Paul does not sugarcoat the process of dying to sin. In Romans 7:14–25, he appears to acknowledge that victory over sin is not a one-and-done event that occurs at conversion and baptism. The war between “the flesh” and “the Spirit” remained alive in his own heart. “Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (6:11, NKJV) seems to be an ongoing process.
Many of us who were baptized early in life and have been walking with Jesus for many years have recognized an ongoing struggle with sin, this war of the Spirit against the flesh (as we saw in Lesson 5). It validates the need we continue to feel for ongoing repentance and for watchful vigilance in coming to Jesus daily and not giving up.
Ellen G. White writes:
“No deep-seated love for Jesus can dwell in the heart that does not realize its own sinfulness. The soul that is transformed by the grace of Christ will admire His divine character; but if we do not see our own moral deformity, it is unmistakable evidence that we have not had a view of the beauty and excellence of Christ.
“The less we see to esteem in ourselves, the more we shall see to esteem in the infinite purity and loveliness of our Saviour. A view of our sinfulness drives us to Him who can pardon; and when the soul, realizing its helplessness, reaches out after Christ, He will reveal Himself in power. The more our sense of need drives us to Him and to the word of God, the more exalted views we shall have of His character, and the more fully we shall reflect His image.” (Steps to Christ, 64, 65).
Paul did not elaborate on the exact nature of his own struggles with “the flesh” and “the law of sin”; perhaps it included intense discouragement and severe trial. But when he felt the conflict most severely he cried out, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” and, by faith, gloriously and confidently affirmed, “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (7:25, NKJV).
We have been assured that no matter how severe the struggle, “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. . . . For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (8:1, 2, NKJV). Not free from the conflict, but free from doubt that we are on the right side and the final victory is certain!
Jesus will never give up on you. Don’t give up on Him, or ignore Him!