A COMPANY OF SINNERS [1638a]

A local minister likes to call the church “A company of sinners”. I don’t believe this is scriptural, especially considering the misconception over Romans chapter 7 where similar views promote the idea that Paul in Romans 7 was speaking as a Christian, that this absolutely negative and defeated experience is that of the Christian, which is completely wrong.

The woman caught in adultery was told by Jesus that she was not condemned, but to “go and sin no more”. The whole biblical stance is wrapped up around the notion of sin, and so there also is the notion of NOT sinning. After all, to have faith in Jesus is to bring a person to the end result where they leave their former lives of sin, to become those with new lives where sin becomes something more remote from their present experience compared to their prior experience.

Now certainly we know that the basis of it all is that “natural man” is said to be DEAD “in sin”, whereas the new man is said to be ALIVE in Christ, in the Spirit. Otherwise what would be the point of pitting the “works of the flesh” against “The fruit of the Spirit”?

Under the old covenant the clarity of it was that if you broke the law, you had “sinned”, and needed to go to the priest every so often to ‘confess the sin’ and to obtain forgiveness by means of sacrificing a dove or a sheep or a bull. These sacrifices were to absolve oneself from this sin and the guilt of it.

Romans 6:12 “Do not let sin reign…” 6:14 “sin shall not be master over you…” 16 You are a slave to either sin or obedience. 18 Having been FREED from sin. 20 WHEN you were slaves to sin. 22 But now having been freed from sin and ENSLAVED to righteousness, the result is sanctification resulting in eternal life.

8:14 “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God”. 8:13 “…for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

IF THE RIGHTEOUS ARE SCARCELY SAVED, WHERE WILL THE SINNER STAND?

If there is no visible difference between the saint and the sinner, why bother at all? To identify with sinners on the basis of being one yourself is surely a strange way to go about the process of introducing others to the “benefits” of being a Christian. Why then have a list of things which are “sins” at all?

And all of this seems to be to justify this wrong view of Romans 7 that Christians are simply those who continue to be weak in the flesh as depicted by the error of misunderstanding Paul’s apparent behaviour, which though being the result of one being under the law, they claim to be that of one regenerated in Christ.

The benefit of the Christian life is based on the overturning of a legalistic apprehension of the “law”, and an apprehension of the new life based on the fact that the law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Having been set free from death (sin), you now freely serve LIFE.

SIN AND DEATH resulted from being under the law, righteousness and life come from being in Christ. To call Christians, to call the church, “a company of sinners”, is to use language that only the enemy might use. It is false and certainly unbiblical, something you should not expect from a Christian minister.

A COMPANY OF SINNERS [1638]

A local minister likes to call the church “A company of sinners”. I don’t believe this is scriptural, especially considering the misconception over Romans chapter 7 where similar views promote the idea that Paul in Romans 7 was speaking as a Christian, that this absolutely negative and defeated experience is that of the Christian, which is completely wrong.

The woman caught in adultery was told by Jesus that she was not condemned, but to “go and sin no more”. The whole biblical stance is wrapped up around the notion of sin, and so there also is the notion of NOT sinning. After all, to have faith in Jesus is to bring a person to the end result where they leave their former lives of sin, to become those with new lives where sin becomes something more remote from their present experience compared to their prior experience.

Now certainly we know that the basis of it all is that “natural man” is said to be DEAD “in sin”, whereas the new man is said to be ALIVE in Christ, in the Spirit. Otherwise what would be the point of pitting the “works of the flesh” against “The fruit of the Spirit”?

Under the old covenant the clarity of it was that if you broke the law, you had “sinned”, and needed to go to the priest every so often to ‘confess the sin’ and to obtain forgiveness by means of sacrificing a dove or a sheep or a bull. These sacrifices were to absolve oneself from this sin and the guilt of it.

Romans 6:12 “Do not let sin reign…” 6:14 “sin shall not be master over you…” 16 You are a slave to either sin or obedience. 18 Having been FREED from sin. 20 WHEN you were slaves to sin. 22 But now having been freed from sin and ENSLAVED to righteousness, the result is sanctification resulting in eternal life.

8:14 “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God”. 8:13 “…for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

IF THE RIGHTEOUS ARE SCARCELY SAVED, WHERE WILL THE SINNER STAND?

If there is no visible difference between the saint and the sinner, why bother at all? To identify with sinners on the basis of being one yourself is surely a strange way to go about the process of introducing others to the “benefits” of being a Christian. Why then have a list of things which are “sins” at all?

And all of this seems to be to justify this wrong view of Romans 7 that Christians are simply those who continue to be weak in the flesh as depicted by the error of misunderstanding Paul’s apparent behaviour, which though being the result of one being under the law, they claim to be that of one regenerated in Christ.

The benefit of the Christian life is based on the overturning of a legalistic apprehension of the “law”, and an apprehension of the new life based on the fact that the law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Having been set free from death (sin), you now freely serve LIFE.

SIN AND DEATH resulted from being under the law, righteousness and life come from being in Christ. To call Christians, to call the church, “a company of sinners”, is to use language that only the enemy might use. It is false and certainly unbiblical, something you should not expect from a Christian minister.

PAUL WAS ENSLAVED TO SIN [1622a]

Romans 7:23. “…making me a prisoner of the law of sin…” 7:24. “Who will free me…” Romans 6:20 says “For WHEN YOU WERE slaves to sin…” Romans 7:5 says “For WHILE WE WERE…[slaves to sin]…[in death](condemned)…” (under law). Romans 7:6 says “…we have been RELEASED…” [from the law of sin] Romans 6:17 says “…THOUGH YOU WERE slaves to sin…” AND 6:18 and 6:22 says “AND HAVING BEEN freed from sin...”

A slave cannot do as he wants, his will is in captivity to his master’s will, he must do what he is told to do. And so we read in 7 ‘the good that I WILL to do, I cannot do, it is the evil I do not will to do which results’. Sin is his master, for sin effectively “killed” him [7:11] and took over possession of his body, his mind and his person. He was sold as a slave to sin. 7:14 ‘flesh’ [Paul] is that which had been “…SOLD into bondage to sin.” [Jesus said that the one who sinned was a slave to sin. After FREEING the woman, (from [lawful] condemnation) He also said now go and sin no more.]

This was the problem of being under the law, which problem was solved by Jesus having BOUGHT us back out of this slavery with His blood. [You do not own yourself, you were bought with a price].

But though all this has been explained in chapter 6, Paul then demonstrates the reality of CAPTIVITY to the law of sin in chapter 7, and not seeing his release from captivity to his duality of nature until Romans 8:2. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from THE LAW of sin and of death”.

[Romans 6:6 “Knowing this, that our old self WAS crucified WITH HIM, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we no longer should be slaves to sin; 6:7 for he who HAS DIED is freed from sin”.]

[You/we HAVE BEEN RECONCILED to God by Christ’s physical body through death] [Now since we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him].[One died for all, therefore ALL died].

[In Romans 7 there is absolutely no spiritual liberation whatsoever, Paul is in total captivity to THE LAW of sin.]

PAUL WAS ENSLAVED TO SIN [1622]

Romans 7:23. “…making me a prisoner of the law of sin…” 7:24. “Who will free me…” Romans 6:20 says “For WHEN YOU WERE slaves to sin…” Romans 7:5 says “For WHILE WE WERE…[slaves to sin]…[in death](condemned)…” (under law). Romans 7:6 says “…we have been RELEASED…” [from the law of sin] Romans 6:17 says “…THOUGH YOU WERE slaves to sin…” AND 6:18 and 6:22 says “AND HAVING BEEN freed from sin...”

A slave cannot do as he wants, his will is in captivity to his master’s will, he must do what he is told to do. And so we read in 7 ‘the good that I WILL to do, I cannot do, it is the evil I do not will to do which results’. Sin is his master, for sin effectively “killed” him [7:11] and took over possession of his body, his mind and his person. He was sold as a slave to sin. 7:14 ‘flesh’ [Paul] is that which had been “…SOLD into bondage to sin.” [Jesus said that the one who sinned was a slave to sin. After FREEING the woman, (from [lawful] condemnation) He also said now go and sin no more.]

This was the problem of being under the law, which problem was solved by Jesus having BOUGHT us back out of this slavery with His blood. [You do not own yourself, you were bought with a price].

But though all this has been explained in chapter 6, Paul then demonstrates the reality of CAPTIVITY to the law of sin in chapter 7, and not seeing his release from captivity to his duality of nature until Romans 8:2. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from THE LAW of sin and of death”.

[Romans 6:6 “Knowing this, that our old self WAS crucified WITH HIM, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we no longer should be slaves to sin; 6:7 for he who HAS DIED is freed from sin”.]

[You/we HAVE BEEN RECONCILED to God by Christ’s physical body through death] [Now since we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him].[One died for all, therefore ALL died].

[In Romans 7 there is absolutely no spiritual liberation whatsoever, Paul is in total captivity to THE LAW of sin.]

A FURTHER SYNOPSIS OF ROMANS 7 ISSUES [1501a]

Rom7 verses 5 and 6 plainly state the two aspects in play – 5 says that ‘while we were in the flesh..sinful passions..aroused by law..at work in the members of our body..death.’

This situation plainly equates to Rom.7

Verse 6 says “but now” which equates to Rom 8:1 “therefore now” that gives release from the law that bound us and sees us serving in the Spirit. We could mention also 7:4 ‘you were made to die to the law’.

So verse 5 is one under law and therefore in the flesh, [under law] and 6 is one released from law and in the Spirit.

That is the crux of the matter. Once they were in the flesh, then they were in the Spirit.

The subject matter from verse 7 onwards becomes all about the law, and how the man of flesh relates to the condition of captivity to sin under this law.

Having described how the law empowers sin, the analysis finally approaches the subject of release from this captivity to sin death law flesh in verse 24. Who is going to fix this? Who will set me free from this body of death, empowered by law?

His name is Jesus, thank God!

What then is the final conclusion to this matter of being in flesh and subject to law sin and death?

It is that simultaneously while in this situation, on my own and apart from Jesus or the Spirit; that although my mind is capable of recognising and agreeing with the inherent goodness in the law, [which it cannot fulfill ], my self serving natural Adamic nature, my “flesh”, only recognises its own desires [and asserts them over his mind] as a law of sin.

This is the fleshly conflict which all who are not in the Spirit experience.

Into this defeat of the mind by the flesh, Jesus comes to the rescue in 8:1 and 2. There is now no condemnation for those in Him, because the LAW of the SPIRIT has SET YOU FREE from the LAW OF SIN and death.

The sacrifice of Christ has removed the power to condemn, since He Himself has taken the condemnation for us in His body. The Adamic nature cannot accuse us any longer, we are freed from its power, given to it by law, to now serve in the Spirit and experience a renewal of all things.

Rom 6:6 “..knowing this, that our OLD self [the man of Rom7] WAS crucified WITH Him, that our BODY OF SIN might be done away with, that we no longer should be SLAVES to sin;…”

[Rom 7 conflict is mind/flesh. ..Spirit/flesh conflict can be found in Galatians]

A FURTHER SYNOPSIS OF ROMANS 7 ISSUES [1501]

Rom7 verses 5 and 6 plainly state the two aspects in play – 5 says that ‘while we were in the flesh..sinful passions..aroused by law..at work in the members of our body..death.’

This situation plainly equates to Rom.7

Verse 6 says “but now” which equates to Rom 8:1 “therefore now” that gives release from the law that bound us and sees us serving in the Spirit. We could mention also 7:4 ‘you were made to die to the law’.

So verse 5 is one under law and therefore in the flesh, [under law] and 6 is one released from law and in the Spirit.

That is the crux of the matter. Once they were in the flesh, then they were in the Spirit.

The subject matter from verse 7 onwards becomes all about the law, and how the man of flesh relates to the condition of captivity to sin under this law.

Having described how the law empowers sin, the analysis finally approaches the subject of release from this captivity to sin death law flesh in verse 24. Who is going to fix this? Who will set me free from this body of death, empowered by law?

His name is Jesus, thank God!

What then is the final conclusion to this matter of being in flesh and subject to law sin and death?

It is that simultaneously while in this situation, on my own and apart from Jesus or the Spirit; that although my mind is capable of recognising and agreeing with the inherent goodness in the law, [which it cannot fulfill ], my self serving natural Adamic nature, my “flesh”, only recognises its own desires [and asserts them over his mind] as a law of sin.

This is the fleshly conflict which all who are not in the Spirit experience.

Into this defeat of the mind by the flesh, Jesus comes to the rescue in 8:1 and 2. There is now no condemnation for those in Him, because the LAW of the SPIRIT has SET YOU FREE from the LAW OF SIN and death.

The sacrifice of Christ has removed the power to condemn, since He Himself has taken the condemnation for us in His body. The Adamic nature cannot accuse us any longer, we are freed from its power, given to it by law, to now serve in the Spirit and experience a renewal of all things

Rom 6:6 “..knowing this, that our OLD self [the man of Rom7] WAS crucified WITH Him, that our BODY OF SIN might be done away with, that we no longer should be SLAVES to sin;…”

[Rom 7 conflict is mind/flesh. ..Spirit/flesh conflict can be found in Galatians]

THERE IS NOW NO CONDEMNATION, UNLESS YOU STAY IN ROMANS 7 [1496a]

In view of the foregoing chapter, where there WAS condemnation, as exclaimed by Paul “wretched man that I am”, I am a slave to sin; [and under ‘wrath’] contrastingly now there is NO condemnation in chapter 8. What has changed? He is still in “this body of death”.

Paul was in subjection to the law, to the law of sin and death, condemned to the deathly processes which, stimulated into existence by external laws, resulted in internalised laws of condemnation being created.

But grace released us from these laws, or from this law, by the sacrifice of Christ, who was put forward as a demonstration of God’s loving forgiveness of our sins, of our natural behaviour, through faith in His blood, and our potential destiny changed as a result of this.

Believing this releases us from the guilt and fear associated with impending judgement. Jesus took the law of sin upon himself in His own body, which resulted in our freedom from it when we believe that He did so expressly to relieve us of the condemnation incurred in the natural process of being born of flesh and blood in the manner of Adam.

The condemnation experienced in Romans 7 is now alleviated, nullified by what Jesus did, and personally experienced and removed when we accept the cross as His demonstration of the power of His love towards us. Far from being condemned, we are now accepted into His family as His beloved children.

Although all about grace, mercy, love and forgiveness; these things were presented on a legalistic basis in order to attack and destroy the legalistic attitude which our defences had built up against God. It was God’s will that we should be considered to have died with Christ, that “One died for all, therefore all died”. “Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him…” and “you also were made to die to the law through the body of Christ”.

Expressed in this manner, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death”.

There are no laws against the expression of life, [the fruit of the Spirit “against such things there is no law”] and [“all things are lawful”] but there were laws against the expression of death, but which have now been dealt with by His sacrifice. The new covenant is not one of law or laws, it is based on His ever present love, mercy and forgiveness towards us, and our response to Him as a result is our choice as to whether we enter into this faith based covenant with Him, or not.

We are born into the natural as explained in Romans 7, and are helpless of ourselves to do good unless we are then born (again) into the spiritual of Romans 8. Born of the Spirit, HIS Spirit. NOT being law based.

In Romans 7 we can remain under the covenant of death, of law – we can be “in the flesh” – or we¬†can move into the covenant of life, by faith – we can be “in the Spirit” and live that way.

THERE IS NOW NO CONDEMNATION, UNLESS YOU STAY IN ROMANS 7 [1496]

In view of the foregoing chapter, where there WAS condemnation, as exclaimed by Paul “wretched man that I am”, I am a slave to sin; [and under ‘wrath’] contrastingly now there is NO condemnation in chapter 8. What has changed? He is still in “this body of death”.

Paul was in subjection to the law, to the law of sin and death, condemned to the deathly processes which, stimulated into existence by external laws, resulted in internalised laws of condemnation being created.

But grace released us from these laws, or from this law, by the sacrifice of Christ, who was put forward as a demonstration of God’s loving forgiveness of our sins, of our natural behaviour, through faith in His blood, and our potential destiny changed as a result of this.

Believing this releases us from the guilt and fear associated with impending judgement. Jesus took the law of sin upon himself in His own body, which resulted in our freedom from it when we believe that He did so expressly to relieve us of the condemnation incurred in the natural process of being born of flesh and blood in the manner of Adam.

The condemnation experienced in Romans 7 is now alleviated, nullified by what Jesus did, and personally experienced and removed when we accept the cross as His demonstration of the power of His love towards us. Far from being condemned, we are now accepted into His family as His beloved children.

Although all about grace, mercy, love and forgiveness; these things were presented on a legalistic basis in order to attack and destroy the legalistic attitude which our defences had built up against God. It was God’s will that we should be considered to have died with Christ, that “One died for all, therefore all died”. “Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him…” and “you also were made to die to the law through the body of Christ”.

Expressed in this manner, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death”.

There are no laws against the expression of life, [the fruit of the Spirit “against such things there is no law”] and [“all things are lawful”] but there were laws against the expression of death, but which have now been dealt with by His sacrifice. The new covenant is not one of law or laws, it is based on His ever present love, mercy and forgiveness towards us, and our response to Him as a result is our choice as to whether we enter into this faith based covenant with Him, or not.

We are born into the natural as explained in Romans 7, and are helpless of ourselves to do good unless we are then born (again) into the spiritual of Romans 8. Born of the Spirit, HIS Spirit. NOT being law based.

In Romans 7 we can remain under the covenant of death, of law – we can be “in the flesh” – or we can move into the covenant of life, by faith – we can be “in the Spirit” and live that way.

A POSSIBLE CONCLUSION TO THE ROMANS 7 ISSUE [1448a]

Paul has addressed not only his situation when “the law” came to him, he is also addressing what his basic nature was BEFORE the law came to him. From verse 14 on he appears to “shift into another gear” of the exposition of the matter, explaining WHY the law affected him in this way, because his basic human nature, being already corrupted, was then to suffer from the further exposure of his weaknesses, by this “Mosaic” law.

But he was already, from birth, in this state of “normal” corruption, or at least, once the world got through with him, that was so. People in the world live within a society of corruption, and, being “in the image of God” (which causes us a lot of trouble) they generate or have generated, a conscience which contains the knowledge of right and wrong, so they perform in a nominal way (some might say a depraved way) in a compromised society.

So Paul in his explanation, ultimately turns to the basic fundamental reason why we are like we are, and then the “law of God” does its work on us and we are totally brought undone, the law having proved to ourselves and to all and sundry, that we are involved in a work of total corruption and need to be “saved”. All of this from the initial deception, which then permeates our total being, leaving whatever relative “good” elements there are left, to, in total dismay, observe the “wreckage”.

The completeness of Paul’s “wretched man” is the totality of all that he has considered, both his “natural” (“flesh”) nature [humanity], AND the effect that (Mosaic) law has had on him.

No, he is not speaking of his Christianity, he is speaking of his corrupt “first birth” natural nature, human nature, of which we are all a part. But it is this very basic human nature that we are called upon to ensure that it CHANGES through faith in Christ.

Once we were sold to sin, but now we are bought by His blood. [He suffered once for all][to bring us to God]

[Paul in R7 is speaking as one “in” the flesh. He can do this because he like us was once there. Being “of” flesh and having once been “in” flesh, qualifies him to explain it all.][but you are NOT in the flesh, if the Spirit of God dwells in you (if you are in Christ)][you are IN the Spirit]

Xtra. We are tied to a physical body which has its own appetites, some of which are necessary for physical survival. But the life we have had “in the flesh” has built up a whole way of “living” which is completely corruption based. The new life in Christ denies, deals with that old scenario [it was what Jesus put to death for us] and produces a whole new way of living, in the Spirit, once the futility and corruption of the past is ended. R6-6 “That the body of sin might be done away with”, which would appear to equate closely with Paul’s “body of death”.

A POSSIBLE CONCLUSION TO THE ROMANS 7 ISSUE [1448]

Paul has addressed not only his situation when “the law” came to him, he is also addressing what his basic nature was BEFORE the law came to him. From verse 14 on he appears to “shift into another gear” of the exposition of the matter, explaining WHY the law affected him in this way, because his basic human nature, being already corrupted, was then to suffer from the further exposure of his weaknesses, by this “Mosaic” law.

But he was already, from birth, in this state of “normal” corruption, or at least, once the world got through with him, that was so. People in the world live within a society of corruption, and, being “in the image of God” (which causes a lot of trouble to us) they generate or have generated, a conscience which contains the knowledge of right and wrong, so they perform in a nominal way (some might say depraved) in a compromised society.

So Paul in his explanation, ultimately turns to the basic fundamental reason why we are like we are, and then the “law of God” does its work on us and we are totally brought undone, the law having proved to ourselves and to all and sundry, that we are involved in a work of total corruption and need to be “saved”. All of this from the initial deception, which then permeates our total being, leaving whatever relative “good” elements there are left, to, in total dismay, observe the “wreckage”.

The completeness of Paul’s “wretched man” is the totality of all that he has considered, both his “natural” (“flesh”) nature [humanity], AND the effect that (Mosaic) law has had on him.

No, he is not speaking of his Christianity, he is speaking of his corrupt “first birth” natural nature, human nature, of which we are all a part. But it is this very basic human nature that we are called upon to ensure that it CHANGES through faith in Christ.

Once we were sold to sin, but now we are bought by His blood. [He suffered once for all][to bring us to God]

[Paul in R7 is speaking as one “in” the flesh. He can do this because he like us was once there. Being “of” flesh and having once been “in” flesh, qualifies him to explain it all.][but you are NOT in the flesh, if the Spirit of God dwells in you (if you are in Christ)][you are IN the Spirit]

Xtra. We are tied to a physical body which has its own appetites, some of which are necessary for physical survival. But the life we have had “in the flesh” has built up a whole way of “living” which is completely corruption based. The new life in Christ denies, deals with that old scenario [it was what Jesus put to death for us] and produces a whole new way of living, in the Spirit, once the futility and corruption of the past is ended. R6-6 “That the body of sin might be done away with”, which would appear to equate closely with Paul’s “body of death”.