Step 1: Paul Explains Powerlessness: Romans 7

STEP 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Romans 7:18

When Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, which contains the Biblical comparison to Step 1, he could have been talking to each of us who struggles with addiction and/or compulsive behaviors:

But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. O, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me for this life that is dominated by sin and death? Romans 7:23-24 (NLT)

There were so many times we promised to change. We really wanted to stop doing the things that were hurting us and those we loved. We were so miserable that we just wanted to be free from our addictions and compulsive behaviors, but just like Paul said, there is a power that makes us a slave to our sin and until we admit we are powerless over it, no true change can begin.

I don’t really understand it myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. Romans 7:15 & 19 (NLT)

These words written by Paul 2,000 years ago describe perfectly the unmanageable nature of our sin. Wanting to do what is good, but continuing to what is wrong and in the process, not understanding why we can’t fix it—why we can’t just stop. Until we admit we are powerless and our lives are unmanageable, we cannot move on to the next step and accept Christ’s saving grace.

Other Key Verses from Romans 7

When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds resulting in death. But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Romans 7:5-6 (NLT)

Examine Your Heart

  1. Why is there power in admitting powerlessness?
  2. In what ways were you a slave to sin? In what ways have you experienced freedom?


Dear God, most powerful creator of the universe, I am nothing without you. Time and again, I’ve proven I am weak to sin. I’ve tried on my own to do what is right and I’ve failed. I need Your help to keep my life and my actions focused on the good you have in store for me. Please be with me to move my focus from sin and place it on You. Amen.

4 Comments to Step 1: Paul Explains Powerlessness: Romans 7

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