@Jmworks9113 If you’re a Christian you are not a sinner. You’re a saint. Not a holier than thou saint or an I’m better than you saint, but an I’m purchased by the blood of Jesus and not yet there but chasing after the righteousness He has declared over me saint. A saint who recognizes their own imperfection but longs for more of Jesus, more of holiness, more of obedience, more of the image of Christ in me - a saint who crucifies his flesh and opens his heart to the sanctifying grace of Jesus, yet does not judge others. A saint who obeys out of love because God has loved them and forgives others as they have been forgiven.
Here are a few things to think about:
- the NT never, ever, calls Christians sinners - we are always called saints because we have been set apart unto God by the blood of Jesus. That does not mean we are perfect, but it does mean that we are hidden in Christ - He has covered us and is renewing us day by day - from glory to glory - let it be so!
- I think your concern regarding prayer is partly answered in Hebrews, where it is clear that our confidence to come before the throne of God is not rooted in our own righteousness but in the righteousness of our great High Priest Jesus, who ever lives to intercede for us.
- it is possible that there is some connection between the righteousness James described and walking in the Spirit - the NT is always urging us to walk in the Spirit rather than the flesh. And perhaps that is part of what it means to ‘live into’ the righteousness Jesus has already purchased for us.
Hebrews 4:14-16 - Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
I John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
“Just a sinner saved by grace” is only half the gospel. It’s true that in Christ, God has wiped the slate clean and has forgiven us our sins. But let’s make sure we don’t leave out the flip side – that not only does He forgive our sins, but He also regenerates us through the power of His Spirit. God is restoring our relationship to Him. He is living within us.
Romans 7 Not About Christians
If you read Romans 6,7 and 8 - do you notice any particular actor missing from Romans 7? God’s Spirit! A believer has the Spirit - as we see in Romans 8. The person described in Romans 7 is ‘sold to sin’s power’ and incapable of keeping the law of God. But, as Romans 8 says, we live by the Spirit! It does not mean we are perfect, but we are certainly not sold to sin’s power - Christ has set us free from that!
Romans 8:5-13 - Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
Every Christian following the Lord recognizes the continuing battle with sin that will afflict us until the day of redemption (Gal. 5:16–18). We’re already saved, but we aren’t yet all we want to or need to be. We must continue confessing our sins daily, just as Jesus taught us in the Lord’s prayer (Matt. 6:12). Sin continues to bedevil us in thought, word, and deed until the day we die.
Yet that’s not what Romans 7:13–25 is talking about. Yes, we continue to struggle with sin. Yes, we fall short every day. But Romans 7:13–25 is talking about total defeat. As Paul says in verse 14, “I am of the flesh, sold under sin.” In other words, he is describing complete and total captivity to sin.