PAUL ACQUIRES THE IDENTITY OF JESUS [1206a]

Paul in Romans 7 was brought to the full knowledge of his defeat as a human being, acknowledging this by his words “wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death”.

The catch 22 scenario of someone trying to perfect themselves always resulted in failure because of inherent internal corruption from which there was no escape. Submission to the result of Jesus’ sacrificial offering of His body, being that of His perfected body, enabled the return of Himself to us as “a life giving Spirit”, as fully demonstrated at Pentecost.

The “law of sin and death” (Mosaic law) had been abolished, annulled, defeated, substituted, fulfilled, completed, finished.

The “Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” was now in effect. There had been a change of covenant, of  relationship change* between God and man, that man had now been “bought” by Him through Jesus, and man’s slavery to his natural human nature was now ended.

Of course it required man to agree with this, to believe God in this. It was man’s choice to accept or reject the sacrifice of Himself that Jesus had made. To accept or reject the new “conditions” of Life that were offered. To accept release from servitude to sin, and accept a willing bonding to Christ to lead and guide us into life itself, or to reject the overture of righteousness that had been both established and then offered.

By “ingesting”, assimilating Jesus, Paul was now accepting a new identity, that of Jesus Himself, his own identity having been brought to nought by the acceptance of not only the necessity to comply with the death that Jesus had provided for him, but the sheer desirability of it. “I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me”.

[I have been crucified with Christ, and the life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. GAL 2-20]*[No change from God’s viewpoint, His love is and always has been, constant; but man has to come to see things God’s way]

 

PAUL ACQUIRES THE IDENTITY OF JESUS [1206]

Paul in Romans 7 was brought to the full knowledge of his defeat as a human being, acknowledging this by his words “wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death”.

The catch 22 scenario of someone trying to perfect themselves always resulted in failure because of inherent internal corruption from which there was no escape. Submission to the result of Jesus’ sacrificial offering of His body, being that of His perfected body, enabled the return of Himself to us as “a life giving Spirit”, as fully demonstrated at Pentecost.

The “law of sin and death” (Mosaic law) had been abolished, annulled, defeated, substituted, fulfilled, completed, finished.

The “Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” was now in effect. There had been a change of covenant, of  relationship change* between God and man, that man had now been “bought” by Him through Jesus, and man’s slavery to his natural human nature was now ended.

Of course it required man to agree with this, to believe God in this. It was man’s choice to accept or reject the sacrifice of Himself that Jesus had made. To accept or reject the new “conditions” of Life that were offered. To accept release from servitude to sin, and accept a willing bonding to Christ to lead and guide us into life itself, or to reject the overture of righteousness that had been both established and then offered.

By “ingesting”, assimilating Jesus, Paul was now accepting a new identity, that of Jesus Himself, his own identity having been brought to nought by the acceptance of not only the necessity to comply with the death that Jesus had provided for him, but the sheer desirability of it. “I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me”.

[I have been crucified with Christ, and the life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. GAL 2-20]*[No change from God’s point of view, his love is and always has been constant]

CAN WE LEARN WHAT IS RIGHT AND WRONG WITHOUT HAVING ACTUALLY EXPERIENCED WHAT WRONG IS? [1143a]

How can we be expected know righteousness from unrighteousness if we have not actually experienced it? This may be an age old question which can be shown to be at the root of all evil.

Since man was made in the image of God, he has a sense of loss and conscience regarding what right and wrong is. Depending on his individual circumstances of life, he may also have a corrupt heart and conscience which will prevent him from seeing or appreciating any real concept of love, goodness or forgiveness.

It was inevitable that man would “fall”, more than this, it was the thing anticipated, if not intended, and even further, perhaps the intended design.

God could not create evil, but He could create a creature who was quite capable of it, given any set of circumstances which arose outside of God’s nature. One simple wrong choice, given that he HAD a choice (and Adam did not, his “choice” was inevitably going to be the wrong one), and the “game” was irrecoverably lost.

Once all was lost, man had then to “live” in this environment which denied the very nature of God, denied by thought deed and word, producing the works of the flesh. Man was subjected to futility from the beginning, to cause Him to reach out and seek God, that by his experience of good and evil in this world, make the faith choice for good, and progress into a new environment whereby his faith would be tested.

Man has a certain knowledge of right and wrong, and God will hold him responsible for that; but putting that aside, he never really had the choice for good, he never really ever had a “free will”, because he was a slave and servant of sin, of his own sin nature. But it is the acceptance of the truth of this, in conjunction with the truth of the way out of the predicament, which makes him then acceptable to God.

CAN WE LEARN WHAT IS RIGHT AND WRONG WITHOUT HAVING ACTUALLY EXPERIENCED WHAT WRONG IS? [1143]

How can we be expected know righteousness from unrighteousness if we have not actually experienced it? This may be an age old question which can be shown to be at the root of all evil.

Since man was made in the image of God, he has a sense of loss and conscience regarding what right and wrong is. Depending on his individual circumstances of life, he may also have a corrupt heart and conscience which will prevent him from seeing or appreciating any real concept of love, goodness or forgiveness.

It was inevitable that man would “fall”, more than this, it was the thing anticipated, if not intended, and even further, perhaps the intended design.

God could not create evil, but He could create a creature who was quite capable of it, given any set of circumstances which arose outside of God’s nature. One simple wrong choice, given that he HAD a choice (and Adam did not, his “choice” was inevitably going to be the wrong one), and the “game” was irrecoverably lost.

Once all was lost, man had then to “live” in this environment which denied the very nature of God, denied by thought deed and word, producing the works of the flesh. Man was subjected to futility from the beginning, to cause Him to reach out and seek God, that by his experience of good and evil in this world, make the faith choice for good, and progress into a new environment whereby his faith would be tested.

Man has a certain knowledge of right and wrong, and God will hold him responsible for that; but putting that aside, he never really had the choice for good, he never really ever had a “free will”, because he was a slave and servant of sin, of his own sin nature. But it is the acceptance of the truth of this, in conjunction with the truth of the way out of the predicament, which makes him then acceptable to God.

FURTHER ON SEVEN [339a]

It is difficult to leave the subject of Romans 7 when eminently respectable theologians are still getting it wrong. (No I couldn’t be wrong 🙂 ). I guess one of the main sticking points for them is where in verse 14 Paul’s discourse turns to the present tense.

This immediately leads one to think that because he is Paul the apostle, that he is from then on talking about his present state as a Christian. What is not understood though, is that he is reaching inside himself to expose what his human nature does when under  law. It is an interesting thing that during the process of coming to understand this chapter, one can initially tend to avoid this reality and try to explain it some other way, But the truth of it is unavoidable.

Paul is saying that He, of himself, if under law, finds this process occurring within himself. It is an expose of human nature, and he is using himself, his own human nature, as the example. He is not saying ‘I Paul the apostle find this as a present day situation within me’. [but he could do if he reverted to law]. This whole chapter is about the law. He is not saying that he as one filled with the Spirit is now behaving in this defeated way. He is not saying that as a Christian he is in slavery to his flesh.

No, he is saying that Christ frees you from this condition of slavery to the flesh, so that you no longer are powerless. That your previously defeated will is now empowered, by the destruction of the power of the flesh and its sin to condemn you. The flesh remains what it is, but now it has lost its power to keep your will in captivity to serve its own purposes. Similarly the tempter has lost his power because to fall to temptation now no longer automatically involves a death sentence, since Jesus took it away.

So to believe what the error says, means that your salvation involves the forgiveness of your continuing failure*, and you don’t have to pay attention to this at all*. By saying this, it fails to acknowledge the greatness of the separation between the present state of man under law, and his preordained destiny of an elevated life in the Spirit. For a Christian to be credited with this kind of negative behaviour is just terrible, not the least so for his own conscience sake.

“The good I would do I cannot do, the evil I would not do this I keep on doing”. If this is your story as a Christian, I would be thinking about a rewrite! Certainly we have our weakness, certainly sometimes our failures are very obvious. But to ascribe Paul’s comments about himself to being a Christian when it is actually that of the pre-Christian position and the very thing from which we are released, is to reverse the whole intent of this chapter, which was to demonstrate the complete failure of the law to save, to gain righteousness, because of the weakness of the flesh.

To operate within the parameters of this wrong idea is to weaken the gap between law and Spirit, is to tend to accept failure as being normal, “just like Paul in Romans 7, and he was an apostle!”  It also prolongs the influence of law, because it confuses Christanity with the law, and infers that a Christian lives under law and it’s just that his failures to keep it are covered by the sacrifice of Christ. This is not at all the language of scripture.

We see in verse 14 that Paul says he was sold into bondage to sin. But this is countered now by Christ buying us back again. Is he sold to sin or bought back? You can’t have it both ways. Also verse 23 describes the war within, [conflict, wrath] which leaves him a prisoner to sin. So he is a prisoner to sin, full of conflict. Who will set me free from this body of death? Oh that’s right, Jesus will!

Verse 25 is very significant because it appears to lend weight to the argument of error – “Thanks be to God!” a present tense exclamation, which is then followed with an also present tense explanation that “So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God [notice he is serving or attempting to serve, (which doesn’t work) the law] but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.” Now because of the way this is written, it is easy to conclude that the end of the matter is that we are stuck with a two part situation, which, if you believe this to be the Christian position, means that righteousness is a hit and miss affair and a tug of war between the flesh and the Spirit, although the Spirit has not been mentioned at all in this Chapter. [except v6]

But this is not what he is saying, he is simply summing up his position as one under law, as he has previously expressed, that though his mind is desirous of serving the law, this desire is futile, because the ‘other law’, the law in his flesh, overrides, overpowers it.

So what is to change this situation? Romans 8 verse 1. “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death”.

Now we see the Spirit, now we see life. The new law of the spirit of life has entered this “catch 22” and takes out of the equation the law of sin and death. Now the mind is freed from the accusations and conflict of the flesh, and the righteousness of the law, which previously was unattainable, is now greatly even the more exceeded because it comes from the glory of the Spirit.

*[Yes there is forgiveness of failure, but not so you can continue to live in failure][Internally there is always flesh, but flesh has had its authority disempowered]

Cromans 7 Cslavery Cprisoner Cromans7

MAN IS A SLAVE, THERE IS NO FREE WILL. [744a]

Although we say that man was made with the ability to choose right from wrong, and this is where it all went wrong because Eve decided to make the choice to entertain the thought that cropped up in her mind, that God was perhaps being devious with his prohibition on the tree; she actually had little choice because she had been “set up” for the fall due to her inherent inquisitive nature.

Scripture does not really say that we have a choice, it rather plainly says (Jesus said) that “The one who sins is a slave to sin”. And as it also says, that all have sinned (and most if not all continue to sin) then there is no choice, because we are all slaves, and a slave has to do the will of his master, and indeed does do the will of that which has “mastered” him.

So being slaves, without our own will, or at least without a will we can put into effect*; means that we DO NOT have a ‘FREE’ will. That we are captivated by the principle of an unwilling propensity to sin, and therefore we continue on our merry way in sin death until we die. UNLESS something or someone authoritatively breaks the chain of command.

And if and when that change in command comes, we become captivated to the new authority of the law of love (not the love of law) and again we become a captive slave or servant to the will of another.

Of course we could become captive to many things, including law or religion, (or religious law) all of which though, simply hold you within the arena of sin death. This means that the reality lies with either the one master or the other, life or death, as represented by God/Jesus/Spirit OR BY Sin in its various forms.

And all sin comes down to that which had its origin, being and power in LAW. Not that we want to be without law, which is lawlessness, but to be under the law of love and righteousness which is from and by his Spirit, his very essence of being.

Just as sinners are under the compulsion to sin, so Christ’s brothers are under compulsion to NOT sin, because they have been captivated by his LOVE. “We loved because he first loved us”.

So the “law” of freedom is one which is obtained by attachment to Him who IS THAT FREEDOM, the perfect law of liberty. To be captive to sin is to be enslaved to death, to be enslaved to God who is love is to be truly free. “For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did”. Rom.8-2. FOR THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS HAS SET YOU FREE FROM THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH.

Only when you accept that you are freed from sin and death can you truly be free to say you have freedom of will, and a choice.

The only time apart from the above, when you DO get a choice, is when the SPIRIT clearly presents the cross to you, [or when the cross clearly presents the Spirit to you] and you then have the choice to accept Him or reject Him.

*[Paul in Romans chapter 7 (Verse 19)][unless the person has been enlightened, they may not have the knowledge to realise that they are in captivity]

MAN IS A SLAVE, THERE IS NO FREE WILL. [744]

Although we say that man was made with the ability to choose right from wrong, and this is where it all went wrong because Eve decided to make the choice to entertain the thought that cropped up in her mind, that God was perhaps being devious with his prohibition on the tree; she actually had little choice because she had been “set up” for the fall due to her inherent inquisitive nature.

Scripture does not really say that we have a choice, it rather plainly says (Jesus said) that “The one who sins is a slave to sin”. And as it also says, that all have sinned (and most if not all continue to sin) then there is no choice, because we are all slaves, and a slave has to do the will of his master, and indeed does do the will of that which has “mastered” him.

So being slaves, without our own will, or at least without a will we can put into effect*; means that we DO NOT have a ‘FREE’ will. That we are captivated by the principle of an unwilling propensity to sin, and therefore we continue on our merry way in sin death until we die. UNLESS something or someone authoritatively breaks the chain of command.

And if and when that change in command comes, we become captivated to the new authority of the law of love (not the love of law) and again we become a captive slave or servant to the will of another.

Of course we could become captive to many things, including law or religion, (or religious law) all of which though, simply hold you within the arena of sin death. This means that the reality lies with either the one master or the other, life or death, as represented by God/Jesus/Spirit OR BY Sin in its various forms.

And all sin comes down to that which had its origin, being and power in LAW. Not that we want to be without law, which is lawlessness, but to be under the law of love and righteousness which is from and by his Spirit, his very essence of being.

Just as sinners are under the compulsion to sin, so Christ’s brothers are under compulsion to NOT sin, because they have been captivated by his LOVE. “We loved because he first loved us”.

So the “law” of freedom is one which is obtained by attachment to Him who IS THAT FREEDOM, the perfect law of liberty. To be captive to sin is to be enslaved to death, to be enslaved to God who is love is to be truly free. “For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did”. Rom.8-2. FOR THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS HAS SET YOU FREE FROM THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH.

Only when you accept that you are freed from sin and death can you truly be free to say you have freedom of will, and a choice.

The only time apart from the above, when you DO get a choice, is when the SPIRIT clearly presents the cross to you, [or when the cross clearly presents the Spirit to you] and you then have the choice to accept Him or reject Him.

*[Paul in Romans chapter 7 (Verse 19)][unless the person has been enlightened, they may not have the knowledge to realise that they are in captivity]

ROMANS CHAPTER SEVEN EXPLAINED [343a]

Verses 1-3 compares our relationship with law to a marriage, in that when the husband DIES, the wife is free to join with another.

4 Says that WE were MADE TO DIE to the Law through the body of Christ, for the PURPOSE of being joined to Him who was then raised from the dead, so that with Him, we might bear fruit for God. So God’s action in Jesus effectively renders us initially dead with Him. Since He died FOR us, His death in/to the law is also OUR death in/to the law.

5 “For while we were in the flesh”. This means that while we were existent in and of our natural human bodies, married to the law, “the sinful passions which were AROUSED BY THE LAW were at work in us to bear the fruit of death.

6 But now we have been RELEASED from the law, HAVING DIED By/with Christ, having died to that covenant/marriage law that bound us, we do serve in newness of Spirit and not in oldness of letter (of law). [the law having been satisfied in the body of Christ the Son of God, all who agree with Him in this regard are joined with Him in judgement on the now deadness of sin].

Now I think I always denied the word Spirit occurred in this passage, yet there it is! But it is plain that Paul is speaking to Christians, [in verse 6*] as is evident in chapter 6, he is summarising. But he starts the discourse in Ch7 off with “I write to those who know the law”. The subject matter is that of Law and how it interacts with human nature. He is explaining why the law “had to go”. It is a before and after situation; V5 “while we were in the flesh” (we sinned) and then V6 ‘But now we have undergone this change, this release from bondage to law, we (are free to) serve in newness of (the?) Spirit’.

So V5 is before change and V6 is after change. But then he continues with the BEFORE explanation in V7. The law is not in itself sin, but it brings awareness of sin.

V7,8,9 Apart from law, sin has no power, but the commandment killed me because of the action of the serpentine mind [flesh]. [but this is a past ‘before change’ issue][he is dead].

V13 Did that which is good kill me? Well yes, [no] but only because it stirred up sin within. The law was good, the sin and the internal mechanism that produced it was not .

V14 now shifts to present tense, and this is why people think it means Paul is explaining (and excusing) his poor behaviour in this chapter. What he is saying though, is (using himself as an example) that there lies within every man this principle that subjection to law empowers the flesh, because it stirs up the ‘self protection mechanism’ within, it provokes the ego or that sense of separate identity that was created when Adam left God. It arises from a sense of vulnerability and thus fear of death. (judgement). It is called “The Wrath of God”.

Paul makes the distinction that the law is spiritual, but he (and we) are of flesh (human creatures) and SOLD into BONDAGE TO SIN. [The bondage out of which Jesus buys us back with His blood].

V15 FOR THAT WHICH I AM DOING. Here lies a problem. Is it possible to decide how this passage should be rendered? Other versions have it as “THAT WHICH I DO”.

“For that which I do [if under law] I do not understand, I do not do what I want to do, but that which I hate.” Paul here is admitting he has no inherent power to do good, because his flesh is in power [through law] and controls him. He is a slave to his flesh or natural human nature.

V16 But if I do what I don’t want to, I am in agreeance with the law. This shows he is as one operating under the law, as one who understands the law, not as some idle bystander.

V17 So it is not me doing it, it is sin which indwells me. [the law actually gives sin its power]

V18 Nothing good lies in my natural human nature. For the wishing is there, but the doing is not.

V19 For the good I would do I do not, rather it is the evil I would not do that results.

V20 But if I do the very thing I do not wish, it is not me doing it but sin that dwells in me. [sin is empowered].

V21 I find within me then, the principle [a law] that evil is in me, the one who wants to do good.

V22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God [with His righteousness] in the inner man.

V23 But there is a different law within me, in my natural inclinations, which makes war against the ‘law’ my mind would establish [in agreeance with the law] and instead takes me prisoner to the law of sin which is in my bodily nature.

V24 “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” He already knows the answer, the whole discourse being hypothetical, even though it reveals the inner truth of human nature of which Paul also is a part.

V25 is the triumphal interjection “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” [there is an answer!] And then He sums up what he has just explained in all the above by concluding: So then, we have discovered that on the one hand, I by myself, of myself, my mind aligns itself with the law of God, but on the other hand my flesh serves the law of sin. [his mind may be said to serve the law of God, but he as a person is in captivity, in bondage, to the law of sin, he does the will of sin, not his own will or the will of God]

This is what he has discovered is the situation for a person with some conscience of right and wrong [the tree of the knowledge of good and evil]. And the natural way is that the fruit of this knowledge will be bad.

If you now impose law upon the person, they will be enslaved to sin. If you now bring grace into the situation, they will be freed from the power of the flesh. “For the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God…who gives us the victory…”

From the last verse of chapter 7, we enter into the first verse of chapter 8. “There is now therefore no condemnation for Christians, BECAUSE the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death”. Note that the law of sin and death is enabled, is pronounced, by the law itself.

[Paul demonstrates that under law he has no free will, that his will is in captivity to sin, as he explained in chapter 6.  7 is explaining what captivity to sin under law is and how and why it works, 8 is the release from this captivity.]

*later edit

ROMANS CHAPTER SEVEN EXPLAINED [343]

Verses 1-3 compares our relationship with law to a marriage, in that when the husband DIES, the wife is free to join with another.

4 Says that WE were MADE TO DIE to the Law through the body of Christ, for the PURPOSE of being joined to Him who was then raised from the dead, so that with Him, we might bear fruit for God. So God’s action in Jesus effectively renders us initially dead with Him. Since He died FOR us, His death in/to the law is also OUR death in/to the law.

5 “For while we were in the flesh”. This means that while we were existent in and of our natural human bodies, married to the law, “the sinful passions which were AROUSED BY THE LAW were at work in us to bear the fruit of death.

6 But now we have been RELEASED from the law, HAVING DIED By/with Christ, having died to that covenant/marriage law that bound us, we do serve in newness of Spirit and not in oldness of letter (of law). [the law having been satisfied in the body of Christ the Son of God, all who agree with Him in this regard are joined with Him in judgement on the now deadness of sin].

Now I think I always denied the word Spirit occurred in this passage, yet there it is! But it is plain that Paul is speaking to Christians, as is evident in chapter 6, he is summarising. But he starts the discourse in Ch7 off with “I write to those who know the law”. The subject matter is that of Law and how it interacts with human nature. He is explaining why the law “had to go”. It is a before and after situation; V5 “while we were in the flesh” (we sinned) and then V6 ‘But now we have undergone this change, this release from bondage to law, we (are free to) serve in newness of (the?) Spirit’.

So V5 is before change and V6 is after change. But then he continues with the BEFORE explanation in V7. The law is not in itself sin, but it brings awareness of sin.

V7,8,9 Apart from law, sin has no power, but the commandment killed me because of the action of the serpentine mind [flesh]. [but this is a past ‘before change’ issue][he is dead].

V13 Did that which is good kill me? Well yes, [no] but only because it stirred up sin within. The law was good, the sin and the internal mechanism that produced it was not .

V14 now shifts to present tense, and this is why people think it means Paul is explaining (and excusing) his poor behaviour in this chapter. What he is saying though, is (using himself as an example) that there lies within every man this principle that subjection to law empowers the flesh, because it stirs up the ‘self protection mechanism’ within, it provokes the ego or that sense of separate identity that was created when Adam left God. It arises from a sense of vulnerability and thus fear of death. (judgement). It is called “The Wrath of God”.

Paul makes the distinction that the law is spiritual, but he (and we) are of flesh (human creatures) and SOLD into BONDAGE TO SIN. [The bondage out of which Jesus buys us back with His blood].

V15 FOR THAT WHICH I AM DOING. Here lies a problem. Is it possible to decide how this passage should be rendered? Other versions have it as “THAT WHICH I DO”.

“For that which I do [if under law] I do not understand, I do not do what I want to do, but that which I hate.” Paul here is admitting he has no inherent power to do good, because his flesh is in power [through law] and controls him. He is a slave to his flesh or natural human nature.

V16 But if I do what I don’t want to, I am in agreeance with the law. This shows he is as one operating under the law, as one who understands the law, not as some idle bystander.

V17 So it is not me doing it, it is sin which indwells me. [the law actually gives sin its power]

V18 Nothing good lies in my natural human nature. For the wishing is there, but the doing is not.

V19 For the good I would do I do not, rather it is the evil I would not do that results.

V20 But if I do the very thing I do not wish, it is not me doing it but sin that dwells in me. [sin is empowered].

V21 I find within me then, the principle [a law] that evil is in me, the one who wants to do good.

V22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God [with His righteousness] in the inner man.

V23 But there is a different law within me, in my natural inclinations, which makes war against the ‘law’ my mind would establish [in agreeance with the law] and instead takes me prisoner to the law of sin which is in my bodily nature.

V24 “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” He already knows the answer, the whole discourse being hypothetical, even though it reveals the inner truth of human nature of which Paul also is a part.

V25 is the triumphal interjection “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” [there is an answer!] And then He sums up what he has just explained in all the above by concluding: So then, we have discovered that on the one hand, I by myself, of myself, my mind aligns itself with the law of God, but on the other hand my flesh serves the law of sin. [his mind may be said to serve the law of God, but he as a person is in captivity, in bondage, to the law of sin, he does the will of sin, not his own will or the will of God]

This is what he has discovered is the situation for a person with some conscience of right and wrong [the tree of the knowledge of good and evil]. And the natural way is that the fruit of this knowledge will be bad.

If you now impose law upon the person, they will be enslaved to sin. If you now bring grace into the situation, they will be freed from the power of the flesh. “For the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God…who gives us the victory…”

From the last verse of chapter 7, we enter into the first verse of chapter 8. “There is now therefore no condemnation for Christians, BECAUSE the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death”. Note that the law of sin and death is enabled, is pronounced, by the law itself.

[Paul demonstrates that under law he has no free will, that his will is in captivity to sin, as he explained in chapter 6.  7 is explaining what captivity to sin under law is and how and why it works, 8 is the release from this captivity.]

FURTHER ON SEVEN [339]

It is difficult to leave the subject of Romans 7 when eminently respectable theologians are still getting it wrong. (No I couldn’t be wrong 🙂 ). I guess one of the main sticking points for them is where in verse 14 Paul’s discourse turns to the present tense.

This immediately leads one to think that because he is Paul the apostle, that he is from then on talking about his present state as a Christian. What is not understood though, is that he is reaching inside himself to expose what his human nature does when under  law. It is an interesting thing that during the process of coming to understand this chapter, one can initially tend to avoid this reality and try to explain it some other way, But the truth of it is unavoidable.

Paul is saying that He, of himself, if under law, finds this process occurring within himself. It is an expose of human nature, and he is using himself, his own human nature, as the example. He is not saying ‘I Paul the apostle find this as a present day situation within me’. [but he could do if he reverted to law]. This whole chapter is about the law. He is not saying that he as one filled with the Spirit is now behaving in this defeated way. He is not saying that as a Christian he is in slavery to his flesh.

No, he is saying that Christ frees you from this condition of slavery to the flesh, so that you no longer are powerless. That your previously defeated will is now empowered, by the destruction of the power of the flesh and its sin to condemn you. The flesh remains what it is, but now it has lost its power to keep your will in captivity to serve its own purposes. Similarly the tempter has lost his power because to fall to temptation now no longer automatically involves a death sentence, since Jesus took it away.

So to believe what the error says, means that your salvation involves the forgiveness of your continuing failure*, and you don’t have to pay attention to this at all. By saying this, it fails to acknowledge the greatness of the separation between the present state of man under law, and his preordained destiny of an elevated life in the Spirit. For a Christian to be credited with this kind of negative behaviour is just terrible, not the least so for his own conscience sake.

“The good I would do I cannot do, the evil I would not do this I keep on doing”. If this is your story as a Christian, I would be thinking about a rewrite! Certainly we have our weakness, certainly sometimes our failures are very obvious. But to ascribe Paul’s comments about himself to being a Christian when it is actually that of the pre-Christian position and the very thing from which we are released, is to reverse the whole intent of this chapter, which was to demonstrate the complete failure of the law to save, to gain righteousness, because of the weakness of the flesh.

To operate within the parameters of this wrong idea is to weaken the gap between law and Spirit, is to tend to accept failure as being normal, “just like Paul in Romans 7, and he was an apostle!”  It also prolongs the influence of law, because it confuses Christanity with the law, and infers that a Christian lives under law and it’s just that his failures to keep it are covered by the sacrifice of Christ. This is not at all the language of scripture.

We see in verse 14 that Paul says he was sold into bondage to sin. But this is countered now by Christ buying us back again. Is he sold to sin or bought back? You can’t have it both ways. Also verse 23 describes the war within, [conflict, wrath] which leaves him a prisoner to sin. So he is a prisoner to sin, full of conflict. Who will set me free from this body of death? Oh that’s right, Jesus will!

Verse 25 is very significant because it appears to lend weight to the argument of error – “Thanks be to God!” a present tense exclamation, which is then followed with an also present tense explanation that “So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God [notice he is serving or attempting to serve, (which doesn’t work) the law] but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.” Now because of the way this is written, it is easy to conclude that the end of the matter is that we are stuck with a two part situation, which, if you believe this to be the Christian position, means that righteousness is a hit and miss affair and a tug of war between the flesh and the Spirit, although the Spirit has not been mentioned at all in this Chapter. [except v6]

But this is not what he is saying, he is simply summing up his position as one under law, as he has previously expressed, that though his mind is desirous of serving the law, this desire is futile, because the ‘other law’, the law in his flesh, overrides, overpowers it.

So what is to change this situation? Romans 8 verse 1. “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death”.

Now we see the Spirit, now we see life. The new law of the spirit of life has entered this “catch 22” and takes out of the equation the law of sin and death. Now the mind is freed from the accusations and conflict of the flesh, and the righteousness of the law, which previously was unattainable, is now greatly even the more exceeded because it comes from the glory of the Spirit.

*[see 339a]

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