CLINGING TO A COUNTERFEIT CROSS [1654bg]

The above is the title of a piece by J.P. Shelly, “Chapter 15, sin and the misinterpretation of Romans 7”, in “TRUTH ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE” which I reproduce here in part.

“When considering the topic of sin, the passage most often used to defend its pervasiveness in the Church is that of Romans 7:14-25. It is one of the most controversial and debated passages in Scripture. Is Paul speaking of a believer, an unbeliever, or something else entirely? The massive amount of material written on the subject is evidence of the extent of its significance in influencing one’s view of the Christian life. Emotions run high when debating this issue and the rigidity on both sides are dramatic, A.W. Pink states:

(View 1) “This moan, ‘O wretched man that I am,’ expresses the normal experience of the Christian, and any Christian who does not so moan is in an abnormal and unhealthy state spiritually. The man who does not utter this cry daily is either so out of communion with Christ, or so ignorant of the teachings of scripture, or so deceived about his actual condition, that he knows not the corruptions of his own heart and the abject failure of his own life. The one who is truly in communion with Christ, will…emit this groan…daily and hourly.”

On the other side of the issue Adam Clarke says:

(View 2) “It is difficult to conceive how the opinion could have crept into the church, or prevailed there, that the apostle speaks here of his regenerate state; and that what was, in such a state, true of himself, must be true of all others in the same state. This opinion has, most pitifully and most shamefully, not only lowered the standard of Christianity, but destroyed its influence and disgraced its character…. That all that is said in this chapter of the carnal man, sold under sin, did apply to Saul of Tarsus, no man can doubt: that what is here said can ever be with propriety applied to Paul the Apostle, who can believe? Of the former, all is natural; of the latter, all here said would be monstrous and absurd, if not blasphemous.”

Web link https://www.truthaccordingtoscripture.com/documents/books/counterfeit-cross/romans-7.php#.YIEbwB3iuUk

MY COMMENT ON THIS IS. These two views given of Romans 7 surely demonstrate the extreme degree of error involved in either the one or the other.

These two views seem to embrace fully and completely, the idea and therefore reality of, EITHER the absolute ACCEPTANCE of sin in the Christian life, or the absolute REJECTION of sin in the Christian life.

AS SUCH, they must represent the two views of EITHER the “mind of the flesh” OR, “the mind of the Spirit”.

WHICH IS WHICH?

The ‘mind of the flesh’ must surely seek to retain its “life”, its IDENTITY, by the continuation of its presence. The ‘mind of the Spirit’ must surely seek to destroy or severely disable any presence or identity of sin, just as Jesus did.

The question then is, “What is intended to be achieved by FAITH? The last part of the second view allocates BLASPHEMY to the first view, this being how serious this matter is.

BY FAITH, this sinful identity, this SELF, this “sin in the flesh” is intended to be put to death. Its power and identity has been killed on the cross, and by faith we ACQUIRE this same death. “Those who are his have crucified the flesh…”. They acquire Christ.

So the FIRST view is surely an expression of how this has failed to happen, and is continuing to fail to happen. It is an expression of defeat, allowing for continuation of both SIN and LAW, the one obtaining power from the other.

BY FAITH we leave the identity of “sinner” to join with Christ in His identity of Victor, Overcomer, sinless. This expression is found in John, “…he cannot sin, because he has been born of God”.

So here we surely have revealed to us how the mind of the flesh is determined at any cost to hang onto its sinful identity by refusing to submit or to be submitted to, the identity of CHRIST. Blasphemy indeed.

The FIRST view then, is a refusal and a reluctance to be in submission to Christ, and expresses the continuing dominance of the flesh over the identity of the person involved. Those of this first view then, are willingly in denial of the cross of Christ.

Christ in His life, separated the two natures, the spiritual from the natural, so that His identity was “IN” the Spiritual. We now do the same thing; only now we live in Him, in His identity, having rejected our natural identity in order to assume to ourselves HIS SPIRIT, now passed through the fire so we might gain, by faith, HIS VICTORY ALSO.

When we consider the fall of creation, the “opening of Pandora’s box”, the release of evil, the creation of the “Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” situation, and the horrific consequences that resulted in the monstrous fallen identity of mankind: Then the term BLASPHEMY in relation to the promulgation of view number one is surely not strong enough.

[We are reconciled by His physical body through death]

Joyful songs https://crossroman.wordpress.com/2021/04/09/joyful-songs-773ay/

We have been betrayed https://crossroman.wordpress.com/2021/06/08/we-have-been-betrayed-by-pastors-ministers-and-priests-1682b/

Romans 7 Does Not Describe Your Christian Experience

See also Bible Life Ministries https://biblelife.org/romans7.htm

FURTHER TO THE ISSUE OF THE “I”. Just a quick note to say that there is no mystery about Paul’s “I” at all. In amongst his historical dealings with the law, he comments that he of himself, I myself, “that is” and “in my flesh”, IN THE OLD NATURE dwells no good thing; “flesh” being his old nature which is what he is talking about in relation to the law. EVERYBODY is “of flesh”, even Jesus was, and the flesh in relation to the law, which is the whole context of Romans 7, will produce no good thing. So his “flesh” in relation to the LAW is a dead thing or situation, relationship (needing divorce from). Because he is “of” the flesh in this ongoing explanation about how sin through law kills us, he is reciting the experience as of one who is “in” the flesh, NOT of one who is “in” the Spirit, as he actually is. Paul’s story is about one who is “alive” to law, not “dead” to it. His “I” is where he sees or places his I-d-entity at the time.

.

CLINGING TO A COUNTERFEIT CROSS [1654bf]

The above is the title of a piece by J.P. Shelly, “Chapter 15, sin and the misinterpretation of Romans 7”, in “TRUTH ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE” which I reproduce here in part.

“When considering the topic of sin, the passage most often used to defend its pervasiveness in the Church is that of Romans 7:14-25. It is one of the most controversial and debated passages in Scripture. Is Paul speaking of a believer, an unbeliever, or something else entirely? The massive amount of material written on the subject is evidence of the extent of its significance in influencing one’s view of the Christian life. Emotions run high when debating this issue and the rigidity on both sides are dramatic, A.W. Pink states:

(View 1) “This moan, ‘O wretched man that I am,’ expresses the normal experience of the Christian, and any Christian who does not so moan is in an abnormal and unhealthy state spiritually. The man who does not utter this cry daily is either so out of communion with Christ, or so ignorant of the teachings of scripture, or so deceived about his actual condition, that he knows not the corruptions of his own heart and the abject failure of his own life. The one who is truly in communion with Christ, will…emit this groan…daily and hourly.”

On the other side of the issue Adam Clarke says:

(View 2) “It is difficult to conceive how the opinion could have crept into the church, or prevailed there, that the apostle speaks here of his regenerate state; and that what was, in such a state, true of himself, must be true of all others in the same state. This opinion has, most pitifully and most shamefully, not only lowered the standard of Christianity, but destroyed its influence and disgraced its character…. That all that is said in this chapter of the carnal man, sold under sin, did apply to Saul of Tarsus, no man can doubt: that what is here said can ever be with propriety applied to Paul the Apostle, who can believe? Of the former, all is natural; of the latter, all here said would be monstrous and absurd, if not blasphemous.”

Web link https://www.truthaccordingtoscripture.com/documents/books/counterfeit-cross/romans-7.php#.YIEbwB3iuUk

MY COMMENT ON THIS IS. These two views given of Romans 7 surely demonstrate the extreme degree of error involved in either the one or the other.

These two views seem to embrace fully and completely, the idea and therefore reality of, EITHER the absolute ACCEPTANCE of sin in the Christian life, or the absolute REJECTION of sin in the Christian life.

AS SUCH, they must represent the two views of EITHER the “mind of the flesh” OR, “the mind of the Spirit”.

WHICH IS WHICH?

The ‘mind of the flesh’ must surely seek to retain its “life”, its IDENTITY, by the continuation of its presence. The ‘mind of the Spirit’ must surely seek to destroy or severely disable any presence or identity of sin, just as Jesus did.

The question then is, “What is intended to be achieved by FAITH? The last part of the second view allocates BLASPHEMY to the first view, this being how serious this matter is.

BY FAITH, this sinful identity, this SELF, this “sin in the flesh” is intended to be put to death. Its power and identity has been killed on the cross, and by faith we ACQUIRE this same death. “Those who are his have crucified the flesh…”. They acquire Christ.

So the FIRST view is surely an expression of how this has failed to happen, and is continuing to fail to happen. It is an expression of defeat, allowing for continuation of both SIN and LAW, the one obtaining power from the other.

BY FAITH we leave the identity of “sinner” to join with Christ in His identity of Victor, Overcomer, sinless. This expression is found in John, “…he cannot sin, because he has been born of God”.

So here we surely have revealed to us how the mind of the flesh is determined at any cost to hang onto its sinful identity by refusing to submit or to be submitted to, the identity of CHRIST. Blasphemy indeed.

The FIRST view then, is a refusal and a reluctance to be in submission to Christ, and expresses the continuing dominance of the flesh over the identity of the person involved. Those of this first view then, are willingly in denial of the cross of Christ.

Christ in His life, separated the two natures, the spiritual from the natural, so that His identity was “IN” the Spiritual. We now do the same thing; only now we live in Him, in His identity, having rejected our natural identity in order to assume to ourselves HIS SPIRIT, now passed through the fire so we might gain, by faith, HIS VICTORY ALSO.

When we consider the fall of creation, the “opening of Pandora’s box”, the release of evil, the creation of the “Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” situation, and the horrific consequences that resulted in the monstrous fallen identity of mankind: Then the term BLASPHEMY in relation to the promulgation of view number one is surely not strong enough.

[We are reconciled by His physical body through death]

Joyful songs https://crossroman.wordpress.com/2021/04/09/joyful-songs-773ay/

We have been betrayed https://crossroman.wordpress.com/2021/06/08/we-have-been-betrayed-by-pastors-ministers-and-priests-1682b/

Romans 7 Does Not Describe Your Christian Experience

See also Bible Life Ministries https://biblelife.org/romans7.htm

FURTHER TO THE ISSUE OF THE “I”. Just a quick note to say that there is no mystery about Paul’s “I” at all. In amongst his historical dealings with the law, he comments that he of himself, I myself, “that is” and “in my flesh”, IN THE OLD NATURE dwells no good thing; “flesh” being his old nature which is what he is talking about in relation to the law. EVERYBODY is “of flesh”, even Jesus was, and the flesh in relation to the law, which is the whole context of Romans 7, will produce no good thing. So his “flesh” in relation to the LAW is a dead thing or situation, relationship (needing divorce from). Because he is “of” the flesh in this ongoing explanation about how sin through law kills us, he is reciting the experience as of one who is “in” the flesh, NOT of one who is “in” the Spirit, as he actually is. Paul’s story is about one who is “alive” to law, not “dead” to it. His “I” is where he sees or places his I-d-entity at the time.

.

ROMANS 7 FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF TEMPTATION [1874a]

I can only suggest people start looking at some of these things more seriously because the implications involved in this matter of just what the true definition of temptation may be, seem to presently lie beyond the scope of most theological thought.

So to Romans 7, where all the elements of such as definition of temptation seem to exist, seem to be present, as much as they are in any other part of scripture, and perhaps even more definitively so.

Originating in the garden of Eden of course, we have the ‘crooked’ serpent, who couldn’t lie straight in bed, which metaphorically inspires such word use as ‘deception’. Rom:7:11 “sin deceived me” and “through the commandment killed me” which draws on the metaphor of sin being the poison of that serpent. [Shades of Paul on Malta being bitten by the serpent but managing to shake it off into the fire of the Spirit].

Acceptable as a definition of temptation are the words “every man is tempted when by his own [evil] desire he is led and enticed and then when sin is fully grown, death…” or something like that. We see how Sapphira and co. were questioned as to “how is it that you have conceived this evil in your heart?” or some such question.

So in Romans 7 we see all of this played out and laid out in the scriptural verses used to describe this very same serpentine activity of SIN being used to describe the inner nature of MAN.

It is all there. When the commandment [law] came to Adam, he died. When the commandment [law] came to Paul, he ‘died’. 7:9 “And I was once alive apart from law; but when the COMMANDMENT came, sin became ALIVE, and I died; and this commandment , which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, DECEIVED me, and through it, killed me. [the temptation is inherent in the deception][but Jesus was not deceived]

7:5 “For while we were IN the flesh, the sinful PASSIONS, which were AROUSED by the Law, [commandment] were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.”

“PASSIONS AND DESIRES”. “Those who are his have put to death the FLESH, with its PASSIONS AND DESIRES.” (Galatians). Rom.7:8 “But sin [poison of the serpent] taking OPPORTUNITY [deceitful] through the commandment, produced in me coveting of EVERY KIND; for apart from the law sin is DEAD.”

Both sin and the serpent were the cause of more sinning in the wilderness for 40 years until the serpent was lifted up [dead] on the pole. “And I when I am lifted up will draw all men to me” said Jesus. “He became sin for us”.

So we see how the commandment, or the law, aroused sinful passions, sinful desires in us by stirring up the inner emotions associated with lusts and desires of the flesh. Then we are led by those desires to fully associate with sin and its activities, ultimately bringing about our death. We see in R7:15 that deceitfulness of sin causes confusion of mind, such that to clarify the logic of it requires an analytical mental process which then concludes that there is no answer to it; resulting in a wretchedness of captivity to it. “Who will set me free from THIS BODY OF DEATH? [the ‘law enlightened’ mind can recognise it but can do nothing about it][“without me you can do nothing” said Jesus]

So it is freedom from this body of death which is required, this body of death with its passions and desires which tempt us into sin. “Every man is tempted when BY HIS OWN DESIRE he is led and enticed…” “Sin in the flesh”.

So just why did/does the commandment or law bring about, provoke, the AROUSAL of sinful passions? We probably have to look to the proposition put forth by the serpent in the garden of Eden. The serpentine GUILE, the twisting and writhing of the thinking process when placed under the pressure or duress caused by deviating from God’s thought ‘process’ which put forth the proposition that to eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil would result in death.

Putting forth this command allowed for, provoked, NECESSITATED the INEVITABLE response of AROUSAL of a different response, of the OPPOSITE response [a death response] by virtue of the creation of a questioning of God’s proposition in counter measure to the statement they would die, because “to die” removes all possibility of man being able to conceive of or to create something autonomous, something of his own thought and thinking, by God putting forth the very proposition of the possibility of death, that a counter to death had to be instigated from within. AND it brought forth the possibility of death which had not previously been part of his psyche.

So the command stirred up the thinking process which then had to wander off in its own direction in order to create an appropriate response, but which response (and not less the thinking process itself) was in itself a deathly deviation from the flawless nature of God. 7:8 “But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind, for apart from the law, SIN IS DEAD.”

“…and sin, when it is full grown, DEATH…” This comes from James 1:13 onwards.

So Romans 7 is describing the whole of the sin nature progression from the instigation of temptation by law to its operation in man and the resultant slavery to itself and to its own death. This death not being removed until Romans chapter 8.

JAMES 1:13 “Let no one say when he is tempted “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust [desire]. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death”.

[Intensely interesting that temptation is not named as such in Romans 7 and devil is not mentioned as such in James 1:13]

ROMANS 7 FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF TEMPTATION [1874]

I can only suggest people start looking at some of these things more seriously because the implications involved in this matter of just what the true definition of temptation may be, seem to presently lie beyond the scope of most theological thought.

So to Romans 7, where all the elements of such as definition of temptation seem to exist, seem to be present, as much as they are in any other part of scripture, and perhaps even more definitively so.

Originating in the garden of Eden of course, we have the ‘crooked’ serpent, who couldn’t lie straight in bed, which metaphorically inspires such word use as ‘deception’. Rom:7:11 “sin deceived me” and “through the commandment killed me” which draws on the metaphor of sin being the poison of that serpent. [Shades of Paul on Malta being bitten by the serpent but managing to shake it off into the fire of the Spirit].

Acceptable as a definition of temptation are the words “every man is tempted when by his own [evil] desire he is led and enticed and then when sin is fully grown, death…” or something like that. We see how Sapphira and co. were questioned as to “how is it that you have conceived this evil in your heart?” or some such question.

So in Romans 7 we see all of this played out and laid out in the scriptural verses used to describe this very same serpentine activity of SIN being used to describe the inner nature of MAN.

It is all there. When the commandment [law] came to Adam, he died. When the commandment [law] came to Paul, he ‘died’. 7:9 “And I was once alive apart from law; but when the COMMANDMENT came, sin became ALIVE, and I died; and this commandment , which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, DECEIVED me, and through it, killed me. [the temptation is inherent in the deception][but Jesus was not deceived]

7:5 “For while we were IN the flesh, the sinful PASSIONS, which were AROUSED by the Law, [commandment] were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.”

“PASSIONS AND DESIRES”. “Those who are his have put to death the FLESH, with its PASSIONS AND DESIRES.” (Galatians). Rom.7:8 “But sin [poison of the serpent] taking OPPORTUNITY [deceitful] through the commandment, produced in me coveting of EVERY KIND; for apart from the law sin is DEAD.”

Both sin and the serpent were the cause of more sinning in the wilderness for 40 years until the serpent was lifted up [dead] on the pole. “And I when I am lifted up will draw all men to me” said Jesus. “He became sin for us”.

So we see how the commandment, or the law, aroused sinful passions, sinful desires in us by stirring up the inner emotions associated with lusts and desires of the flesh. Then we are led by those desires to fully associate with sin and its activities, ultimately bringing about our death. We see in R7:15 that deceitfulness of sin causes confusion of mind, such that to clarify the logic of it requires an analytical mental process which then concludes that there is no answer to it; resulting in a wretchedness of captivity to it. “Who will set me free from THIS BODY OF DEATH? [the ‘law enlightened’ mind can recognise it but can do nothing about it][“without me you can do nothing” said Jesus]

So it is freedom from this body of death which is required, this body of death with its passions and desires which tempt us into sin. “Every man is tempted when BY HIS OWN DESIRE he is led and enticed…” “Sin in the flesh”.

So just why did/does the commandment or law bring about, provoke, the AROUSAL of sinful passions? We probably have to look to the proposition put forth by the serpent in the garden of Eden. The serpentine GUILE, the twisting and writhing of the thinking process when placed under the pressure or duress caused by deviating from God’s thought ‘process’ which put forth the proposition that to eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil would result in death.

Putting forth this command allowed for, provoked, NECESSITATED the INEVITABLE response of AROUSAL of a different response, of the OPPOSITE response [a death response] by virtue of the creation of a questioning of God’s proposition in counter measure to the statement they would die, because “to die” removes all possibility of man being able to conceive of or to create something autonomous, something of his own thought and thinking, by God putting forth the very proposition of the possibility of death, that a counter to death had to be instigated from within. AND it brought forth the possibility of death which had not previously been part of his psyche.

So the command stirred up the thinking process which then had to wander off in its own direction in order to create an appropriate response, but which response (and not less the thinking process itself) was in itself a deathly deviation from the flawless nature of God. 7:8 “But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind, for apart from the law, SIN IS DEAD.”

“…and sin, when it is full grown, DEATH…” This comes from James 1:13 onwards.

So Romans 7 is describing the whole of the sin nature progression from the instigation of temptation by law to its operation in man and the resultant slavery to itself and to its own death. This death not being removed until Romans chapter 8.

JAMES 1:13 “Let no one say when he is tempted “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust [desire]. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death”.

[Intensely interesting that temptation is not named as such in Romans 7 and devil is not mentioned as such in James 1:13]

ROMANS 7 FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF BONDAGE [1873]

Romans 6:6 speaks about being no longer SLAVES to sin. 6:7 says we have been FREED from sin. 6:14 For sin shall not be MASTER over you. 6:16 SLAVES of sin.6:17 SLAVES of sin. 6:18 FREED from sin. 6:20 SLAVES of sin. 6:22 FREED from sin. 6:23 The WAGES of sin is death.

Rom.7:2 BOUND by law, RELEASED from the law. 7:3 FREE from the law. 7:6 RELEASED from the law. 7:14 SOLD Into BONDAGE to sin. 7:23 A PRISONER of the law of sin.

7:24 FREEDOM?

BOUGHT with a price, the BLOOD of Jesus. [1 Cor. 6:20]

So all the above terminology relative to BONDAGE to law and sin which totally describes the man of Romans 7, is only dispelled once he has been BOUGHT back from out of that bondage to law flesh sin death, and the description of this does not occur until Romans 8.

Romans 8:2 “For the law of the Spirit of life has SET YOU FREE from the law of sin and of death”.

From Rom.7:7 onwards the description is all about what happens to a man under law, how sin in the flesh is empowered to over-ride the best desires and ambitions of his mind and render him powerless to do good, he does only the evil which his flesh under law is empowered to do.

There is no Jesus* in Romans 7, just as He said, “Without me you can do nothing” and Romans 7 is the demonstration of the truth of that statement, leaving him as a “Wretched man” until Romans 8:1,2 comes into the action.

[If in 7:24 he is seeking release from what he has just described as the working of his body of death, and he then says that Jesus is the answer, this then means that Jesus who was the answer to his problem, was not present DURING the problem, which is why it, the problem, existed in the first place.]

*[Jesus is mentioned as BEING the answer, but is Himself not interwoven in, is not a part of, the explanation]

ROMANS 7 FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF SPIRIT [1872]

We know of only two spirits here, the one being that of Paul but which is never described here as “spirit”, and the other being that of God. Spirit is the essence, the core centre of an entity, is the driving force and (singular) nature of the being himself.

“Spirit” gets only ONE mention in Romans 7, which is indicative of the whole chapter’s “fleshly” nature. That one time occurrence is in 7:6 which is a summation of the gospel having been described to those people of chapter 6, which is now to be built upon from 7:7 onwards to serve as an explanation, mainly to the Jewish converts, (those “who know the law”) as an explanation of just why the covenant of old had to be REPLACED with a new one.

So because this whole chapter is about the production of sin, through the flesh, empowered by law; there is only this one reference to The Spirit of God at all, being that chapter 7 is the very opposite, that of law flesh sin death. And this ONE reference of 7:6 is really the conclusion to chapter 6 where the elements of the gospel had just been explained, and how the Jews were included also in this predominately gentile? new covenant arrangement, in the very first verse 7:1 about law only being in force until there is a death of one party to it.

The Jewish members of the congregation, then having been singled out for a more intense and complete explanation of why the covenant had to change (HAD CHANGED) means that verse 4 says they had been MADE TO DIE through the body of Christ and so were included in this new covenant of grace and life in the Spirit (7:4-6). Verse 6 concludes the matter of the proclamation of the gospel effect, and verse 7 begins Paul’s explanation mainly for their benefit. He is going to tell them exactly why that covenant change was necessary, and why it and they needed to be ‘put to death’ with the body of Christ.

7:6 This was the statement about the change of covenants and that it was now by the Spirit [that appeared at Pentecost] they were to serve God and NOT in the “oldness of the letter” (of the law).

From 7:7 forward Paul then goes on to explain the failure of the law to enable and assist the production of righteousness because of its inhibiting factor of the communication of guilt, which only condemns us. The more the righteousness of the law is explained, the more condemnation by it we experience.

The active ingredients are law flesh sin death, and Paul’s MIND, but NOT ever Spirit. The conflict here is NOT between Spirit and flesh, as it is in Galatians, but is between Paul’s MIND and his flesh, it is this seemingly never ending conflict which exists in mankind regardless of the degree of guilt felt or appreciated. That felt guilt depends on conscience levels, so that there is a verse “When the gentiles, who DON’T have the law, DO BY NATURE what the law REQUIRES*, they show they are a law unto themselves..”

In Galatians the conflict is between the Spirit and the flesh, in which contest the Spirit is superior (the power is the Spirit). But in R7 the contest is NOT between Spirit and flesh, but MIND and flesh (sin), and FLESH (SIN) is superior (the power is the law).

In Galatians Paul is talking to believers about the weakness of the flesh which is coming about because they are being influenced by LAW, which they should not allow to be happening; whereas in Romans 7 Paul is talking about that very same weakness in them WHEN THEY WERE UNDER THE LAW before they became believers, using his own story as an example of that.

Christians ARE NOT UNDER THE LAW. They are under grace, IN the Spirit, NOT “IN” the “flesh”. Those OF the flesh [all living creatures][are subject to the law of sin and death] may be in man’s case either OF the flesh and NOT in the Spirit, but IN the flesh: OR OF the flesh but IN the SPIRIT. The gospel provides man with that choice which he never before Jesus could have.

There is no Spirit or His victory in Romans 7. There is only sin and our defeat under law.

*[ 8:4 “In order that the REQUIREMENT of the law might be fulfilled in us…”][from our new nature]

ROMANS 7 FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF IDENTITY [1871]

Jesus’s strength lay in His identity, in His knowledge and conviction of who He was. Conversely, our weakness lies in our lack of knowledge of our identity in anything other than our basic human nature, “flesh”. We are ‘in bondage to those who by nature are not gods’. Our identity lies in our familiarity and identification with, that with which we interact on a daily basis, being ourselves and others in the natural world. [from now on we consider no man after the flesh, said Paul commenting after the salvation change]

Our identification with the naturalness of our “sinful flesh” needs to be changed to identification with Jesus and His transformation of sinful flesh to spiritual “flesh”. From mortality to immortality, by faith in Him and His resurrection (“the first resurrection”).

So commonly, speculation arises about Paul’s identity in Romans 7, about the nature and identity of the “I” which he refers to. Well plainly and simply he is speaking of himself, of his perceived identity of himself, of who he feels himself to be, of his sense of being, of existing, ID or whatever. (ID-entity). That which he senses as himself as an entity (I think, therefore I am?).

WHO AM I? Well, who do you think you are? [“Who do men say that I am?”]

Paul finds himself located within certain circumstances and feelings within the focus of which, he finds his identity. So Paul’s “I” is connected to events and times, the interpretation of these leading to the manipulation of the facts by those unable to see the simple truth of what he is saying.

The times and circumstances of his “I” are unfolding as he progresses through past events right up to verse 21, where he makes a conclusion relevant to that time and circumstance whose context is given in the next verse 22, “I joyfully concur with the law…” (in a nominated part of me).

BUT (verse 23) I see my mind in conflict with my body, which TAKES ME PRISONER TO THE LAW OF SIN WHICH IS IN the workings of my body and outworks from it, through it.

WRETCHED MAN that “I” AM. So Paul, at this stage of his teaching, has arrived at a position which is based on his journey of explanation about the law from verse 7 onward. He is speaking of the end net result of being under the law (other than actual physical death) he is SPIRITUALLY DEAD as was stated in verses 9, 10 and 11. Killed by sin empowered by the law.

At every stage he has progressed through his journey of explanation of why the law covenant had to be changed, because it empowered sin in our natural bodies. His “I” is progressive in understanding and revelation as his experience grows and drags him through the web and complexities of the sin nature as it behaves under law, and how he in his “observer” position eventually has to stand back and observe how he is completely powerless within the given circumstance and scenario of law flesh sin death. Wretched man indeed!

Paul has discovered that He, his “I” is at odds with his natural born self, his NATURAL “I” that was , before his embarkation on the journey of law. And he has discovered that he is powerless to alter, to change this outcome, that he is locked into a “body of death” without any prospect of release from its power to produce sin in him and from him. His “I” because of knowledge of right and wrong by the law has conceded to the position of ongoing death. He is a conflicted person trapped and in conflict within himself AS IS ALL HUMANITY UNLESS SOMETHING CHANGED.

And something did change, the covenant with God changed from the old to the new. Jesus ‘paid for’ our body of death with HIS body of death. He overcame sin in the flesh and BECAME A LIFE GIVING SPIRIT.

So Paul’s closing statement, his conclusion to his investigation of flesh under law, which began at verse 7, is that natural man under law is in a conflicted state. That within him as a whole person, mind and body, lie two laws, but only one with which he identifies, and the other with which he disowns. “It is not “I” but sin that dwells IN ME”. Although confessing that he as a whole creature is responsible for the sin that proceeds from himself, he explains that there are two operative laws within him. The one of his mind which agrees with God’s law and seeks to truly ‘serve’ it, but the other, the ‘law of sin’ which his natural nature serves and which he himself is brought into servitude to. His mind is powerless before the law empowered flesh that is his natural human nature.

These two “laws” which sit within him, waiting for some stimulus to come along to provoke them into action, are “The law of his mind” and “the law of sin”. Paul’s “I” NOW resides within the law of his mind, because of polarisation by the law, and the law of sin resides in Paul’s naturalness of nature, chiefly involved with his body and its functions.

These are the two laws, BUT ONLY ONE OF THEM IS EMPOWERED TO OPERATE AND OVERCOME THE OTHER. The law of sin wins every time! because LAW lends its power of authority over the dissention of his mind from this regime of sin and death, and SIN WINS. This is the enigma which precedes Romans chapter 8 which now enters into the argument and takes it over, completely changing the balance of power contained in Romans 7, by “The LAW of the Spirit of life SETTING YOU FREE from the LAW of SIN and DEATH.

Paul’s identity as one who wants to serve righteousness is now released, is freed from, that “other law” of ‘sin in his flesh’, into servitude to Christ.

ROMANS 7 FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF LAW [1869]

The perspective of law would be what I would call the “normal” perspective, that law is the predominant subject matter. The previous post though is probably closer to the heart of the subject, that being flesh. But since law is the subject of what the covenant was changed FROM, then it is highly prioritised in Paul’s writings because externally his major struggle was between these two opposing views of law and grace because law is prevalent not only as the Mosaic religion, but mainly as the predominant factor in all people in terms of their psychology. Law sets the standards of morality and whether those laws are external or internal makes no difference. Of course the authority behind those laws may vary but Christian culture tends to recognise the Mosaic law as being the general reference for anything of a law nature.

Now Romans 8:3 says that the law was inadequate to the task of creating righteousness. That it could do nothing to bring about righteousness because of the weakness of the flesh. Paul says that though the law itself was good, the ministry of it resulted in condemnation, and it was time for the ministry of condemnation to go, and for the ministry of reconciliation to take its place.

The demonstration of this failure of law to produce righteousness is to be found in Romans 7, where its action as the ministry of death is demonstrated by Paul’s example of his own historical experiences, and his own familiarity with the operation and functions of indwelling sin nature in his own body. In its own right, the law was doing what it was meant to do, to bring to the awareness of mankind their degree of separation from God, that existed.

But when the right time arrived, God sent Jesus to deal with the law on our behalf, to fulfill it and replace its covenant with another, with the covenant of that fulfillment having taken place in the body of Jesus, the resultant Spirit that He became was now to be the guiding force behind all morality from henceforth, and the very means by which said morality could be instituted and instrumented.

His dealing with the law was actually the matter of Him dealing with death, with the indwelling death that all of “flesh” begins with, until that basic flesh nature is changed to a new nature in vast and exceeding contrast to the old. “Go now and sin no more” were Jesus’ words to the sinful woman. There is a great change to take place, so great that it is called “crossing over from death to life”. And “being born AGAIN”, to the astonishment of the hearer who replied “How can a man enter again into his mother’s womb…” which demonstrates the degree of lack of spiritual understanding of such metaphors in biblical times.

It was necessary for the true nature of God to be revealed in His full capacity, not just as some lawgiver who demanded certain behaviours from us and then handed out penalties when we failed. Now He was to prove the fulness of His nature in terms of the loving forgiveness of a Father who completely supplied every need of ours to be filled with His own goodness, character, nature, and Spirit. to fulfill the creation, to make the old new and to guarantee those of faith a place in His “kingdom”, in His heart.

Jesus the Son took away our sin and dealt with it at His own tremendous cost, such was and is the price of creation, in which we share; both in the creation and in the cost of it as we share Christ’s burdens in like manner as Himself, but only in terms of absorbing His victory over this creative pain, only in the terms of responding to the truth of His love for us, proven and established in that Spirit given freely at Pentecost, His own Spirit now available to us.

[There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the Law of sin and of death. FOR WHAT THE LAW COULD NOT DO...]

ROMANS 7 FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF FLESH [1868]

Romans 7 is about the weakness of the flesh, of our natural human born of a woman flesh and blood nature, when placed under the legal and moral demands of some law or authority. We were basically made like the animals, but with a higher and far greater sense of evaluation of the competing demands of self satisfaction and the need to appease others with due regard for their own needs, to find a balance of operation and outlook whereby one’s own self is best served by the principle of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”, IE of mutual benefit.

This of course can only be arranged within groups of people who accept a common aim or common living conditions. This provides boundaries between groups who themselves then embark on competitive enterprises by which to gain the advantage of the one over the other. So these groups then may come again to mutually beneficial conditions, albeit with a degree of compromise involved.

So rules and laws may exist in these groups and between groups themselves. Where conflict emerges between either individuals in a group, or between groups themselves, raw elements of the human existence may emerge and blood may be shed, until such time as the conflict ends either by the overpowering of the one, or by an agreement met about setting conditions whereby peace returns once more to the scenario.

Where GOD is recognised as having implemented such rules, it falls to men to implement them. This is fine within the concept of a primitive people, but with emerging consciousness of rights and wrongs, it becomes outgrown and something of higher value is required.

Such rules and laws are inadequate to improve the lot of such people, they simply point out the deficiencies and failings of such a social environment. A new and ultimate law or rule needs to be established whereby all parties remain permanently in a state of resolution, having contained the resolution of internal conflict internally without spilling out into the realm and abode of others such as to “disturb the peace”.

Enter Jesus to deal with the matter by providing an ultimate destination and the means by which to get there, including the dispelling of the consciousness of sin and death by raising that consciousness to its highest level while simultaneously providing the ultimate solution to it’s existence. Because it has been ultimately dealt with, its value has also been raised to the ultimate level of satisfaction, which is LOVE.

Condemning law serves the purpose of raising one’s awareness of wrongness to the highest level (“Wretched man that I am”) before matching that awareness with the solution of removing the problem by paying the cost of its removal, yet necessitating the awareness of that payment as being essential to the process of its removal. So the condemnation exits as the fullness of appreciation of it, enters. To be true to the conditions, to the “contract”, the truth of the matter has to be established in one’s consciousness so that the effect is that of one’s own “flesh” being also crucified with Him, with His flesh. To be at one with the condition, the person has to be at one with Jesus, by belief.

In Romans 7 Paul ‘in his flesh’ is failing under law which provokes further failing, and ultimately consciousness of PERFECT FAILURE. He of course is telling the story as being “of flesh” and consequently “in flesh” but who himself at the time was not in flesh but in the Spirit. “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit if the Spirit of God dwells in you” – “but if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”

Romans 8:3 “For what THE LAW COULD NOT DO” – “Weak as it (the law) was through the flesh, GOD DID – sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He CONDEMNED sin in the flesh, 4 IN ORDER (so that) the REQUIREMENT of the Law might be FULFILLED IN US who DO NOT walk according to the flesh, but (walk) according to the Spirit.”

Paul’s description in Romans 7 is that of one “walking according to the flesh”, [under the law] NOT “walking according to the Spirit”. It is a description of “this body of death” and its moral failure.

[Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing”][7:18 “…nothing good dwells in me…THAT IS TO SAY, IN MY FLESH…” I wish, but I can do nothing]

CLINGING TO A COUNTERFEIT CROSS [1654be]

The above is the title of a piece by J.P. Shelly, “Chapter 15, sin and the misinterpretation of Romans 7”, in “TRUTH ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE” which I reproduce here in part.

“When considering the topic of sin, the passage most often used to defend its pervasiveness in the Church is that of Romans 7:14-25. It is one of the most controversial and debated passages in Scripture. Is Paul speaking of a believer, an unbeliever, or something else entirely? The massive amount of material written on the subject is evidence of the extent of its significance in influencing one’s view of the Christian life. Emotions run high when debating this issue and the rigidity on both sides are dramatic, A.W. Pink states:

(View 1) “This moan, ‘O wretched man that I am,’ expresses the normal experience of the Christian, and any Christian who does not so moan is in an abnormal and unhealthy state spiritually. The man who does not utter this cry daily is either so out of communion with Christ, or so ignorant of the teachings of scripture, or so deceived about his actual condition, that he knows not the corruptions of his own heart and the abject failure of his own life. The one who is truly in communion with Christ, will…emit this groan…daily and hourly.”

On the other side of the issue Adam Clarke says:

(View 2) “It is difficult to conceive how the opinion could have crept into the church, or prevailed there, that the apostle speaks here of his regenerate state; and that what was, in such a state, true of himself, must be true of all others in the same state. This opinion has, most pitifully and most shamefully, not only lowered the standard of Christianity, but destroyed its influence and disgraced its character…. That all that is said in this chapter of the carnal man, sold under sin, did apply to Saul of Tarsus, no man can doubt: that what is here said can ever be with propriety applied to Paul the Apostle, who can believe? Of the former, all is natural; of the latter, all here said would be monstrous and absurd, if not blasphemous.”

Web link https://www.truthaccordingtoscripture.com/documents/books/counterfeit-cross/romans-7.php#.YIEbwB3iuUk

MY COMMENT ON THIS IS. These two views given of Romans 7 surely demonstrate the extreme degree of error involved in either the one or the other.

These two views seem to embrace fully and completely, the idea and therefore reality of, EITHER the absolute ACCEPTANCE of sin in the Christian life, or the absolute REJECTION of sin in the Christian life.

AS SUCH, they must represent the two views of EITHER the “mind of the flesh” OR, “the mind of the Spirit”.

WHICH IS WHICH?

The ‘mind of the flesh’ must surely seek to retain its “life”, its IDENTITY, by the continuation of its presence. The ‘mind of the Spirit’ must surely seek to destroy or severely disable any presence or identity of sin, just as Jesus did.

The question then is, “What is intended to be achieved by FAITH? The last part of the second view allocates BLASPHEMY to the first view, this being how serious this matter is.

BY FAITH, this sinful identity, this SELF, this “sin in the flesh” is intended to be put to death. Its power and identity has been killed on the cross, and by faith we ACQUIRE this same death. “Those who are his have crucified the flesh…”. They acquire Christ.

So the FIRST view is surely an expression of how this has failed to happen, and is continuing to fail to happen. It is an expression of defeat, allowing for continuation of both SIN and LAW, the one obtaining power from the other.

BY FAITH we leave the identity of “sinner” to join with Christ in His identity of Victor, Overcomer, sinless. This expression is found in John, “…he cannot sin, because he has been born of God”.

So here we surely have revealed to us how the mind of the flesh is determined at any cost to hang onto its sinful identity by refusing to submit or to be submitted to, the identity of CHRIST. Blasphemy indeed.

The FIRST view then, is a refusal and a reluctance to be in submission to Christ, and expresses the continuing dominance of the flesh over the identity of the person involved. Those of this first view then, are willingly in denial of the cross of Christ.

Christ in His life, separated the two natures, the spiritual from the natural, so that His identity was “IN” the Spiritual. We now do the same thing; only now we live in Him, in His identity, having rejected our natural identity in order to assume to ourselves HIS SPIRIT, now passed through the fire so we might gain, by faith, HIS VICTORY ALSO.

When we consider the fall of creation, the “opening of Pandora’s box”, the release of evil, the creation of the “Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” situation, and the horrific consequences that resulted in the monstrous fallen identity of mankind: Then the term BLASPHEMY in relation to the promulgation of view number one is surely not strong enough.

[We are reconciled by His physical body through death]

Joyful songs https://crossroman.wordpress.com/2021/04/09/joyful-songs-773ay/

We have been betrayed https://crossroman.wordpress.com/2021/06/08/we-have-been-betrayed-by-pastors-ministers-and-priests-1682b/

Romans 7 Does Not Describe Your Christian Experience

See also Bible Life Ministries https://biblelife.org/romans7.htm

FURTHER TO THE ISSUE OF THE “I”. Just a quick note to say that there is no mystery about Paul’s “I” at all. In amongst his historical dealings with the law, he comments that he of himself, I myself, “that is” and “in my flesh”, IN THE OLD NATURE dwells no good thing; “flesh” being his old nature which is what he is talking about in relation to the law. EVERYBODY is “of flesh”, even Jesus was, and the flesh in relation to the law, which is the whole context of Romans 7, will produce no good thing. So his “flesh” in relation to the LAW is a dead thing or situation, relationship (needing divorce from). Because he is “of” the flesh in this ongoing explanation about how sin through law kills us, he is reciting the experience as of one who is “in” the flesh, NOT of one who is “in” the Spirit, as he actually is. Paul’s story is about one who is “alive” to law, not “dead” to it.

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