29th Week in Ordinary Time

 

Who will deliver me? 

 

For seven chapters, Paul has been laying out one long theological argument:   the gospel he preaches is “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).   In verse after verse, he has demonstrated that there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles when it comes to faith.   Everyone has sinned.   Everyone is guilty.   Everyone needs salvation.   And that salvation has been freely given to everyone through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Now, as he approaches the end of his argument, Paul shifts his tone.   Instead of Paul the careful theologian, we meet Paul the passionate believer.   Reflecting on his own experience of the battle between sin and righteousness, he confesses that he may want to do good but is not always able to carry it out.   “Evil is at hand,” he says, always ready to thwart his determination to be holy (Romans 7:21).   Finally, in a cry of exasperation and frustration, he calls out, “Miserable one that I am!   Who will deliver me from this mortal body?” (7:24).

Jesus, that’s who!   “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord,” Paul proclaims (Romans 7:25).

In this passage, Paul seems to be repeating what he has said all along, only now he is saying it personally, joyfully, and filled with gratitude for the gift of salvation.   Of course, Paul is still teaching.   He is using his own experience to bring his teaching to life.

This was Paul’s way of showing that he wasn’t just teaching abstract theories.   Everything he said up to this point mattered deeply to him, and he wanted it to matter to everyone else as well.

Brothers and sisters, Jesus matters!   It may sound obvious, but that doesn’t make it any less true.   His gospel is your salvation from the very real sins you commit.   His mercy is your hope for peace and comfort in the battle against sin.   His love—a real love that you can sense in your heart and in the people around you—is the foundation for your life.

So when temptation comes fast and furious or when frustration or guilt or anxiety feels like a millstone around your neck, remember Paul.   Remember his teaching, but remember also his struggles and his faith.   Then cry out with him,

“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Psalm 119:66, 68, 76-77, 93-94
Luke 12:54-59

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