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 English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.

Reflect: There is at least one other way we could approach this passage and see a “Technic” possibility. If you see the textual connections, historical context, and the cross, the meaning is so much richer.

Here is what also could be happening in this passage. Remember how much Paul loves to repeat himself? Not only repeat, in many cases, but expand on what he has said previously. Here, he is recalling the idea that the law is good, but all it does is simply magnify the things we do wrong. This is what he wrote back in Romans 2:17-24, which he now expands upon in Romans 7. Similarly, in Romans 8 he expands on what he wrote in Romans 2:28-29. (We will look at Romans 8 next week.) In Romans 3, he repeats the same questions and then expands on these ideas in Romans 9. In Romans 7:21, by using the the phrase “evil lies close at hand,” Paul echoes the language of Cain found in Genesis 4:7 (“sin is crouching at the door”). He wants to connect this narrative to a larger picture of who God is.

In Paul’s day, Greek and Roman philosophers were thoroughly engaged in resolving the issue of how to determine what is right and what is wrong. They also worried about why, even when a person knew a course of action was wrong, they did not change that course of action. Paul demonstrates in both passages that even Israel, having the law of God as its guide, still struggled to follow through. It is not the law’s fault but the fault of “sin.” Verse 13 points this out so we can see what sin does. Even what it does among people who know God—and should know better.

This is where Paul brings a glimpse of the truth home. While the passage certainly shows a battle between two egos, two laws, two cries of anguish, and two slaveries, the victory is not about a single person. It is not about humanity but about the universe. Sin has grown. The law shows us how evil sin is. The struggle that Cain had, that Israel had, that we have, calls for the Messiah. In Romans 7:24, Paul asks who can rescue Israel? Who can rescue the universe? Who can rescue us?

Why is this so important to see?

A few truths: The First Testament feeds into our lives today. The law is not something that was introduced in the wilderness; it has existed for all time. When we choose to follow Jesus, we choose to belong to a transformative narrative. Sin has been dealt a blow. At the ascension, the dragon (Satan) realized that his time was short. There is hope.

Recalibrate: Do you belong to a movement that is about making the world a better place or rescuing the world from sin and death?

Respond: Pray for the power of God in your local church.

Research: Read one of the recommended commentaries on this passage.

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).



There are moments we all have when we realize how thankful we are for Jesus. When we realize how He has saved us from all the bad stuff. Share one of those moments with your child. How old were you when you realized that Jesus is the one who saved you and wants to give you all good gifts? One day, when your child is your age, they might look back and realize there was never a time in their lives when they didn’t know the love of Jesus! Surround them with love today. Pray for their futures.

Paul tells us that it is so important to focus our hearts and minds on Jesus. Why do you think it is important to think about Jesus? Share your thoughts with your parents. Every day for the next week—starting today—spend five minutes thinking about Jesus. Ask your parents questions about Him. Think about what He would look like. What games would you like to play with Him? What do you think He would say to you? What do you think Jesus looks like? Why? What do you think Jesus likes to do for fun? Spend time praying to Jesus.

“Hey you! Thank you! Thank you!” These were the first words spoken by 14-year-old Adun Sam-On, a member of the boys’ youth soccer team The Wild Boars.

Did you hear about Adun?  He became instantly famous as the world watched with bated breath when he spoke these precious words—in English—to the elite British divers who, after nine days of searching, finally found the team of thirteen 2.5 miles deep inside a flooded cave in northern Thailand.

I don’t know if you recall what your day was like on Saturday, June 23. But for twelve boys and a soccer coach, that Saturday started just like any other. The boys normally looked forward to soccer practice. But on this day, the coach had something special in mind.

He wanted his boys to experience ownership of the team, a sense of comradery, loyalty, responsibility, and trust. So after practice, the coach and any player who wanted to, entered into an initiation ritual, a team-building exercise. The plan was that the boys would enter a well-known cave in the area—only planning to spend about an hour there—and together navigate to a certain wall and write their names there. This wasn’t anything unusual.  The only thing that made this day different was the time of year and the weather.

Shortly after this band of thirteen (twelve players ranging in age from 11 to 16 and their assistant coach) entered the cave, the rains came. When the team realized the cave was filling with water, it was too late to exit the same way they had entered. That’s when they made the choice to do what they could to save themselves. Eventually they realized that the only way they would ever live, ever be free, was if someone else came down, did all the work, and rescued them.

For two weeks, hundreds of cave and rescue experts and military personnel, including some from the U.S., came together from around the world to rescue these helpless thirteen. A rescue plan was put in place. How were the boys rescued? What did they themselves actually have to do to get out. The answer: make one single decision. All they had to do was decide to let the rescuers do all the work.

Two divers were assigned to each boy. One diver went in front of the boy holding his oxygen tank for him. The other diver followed behind. The divers carried the boys on stretchers to freedom. The boys didn’t need to swim. Didn’t need fins. Didn’t even need to carry their own oxygen. All they really had to do was let the rescuers do their job—rescue them.

Finally, on Tuesday, July 10, after eighteen grueling days, a three-word Facebook announcement sent the planet into celebration. “Everyone is safe!”

How do we actually change? We let Jesus do the rescuing. It’s all His work. All we do is decide to give the job over to Him.  

Pause. Reflect. What do you struggle with the most? Now, spend time in prayer, talking to God honestly, giving everything to Him. Then, let Him rescue and change you.


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