Each day I’ll read and S.O.A.P. one chapter of Romans. S.O.A.P. is a simple way to focus on what God is speaking to you through what you read. It stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, & Prayer.
Every time I read a chapter God always focuses my heart and mind around a specific part of that chapter. Sometimes it’s just a verse. Sometimes it’s more than that. That verse or group of verses becomes the focus of my devo.
There’s one other practice that helps me know, understand and follow scripture – memorization. Consider memorizing the verse or verses you S.O.A.P.
Romans 7:14-23, “So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.” (NLT)
Whether you believe the Bible or not this is a passage on which we all agree. There are times we all do things we know we shouldn’t. We know what’s right, but we choose what’s wrong. We know it’s bad for us, but we choose to do it anyway. Paul puts this in the context of the Hebrew Law. You may not. But you still know it’s true. Maybe your standard is what’s legal in our nation. Maybe you live by some kind of personal moral code. Perhaps for you it’s simply your built in sense of obligation, I ought to do this, not that. Whatever the case, we’ve all been there. We know within us what’s right and willfully choose to do the other thing.
Paul offers a reason for this. Sin lives in us. Not ‘sin’ the verb. ‘Sin’ the noun. Like ‘cancer’ the noun causes all kinds of problems in our physical body ‘sin’ the noun causes all kinds of problems in our relationship with God, one another and within our soul.
Overcoming this sin isn’t as simple as turning over a new leaf. When we do that we just find old dirt. It’s more involved than making right choices. Again like cancer, diet and exercise won’t make the cancer go away. Simply ‘choosing’ a healthy lifestyle won’t fix the broken cells. It takes something radical to remove cancer from the body. And it takes something radical for sin to be removed from our life.
Paul gives us this answer too. Romans 7:24-25, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”
Jesus Christ is the antidote. He removes the sin in our life and replaces with his righteousness. Once sin is removed we have the power to make choices that aren’t sin-induced. The good things we want to do can become the good things we actually do and the bad things we want to avoid we actually successfully avoid.
It’s not about my will power, but about the power of Christ in me.
The sin in my life has been dealt with by Jesus Christ. I am forgiven. I don’t have to live by the worlds rules anymore. Today, I will choose right. I will overcome temptation. I will do the right thing. I will avoid the wrong thing. I will look for opportunities to encourage others. I will forgive those who have wronged me. I will ask forgiveness from those I have wronged. I can do all these things, not because of my own will power, but because of the work of Christ in me. I’m free, so I can. Like a cancer survivor I can live my life to the fullest. Jesus has removed my sin and given me life.
Thank you for removing sin from my life and replacing it with your righteousness. Thank you that you have made me just as if I had never sinned. Today, remove me from temptation. Give me the wisdom to recognize the right path, the discernment to recognize the wrong path and the judgement and courage to choose wisely.
I love you, in Jesus name –
There’s so much more in this chapter…what did God speak to you?