Throughout church history there have been a number of different thoughts on whether or not Paul is describing himself before he was a believer or afterward. Even now, intelligent, thoughtful people believe differently about this open-handed issue. How does this plurality of ideas make you feel? When our church doesn’t take a strong stand on some open-handed issues, is it disconcerting or comforting? What can we learn about ourselves from this?
For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. -Romans 7:18
In this passage Paul describes his desire, but inability, to do good. Why is it liberating to be able to be honest about this wretchedness, and certain about your forgiveness? What happens if we forget one or the other truth?
The more advanced we become in the Christian life, the more aware we become of our sin. Does the thought that you’ll deal with your sin condition for the rest of your life bring you comfort or make you doubt?
In the same way that a wounded animal can be much more dangerous than a healthy one, as we fight our sin there are times when it seems to lash out at us even viciously. Give an example of a time in your life when this has happened. What sins are you actively fighting now? Have you ever thought of fighting sin as being an active discipline?