. Instead, the guard simply said, “Very well.” Then he slammed the trunk and waved them on.
The pastor and his friend drove on into the Soviet Union and they distributed the Bibles to the spiritually hungry people there.
This is the way God wants us to live. We must acknowledge that we are powerless to do God’s will. We are powerless—but we serve an all-powerful God. What is impossible for us is easy for God. If we acknowledge our own inability, we can rest in His infinite ability.
The Law exposes the sin and wretchedness in us so that we, in abject poverty of spirit, will cry out to God, “This is Your problem! I can do nothing! Lord, You take it!” And He will do so.
Stedman, Ray C.. Reason to Rejoice: Love, Grace, and Forgiveness in Paul's Letter to the Romans (pp. 156-157). Discovery House. Kindle Edition.
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