Memphis Belle

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The Problem
Romans 3:21
United in Christ
The Power of the Gospel
The Old Man Is Dead
The Flesh
The Wages of Sin
Free from the Penalty
Our Life Before Christ
Romans 8:1-17
Romans 8:18-27
More Than Conquerors
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Our Life Before Christ

 (As God Was Drawing Us To Him)

 

Romans 7:7-25

 

Romans 7:7-25, “What shall we say then?  Is the law sin?  God forbid.  Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law:  for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.  But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence.  For without the law sin was dead.  For I was alive without the law once:  but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.  And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.  For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.  Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.  Was then that which is good made death unto me?  God forbid.  But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good, that sin by the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.  For we know that the law is spiritual:  but I am carnal, sold under sin.  For that which I do I allow not:  for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.  If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.  Now then it is no more I do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing:  for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.  For the good that I would I do not:  but the evil which I would not, that I do.  Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.  For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:  but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  O wretched man that I am!  who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  So then with the mind I serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”  [King James Version]

 

Romans 7:7-25, “What shall we say then?  Is the law sin?  Certainly not!  On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law.  For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’  But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire.  For apart from the law sin was dead.  I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.  And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.  For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.  Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.  Has then what is good become death to me?  Certainly not!  But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin might become exceedingly sinful.  For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.  For what I am doing, I do not understand.  For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.  If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.  But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.  For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.  Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.  I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.  For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  O wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?  I thank God---through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”

 

Quick review of where we've been

In Romans 7:7-25 Paul is obviously taking a step back, to the point just before a person makes that active commitment to Christ, asking Jesus into his or her life.  In Romans 6 he showed us ourselves as believers, already having taken that step.  He showed us how that ‘Old Man’, the sin nature in us was made inoperative.  He showed how we as believers were set free in Christ, no longer slaves to sin, having crossed that spiritual Red Sea.  Now Egypt, sin is no longer our evil task master.  That was in Romans 6.  Now in Romans 7:1-6 we see how Paul shows us that we are no longer under the Old Covenant death penalty of the law, that marriage covenant was broken by our death in Christ.  The original husband, the law, didn’t die, but we died in Christ.  Now when we accept Christ into our life, asking Jesus to save us and come into our lives, Jesus Christ becomes our new husband (or as Revelation 19 points out, our husband-to-be).  Harpers Bible Commentary also brings out about Romans 7:1-6 that it is the penalty of God’s law we’re freed from under grace.  It states, “All seems clear: the woman is the Christian set free by the death of Christ from the law’s condemnation…”  Some pastors and denominations do not make this clear leading many to believe that the law of God for them is done away.  These groups that teach in this manner are what I would call the “grace oriented churches and denominations” that are on the far left of the interpretative norm.  They often neglect to properly teach that John defined sin as the transgression of the law, and that throughout the New Testament believers in Jesus are admonished, yea, commanded not to sin.  So if we’re free from the law’s penalty and espoused (in the ancient Hebrew sense) to Jesus, Yeshua, how does the law of God figure into our Christian or Messianic Jewish walk with the Lord?

          First we must realize that the whole purpose for God’s Law has now taken a radical shift from the old covenant, the old marriage agreement to the new covenant.  Under the old covenant:

1.   The law of God was the law of the land, both a civil and religious law combined.

2.   It had a system of physical rewards and punishments for obedience and disobedience (see Leviticus 26, whole chapter).

3.   The Old Covenant agreement had no promise of eternal life attached to it for obedience and only offered death for major infractions.

4.   That great law, God’s law, was indeed a spiritual mirror, but the people were left to try to obey it all on their own---with no help from God.

The New Covenant is different (no matter which version of God’s law your Christian conscience leads you to accept, whether the Old Testament law of God or New Testament law of Christ).  It is quite simple.

1.    God promises to write his law upon our hearts and in our minds (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-33; Hebrews 8:6-13), by the indwelling Holy Spirit---Jesus and the Father dwelling within us (cf. John 14&16).

2.    God promises eternal life for those who enter into this covenant agreement and live a life led by the Holy Spirit of God. 

 

 

 

 

Part I, The Mirror

 

So, upon accepting Jesus Christ into our lives, that old marriage covenant no longer applies, is made null and void because we died in Christ (cf. Romans 7:1-6).  Now we will see that the law takes on a radical  shift in purpose.  This will be interesting.  Romans 7:7-13, “What shall we say then?  Is the law sin?  Certainly not!  On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law.  For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’  But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire.  For apart from the law sin was dead.  I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.  And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.  For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.  Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.  Has then what is good become death to me?  Certainly not!  But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.”  First of all Paul is showing here in verses 7-13 of Romans 7 that the law---God’s law---is a spiritual mirror.  It shows us where the dirt is in our lives.  James uses the same analogy in James 1:22-25, which states, “But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; For he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.  But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty [i.e. God’s law] and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”

 

The purpose of the Law

 

So a shift has taken place in the purpose of the law of God---the whole law, both the one found in the Old Testament, and the New Testament law of God, called by some the law of Christ.  In verses 7-13 above, we see that the law is the prime revealer of sin, it defines sin.  James showed us the same thing.  As Harpers goes on to say, “The law magnifies sin (Rom. 5:20)…Yet the law in fact play[s] a role in relation to sin: It identifies sin and makes it known…even in sin’s use of it, the law remains God’s instrument.  The end result fits into God’s purpose for the law, namely to disclose the true nature of sin and show how “incomparably sinful” it really is.”  In the Old Covenant, people were told, ‘Here’s the mirror.  Now go and clean yourself up.  In the New Covenant, God is in effect saying, “Here’s the mirror (law of God), and now here’s the precious water of my Spirit which I am providing you.  Now use the water and mirror to clean yourself up.  I will be inside of you, indwelling you, writing my laws into your minds and upon your hearts” (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-33; Hebrews 8:6-13; John 14:15-23; James 1:22-25).  We find this whole picture of what the new covenant is all about symbolized by the brazen wash basin described in Exodus 30:17-21, Exodus 38:8 and 40:30-32.   Let’s look at these verses.  Exodus 30:17-21, “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base also of bronze, for washing.  You shall put it between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar.  And you shall put water in it, for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and feet in water from it.  When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the Lord, they shall wash with water, lest they die.  So they shall wash their hands and their feet, lest they die.  And it shall be a statute forever to them---to him and his descendants throughout their generations.”  Now let’s see a special feature this brazen laver had, which makes it a perfect picture of the new covenant.  Exodus 38:8, “He made the laver of bronze and its base of bronze, from the bronze mirrors of the serving women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.” The inside of this laver, as well as the whole thing was made of polished bronze looking glasses, bronze mirrors!  Water was placed in it so that when a priest looked into the still water he could clearly see himself.  But in the old covenant, God never provided his Holy Spirit to the entire nation.  In Moses day, besides himself and Aaron, there were only 70 others that received the Holy Spirit.  So picture the poor Israelites, provided with the polished mirror of God’s law, and told to wash up.  When you’ve been working on your car, playing mechanic, and come in after fixing it, all greasy, what do you do?  You go to the sink.  The mirror will show you where the dirt is on your face.  Right?  Of course.  If you just try to rub the dirt off, the grease and grime, what happens?  It merely becomes more deeply imbedded in your skin.  Right?    You must turn on the water and scrub the dirt off with soap and water, or else it’s not coming off.  Throughout the Bible, both water and oil have been used to symbolize God’s Holy Spirit.  So that’s the purpose of the law, it’s a mirror, an inanimate object.  It only reveals where the dirt is.  Just looking in a mirror alone, all by itself doesn’t clean you up.  The mirror prompts a person to turn on the water and go for the soap.  Some of the grace oriented churches say the law actually makes you bad.  I would have to disagree.  It is merely a revealer of sin, showing a person how really bad they are without Christ in them, showing their need for Christ.  The law drives a person to Christ, the water source.

 

Water, a symbol of the Holy Spirit

 

Water is an amazing thing, with mysterious purifying qualities when it’s running, like say in a brook.  It carries away dirt, germs and impurities like nothing else.  The Old Testament shows, and science proves it out, that a dead rodent can fall into a very large pool of water, and the water remains pure.  So are we getting the Biblical picture of what God’s law is?  It’s not evil.  It’s just a spiritual mirror, and for that matter, it’s the mirror image (in print) of God’s very character.  But by itself, it’s next to useless.  Now let’s take another look at Romans 7:8-11, to see what else is being shown here.

 

Part II, The Progression

 

Romans 7:8-11, “What shall we say then?  Is the law sin?  Certainly not!  On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law.  For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said ‘You shall not covet.’  But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire.  For apart from the law sin was dead.  I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.  And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.  For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me…”  In these passages a progression is shown, the progressive steps a person takes as God the Father draws a person to Jesus.  First, we see a person without the law, i.e. without any spiritual understanding of God’s Word, in ignorant bliss.  This is shown in the last part of verse 8 through the first part of  verse 9, “For apart from the law sin was dead.  I was alive once without the law…”  Then as God starts drawing a person to Christ that person starts to investigate God’s Word, he or she starts to understand it.  He starts to see himself in the light of God’s spiritual mirror, as God sees him, as a spiritual mess.  What’s the reaction?  Verse 9b-11, “…but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.  And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.  For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.”  Reading God’s law and the Word of God, before a person is born-again, indwelt by the Holy Spirit---can have this effect.  It is often the first step God takes in drawing a person to Jesus Christ.  Even Paul before his actual conversion on the road to Damascus was intimately acquainted with God’s law.  And he must have had huge struggles within himself as he saw sin revealed and found himself helpless to overcome what he saw.  So we see a progression is being shown here, clear as day, of a person who had no real knowledge of God’s law, the Bible or God for that matter.  And then God starts drawing that person into a knowledge of how much he needs God, and how sinful he or she is, sold into slavery of sin, but helpless to do anything about it.  At that point, a person is ready to call on the Lord, asking Jesus, Yeshua to come into his or her life.  It is the law of God, God’s spiritual mirror, which shows a person who is being drawn to Jesus by the Father, just how sinful and a slave of sin he or she is.  This person, who is going through this progression shown in Romans 7:7-14 is being shown that he has a very real need of Jesus.  He or she is  becoming aware of God’s standards.  The person seeing himself or herself in the mirror of God’s Word and law is still not born-again.  What happens next? 

 

Part III, The Struggle

 

Romans 7:14-25, “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.”---Paul could only be saying this about himself before his conversion, using his pre-conversion struggle with sin as an example to explain the struggle most, if not all new-believers go through just prior to them accepting Christ into their lives, calling upon the Lord to save them.  Many Bible scholars feel that it is inconceivable that Paul in his present state as the apostle to the Gentiles, and exuding the attributes of Romans 6 and 8 in his life, would continue to be “carnal, sold under sin.”---“For what I am doing, I do not understand.  For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.  If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.  But now, it is no longer I who perform it, but sin that dwells in me.”---Remember that sin nature described in the Romans 6 study, which is made inoperative when one accepts Christ into his or her life?  This is what Paul is describing, the person who is becoming a new believer in Christ sees within himself this sin nature he or she is helpless to do anything about.  Let’s continue---“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.  For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.  Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.  I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.  For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  O wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this death?…”---At this point, Paul is showing how the new believer, not yet fully indwelt by the Holy Spirit is crying out in frustration.  This person (Paul may have actually been showing his own struggle as an example) starts to see himself in light of God’s Word and law, and wanting to be a child of God, a huge struggle ensues.  What we see here, for the most part, is the struggle of a person who is being drawn to Christ and what that struggle is like.  They may be reading the Bible, listening to good sermons on a Christian radio---coming to see themselves as they truly are in the spiritual mirror of God’s Word and law---and then trying to measure up all on their own (just like ancient Israel tried and failed miserably).  The people who find themselves in this category could even be sitting in a church listening to sermons.  All these people in this category have not yet made a commitment to Christ---they have not asked Jesus into their lives, called out to him for salvation, to be saved.  And boy what a struggle it is, trying to overcome sin on your own.  Now we’re going to look at another way of interpreting Romans 7:14-25, which also applies to the believers life, just as much as we have seen it applies to the life of a person being drawn by the Father to Jesus via the workings of the Holy Spirit. 

 

Romans 7:14-25,

If you’re a Christian, you’re in a battle---the war within.  Paul describes his battle within, which we all have going on within us.

 

Note:  This is now looking at verses 14-25 as they apply to already born-again believers (don’t forget, these were written in the present tense, while verses 7-13 were written in the past tense).  What we see here by Paul writing verses 14-25 in the present tense, and verses 7-13 in the past, is his attempt to “kill two birds with one stone”.  This often made for confusion when reading Paul’s epistles, back at the time they were written in, and down through the Church age to the present.

 

Romans 7:14-25, For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.  For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that I do not; but what I hate, that do I.  If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.  Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.  For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.  Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.  For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  O wretched man that I am!  Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ out Lord.  So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”

 

The Bible says there is still a war going on within Christians.  Every Christian has this struggle, the Bible says all Christians have this struggle.  You will see that this passage is written in the present tense, as Dr. Michael Brown will show in the appendix of his book “Go and Sin No More” covering Romans 7.  Romans 7:7-13 was all written in the past tense.  As I showed, the major interpretation for this whole section in Romans 7:7-25 does deal with and shows a person who is in the process of being drawn to Jesus and seeing himself in the light of God’s Word, perhaps for the very first time.  But some feel, and justifiably, that verses 14-25 also show the struggle that goes on within all of us as Christians, as we learn to walk in the Spirit.  So now we’ll look at these verses in that particular light of interpretation. 

 

This internal struggle between good and evil shows we’re spiritually alive---born again

 

If we as Christians didn’t have this struggle, we’d be dead spiritually speaking, dead to God, dead in our sins.  Remember Ephesians 2:1-3 describes our past life.  It says, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to love when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts” (NIV).  But now you’ve come alive by the grace of Christ.  You don’t belong to that old world anymore and that old master.  You don’t have to do what he would like you to do anymore, because you have a new nature (this was shown in Romans 6 and will really be expounded upon in Romans 8).  You are a new creature in Christ, a new creation in Christ.  So if you really are struggling with one of the biggies, say---alcohol, wrong thoughts or an impure relationship or you’re struggling with your sexuality, or maybe it’s the job you’re in that maybe you shouldn’t be in---but you’re in this struggle.  Praise God!  You’ve got this struggle because you are born-again, the Holy Spirit does reside in you---Jesus is in you!  This struggle is a direct sign that you are in Christ.  Why?  Because “dead people” (i.e. people who are spiritually dead, dead in their sins, walking, running in the way of the world) don’t have spiritual struggles like this.  They just go along with the flow, “whatever feels good, man.”  They don’t understand because they don’t have a new nature.  (But, as we saw before, those that are being drawn to Jesus do have this struggle, in spades, big time, as they are developing a rudimentary knowledge of God’s Word, and seeing what they’re like in God’s spiritual mirror [his law].  They may not have yet given their lives to Jesus and are not indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit is working with them to draw them to Jesus and show them all these things.)  The Bible tells us we have this war inside of us because we are new creatures, but we’re still in old bodies.  When you came to Christ you became a new man or a new woman in Christ…Our bodies still have this principle of sin that’s within us. 

No sin nature anymore---but we still have the flesh to contend with

 

What I called this ‘spirit-of-man’ or ‘spirit-in-man’ that is tuned to Satan’s wavelength, the very human spirit that God grants each person his or her human intellect and ability to think far beyond the most intelligent animals.  I.e. what dolphin has created skyscrapers, jet planes, understands astrophysics, astronomy, the arts, etc.?  This is not a nature of sin within us like we had before we accepted Christ—that died, as Romans 6 showed us.  Romans 6 says that the “old man” died, so we don’t have two natures, we don’t have an old nature and a new nature.  But we still have residual effects---the Bible calls it the flesh, that’s still in us.  And this leads to civil war.  Look at this conflict he points out in Romans 7:14, “For we know the law is spiritual, but I am of”---what?---“flesh, sold into bondage of sin.”  [Now this is where this verse applies more to those being drawn to Jesus, before they actually accept him.  Paul was not in bondage to sin, a slave to sin, after his conversion, and neither are we.  But we are in a war.] Verse 15, “I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”  He wants to do right.  We’ve been changed, we see things the way God sees them [and so do those being drawn to Jesus that are not yet fully indwelt with the Holy Spirit---they’re starting to see things the way God sees them---but they’re really powerless to change what they see in themselves.]  Verse 17, “As it is, it is no longer myself who do it, but is the sin living in me.”  So now, if you’re a Christian you don’t want to do what’s wrong, your new nature doesn’t want to sin.  “So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me.”  See, he’s saying ‘It’s not the new me that’s been born-again, it’s sin in me, it’s sin that’s still living in me like some creep in my body.  He’s the one doing it, it’s the principle of sin.  Verse 18, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”  Verse 20, “But if I’m doing the very thing I don’t want to do, then,’ he says, ‘that’s just proof that I’m no longer the one doing it, but sin which indwells me.'” What he's trying to say is ‘Get off this trip that you “are” addicted to something, that you “have to” do something.  He’s saying ‘You don’t.’  There’s sin in you that wants to.  Remember that pager analogy in Romans 6, “the flesh”?  The explanation that Satan’s broadcast is on the wavelength of our human spirit---the “spirit in man”?  That’s the flesh “signal” that’s in conflict with your new nature.  But when you were born-again, something radical happened to you, when you accepted Christ.  “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation…”  The Bible says that there is “the flesh” left here after we accept Christ, and because the flesh is there playing tug-of-war with us (via Satan’s wavelength, evil broadcast, our “pager”-“cell-phone” buzzing our number), there’s a civil war going on inside of us. 

 

Internal civil war

 

Galatians 5:17 also talks about this same civil war going on in Christian’s lives.  “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary to one another: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (King James).  Amplified: “For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the (Holy) Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (Godless human nature): for these are antagonistic to each other---continually withstanding and in conflict with each other---so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do.”  Living New Testament: “For we naturally have to do evil things that are just the opposite from the things that the Holy Spirit tells us to do: and the good things we want to do when the Spirit has His way with us are just the opposite of our natural desires.  These two forces within us are constantly fighting each other to win control over us and our wishes are never free from their pressures.”  We shouldn’t be discouraged by this pressure.  We don’t have to walk in the flesh anymore, we can chose to walk in the Spirit, we can chose where we want to hang out.  You can hang out in the flesh, and it’s works, which are described in Galatians 5:19-21, or you can hang out in the Spirit, described a few verses further, in verses 22-23.  The enemy on his wavelength can “page” you with any one of the things listed in verses 19-21.  “Outburst of anger”, for example, does that happen?  Yes!  When it does, take a meditative time out and realize someone’s dialed your “pager number.”  It’s natural for our flesh to act up just before we’re going to do something that has to do with the Lord, church, Bible study, prayer-time, to try to bum us out.  Remember, there’s an “outside source” to that, there’s a battle going on, a war we’re in. 

 

What Happens When We Give In To Sin?

 

When you give in to the “pager” signal, let’s say the fleshly “cell-phone” rings and you pick it up and answer instead of just letting it ring until it stops (you can’t turn it off like a normal cell-phone)---you just let the flesh win, you just fell for the oldest ploy on earth.  You should get yourself to church, start that Bible study time, prayer-time, no matter how bad Satan’s worldly signal has effected you, and let the Holy Spirit minister to your hearts.  There are a few more kinds of signals that this fleshly cell-phone caller can deliver through our human spirits, they are listed in Galatians 5:19-21.  Let’s look at a few.  “Disputes, dissentions and factions”---those  are nice “Christian sins”, these are church board sins, or if your church votes, those you have had at business meetings.  Right?  “Envyings, drunkenness”.  If you were an alcoholic, do you ever get that real strong urge, say the day’s going all wrong for you, and this real strong urge keeps coming at you “I’ve got to have a drink”?  That’s an outside signal coming in through your human spirit, the spirit-in-man.  That cell-phone is ringing, with that particular text message coming across the screen into your mind.  Do you ignore the signal, the message?  You have power in Christ to chose not to answer the signal, ignore it till it goes away.  At the end Paul says, “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  If that’s your lifestyle, what makes you think you’re a Christian, or if you’re one who has repeatedly given in to sin so it becomes habitual, what makes you think you’ll inherit the kingdom of God?  That’s what Paul is saying.  We have the ability to chose right from wrong, where those who are still in the world, not born-again, do not have that power.  We should be praying “God give me a hatred for that sin”, whatever sin seems to be your weakest link in the chain.  “God, give me a love for the things you love.” 

 

Satan’s “pager” is within us until we die

 

So, in taking this passage (verses 14-25) in the present tense, to apply to us now, would indicate that even though the “old man” is dead, the old sin nature is dead in us, the flesh still wars against the Spirit in us and causes us trouble.  Thus we still struggle with being drawn to sin.  It is our response that counts.  We still have Satan’s (and by extension, the demonic world’s) signal coming into us via the human spirit we each have.  How many of you have thought, “If I really were a Christian, I wouldn’t have these strong rotten desires coming into my mind?”  Even after the new birth, even after we’ve been given the new nature---the flesh remains and the flesh never gets better.  Of course it doesn’t, it’s a receiver to Satan’s evil broadcasts.  That’s why your flesh doesn’t reform.  But we need to understand, that with this new nature, we don’t have to follow what that incoming message tells us to do, we don’t have to sin anymore!  Christians shouldn’t say “I can’t stop doing this” when it comes to walking away from sin.  We need to learn to use our “chosers”.  We can chose to say no to sin and the broadcast message of sin. 

 

Verses 14-25 can also be describe believers who have become bound up in a sin

 

These verses (14-25) not only explain the struggle a new believer has who has not yet accepted Christ---as he is trying on his or her own to measure up---it is also a picture of the struggle we can have with sin, especially if we have become bound in a sin.  Michael Brown gets into this in his incredible book “Go and Sin No More.”  But let’s see how we can become bound in a sin.  When a sinful thought enters your mind, that is not wrong in itself.   As we have seen, most of the time it comes from an outside source.  The world, past residual thoughts from our old dead nature (which is dead now)---and most importantly, Satan’s (and the demonic realm’s) evil broadcast have the ability to enter into our minds at any time.  But after a sinful thought enters your mind, you have a choice---to chose to throw it out, immediately, or let it remain.  One remaining evil thought, not put out of our minds will then multiply to many, or increase in intensity as it remains.  This then leads to sinful action once the thought gets strong enough.  James describes the process in James 1:13-15.  Let’s read it.  “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’  [no, it’s like I said, it’s more than likely Satan’s evil broadcast, or the world in it’s sex-crazed insanity, blasting its way into all our senses at every turn, but it’s not God, that’s for sure.]  For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;  but each one is tempted when by his own evil desire, [step1: the evil thought enters, and is not put out right away], he is dragged away and enticed [step 2: the thought multiplies to many thoughts, or intensifies].  Then [step 3], after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin [the sinful action]; [step 4] and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (NIV).  Now this is really interesting.  The process of leavening is almost identical.  This whole four-step process, which in leavening is actually about seven steps, but it’s identical, describes the sin process.  We can see it happening in our society now, as it slowly kills itself, as sin is becoming universal.  Rome fell from within, as it’s sexual sins became universal.  80 empires have all collapsed in similar fashion over the millennia of time man has been on earth.  To read about the decaying process of leavening and how it pictures this four step process James just described, log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/messianicmovement/Leaven.htm .  It describes what can happen to a believer, bound in his or her sin.  In the end, it may actually spell spiritual death.  In Proverbs, Solomon said that a repeated sin can bind us with invisible cords, which become so strong that a person can’t escape.  But the Lord can cut these cords.  Be cautioned though, as a sin is repeated, the Christian conscience is seared, so that particular sin (and sin in general) becomes easier and easier to commit.  These are those binding cords that Solomon talked about in Proverbs.  The struggle to come out of a sin we have become bound in is very aptly described by verses 14-25 of Romans 7.  At the very end of Romans 7 Paul uses a very gross description of a type of death that comes when sin has done it’s work, just like the leavening process does if left to continue.  Be sure to log onto that study on the leavening process---it’s a real wake-up call to come out of habitual sins, before it is too late.  When this passage is taken in the light of referring to a person who is being drawn to Jesus, this person realizes that if he is not saved by Jesus and given the Holy Spirit, he’s going to die spiritually, he can’t save himself.  For a person who is a believer, it’s a very strong warning to call for help, calling to Jesus to cut the cords, and then start walking in the Spirit daily, re-cutting those cords of sin as they attempt to re-bind themselves around him or her. 

 

Wrapping it up

 

In Romans 7:24 Paul says “Wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from the body of this death.”  Now that bolded phrase may go over your heads.  Research into Roman forms of execution reveals that they had a way of executing a person who committed murder that was worse than all the other forms of execution they used.  It perfectly describes death from sin reaching a universal level in a person---it describes the leavening process carried to its very end.  The Roman judge would order that the murderer, while he was yet alive, would be tied to the dead body of the person he had murdered---hand to hand, mouth to mouth, neck to neck, chest to chest, leg to leg.  The only way you could walk around was with this dead body tied onto you.  And they’d leave it on there until you died.  It would start to decay and putrefy.  And then it would start to infect you, and then you would die a slow, stinky, horrible, gross death.  What a picture of the final stage of leavening in person’s life.  And Paul uses the leavening process to describe the sexual sin of a person in the Corinthian church.  When we get into Romans 8 we’ll see the solution for the sin problem for both the person who is in the process of coming to accept Jesus and now realizes where sin is leading them, helpless to do anything about it---and also for the believer who may find himself or herself bound in a sin, in desperate need of spiritual revival.  Paul gives the answer in Romans 7:25, which is a perfect introduction to Romans 8.  “Who will rescue me from the body of this death?” (verse 24b)  “Thanks be to God---through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (verse 25a).    Now we will see something very interesting in the last half of verse 25.  “So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God;”---i.e. here we see Paul saying he serves the law of God.  A study through the entire New Testament will reveal that 9 of the 10 Commandments are re-commanded for believers to keep, and often expanded to include their loftier spiritual intent, as Jesus did when he expounded on a number of the Ten Commandments in Matthew 5:17-48.  The law of God---as some teach---isn’t done away with in the New Testament.  But as we have seen, the very purpose of the law of God has changed, it is to be used as our spiritual mirror, defining sin and showing where this spiritual dirt is on us, so we can wash it off by and through Jesus Christ within us---the Holy Spirit---the water.  (Don’t confuse the term “law of sin” with the “law of God”.  They’re not the same, even as this verse indicates.  The “law of sin” refers to the flesh, our fleshly “pager”-“cell phone”.  Next and last part of verse 25, Paul reaffirms that the flesh remains in us. “So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”  The law is meant to drive us to Christ, drive us to the spiritual Holy “water” in front of God’s spiritual mirror of the law.  We’re in a war, brothers and sisters in Christ, Messiah.  Next chapter, we’ll learn about how to fight the good fight with power, real power---the power of God, Christ in us.  Remember, just because some of these wild mustang thoughts come into your mind—don’t blame yourself for them---but put them out.  Could be the flesh or some “imp” just injected it, and you don’t have to accept it.

 

Comments about what some erroneously teach

 

Now for some comments about what some teach.  I will give statements from what some teach, and then comment on those statements.

 

Some say living under the Law doesn’t work, that it’s bad for you---is that true?

 

“But the law asks of us impossibilities…”  “Living under the law doesn’t work, because being under the law does not break sin’s hold on you, it actually gives sin a hold on your life.”  Yes, for those who are in the midst of being called and drawn to Jesus, those who are not yet indwelt by the Holy Spirit this can be the case.  That is what drives those in this process to call out to Christ for salvation.  But Romans 8:7-9 shows that the difference between being indwelt and not indwelt with the Holy Spirit determines what effect God’s law is going to have on a person.  The hostility of normal carnal man is directed both toward God and his law with equal animosity.  But for the believer, a deep love and reverence extends back to God and all things related to God, including the royal law---no matter which version of that royal law the believer chooses to have the Lord write upon his heart and in his mind (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-33; Hebrews 8:6-13).  King David, a  devout  believer in the Old Testament whose writings are a valued part of the Word of God wrote loving praise for God’s law.  He never called God’s law bad.  He never saw himself or believers as being under bondage to the law and never referred to the law of God as a bondage.  This is what a believer, a Holy Spirit indwelt and led person had to say about God’s law.  Psalm 119:1-8, “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord!  Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart!  They also do no iniquity: they walk in His ways.  You have commanded us to keep Your precepts diligently.   Oh, that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes!   Then I would not be ashamed, when I look into all Your commandments.  I will praise You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments.  I will keep Your statutes; oh, do not forsake me utterly!”  Verses 33-35, “Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end.  Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.  Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it.”  Take the time to read the whole of Psalm 119.  Take a Strong’s Concordance and look up the word “law” and see everywhere it is listed in Psalms and read those Psalms.  David was a born-again believer in the Old Testament.  He was living in and obeying the Old Testament version of God’s law found in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy.  He was also living the spiritual intent or magnification of the law Jesus gave in Matthew 5:17-48.  The law is not some evil thing.  It is a mirror that reveals sin.  It is not a thing of bondage.  Sin is what binds people.  The law has no power to help a person to obey, it’s inanimate.  It is God in you, through the Holy Spirit that makes obedience possible.  When David sinned badly, he cried out to God in Psalm 51 imploring God to not take his Holy Spirit from him, but instead to cleanse him, wash him clean. 

 

What is sin?

 

What is sin?  The apostle John in his first epistle defined sin, basically giving the Bible definition of sin.  It’s quite simple and yet revealing.  Most of the very grace oriented churches and denominations avoid this verse like the plague because they might feel forced to change their teaching about the law of God if this passage were to be clearly understood by all.  We’re not dead to the law, but dead to the Old Covenant agreement which stated we had to keep the law of God all on our own.  We’re dead, as Harpers Bible commentary brings out, to the penalty of the law.  As we saw in Romans 7:7-14, the very purpose of the law changed, from that of being in a husband relationship with the person, to that of being a spiritual mirror.  Now let’s read the Bible’s definition for sin.  1st John 3:4, “Whoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (King James Version).  Taking the thee’s and thou’s out it reads, “Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”  The word “the” is not in the original Greek.  But using it is not wrong nor does it alter the Bible’s definition of sin in this verse, for the “law” John is talking about throughout his whole letter is the “law of God.”  So let’s read Romans 6:14 using John’s definition (really, the Bible’s definition) for sin---“But the transgression of the law shall not be master over you anymore.”  I.e You won’t be slaves to sin, slaves to transgression of the law---one and the same thing.  The word “sin” and “transgression of God’s law” are really two sides to the same coin, so to speak.  It is transgression of the law that is being talked about here, and that we have already secured a release from slavery to sin, the slavery of being transgressors of God’s law.  We have secured this release by the very power and presence of Jesus living within us (via the Holy Spirit).  That’s what Romans 6 was all about.  Most people who live under a flawed understanding of what grace is, skirting around the word “law” and “God’s law” are still living a life of power and release from sin, even though their explanation of Romans 7 tends to flip and flop around a bit, and so is somewhat in error.  The power and presence of Jesus is not hampered by this misunderstanding as long as there is a sincere desire on the part of the believer to come out of sin and live a holy life in the Lord.  But some are genuinely led astray by this ambiguous way of explaining Romans 7 and slamming the law of God.  It’s time for clear teaching on this subject, presenting it in a way both the Grace oriented churches and denominations and the Torah-observant ones can both accept.  That is what I am attempting to do here. 

 

Are you ‘performance driven?’---it can be a bad sign or it can be a good one, depending

 

Just two points for our Torah-observant groups to consider, that the grace oriented churches tend to notice about them.  1. They tend to be performance oriented.  If this is being driven by the Lord who dwells within them via the Holy Spirit, that’s fine.  But be aware that this could be a symptom of trying to obey all by oneself, in a Pharisaic manner.  Just something to consider.  Something we should always remember, is that your value is not based on what you’ve done at all, or what you didn’t do at all.  Your value as a Christian or Messianic believer in Yeshua is based on Jesus Christ, and your relation to the Son of God.  You are perfect in Christ all of the time.  Now this is where many fellowships disagree to varying degrees.  Yes, theologically, we are perfect in Christ all of the time.  Christ’s sacrifice covers our sins like the white new fallen snow covers a bleak landscape in winter, making it sparkle an unspeakable brilliant white in the winter sunshine.  At night the moonlight reflects off this whiteness shedding an incredible light on the landscape.  But on the other hand, we all have sin in our lives, and must be about the sanctification process (be sure to read 1st John 1:8-10; 2:1-2; 3:6,8-10), which consists of looking into God’s spiritual mirror, and then turning on the water (Christ within us via the Holy Spirit), and overcoming and washing off what we see in the mirror of God’s law.  The Christian life is a life of overcoming, as Paul points out in the very next chapter in Romans 8:13b.  So you see, there’s a balance.  If our spiritual performance is being driven by Christ in us, as we look into the “royal law, and not being forgetful hearers of the Word”, then there’s nothing wrong with being performance driven.

 

Are you judgmental toward other believers and churches?

 

Now for another trait found in some if not many of the Torah-observant churches and denominations.  This is given in love, and in no way is intended to slam those fellowships.  But there are those within them that have this trait.  Legalist’s (who tend to be found more in the Torah-observant fellowships, but their presence exist everywhere, in all fellowships) are critical and judgmental towards other people.  Many Torah-observant fellowships, Messianic Jewish and Sabbatarian Christian, gain the unsavory name of “Legalists” due to the judgmental and critical attitudes toward others that some of their members, and yes, even pastors have toward others, both within and outside of their own fellowships.  Legalists spend more time judging whether others are following God’s law, whether that be the New Testament law of Christ or the Old Testament Ten Commandment law of God, than they do judging themselves by that law.  They ought to be looking into the royal law of liberty themselves and using Christ within them, becoming properly sanctified through the washing of the Word by and through the help of the Holy Spirit.  This does not mean all who attend Torah-observant churches or synagogues (Messianic Jewish that is) are judgmental towards others, because they’re not.  They have simply chosen the Old Testament version of God’s law (coupled to the spiritual intent of the law given by Jesus in Matthew 5 and elsewhere in the New Testament) to use as their spiritual mirror.  Paul pointed out that they have the right to do this in Romans 14---it’s a matter of freedom to follow ones personal Christian conscience.  Both Gentile Christians and Torah-observant Messianic Jewish or Sabbatarian groups have the right to chose either the law of Christ (basically nine of the Ten Commandments, as amplified by Christ in Matthew 5 and throughout the New Testament), or the Ten Commandment Old Testament law of God (which also includes the Sabbath command and the Holy Days listed in Leviticus 23).  It is high time that all these fellowships on both sides of this doctrinal fence stopped throwing rocks and bottles at each other, like some intoxicated Irish youths do in South Boston.  It’s totally childish and goes directly against spiritual unity in the body of Christ. 

 

The Law doesn’t make you a slave

 

One more comment, and this one’s a beauty.  A pastor in one of these grace oriented churches made the statement “The law makes you a slave, and you serve out of fear…Choose who you’re going to serve.  Are you going to be a slave or a son?  And this one’s a beauty too.  “The law isn’t for Christians.”  Now to me, I have never seen the Bible use the analogy that we’re slaves to God’s law. The Bible shows that we’re either slaves to Christ or slaves to sin, but never slaves to the law.  In Romans 8:7-8 Paul said, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.  So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you…”  Romans 8:13 states, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”  According to Paul, we’re no longer in a state of enmity against either God or his law.  The carnal, unconverted person can never be subject to God’s law, not willingly.  It goes against the sin nature we talked about in Romans 6.  But that sin nature has been made inoperative, rendered powerless upon accepting Christ into our lives.  We are no longer hostile to either God or his law.  But we do use the law properly, coupled to the Divine grace, power and leading within us by the Holy Spirit.  We’re told by Paul to put to death the deeds of the body---sin---by the Spirit.  Or to look at the flip-side definition for sin---we’re told to put to death the deeds of the body---transgressions of God’s law---by the Spirit.”  Does that sound like the law of God has no place in a Christian’s life?  So to slam the law of God and the believer who is trying to use it properly as a spiritual mirror is not biblically correct or wise.  It’s time to correct our doctrines and check our bad attitudes toward each other at the door of the combined Church of God whom God has united already through his Holy Spirit.  We need to be mindful of what we see in God’s spiritual mirror.  The practical application of the law of God is brought out throughout the book of Proverbs---‘What do I do in this situation?, to avoid this powerful spiritual minefield, to avoid sexual sin?---Proverbs 5, 6 and 7.  Also the entire spiritual application and magnification of God’s Old Testament law is found throughout the New Testament.  Believers can and do get entrapped by sin, and it is often the law of God, coupled to promptings by the Holy Spirit which help point this out to the believer, showing him or her their real need to draw close to Christ, the true water source, and wash the dirt off in and through Christ.  It’s not a legalistic trip.   New believers, having just come to Christ, often have many sinful habits of the world hanging onto them.  Study of God’s Word, including God’s law, whether Old Testament version or the New Testament law of Christ, helps show the new believer where the dirt is, and he or she with the empowering help of Jesus within, overcomes whatever sinful dirt is discovered, it gets “washed off.”  That ain’t legalism, brother, that’s overcoming in the Lord, that’s what theologians call “sanctification”, which leads to true holiness. 

 

Misinterpretation of Matthew 5:17-19

 

Another misinterpreted Scripture is Matthew 5:17-19, which states, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.  I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”  Many grace oriented churches teach that Jesus fulfilled all the law and so we’re no longer held to its specific standards.  But they stop their quote of this passage at the words “I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”  Taken in context with the rest of the passage, the meaning changes radically, where Jesus continues to say “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”  Now ask yourself, when does the book of Revelation tell us that the heavens and the earth will melt with great heat and pass away, and a new heavens and earth will be created?  Isn’t it at the very end of the plan of salvation for mankind?  The lake of fire is finished, the heavens and earth are melted down in great heat and then recreated.  All who have been transformed into their glorious spirit bodies, having obtained eternal life are no longer in need of God’s written code of law, it’s been ingrained into their whole lifestyle and way of being.  The resurrected and immortal saints at this point are on the same page as God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.  No need for a written code.  It’s already been written upon our hearts and in our minds.   And for those who think God’s written law is merely inanimate as I stated before---an inanimate mirror---not quite so.  Coupled to the Holy Spirit of God, the law and the whole printed Word of God come alive within the mind of the believer, as they read it.  That’s why it’s called the Living Word of God, because Jesus, Yeshua within us makes it come alive in our minds.  That is the new covenant operating within us.  [Even unsaved Jews who revere God’s Word in the Old Testament understand this.  The Scribes who copy the Torah for use in the synagogues have this very fancy calligraphy form for their Hebrew writing of the scrolls which has the appearance of flames coming off the letters.  This symbolizes that it is the Living Word of God, God-breathed, and thus flaming.  This pictures for us how the flaming Holy Spirit of God makes his very Word come alive in the minds of born-again believers.  Just thought you might find that interesting.] 

 

Symbolic meaning of the Days of Unleavened Bread

 

For Sabbatarian Church of God believers and our Messianic believers in Yeshua (and also for those who may find this interesting), here are some interesting facts about the Days of Unleavened Bread and their symbolic meaning, and also the new significance they took on at the time of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Yeshua haMeshiach.  Here goes (these are quotes taken from a Sabbatarian Church of God publication).  My comments in [ ] brackets. 

 

“These Days of Unleavened Bread marked a turning point in the way the spring festival was to be celebrated down through the ages” [at first by the early Church of God up until 325AD, and then by the Sabbatarian Churches of God from then onward].

          “The truly great story about the Days of Unleavened Bread is the story of the resurrected Christ living His life in those of us who have truly repented of living in sin and have received the Holy Spirit!  This empowers us to overcome sins in a way that previously [to our being born-again] was simply not possible.  Yes, the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a festival that helps us to focus on replacing sin with righteousness [called the “process of sanctification” by theologians].  But the only real way to put sin out of our lives is to put Jesus Christ into our lives!  We are promised that we can truly put sin out of our lives because Jesus Christ lives within us (compare Galatians 2:20; Romans 7:23-8:4).”

          “Paul tells us in Romans 13:12 that we are to ‘Put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light’ (NIV).  He then lists the ‘deeds of darkness’ as sins such as revelry, drunkenness, lewdness, lust, strife and envy.  Then in verse 14 he shows the way to conquer such sins: by being clothed ‘with the Lord Jesus Christ’ (NIV).”

          “In our struggles against sin, not only during the Days of Unleavened Bread but throughout the entirety of our lives, we can choose to fight on our own strength or we can surrender our will to God and rely on the power of the risen Christ who lives his life in us through the…Holy Spirit.  With this kind of power working against our sins, the very “power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3:10), we can say with Paul, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (4:13).

          “Yes, Paul reminded Christians to ‘work out your own salvation with fear and trembling’ (Philippians 2:12).  Yet he was in no way preaching a works-based salvation, for in verse 13 he explains that ‘it is God who works in you both to will [that is, to have the desire to overcome] and to do [to act on that desire] for His good pleasure.’”

          “It is the resurrection of Christ [which occurred right smack in the middle of the Days of Unleavened Bread], and His living in Christians to empower them to remove the leaven of sin from their lives, that gives these spring festivals---Passover, the Festival of Unleavened Bread and Pentecost—such deep and lasting meaning.”

[March/April number of The Good News, pp. 18-19 © 2006, United Church of God, an International Association.]

 

To access the study on the leavening process and how it pictures the destructive process of sin, which ends in spiritual death if allowed to proceed (i.e. habitual sins) log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/messianicmovement/Leaven.htm .  The  significance the early Church of God in Jerusalem attributed to the Days of Unleavened Bread was the picturing of how Jesus, Yeshua within them was helping them live “unleavened lives”, lives free from habitual sin, following the sanctification process.  The Sabbatarian Churches of God still teach the significance of what those days pictured, as seen in the above quote.  Messianic Jewish believers also understand these rich Biblical images pictured by God’s Holy Days of the Old Testament.  While most of us do not practice these customs and days of worship, we ought to be aware of their deep spiritual significance, and how they relate to our walk in Christ, and picture the plan of salvation and sanctification through Christ.  We can only be spiritually richer for doing so.

         

Now I’m going to give Dr. Michael Brown’s Appendix to Romans 7, found in his book “Go and Sin No More”.  It will reveal the two most prominent interpretations for Romans 7.  You will see why I chose to interpret Romans 7 as I have, and for good reason.  He’s a Th.D. (has his doctorate in theology), and I’m just a country bumkin by comparison, so I try not to just write these things without going to a few experts in this field.  I highly recommend his book “Go and Sin No More” for those who wish to pursue the process of sanctification and true biblical holiness.  I try to read it through at least once a year. 

 

[The following is a direct quote of the first appendix in Dr. Michael Brown’s book “Go and Sin No More”.  It is the entire appendix, titled “WHAT ABOUT ROMANS 7?”.  I include it in its entirety because of the accuracy and relevancy of the material covering the proper interpretation of Romans 7.  I include several tiny comments in red brackets.]

 

Appendix

 

WHAT ABOUT ROMANS 7?

 

Are you the kind of reader who goes to a juicy sounding chapter---or in this case, straight to the appendix---rather than reading a book in the order in which it is presented?

          Well, if that’s you, I saw you coming and wrote this short study on your behalf.  I didn’t want you to be wondering about Romans 7---wondering if you can really live a holy life after all—while you worked your way through a book whose whole thrust is that you can live a holy life.  So go ahead and read this appendix now.  This way, you can get your questions answered up front.

          As for those who are reading this appendix after finishing the whole book (good for you!), this will help to solidify your thinking and reinforce your convictions all the more. 

          Let’s assume that you know that the Word of God consistently calls us to holiness, and let’s assume that you really do want to live a godly, clean life, free from the bondage of sin.  The problem is that you seem to have such a hard time walking in purity.  You are engaged in constant, intense warfare and find great difficulty in living a truly consecrated life.  And, you recall, it seems that Paul himself addressed this very issue, telling us that the things he wanted to do, he didn’t do, while the things he didn’t want to do, he did (see Rom. 7:14-25).  Doesn’t that describe our plight too?

          Are we really free from sin?  Have we truly died to it?  Why then does the battle rage with such ferocity in our souls?  What does the Word say, and what can we expect?

          These questions must be addressed, since there is little use in reading a book about holiness if you’re not convinced you can really live it out, if biblical teaching on sanctification is just a matter of ethereal, theological speculation and not a matter of concrete, attainable reality.  Obviously, we all agree that the Word clearly calls us to holiness, but our experience (and maybe Paul’s) seems to render our situation hopeless.

          So the real question is this: Does God require holiness from us---internally as well as externally---or is He resigned to the fact that we will consistently do the things we hate and fail to do the things we love?  Can we or can we not stop the practice of habitual sin?

          Before taking a careful look at Romans 7, let me give you a simple and logical principle of biblical interpretation.  If you have fifty clear passages that are in total harmony on a given subject and one somewhat unclear passage that apparently contradicts the other passages, you never throw out or negate the fifty for the one.  Either you interpret the single uncertain passage in light of the fifty certain passages, or you recognize a distinct, balancing aspect that the one passage offers the fifty.  In either case, the interpretation of the fifty clear passages remains the same.

          So, whatever you make of Romans 7---the one and only passage where Paul seems to speak about fighting a losing battle with sin and the flesh---you can’t dismiss the passages cited throughout this book (see Chapter Five, in particular), especially when you realize that Romans 7 is sandwiched between Romans 6 and 8, two of the clearest holiness passages in the Bible.  In fact, if you were to read through the entire New Testament and mark down all the verses that call us to put away sin and give ourselves to purity, you would find virtually every book and every author saying the same thing: “Get the sin out of your life!  Submit yourself to God.  Be holy.  Through the blood of Jesus, you can lead a new life.” 

          To give just the slightest hint at what you would discover in your study of the New Testament---and remember, this is just a tiny sampling from each book---in Matthew’s Gospel there is the Sermon on the Mount, where we learn that even thoughts of adultery or hatred are abominations in the sight of God (see Matt. 5:21-30).  In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus warns us not to let our eyes or hands lead us into sin, with hellfire the penalty for those who ignore the warning (see Mark 9:43-49).  In Luke’s Gospel, we read that if we don’t repent we will perish (see Luke 13:1-5), while in the Gospel of John, we are called to abandon our evil deeds and walk in the light (see John 3:16-21; 8:23,24).

          In Acts, sinners are rebuked---or even judged---on the spot (for example, Ananias and Sapphira in chapter 5, Simon the sorcerer in chapter 8, Herod in chapter 12, and Elymas the sorcerer in chapter 13), which in Romans, Paul tells the believers that the time for sinning is over (see Romans 13:11-14).  It’s the same throughout the remainder of the New Testament---Gospel after Gospel, epistle after epistle, right through the Book of Revelation.

          Now read through the New Testament again, one chapter at a time, and look for verses saying that, as believers, we are destined to lead anemic, compromised, defeated lives that will never measure up to the norm.  Where are the verses?

          You say, “But weren’t the Corinthians and Galatians rebuked by Paul because of sin or serious error in their midst?  And wasn’t that the case with five of the seven churches addressed by the Lord in Revelation 2 and 3?”  Absolutely!  But Paul and Jesus didn’t say, “I understand your sin.  No problem!  Just do a little better if you can, OK?”  Not at all.  There were stern rebukes and sharp ultimatums for these straying saints.  Such behavior is forbidden among the people of God.

          In fact, holy living was such a consistent, underlying theme in the early Church that Paul instructed the Corinthians to “not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler.  With such a man,” he wrote, “do not even eat” (1 Cor. 5:11).  Such persons, said Paul, are “wicked” (1 Cor. 5:13)---and unrepentant, wicked people have no place in the church.  There is simply no compromise here.

          That’s why Paul could dogmatically state:

 

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9,10).

 

          On these verses, A.T. Robertson, the heralded Greek scholar commented with chilling insight:

 

All these will fall short of the kingdom of God.  This was plain talk to a city like Corinth.  It is needed today.  It is a solemn roll call of the damned even if some of their names are on the church roll in Corinth whether officers or ordinary members.

 

          “But wait!” you say.  “What about all the other verses, the ones that bring balance to the extreme position you have taken?  What about them?"

          Sit down, my friend, you’re in for a surprise.  Not only is the position you call “extreme” actually the biblical norm, but those “other” verses you refer to don’t exist!  Aside from 1 John 1:8-2:2, being with the words, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us,” which is found in the beginning of a radical holiness book and which does not give us license to sin, and Romans 7, which is sandwiched between two glorious holiness chapters and to which we will turn shortly, the verses simply aren’t there.  Go through the Word and see for yourself!

          Of course, you can point to Peter’s pre-Pentecostal denial of Jesus as an example of human weakness, but you certainly can’t point to Peter---crucified upside down for his Master, according to Church tradition---as an ongoing example of human failing.

          Or you can point to the apostle Thomas as an example of a disciple who doubted, but you certainly can’t point to him as an example of continual doubt and unbelief.  Tradition tells us he was speared to death in India for his testimony of Jesus!

          And you can point to David as a man after God’s own heart who blew it royally, but you certainly don’t want to emulate his example.  His adultery and murder cost him (along with future generations of Israel) untold agony and grief.  Do not follow David in his sin!

          Certainly, no one is denying that in ourselves we are hopelessly weak, that we are sometimes embarrassed by our words and deeds, that we are never completely and entirely “without sin.”  (If you think you are utterly sinless, you’re probably guilty of pride and self-righteousness, self-deception or all three!)  But the Word clearly teaches that we are not to be characterized by our weaknesses but by His strength, that the pattern of our lives should be obedience and not disobedience, that we should never again live as sin’s captives but rather as the Lord’s redeemed.  Simply stated, rather than giving us a cop-out for our sinful nature, Jesus provides us with a way out.

          You might say, “You’ve just stated the obvious.  We are called by God to live in holiness, but we often battle with the flesh and fall short.  Who doesn’t know this?”

          Ah, but it’s the attitude that is crucial.  Do you flee for refuge to Romans 7, finding an easy excuse for your all-too-persistent shortcomings and allowing yourself to accept your compromised condition as the expected status quo?  Or to the contrary, do you find that subnormal condition to be completely unacceptable, determining by the grace of God to rise higher, considering yourself dead to sin and alive only to the Lord?  What is your attitude in all this?

          A lot also depends on what you mean when you say, “We often battle the flesh and fall short.”  How often and how far short?  Do you mean to say that you “just can’t” keep your eyes off Internet pornography, or that looking at it “only” once a week is perfectly understandable?  Do you mean to say that God understands the affair you had, even though you’re a pastor?  (Or could it be that, because you’re a pastor, He knows how sorely Satan tempts you and how hard your lot is, making your sin even more understandable?)  Do you mean that He overlooks your daily temper tantrums with your toddlers as you slap them and scream at them, assuring them they’ll never amount to anything good?

          Or do you mean that everyone has their “little” vices---like Christian ladies reading worldly romance novels (and putting their own names right in the middle of an adulterous fantasy), or like Christian salespeople telling  “white lies” on their jobs, or like Christian teenagers fooling around sexually outside of wedlock?  Or are you referring to those minor, “gray” areas like smoking cigarettes or watching videos with graphic and gratuitous violence (but without nudity or profanity, of course, making it “acceptable” for believers)?  If so, you are sadly mistaken.  The Word commands us to abandon all this.  Failure to comply with the “house rules” carries serious ramifications.

          Listen again to the Scriptures.  Let’s hear from just one biblical author in one short book:

 

“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

          Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul…He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.

          Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.  As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.  For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do---living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry” (1 Pet. 1:14-16; 2:11,24; 4:1-3).

 

          Yes, believers are to be armed with the attitude that says, “I’m done with sin!  That was part of my former way of life.  Now I live only to do the will of God.”  Peter’s teaching really sums it all up. 

          Peter also raises some issues regarding Romans 7, since the call to holiness in 1 Peter---in harmony with the rest of the Word—is absolutely clear, presupposing our ability in the Lord “to abstain from sinful desires.”  How then do we interpret Romans 7, which seems to say that we will also be slaves to sin in this life?  Let’s take a careful look at this much-disputed passage. 

          To get the immediate context, we’ll look again at Romans 6.  There Paul explains to the Roman believers that through baptism, they have identified with Jesus in His death to sin and His resurrection to a glorious new life.  These are a few of the expressions he uses:

 

“We died to sin…We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life…

          For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer  be slaves to sin---because anyone who has died has been freed from sin…

          For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him.  The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God” (from Rom. 6:2-10).

 

Based on these glorious truths, Paul gives some practical exhortations:

 

“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.  Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness.

          For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:11-14).

 

          The issue, of course, is one of “servitude,” because “when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey---whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness” (Rom. 6:16).

          Peter referred to this too, quoting a common proverb of the day: “A man is a slave to whatever has mastered him” (2 Pet. 2:19).  Thankfully, the Romans had made their choice, and they were freed from the tyranny of sin.  Notice the italicized phrases:

 

But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.  You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.  I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves.

          Just as you used to offer the parts of your body to slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.  When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.  What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?  Those things result in death!

          But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:17-23).

 

Any interpretation that still leaves the believer enslaved in sin is unacceptable.  Agreed?

 

Now we turn to Romans 7.  In the first six verses, Paul uses an analogy that describes the binding power of the law.  A woman, he explains, is bound to her husband by the law as long as he is alive, but when he dies, she is “released from the law of marriage” and is free to marry another.  But if she marries another man while her original husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress.  Paul then applies this to the Church: “So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God” (Rom. 7:4). 

          What does this mean to the believers?  Again, the application is clear:

 

For when we were controlled by the sinful nature [literally, flesh], the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death.  But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code (Rom. 7:5,6).

 

          And notice the verbal tense here: We were controlled by the sinful nature [flesh], but now, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit.  Everything has changed

          But there is a logical question that Paul raises, and it has to do with the nature of the law:

 

“What shall we say, then?  Is the law sin?  Certainly not!  Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law.  For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”  But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire.  For apart from law, sin is dead” (Rom. 7:7,8).

 

          And it is here that we arrive at the great interpretive dilemma of Romans 7:  What period of Paul’s life does he describe, his pre-conversion experience or his ongoing experience as a believer?  And does he speak only of himself, or does he speak of himself as a picture of “everyman”?  He writes:

 

“Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.  I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.  For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death” (Rom. 7:9-11).

 

          What does he mean when he says, “Once I was alive”?  If he is speaking of his experience before his glorious conversion, there is no real problem, since the rest of the chapter, in which he describes his deep frustration over his inability to conquer sin, does not apply to his experience as a new creation in Jesus the Messiah.  Therefore it does not apply to us as new creations in the Messiah (see 2 Cor. 5:17).

          But if he is speaking in the present tense, referring to his consistently defeated life as a Spirit-filled child of God, then all of us are in trouble. We can expect the same!

          How then do we understand these verses, and are there any other legitimate interpretations that take a “middle road”?  Let’s keep reading the text before we come to any conclusions:

 

“So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.  Did that which is good, then, become death to me?  By no means!  But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

          We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.  I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature [flesh].  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do---this I keep on doing. 

          Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it” (Rom. 7:12-20).

 

We see that Paul does speak in the present tense here, and all of us, on one level or another, can relate to his frustration.  (“For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.”)  All honest believers will admit that, at least sometimes, they think things, say things, or do things that violate their own convictions, while the things they truly believe in, they fail to do.  But how far does this go, and how consistent is this defeated pattern of behavior?

          Is it the rule, or is it the exception to the rule?  Is it the guiding principle of life, or a passionate expression of momentary disappointment?  Is it a picture of who we really are---always failing, always frustrated, always falling, always deviating from the path---or is it more like a picture of a man walking down the road with little dogs yapping at his heals?  He is going somewhere, he is moving forward, but there’s always something pulling at him and trying to distract him.  Which picture describes the biblical norm?

          In order to answer these difficult questions, let’s consider what we know for sure: First, Paul would not blatantly contradict what he just wrote in Romans 6 and in 7:1-6 (especially when you remember that there were no chapter divisions in the original text) or what he is about to write in Romans 8 (we’ll look at this in a moment) or what he clearly wrote elsewhere in his letters; therefore, it is impossible that Paul would speak of himself in his present standing in the Lord as “unspiritual [or fleshly, carnal], sold as a slave to sin” (v. 14).   This cannot be!

          Writing in the mid-1700s, John Wesley commented,

 

The character here assumed is that of a man, first ignorant of the law, then under it and sincerely, but ineffectually, striving to serve God.  To have spoke this of himself [i.e., Paul], or any true believer, would have been foreign to the whole scope of his discourse; nay, utterly contrary thereto, as well as to what is expressly asserted [in] Romans 8:2

 

Writing in the late 1900s, Prof. Douglas Moo, after carefully reviewing all the major interpretive options, stated even more fully,

 

In chapters 6 and 8 [of Romans], respectively, Paul makes it clear that “being free from under sin” and “being free from the law of sin and death” are conditions that are true for every Christian.  If one is a Christian, then these things are true; if one is not, then they are not true.  This means that the situation depicted in verses 14-25 [of Romans 7] cannot be that of the “normal” Christian [or Messianic believer in Yeshua], nor of an immature Christian.  Nor can it describe the condition of any person living by the law because the Christian [or Messianic believer in Yeshua] who is mistakenly living according to the law is yet a Christian and is therefore not “under sin” or “a prisoner of the law of sin.”  [Comment: the law he is talking about is obviously Torah, not the NT law of Christ.  editor]

         

          Paul had just gone to great lengths to remind the Romans they had died to sin, that they are no longer slaves to sin, and that they now had a new life in Jesus.  How then could he speak of himself as “sold as a slave to sin?”  Was Paul really a slave to sin?

          As for the term “unspiritual” (Greek sarkinos), Paul uses this word two other times in his epistles: in 1 Corinthians 3:1, where he rebukes the Corinthians for this unacceptable mode of behavior (“Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly [sarkinos]---mere infants in Christ”), and again in 2 Corinthians 3:3, where it simply means “fleshly” as opposed to “stone” (see also Heb. 7:16, where it means “human, physical”).  Would Paul, the apostle to the Corinthians, rebuke them for acting like infants, calling them carnal [sarkinos], and then describe himself with the very same term?  Hardly!

          Also the conclusion to his discourse in Romans 7 raises some serious questions if Paul is speaking of our normal, ongoing experience in the Lord:

 

“So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.  What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God---through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature [flesh] the law of sin (Rom. 7:21-25).

 

          Now take out your Bible and keep reading, right through Romans 8, right up to its glorious end, and then read on through Romans 12, where Paul sets a wonderfully high standard for our conduct in Christ.  Then read passages like Ephesians 1 and 2, celebrating the unsearchable riches of our Saviour, with whom we---the chosen and elect, trophies of the grace of the God---are seated in heavenly places.  Then read through 2 Corinthians 3, where Paul writes,

 

“We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (3:18).

 

And then ask yourself this question: Could this same Paul, the author of these very passages, say of himself---and, by implication, of us too---“What a wretched man I am!”  How could this be?  And how could he end his discourse by simply resolving to be a slave to God’s law in his mind while being a slave to the law of sin in his flesh?  As the influential New Testament scholar C. H. Dodd commented, “It would stultify [Paul’s] whole argument if he now confessed that, at the moment of writing, he was a ‘miserable wretch, a prisoner of sin’s law.’”

          It is for reasons such as these that the early Greek Church fathers, along with respected leaders through the centuries, interpreted the entire passage with reference to Paul’s life before meeting the Messiah.  But does this really solve all the problems in the text?  If Paul was speaking only of his pre-conversion life, why does he move to the present tense, stay in the present tense, end in the present tense, and speak in such passionate personal terms?  It is for reasons such as these that the Reformers, along with many modern commentators, generally interpreted the passage with reference to Paul’s post-conversion experience.

          Either way, there are problems to face, but, to be Scripturaly sound, we must admit that the problems we encounter when we interpret Romans 7 with reference to Paul’s ongoing experience as a believer are insurmountable.  It is simply impossible to think of Paul totally contradicting all his other writings---especially those in the immediate, surrounding context---and denying the overall, consistent, clear testimony of the Word.  Perish the thought!

          On the other hand, it seems inaccurate to say that Paul spoke only of his past life, although some of the verses could well refer to that.  On the other hand, it is impossible to believe that Paul spoke as a perpetually defeated (and that means disobedient) believer, resigned to being a slave to sin in this life.

          So, if you want to believe that we will never have a struggle with sin, basing yourself on the “pre-conversion” reading of Romans 7, you’ll have problems to face, both with the biblical text and with your own life.  But if you use the “post-conversion” reading of Romans 7 as an excuse for consistent sin in your life, you’ll find yourself facing God’s rebuke.  The Word is against you!

         

“Well,” you ask, “are there any other possible interpretations to the chapter?”  Of course!  In fact, there are many.  But here are just two insights to the chapter that may help clarify things:

1.   Paul writes as a victorious believer still aware of our never-ending battle as long as we live in this world, and he expresses himself as one who knows the heat of the battle.  A similar sentiment is reflected in verses such as Galatians 5:17: “For the sinful nature [flesh] desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature [flesh].  They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”

          Yes, there is an ongoing battle, but, as Paul continues to explain to the Galatians in chapter 5, believers have now crucified their sinful tendencies through the Cross.  So, you might think of the non-believer as a jet plane that is stuck on the runway and cannot fly, whereas the believer is a jet plane in flight, but fighting turbulence and needing a good pilot in order to get to the destination.  Sometimes there is a mighty buffeting, but the plane doesn’t come down!  [I like the B-17 analogy better, editor.] 

2.           Paul speaks of the unwinnable battle with the fleshly sinful nature, a nature that will never change in this life (see Romans 7:25).  To the extent that we continue to allow ourselves to live under the influence of this nature, and to the extent that we seek to fight the flesh by the Law and not by the Spirit, we will be engaged in a war that we cannot win---and it will be a hellish war.

The wonderful revelation is that, through Jesus, we are delivered from the power of that nature!  This is the great theme of Romans 8 [and 6], where the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Jesus sets us free from the law of sin and death.

 

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.

          And so He condemned sin in the sinful man, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit” (Rom 8:1-4 [NIV]). 

 

          Paul continues to expand on this in the following verses, calling believers to set their minds on what the Spirit desires, resulting in life and peace, in contrast with fleshly people who have their minds set on what the sinful nature desires, resulting in death (vs. 5,6).  Yes, “the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.  Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God” (vv. 7,8).

          Once again, we see how utterly impossible it is to think that Paul could have just described himself as controlled by the sinful nature---and consequently “hostile to God.”  Never!  Instead, he affirms to the Romans [8], “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you” (v.9).  Glory!

          Yes---

 

“If Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.

          Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation---but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.  For if you live according to the sinful nature [flesh], you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Rom. 8:10, 12-14).

 

          Praise be to God, we are led by the Spirit---led to put to death the misdeeds of the body, led to live in holy obedience to the Master, led to do the will of God.

          Is there a battle in the flesh?  You bet!  But we have been given victory in Jesus over the flesh!  Will we experience conflicts and difficulties in this world?  Absolutely (see John 16:33; Acts 14:22; 2 Cor. 6:6-10).  But we are overcomers, by life or by death (see Rom. 8:35-39; 2 Cor. 2:14; 1 John 2:13; 4:4; 5:4).  Being defeated by the devil and bound by the flesh are not the expected norm.  We are not slaves; we are free (see 1 Pet. 2:16)! 

          So stand fast in your freedom, and rather than looking to Romans 7 as an excuse for sinful living, read everything Paul wrote in Romans 6-8, and recognize that while the battle in the flesh can rage, we are no longer controlled by the flesh but rather by the Spirit.  And the Spirit-filled, Spirit-led, Spirit-empowered life is glorious.  Don’t let anyone talk you out of it!  [Appendix, WHAT ABOUT ROMANS 7, pp. 267-283, from the book “Go and Sin No More”, © Copyright 1999 by Michael L. Brown, all rights reserved.] 

 

 

What others have had to say about “Go and Sin No More”:

 

“Go and Sin No More is a masterful book on an unpopular subject.  Speaking as one who has and is experiencing a revival of cleansing and deliverance, Michael Brown brings to the table a rich resource for all who seek a biblical view of sin and its absolute consequences to the believer’s soul.”

 

Frank Damazio

Senior Pastor,

City Bible Church,

Portland, Oregon

 

“Michael Brown has ministered effectively in our midst with a candor that challenges us out of our comfort zones.  His expose on “missing the mark” will help put sin where it belongs in your life---behind you!”

 

Che’ Ahn

President, HARVEST INTERNATIONAL MINISTRIES (HIM)

Senior Pastor, HARVEST ROCK CHURCH

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA

 

 Go and Sin No More is a magnificent, comprehensive work on the important but oft-neglected subject of holiness.  Dr. Michael L. Brown’s wonderful insights make this one of those rare life-changing books.  Every Christian who reads it will be blessed and will never be the same.  I believe it is God’s message for this hour.” 

 

The late Dr. Bill Bright,

Founder and former President

Campus Crusade for Christ International.

 

“Go and Sin No More” has, sadly, gone out of print.  You might try looking on http://www.amazon.com under the category of a used book, which a few are available, but it’s going to cost you. 

 

To ask Dr. Brown why his book has gone out of print, you can contact him at http://www.askdrbrown.org  Who knows, if he gets enough queries, he may put it back in print.  I sent him a suggestion that he make it available for free as a pdf file, and got a somewhat favorable response from his staff.  So sending in that suggestion may bear fruit as well.  Worth a try, to gain access to such a fine book.

 

 

[For similar studies that covers what Romans 7 through 8 covers log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm .]

 

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