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Our Life Before Christ

 (As God Was Drawing Us To Him)

Romans 7:7-25

Page 2

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. 

          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. 
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. 

          Galatians 5:17 also talks about this same 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." 

          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. 

          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 .  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 putrifiy.  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 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 teach

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

          "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?  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. 

          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.

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. 

          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. 

          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 caligraphy 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.] 

For Sabbatarian 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 .  The 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.]

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