I have a fill in the question for you.  I can’t believe I _________________.  How did you fill that in?  Maybe, “I can’t believe I ate that whole that whole bag of Oreos.”  Or, “I can’t believe I lost my temper… at my boss!”  Or how ‘bout this, “I can’t believe I rear-ended a car, because I was looking at that girl walking down the street.”  (I actually know someone who did that).  So, who do you blame, if you do something really dumb?  Do you blame the person, who led you astray or got you all worked up inside?  Do you blame God for allowing you to be in that situation or for making you the way you are?  The blame game doesn’t get us very far.  In fact, blaming others often makes things worse.  On the other hand, putting the blame on ourselves sometimes hurts more than we can bear.  

This morning we’re going to learn how we can always be honest, humble, and joyful before God.  This makes a huge difference in our daily life.  We’ll have strength for doing what’s right.  Or, when we do blow it, we’ll learn from our sins, and not have to repeat them.  But best of all, we’ll be constantly growing in our relationship with God and with those around us.  Does this sound good?  Absolutely!  Is it impossible?  Not at all, but here’s what it takes.  To be honest, humble, and joyful before God, we need to understand Why We Do What We Do!  1.  As Christians we want to follow His Laws.  2.  Sin living in us opposes us. 3.  We look forward to being completely sin free.
    1.  As Christians we want to follow God’s Law.
We read in our text: I agree that the law is good.  I delight in God’s law according to my inner self. – Romans 7:16b, 22   None of us can say this a 100%, because our sinful side enjoys different sins depending on our personality or what’s going on at the moment.  I’ll talk more about this later.  But the fact remains, when we reflect on everything God does for us – how in eternity He planned only good things for us, how He sent His Son to bear our sins, how He called us faith and is patient with us through all our ups and downs, we respect, love and trust Him.  We also love another.  I’m being completely honest saying this about ourselves!  Paul writes: If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away.  The new has come! – II Corinthians 5:17   The old has passed in the sense that when God looks at us, He doesn’t see our sins.  He sees Christ’s righteousness, which is ours by faith.  Also, we’re new in the sense, that by our Baptism the Holy Spirit is living in us, and has created a new nature in us that’s as pure and holy as God is.  

For example, do you long to always trust God’s love no matter what’s going on in your life?  That desire is coming from your new nature.  Or, do wish you would always be kind, gentle and wise in how you deal with others, and always be making the best use of your time?  Again, that desire comes from your new nature.  One more example.  Does seeing others do sinful and hurtful things bother you, because you know how that affects those around them, and also because of the direction they’re headed?  That kind of pain too comes from our new nature.  When we believe God is real and His Word is true, we can’t help ourselves!  We care, even though caring sometimes hurts, but we wouldn’t want it any different.  Unfortunately, a part in us doesn’t agree.  The sin living in us opposes every good thing we want to do or believe.  
    2. The Sin living in us opposes us.
We read on in our text: Indeed, I know that good does not live in me, that is, in my sinful flesh. The desire to do good is present with me, but I am not able to carry it out.  So I fail to do the good I want to do. Instead, the evil I do not want to do, that is what I keep doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who am doing it, but it is sin living in me. – Romans 7:18-20   Our sinful nature doesn’t love others.  It loves using others, and getting even.  For example, can you imagine someone using this an excuse for committing armed robbery? “I needed to get paid.”  It’s been done, and people, who do that, really believe they have a right to rip others off, because of how they’ve been ripped off.  That’s warped thinking and it leads to more sinning and more warped thinking.  Or to put it bluntly: sinning makes people stupid.  This is nothing new!  In the Old Testament, the Children of Israel sinned by not trusting God, when He made them wait a little while for His blessings.  So, they build a golden calf and proclaimed that that golden calf brought them out of Egypt.  Stupid is as stupid does!  

But now sinning doesn’t just affect a person’s ability to think.  It corrupts a person’s desires, so that wanting things that he knows is messing up his life is all he can think about.  Jesus said, “Whoever sin is a slave to sin”, except their slavery won’t be to just that one sin.  The sins they’ll crave will keep getting grosser and more evil, until the only thing that can be done with them is for the government to lock them up and throw away the key.  

Thankfully not everyone gets that bad.  Yet everyone does have a sinful nature, and everyone’s sinful nature is moving in that direction, unless a person takes a detour through work-righteousness, but that doesn’t that make him any better.  The sinful nature thinks it does.  The sinful nature thinks work-righteous makes us think God owes us everything we want.  And so, not only does the sinful nature try to keep us from obeying God’s Law, and not only does the sinful try to lead us into every kind of sin, the sinful nature also hates the Gospel.  It thinks it’s just plain foolishness that God’s Son paid for everyone’s sins for them, and that believing this is the ONLY way to heaven.

So, what do you understand about yourself and about others.  There’s a war going on in all of us.  Paul writes: I certainly delight in God’s law according to my inner self, but I see a different law at work in my members, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me captive to the law of sin, which is present in my members. – Romans 7:22-23   You know what a law of nature is.  It’s something that always happens.  If I drop my pen, it falls to the carpet, right?  Certainly!  Here’s my mother’s cast-iron iron.  When she was little, she had to heat this up on a woodstove and then try to iron a shirt without scorching the shirt or burning her hands. If I drop this iron and a pen at the same time, will they hit the carpet at the same time?  They will!  I don’t understand why, but it’s a law of nature.  In the same way, it’s like a law of nature that as soon as our faith thinks about something good, our sinful nature is right there to tell us that’s stupid.  Or, as soon as we make a commitment, that this week we’re going to take time for God’s word and prayer every day, our attention deficit sinful nature is right there to let the squirrels out, so we can’t find time for God’s Word and prayer.  Or, maybe we do have a better week, and we do make time for God’s Word and prayer.  But then our sinful nature is right there to tell us how much better we are than others, and so next week we can afford to slack off a little.  You know, we can’t do one good thing, we can’t think one good thought, without our sinful nature putting dirt into our heads or hearts.  Also, we can’t get away from the struggle against our sinful nature by retreating, because our sinful will still be right there pushing us farther and farther away from God.  Sometimes this fight really gets old, doesn’t it,  And And so, we join Paul in looking forward to the day when we’ll be completely sin-free.  
    3. We look forward to being completely sin free.
We read on in our text: What a miserable wretch I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! – Romans 7:24-25   “This body of death” isn’t just referring to the fact that someday we’re going to die.  It’s reminding us again that sin lives in us, and, that our sinfulness, as well the sins we commit, make us worthy of death.  But past, present, future Jesus Christ our Lord delivers us!   Now, the name Jesus emphasizes His humanity, and that as our brother He lived a holy life for and died in our place on the cross.  Thank God for that!  The name Christ emphasizes His divinity, so that His perfect life and innocent death can count for all.  Thank God for that too, because everything we need to be right with God and fit for heaven was finished 2000 years ago.  Our victory has been won!    
But now this doesn’t mean that in the present, we don’t have to do anything.  Every day we need to put our new man forward and fight back against our sinful nature.  And here’s the good news in this.  Jesus Christ is our Lord.  As true God and true man, He is ever present with us to help us through His Word and hear our prayers.  For example, our conscience keeps us instructed in when we’re doing right or we’re doing wrong.  But what keeps our conscience instructed?  God’s Word does!  Otherwise without it, we can end up believing right is wrong, and wrong is right, and that can only feed our sinful nature.  

Another way Jesus’ Word gives us victory over sin, is if we do fall, God invites us to confess them to Him, and He promises to forgive us, and to help us, when we ask Him, to not repeat that sin and to follow through on what’s right.  Now, this struggle is always in the present, but each victory is in the presence too, and each new victory strengthens us for the next struggle.  Finally, Jesus Christ our Lord is our deliver for the future.  This happens when He calls us home and then we’ll never again have to fight with our sinful nature, for through and through we’ll be as holy as God is. Just looking forward to that makes us joyful to keep on in our struggles.  

Remember how you completed this sentence earlier, I can’t believe I __________.  We can now change that sentence to: “I can’t believe all that God has done for me.”  Except we can believe it, because it’s true.  And now on top of every other blessing we already have from God, He adds the blessings of understanding why we do what we do. Our struggling proves to us that we are God’s true children.  Our struggling keeps pushing us back to Christ so that we avoid sin and hold on tightly to His Word.  Also, our struggling helps us understand others, as we reach out to them.  And finally, our struggling helps keep our life in perspective as we look forward to our ultimate, certain victory.  To God alone be the glory.  Amen.

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