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 New International Version (NIV). Note 1–3 insights or questions. 

Reflect: I met a fellow British expatriate who lives in Boulder a while back. He has one of those absolutely life-transforming stories. It is a total miracle that he is alive today. It is because of this second lease on life that he lives with such deep conviction and intentionality in everything he does. He cares for others deeply. In one of our chats, he shared how he believes that everyone needs a moment when they face death and defeat it! It was at this point in the conversation that I gave him a look that said, “. . . Yes I agree . . . but I hope you are not actually creating moments like these for people?” He assured me he was not and I understood the intention of his heart.

Parents, teachers, counselors, doctors—and all the rest of us too—see people making bad choices all the time. How can we help the ones we love make better choices? What if they do not see that the choices they are making are bad? Can they actually make a better choice? Or are they powerless? How do any of us know what is really the better choice?

Do you remember when the apostle Paul mentioned earlier (in Romans 2:15-16) that we have a conscience? We understand the broad distinction between right and wrong. This can create a level of discomfort within us. How do we cope with the resulting anxiety or the sense of powerlessness at the sight of evil and injustice? Do we deny it and suppress it? Try to ignore it as long as we can? Do we distract ourselves and engage ourselves with something else so that we cannot address it? Perhaps there is something greater than our own personal struggle that we focus on instead. Perhaps, we tell ourselves, it is not that I am wretched in the sense that the “I” is just myself. Maybe the “I” is really all of us.

I first read this passage decades ago, and marked it in my Bible. It spoke directly into my life and into my context. But honestly, who wants to dwell on their mistakes? Who wants to do that every day? Unless the purpose of such a focus is to find a solution instead of dwell on a problem. Unless our mistakes are part of a bigger story that is still unfolding.

Recalibrate: If there is so much hope, freedom, and joy in being honest about our problems and looking for solutions, why do we resist both?  

Respond: Pray for the courage to follow through on admitting to your problems.

Research: Read Romans 8 as a sneak peak to help grasp the bigger solution it offers.

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).

When we talk about “the law” and “rules,” it’s usually when they are being broken. Paul spends most of his writings talking about the goodness of Jesus. Jesus didn’t break any rules and we talk about Him more than anyone else in church or in our family worship. Change the script at home. Instead of focusing on the times when your kids break the rules, celebrate the times they do something great and kind! Make a jar and fill it with something: Cheerios, candies, marbles. Celebrate the good this week!

Have you ever done something not-so-good to someone— maybe even something really bad? Usually when you do something bad and your parents or teachers see, what do they tell you to do? They make you apologize, don’t they? What happens when someone doesn’t see you do that bad thing? Do you usually apologize or just pretend like it never happened? It is good to be honest even when no one knows you did something bad. Make an apology card for someone who deserves it from you.

What’s a Christian? What does it mean to be a Christian? How does being “Christian” actually make a difference in your life?  

Sometimes I hear students confess that they thought once they became a Christian they would be perfect and never make mistakes again. What’s easy to misunderstand is that becoming like Jesus is a lifelong process. And by the way, it’s impossible to be like Jesus on our own—by simply trying harder. It’s impossible because sin will always get in the way. True change only comes through Jesus in us; so we actually need to submit, give up, and let Him take over and do for us what only He can do. He will give us the strength and knowledge we need to get through the tough times. Paul confessed his failures as a Christian and cried out for someone to rescue him and change his life. Then he exclaimed, “Thanks be to God who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

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