Grace Immersion

Bonus Day 54

Grace: Classic Christianity

Read Romans 7:15–24

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Romans 7:24 [ESV]

In today’s passage, I believe the Apostle Paul is describing the inner dialogue that happens when the lightbulb about grace finally goes on for a religious man trying to improve himself. He finally realizes that, even when he wants to do what’s right, the desire to do wrong also lives within him. He comes to realize that he is powerless over his self-destructive behavior and can only be delivered by the greater power of God.

Someone once told me suspiciously, “This sounds more like the 12 Steps than the Bible!” You might also be suspecting that all this grace talk is something new, some post-modern twist to the real, ancient Christian message. But in fact, it is classic Christian theology. The problem is that the heresy of “try harder” keeps invading the church.

Augustine lived in the 300s and was called the Doctor of Grace. He wrote constantly about grace, correcting the “just try harder” Christianity of his time taught by a teacher named Pelagius. Augustine reminded his students: “The righteousness of God lies not in the commandment of the law, which incites fear, but in the aid afforded by the grace of Christ… This grace is rendered not for any merits, but is given gratis (freely), which is why it is also called grace.” (From Augustine, On Nature and Grace)

As John Calvin wrote in the 1500s, “Paul, in order to bind us to God not by servile fear but by a voluntary and cheerful love… attracts us by the sweetness of that grace in which our salvation consists.”

And check out these words from a New Testament commentary written by a man named John Darby way back in the 1800s, on today’s verses from Romans 7:

Under divine grace the renewed man has come to the discovery that in him, that is, in his flesh, there is no good thing; (even) when he wills good, sin is too strong for him. Having thus acquired knowledge of himself, he does not seek to be better in the flesh; he seeks deliverance, and he has it in Christ. Power comes after. He has come to the discovery and to the confession that he has no power. He throws himself upon another. He does not say, How can I? or, How shall I? but, Who shall deliver me? Now it was when we were devoid of all strength that Christ died for the ungodly. This lack of strength is discovered; and we find grace at the end… To all hope of improving ourselves, grace is our only resource… But thankfully, when we cast ourselves upon grace, there is nothing but grace before us. (Adapted from John Darby’s Synopsis of the New Testament, Romans 7)

Can you relate to the words of Paul in Romans 7:15–24? How?

What do you think of the quote from John Darby?

What do you think this part of the quote means: “when we cast ourselves upon grace, we find nothing but grace before us”? Do you believe this?

Make today’s verses from Romans 7 your prayer to God!