Centuries ago, some Roman emperors were known to inflict the hideous punishment of binding the corpse of a murder victim to the back of the murderer. Under penalty of death, no one was allowed to remove the body from the condemned person.

This gruesome practice calls to mind the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 7. It’s as if something dead were strapped to him and accompanied him wherever he went.

Paul was expressing the experience of every child of God. We long for purity and holiness, yet at times we feel helplessly bound to the “dead body” of our sinful nature. Even though we are new creatures in Christ and know that our physical body itself is not evil, the tendency to sin is always with us. This causes us to cry out like the apostle, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24).

In chapter 8, Paul answered his own cry. He said that through the forgiveness of Christ we are freed from eternal condemnation (v.1). Then by the strength of the indwelling Spirit we are empowered to do God’s will (v.9). And one day even our mortal bodies will be redeemed (v.23).

Praise God, Christ broke the power of sin! By yielding ourselves to the Spirit, we can serve in newness of life.