Teaching Series

Series: Sinners
Message: Wretched
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Jessyka Albert
Live Adventure: Jessyka Albert
Live Purpose: Jason Calvert
Editor: Becky De Oliveira

Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.

Read: Romans 7:13-25  in The Message (MSG). Note 1–3 insights or questions. 

Reflect: As I write this reflection this morning and pause over the paraphrase version of the passage for this week, my wandering eye caught the image of a heavy black plastic object on the floor across the room. You might well commend me on how well I have managed to keep that object in “good-as-new” condition. There are warnings in the manual encouraging the owner not to drop it. Accordingly, in order to protect my single BowFlex dumbell, I have not touched it very often. I dust it occasionally, but otherwise it sits in pristine beauty in the corner.

This summer, I led the youth internship program at our church and, during a break, the boys began to arm wrestle. It made me think of the iconic arm wrestling movie starring Sylvester Stallone, Over the Top. Soon I found myself joining the competition, images from my teenage years flashing in my mind. I wasn’t good at many sports, but rugby and arm wrestling were a natural fit. I felt confident that even though I was on a vegan diet (and consequently weakened!) I was feeling pretty normal. I expected to easily beat any of the teenage boys. Alas, 15-year-old Cody Becker was to prove me wrong, and he walked away victorious. Immediately, I remembered that black plastic object in the corner of my house and thought “I should probably use that.” Today, a month after that tragic event, the BowFlex dumbell looks just as good as the first day I bought it.

Shame on me!

I say to myself that I will start next week or even tomorrow. Or I remind myself that I am going to have some early appointments for the foreseeable future, and, knowing that I am going to have to break the routine, I literally talk myself out of it before I’ve even begun.

The approach to the text today certainly contains a focus on that personal application. Verse 17 refers to “the power of sin within me” that “keeps sabotaging my best intentions.” Why do we choose the more negative path? Why do we give in to temptation?

Recalibrate: What has to happen for you to make radical shifts in your life?

Respond: Pray for the wisdom to respond to the deep call of God on your life.

Research: Choose one thing in your life that you wish to change and ask someone to help you to set a plan in motion toward achieving that goal.

Remember: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15, NIV).

Japhet is senior pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, and was co-founder of the One project. Originally from southeast London, he served in the South England Conference for nine years—as a pastor and later as conference youth director—before moving to the United States in 2006. He is married to Becky and they have two sons, Joshua (18) and Jonah (14).

Have you ever had a moment with your child when you thought, “I messed up. I did not handle that situation in the way I should have”? Or on the flip side, have you ever seen your child do something and thought, “How could that sweet angel do something so mean?” Paul reminds us that making mistakes is all a part of being human. We are stuck in sinful bodies doing the things we don’t want to do and hurting people when we don’t mean to, all while saying we want to be like Jesus. Today, with your child, try something that might seem a little old school. In sticky situations, ask, “What would Jesus do?” It might be after something has already happened, but think about how Jesus would have handled a situation. This is an exercise not to make us feel bad, but instead to remind us of how good Jesus is and how thankful we should be for Him.

Have you ever done something bad and you didn’t mean to? Maybe you threw a ball at someone’s head and once they started crying you thought to yourself, “Why did I do that? That was really mean. I didn’t want to do that and hurt them.” Did you know Paul knows exactly how you feel? Read Verse 15 out loud with your parents. Paul understands you. He did things he felt bad about and didn’t even know why he did them. We want to live good lives and treat others well, right? Today, try something new. Every time you do something that makes you want to face palm and say, “Why did I do that?” pray a prayer to Jesus. Ask Him to forgive you, thank Him for dying for us, think about what He would do in your shoes, and ask Him to help remind you to do the right thing.”

When you think about the word “school,” what comes to mind? How about the word “Fortnite”? Chances are good that certain actions and activities came to mind connected to each of these words.

When you think of the word “sin,” what comes to mind? Certain actions and activities? If so, congratulations! That’s exactly what the Israelites and the first century rabbis and clergy thought. Until Jesus showed up.

Jesus was so real. So practical and helpful. In Matthew 5, Jesus says things like, “You’ve heard it said not to murder.” What is this? Murder is an action. It’s outside. But he goes on to say, “But I say don’t even get angry.” Angry? Anger is an emotion. Emotions are inside. What?

Jesus then goes on to say stuff like, “You’ve been told not to commit adultery.” Adultery, cheating, being unfaithful—these are outward physical actions. But then, Jesus goes deeper and says, “Don’t even look at a woman in lust.” Lust?! This is something we do in our minds, hearts. It’s inside, private, no one knows when it’s happening.

The point? Jesus knew something Paul is trying to explain and we’re trying to understand—sin is real. It’s deep. It’s not necessarily an action but is actually something much deeper on the inside that often only you and God know about. Hence Paul’s “struggle language.” You struggle. I struggle. How do you feel when you make a promise to God or tell everyone you’re going to change something in your life and a short time later you’re doing what you said you weren’t going to do? Paul gets it. Think of someone you know who really changed—what caused the change? The good news, according to Paul, is that we all get it, but we can all change. He helps us understand how. What do only you and God know about that needs to change in your life?


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