ROMANS, CHAPTER SEVEN
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers
The seventh and eighth chapters of the Book of Romans explain the transition from the Law of Moses to the Law of the Spirit of Life. Numerous Christians are uncertain whether or not we are still living under the Ten Commandments. Yet, two thousand years ago the Apostle Paul gave us a clear explanation of the difference between the two laws.
ROMANS, CHAPTER SEVEN
Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. (Galatians 3:23-25)
Introduction. “Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.” How clear can a man be? Yet this simple statement has not been understood or accepted to the present hour.
Two errors often occur in this regard. The first, and perhaps most common error, is that we are under no law because we are “saved by grace.” The second is that we are to obey the Ten Commandments just as the Jews did, by learning what they are and seeking to obey them. We obey the Sabbath commandment by going to church on Sunday (the first day of the week). The remainder of the commandments we keep as well as we can.
However, it remains true that “now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.”
Hopefully by examining carefully the seventh chapter, and the beginning of the eighth, of the Book of Romans, we can gain some clarity in this important issue.
Do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to men who know the law—that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man. (Romans 7:1-3)
“I am speaking to men who know the law.”
If we are to understand Paul’s teaching in the Book of Romans we must keep in mind that many of his readers were Jews who observed the Law of Moses diligently.
Paul here is pointing out that once the partner in a marriage dies, the other partner is no longer bound by law to the deceased. When a man dies, for example, we do not view his wife as still married to him. We say she is a widow, meaning she no longer is bound by the covenant of marriage. She is free to marry again if she chooses to do so.
When we are baptized in water we by faith take our place with Christ on the cross. We are dead to our former way of life. Therefore the covenant of the Law of Moses no longer is binding on us. We are free to marry Christ.
Now, according to my understanding, if we do not behave as though we actually have died with Christ on the cross, if we as a Christian continue to live in our adamic nature, we return under the supervision of the Law of Moses. The only manner in which we can come out from under the Law of Moses is by dying with Christ on the cross.
Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. (I John 3:4)
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. (Romans 7:4)
The Lord Jesus Christ kept the Law perfectly (although the Pharisees could not understand this).Then Christ paid the penalty for breaking the Law. We have identified ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. When the Lord Jesus died on the cross, we died with Him. In the eyes of the Father, the Law of Moses died with Christ. So it may be maintained that we also died to the Law because of our association with the crucified body of Christ.
Since we have died to the Law, we now are free to belong to Christ. We no longer have to worry about keeping the Law. He kept is for us, and now we have died with Him.
I think Paul’s point in stressing our death with Christ, and consequently death to the Law, is that the Jew might look up from the scroll of the Law with confidence, understanding he is free to receive Christ and worship Christ and may confidently disregard the many statutes of the Law.
Our problem today is that we have been taught we may disregard the Law because of grace, but we have not always been taught that we have been freed from the Law that we might belong to Christ—in particular, that we might bear fruit to God.
The fruit God is looking for never has changed from the beginning. God wants man in His image. God wants people to love righteousness, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. All covenants are given with this in mind.
Unfortunately the Law of Moses did not always produce righteous behavior, a love of mercy, and a humble walk with God. The Pharisees are examples of what the Law of Moses sometimes produced.
So God has given us new-covenant grace in place of the Law of Moses. The purpose of grace is to bring us to Christ so we will bear fruit to God. The fruit is righteous behavior, a love of mercy, and a humble walk with God.
When we say that we are not under law but under grace, and then behave unrighteously, are unmerciful and display arrogance and pride instead of humility and a love for God, we have missed the point entirely.
But will we be saved by grace if we are unrighteous, unmerciful, and arrogant? No, we will not be saved by grace. Those who behave in this manner shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. It is a good thing too, because they would ruin Paradise for everyone else.
The meek shall inherit the earth, not those who profess belief in Jesus Christ and then are unrighteous, unmerciful, and arrogant.
We leave the Law of Moses and receive the grace of God in Jesus Christ that we might bear fruit to God. That fruit is God’s image, and when it does not appear in us over a period of time, we shall be removed from the Vine, from Christ.
This is what the Bible teaches. It does not teach an “unconditional love” such that no matter what kind of person we are, God and Christ will receive us warmly. We have to be worthy of the Kingdom of God.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (Ephesians 4:1)
For when we were controlled by the sinful nature [the flesh], the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. (Romans 7:5)
Notice that the Law of Moses arouses sinful passions. How is this?
Adam and Eve were naked. It is a shame to be naked, but they were not ashamed. Why were they not ashamed? Because there was no law that told them it is a shame to be naked.
It is my point of view that the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil are both Christ.
When Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which is the eternal moral law and Word of God, they realized they were naked. Thus the moral law made them sinners, so to speak. They “bore fruit for death,” as God warned.
When we think of Adam and Eve eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil we picture them picking an apple or orange from a tree. This is ridiculous. The Genesis account of the trees of Eden is largely an allegory.
Isn’t it true that we obtain resurrection life by eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Jesus Christ?
Now, think about this. How do we eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ?
The Communion table comes to mind. But eating the wafer and drinking the grape juice is not an actual eating of the flesh of Christ and drinking of His blood. Rather it is a symbolic drama.
Suppose one were to go to people who never had heard of Christ or the Communion service, and spoke of eating the flesh of Christ and drinking His blood. What would those people picture?
They would picture us slicing flesh from the arm of Christ and eating it, and drinking the blood that poured out. Wouldn’t they?
The same is true of Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They did not pluck fruit from a tree any more than we cut pieces from Christ’s body.
Somehow Adam and Eve gained access to the eternal moral law of God that is in Christ. Probably not all at once, but slowly the knowledge came to them that they were in a shameful state.
What caused them to die? Was it their nakedness?
Not only their nakedness. It was the moral law interacting with their nakedness that caused them to become guilty and cut off from fellowship with God.
But there was a far more serious problem. It was the guilt of disobedience.
Death has passed down to us because of their disobedience, not because they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19)
In order to redeem us, Christ had to be totally obedient to God.
We are like Adam and Eve in that we were born spiritually naked, having a sinful nature that we did not ask for. Until the Gospel comes to us we may be largely ignorant that we are displeasing God by the things we do.
Then God gives us Christ, the Tree of Life, to eat. After we eat of Christ, then the Holy Spirit can begin to point out our nakedness, our sinful behavior. Thus we put off sin and put on Christ a little bit at a time.
If Adam and Eve had eaten first of the Tree of Life, then, in God’s time, they could have partaken of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
God had a purpose in putting the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the midst of the garden. It was so Adam and Eve could have passed from their state of innocence into those who, like God, understand what is good and what is evil. The tree was, as the Bible states, good for food.
So there were two problems here:
- First, they received the moral law before they received the eternal Life of Christ in themselves.
- Second, they disobeyed God. It was the disobedience that drove them from Paradise. God did not want them to eat from the Tree of Life and live forever in their state of disobedience and guilt.
The same is true of us. God does not condemn us because we were born in spiritual bondage. God does not condemn us as an individual because we were born spiritually naked; although, as Paul states, Divine condemnation has passed on all because all have sinned.
Rather, God condemns us when we do not take advantage of His program of forgiveness and deliverance.
When the Gospel comes to us, and we reject it, we come under condemnation because we refused God’s program of forgiveness and deliverance. We are under condemnation because all mankind has sinned; but especially if we refuse God’s means of redemption.
This is an important distinction.
I do not know how Adam and Eve partook of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil anymore than I understand how we can eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood.
I do know that it is time now, in the sequence of God’s redemptive works, to begin to grow in the knowledge of good and evil, and to receive Divine wisdom and strength so we will choose to embrace the good and utterly renounce the evil. There presently is wisdom and strength available from the Holy Spirit to do this.
So we see the truth of Paul’s statement:
For when we were controlled by the sinful nature [the flesh], the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. (Romans 7:5)
When we are controlled by the sin nature that dwells in our body, the Law of Moses points out the sins we are committing. The Law does not make us sin. It is our sinful nature that causes us to sin.
The Law makes clear to us that we are sinning. Prior to the knowledge that comes through the Law we may have had confidence that we were pleasing God. Then the Law brings to our attention that we are worshiping other gods; that we are stealing; that we are committing adultery.
No longer are we confident that we are pleasing God. No longer do we have a clear conscience. Like Adam and Eve, we hide from God. Thus the Law caused us to die, that is, to be separated from God We lost our faith that we were acceptable to God; and whatever is not of faith is sin.
The eternal moral law of God, if it comes to us before we have been freed from condemnation through Christ, only makes our sin more sinful, so to speak.
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. (Romans 7:6)
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (II Corinthians 3:6)
Notice that we still serve. Prior to receiving Christ (if we were a Jew) we served God in the old way of the written code. Now we are dead to the written code. We have been released from it that we may serve the Lord by means of His Spirit. We walk in the Spirit rather than in the urges of our sinful nature.
We obey the law of the Spirit of Life by reading and obeying the commandments of Christ and His Apostles found in the New Testament. We also pray much and interact with Christ continually through the day and night. We immerse ourselves in the Spirit so that our mind is stayed on God. When the Spirit points our an area of darkness in us, we confess it as sin and—with the help of the Spirit—utterly denounce the area in question and turn away from it diligently and vehemently. We walk in the Spirit. We rid ourselves of the works of the sinful nature.
If we faithfully, carefully, follow the Spirit of God each day, the time arrives when Christ is formed in us. Then we do not sin by nature because of the Life of God that has been created in us.
We always can get help in overcoming sin by coming to the Mercy Seat in prayer. Under the new covenant, the Holy Spirit Himself is our law. He gives us the wisdom and power necessary to keep the eternal moral law of God.
The new Jerusalem is the highest possible form of the eternal moral law of God. The holy city is the revelation of God through Christ through the saints.
The eternal moral law of God is what God is. On the basis of the eternal law of God Noah was judged to be righteous before the Law of Moses was given.
The Law of Moses is an abridged, largely negative, covenantal form of the eternal moral law. The eternal moral law preceded the Law of Moses, was in existence at the time of the Law of Moses, and will prevail forever.
Religious people often misunderstand the eternal moral law, it seems.
The Jews misunderstood the eternal moral law by rebuking Christ for healing on the Sabbath.
The Catholic Church to the present hour misunderstands the eternal moral law by emphasizing penances instead of insisting on repentance, that is, on a ceasing of sinning. The use of the confessional appears to perpetuate the myth that under the new covenant we still are obligated to serve the sinful nature. The concept that through Christ we can overcome sin seems not in evidence.
The Christians of today misunderstand the eternal moral law by claiming that once we receive Christ we do not have to obey the moral law of God. It would be well if we did, but such obedience is not a critical aspect of salvation.
All religious practices, it seems, substitute ritual in place of obedience to the eternal moral law of God. All God asks is that we do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
But religion adds numerous other requirements which become, as in the case of the Pharisees, the Catholics, and the Christians, of more importance than God’s injunction to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
This is why Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for stressing the tithing of herbs rather than judgment, mercy, and faith.
This is why the Catholics looked on the sale of indulgences and other Catholic efforts as more important than judgment, mercy, and faith.
This is why Christians regard getting people to accept the four steps of salvation as more important than judgment, mercy, and faith on the part of the evangelist or his followers.
It is not that tithing, genuflecting, or preaching the four steps of salvation may not be necessary in their place. It is that they can eclipse the need for judgment, mercy, and faith. The problem is, as long as we obey the precepts of our religion we are accepted even if our behavior is not quite Christlike.
As Stephen said, “We do always err in our heart.’
What once bound us was the Law of Moses interacting with our sinful nature. By taking our place with Christ on the cross we have been released from the control of the Law of Moses.
Right here is a tremendous error in Christian thinking. The current understanding is that Paul stopped with “we have been released from the law.” This is not the case. Paul said, “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.”
What a tremendous difference!
If a Christian believes he has been released from the Law of Moses, and then does not follow the Spirit of God carefully each day in putting to death the deeds of his sinful nature, he has removed himself from the new covenant. God will not accept him because God will have nothing to do with lawlessness.
Either we are under the Law of Moses or we are under the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. There is no middle ground. To not follow the Holy Spirit each day in putting to death the deeds of the sinful nature is to go back under the Law of Moses and thus be condemned to spiritual death; for our sinful nature is unable to obey the commandments of the Law, as the Apostle Paul is pointing out in this chapter.
We are to serve God in the new way of the Spirit, not in the old way of the written code.
The current saying “we are not under law but under grace” leaves the distinct impression that we are under no law. The result of this misunderstanding of the Apostle Paul has destroyed the moral character of multitudes of Christian believers.
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.”(Romans 7:7)
The purpose of the Law, the Ten Commandments, was to inform us what sin is.
The Law of Moses was never meant to be permanent. It was given to Israel to control sin until the promised Seed of Abraham came with the Law of the Spirit of Life.
What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. (Galatians 3:19)
A second purpose of the Law is to drive us to Christ so we might be made righteous through faith in Him.
So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24)
When the Apostle states that Christ is the end of the Law for everyone who believes, he does not mean the Law has perished because of Christ. It is true rather that Christ validates the Law.
The purpose of the Law is to bring us to Christ. The Law of Moses is as a Greek slave whose charge was to bring the Greek boy to school, ensuring that he did not get into mischief on the way.
Christ is the end of the Law means that Christ is the fulfillment of the Law. When we through the Holy Spirit are obeying the eternal moral law of God, we behave as Jesus does. Such behavior is the end result of the new covenant.
Being justified by faith does not mean we do not seek to behave righteously. It means we trust God to lead us in the ways of righteousness rather than attempting to earn righteousness by strict obedience to the letter of the Law of Moses.
As we Gentiles can imagine, it would require an enormous step of faith for an Orthodox Jew to abandon the observance of rituals, believing that God would count him righteous even though he did not light the Sabbath candles.
We Gentiles misunderstand much of what Paul stated. The reason is, Paul’s goal was righteousness—in particular, the redemption of his sinful body. Paul wanted to be righteous in spirit, soul, and body.
We Gentiles see Paul’s Gospel as our way of gaining admittance to eternal residence in Heaven. I think the misunderstanding of Paul’s goal is a major reason why we misapply some of the passages Paul wrote.
When Paul’s goal and our goal are so divergent, it is no wonder our interpretation of the Book of Romans has been the source of doctrinal error.
Paul’s stated goal was to gain Christ and thus attain to the out-resurrection from the dead. One may never hear such a goal expressed in a Christian church.
At one time we were considered righteous by obeying the Law. Now we are considered righteous by putting our faith in Christ. Quite a step of obedience to God!
But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. (Romans 7:8)
Where there is no law there is no sin, because sin is the breaking of law. One way, then, of eliminating sin, would be to eliminate law. God understands this. He understands also that there are behaviors that injure His creatures.
For example: if there were no law against stealing, stealing would not be a sin or a crime. But the victim of a theft would be injured, even though the act was not a sin or a crime.
But where there is a law against stealing, as in the case of the Ten Commandments, not only is someone injured but the thief is separated from God through condemnation. I think it is this condemnation that Paul is referring to when he writes the Law of Moses causes sin to come alive and cause death, that is, separation from God.
So the Law defined covetousness and brought it to the front, whereas prior to the Law Paul was covetous, but it was unknown to him. The covetousness in Paul was an area of spiritual darkness, because covetousness is idolatry. However, Paul was not aware of it and believed he was acceptable to God.
Eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil produced an awareness of their nakedness in Adam and Eve, and a sense of shame. Prior to this time they were not aware they were naked, apparently; and certainly not aware that nakedness is displeasing to God.
Sin is dead when there is no law. The shame was there, because nakedness is shameful. But God had not brought the shame to the attention of Adam and Eve.
Eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil did not make nakedness shameful. Rather it made Adam and Eve aware of what always had been the case.
Adam and Eve became conscious of sin, of nakedness when they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They then withdrew from God’s Presence. Paul said, “The Law came, sin sprang to life, and I died.” Apparently the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is the eternal moral law of God. Withdrawing from the Presence and Life of God is spiritual death, and eventual physical death.
Adam and Eve were disobedient to God. This is sin. So God drove them from His Presence. This also is spiritual death.
Death from their awareness of their nakedness. Death from God’s withdrawal because of their disobedience.
Now God has made an atonement for the guilt of sin, through the Lord Jesus Christ. He can forgive our disobedience because of Christ’s obedience. God has returned to man. Man can have the assurance his sins are forgiven and return to God. Thus eternal Life, the Life of God, is obtained. The disaster of Eden is overturned by the goodness of God.
Furthermore, by the power of His Spirit, and the birth of Christ within the individual, the compulsion to sin and to disobey God can be destroyed. Then the person is refreshed continually with the hidden manna, the body and blood of Jesus Christ, which always are being renewed with the Life of God Himself.
Whoever feeds on the flesh of Christ and drinks His blood lives by the Life of Christ, just as Christ lives by the Life of the Father. Each time we resist the desires of our sinful nature we are fed with the hidden manna, which consists of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, These actually are resurrection life. This shall be demonstrated at the coming of the Lord.
When the slain Lamb appears in the heaven above us, those who live His body and blood will be gathered to Him.
The Kingdom principle is that there is no condemnation until we know what God desires and then disobey His wishes. When we are committing sin we are guilty. But we are not under condemnation until the guilt is called to our attention and we refuse to accept the Divinely ordained atonement.
If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, they are guilty. When they become aware of the sin they committed, the assembly must bring a young bull as a sin offering and present it before the Tent of Meeting. (Leviticus 4:13,14)
Smoking cigarettes will cause lung cancer and emphysema. But we are not guilty before God until we are told we are defiling the temple of the Holy Spirit. We suffer from the effects of destructive behavior. But we are not guilty before God until we understand we are breaking His laws.
This is why Christian teaching is incorrect when it states people will be condemned because they did not accept Christ, even though they never heard of Christ. This is a glaring example of how religion perverts the righteousness of the eternal moral law of God.
Another example is the notion that babies will be hurled into the Lake of Fire because they did not have a chance to repent and be baptized. Such is the thinking of the religious individual.
Paul is making his case with the Jews in favor of the new covenant. He will bring his discussion to maturity in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans.
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. 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. (Romans 7:9-13)
The Law of Moses is holy and the commandment is righteous. The Law did not cause sin, it merely pointed out the existence of sin and magnified it. This is the purpose of the Law, as we stated previously. It never was intended to be permanent, a source of permanent forgiveness and deliverance. The Law cannot make new creations of righteous behavior. It cannot possibly make people in the image of God.
The Lord Jesus warned us that except our righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees we cannot enter the Kingdom of God. I believe this commonly is interpreted to mean that because we have the righteousness of Christ our righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.
I don’t think this is the meaning. I think Jesus was stating we have to behave more righteously than did the scribes and Pharisees. We are required to present our body a living sacrifice to God. The Pharisees, on the other hand, were covetous, proud, and robbers of widows. They delivered up Christ because of their envy. If we are following the Holy Spirit we will exceed them in righteousness.
Now we come to an interesting conflict—that between Paul’s desire for righteousness, and the sinful nature dwelling in his flesh.
Paul’s conflict is sometimes regarded as proof that as long as we are in the world we are obligated to live according to our sinful nature.
This is not what Paul is emphasizing. Rather he is pointing out to Jewish people that the Law of Moses does not produce the righteousness they desire. We know from Paul’s discussion in the Book of Romans that under the new covenant we are required to put to death the deeds of our sinful nature. If we do not, we slay our spiritual life; we prevent the redemption of our body in the Day of Resurrection.
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. (Romans 7:14-17)
The Law of Moses is holy and spiritual. Paul is unspiritual and bound by a sinful nature. This is why the Law is not effective in preventing sin, in bringing people into God’s image.
Paul is not saying it is impossible to gain victory over sin. He is maintaining that while we are under the Law of Moses we are in conflict. We agree that the Law is righteous in what it commands. We want to obey it. But there is this power of sin living in us that causes us to keep on disobeying the righteous commandments of the Law.
Paul is preparing his readers for the next chapter of Romans, in which he reveals that in the new covenant there is a resolution of the conflict between our desire to please God, and the urge to sin that resides in us.
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature [my 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. (Romans 7:18-20)
We Christians, as do those under the Law of Moses, have evil dwelling in our flesh. Where did the evil come from? Some we inherited. Some we acquired as we indulged the passions of our flesh and soul. Some entered into us during a time of trauma, such as a spirit of lust or rage that enters a child who has been molested.
We are in slavery to sin. We are bound with chains of sin.
As I stated previously, God is not viewing us with disfavor because of chains we did not request. We did not ask to be born in slavery to sin.
At the Judgment Seat of Christ the emphasis will not be on the fact that we were born with sinful tendencies. The emphasis will be on the decisions we made, that is, on the behavior over which we had control.
It would be unrighteous to see a person in chains and condemn him because he is in chains.
But if he has an opportunity to be freed from his chains, and does not take advantage of the opportunity, then we have no more pity on him.
God, in one manner or another, will make it possible for people to behave righteously. If He did not, it would be difficult to judge the bound individual, to punish him or give him a reward.
In the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans we are advised that once we have been baptized in water, and have reckoned that we have been crucified with Christ, we now can choose between being the slave of righteousness or being the slave of sin.
If we choose to be the slave of righteousness we will be given eternal life. If we choose to be the slave of sin we will die spiritually.
There is a double reward possible, and a double penalty.
If we obey God we will be rewarded with release from the chains of sin. Then we will receive eternal life as a reward for being released from the chains of sin.
However, if we disobey God we will punished by having a strong delusion put on us and we will not be delivered from sin. Then we will be punished for our sinful behavior.
If I am hearing from the Lord, we are entering an era of judgment and deliverance. Whether this was true in time past I do not know. But now if we will look to the Holy Spirit He will point out the bondages of sin in our personality. If we will be faithful in naming these as sin, God will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
It is important to understand that this judgment is not on us but on the sin that dwells in us. It is an eternal judgment of Satan.
However, if we do not name our behavior as sin when it is pointed out to us, do not confess, denounce, and renounce it, but blame other people or circumstances because of the pain that brought our bondage to light, then we will not be delivered.
The Lake of Fire retains authority over all sinful behavior. If we will accept the judgment and deliverance, we will go free. If we do not accept judgment and deliverance, but choose to retain the sin in our personality, we will be cast into the Lake of Fire. Sinful behavior is not permitted in the Kingdom of God.
It is important to recognize that the grace of forgiveness is a detour while the highway (our personality) is under construction. The grace of forgiveness is not a new way of serving God while continuing to sin.
The Day of Vengeance of our God is upon us. It is a day of reconciliation. It is a jubilee. It is war against the enemy, and release for the Lord’s people.
Ask the Lord if I am correct in this.
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? (Romans 7:21-24)
“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
Can you see Paul’s goal, his desire for righteousness? Paul was not seeking to obtain eternal residence in Heaven. Paul was seeking to be rescued from his sinful body, that is, to attain to the resurrection to eternal life in the body.
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)
And so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:11)
We will not understand the Apostle Paul until our goal changes from eternal residence in Heaven to attaining righteousness in spirit, soul, and, especially, our body. We do not desire righteousness in spirit, soul, and body so we can live in Heaven. We desire righteousness in spirit, soul, and body so we can have fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit wherever we are.
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 a slave to the law of sin. (Romans 7:25)
In the above passage, Paul is speaking as a Jew to Jews who were trying to gain righteousness under the Law of Moses. Paul was not, as we know from the following chapter, stating that a Christian under the new covenant is a slave to the law of sin.
And notice what Paul had already pointed out in Chapter Six:
For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)
“Sin shall not be your master”!
The verse above could be taken to mean sin shall not be our master because under grace we are continually forgiven; there is no sin because there is no law; God sees us through Christ so our behavior is inconsequential. Such an interpretation would not fit the remainder of the sixth chapter.
Some might view the verse as meaning that once we are under grace we no longer have a sin nature. Neither does this interpretation fit the remainder of the sixth chapter.
The meaning is, as Paul states in the seventh chapter, sin masters us when we are under the Law of Moses because the Law magnifies sin without providing lasting forgiveness or deliverance.
Divine grace, however, contains sufficient virtue to break the chains of sin in our personality. Grace is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, just as He is the Resurrection, the Life, the Way, the Truth, the Life, and everything else of value. Christ Himself is all these provisions. And Christ came to destroy, not forgive, the works of the devil in our personality.
Paul summarizes his explanation of the plight of the Jew under the Law, with the above words, just before he launches into the next section of his argument.
In my mind I am a slave to the Law of Moses. In my sinful nature I am a slave to the law of sin that dwells in me.
What is the next step?
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (Romans 8:1)
If the Jew is to move from Moses to Christ, the first assurance he must have is that he can do so without having God condemn him. He wants to know how this can be, for from his childhood he has been taught that righteousness and life come only from observing the Law.
Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)
Paul, in the seventh chapter, had presented the law of sin and death. The law of sin and death is the interaction between the sinful nature and the Law of Moses.
Now Paul is telling the Jew that there is another law, the law of the Spirit of life. This law is able to set us free from the law of sin and death.
For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature [the flesh], God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, [in the flesh] (Romans 8:3)
The Law of Moses was powerless to produce righteousness because of our sinful nature. God solved this problem by sending Christ in the likeness of sinful man (although without sin) to be a sin offering. In this manner God condemned that evil, that alien force, that keeps us in chains. Our sin was placed on the sinless Christ and then was nailed to the cross. This marvel beyond all marvels was God’s response to the dilemma.
Now the Jew can understand. God did not just forget about sin. God provided a sin offering, a blood atonement. Here is a genuine source of righteousness.
In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)
Here is how the new covenant operates. We have to live as a disciple. We have to pray each day, read our Bible, assemble with fervent Christians, give, serve, and obey the written Word and the Word of God to us personally.
When we behave in this manner, the Holy Spirit guides us in putting to death the acts of our sinful nature. As we do this, and only as we do this, the righteousness we would have gained, had we been able to keep the Law of Moses perfectly, is ascribed to us.
The current teaching is that we are righteous just by believing in Christ. This is not true, unless our belief results in our following the Spirit of God in putting to death the deeds of our sinful nature.
For if you live according to the sinful nature, 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. (Romans 8:13,14)
In the context of Chapter Eight of the Book of Romans, “you will die” means you will not attain to the redemption of your sinful body. As Paul tells us in the sixth chapter of Galatians, in the Day of Resurrection you will reap corruption.
What was lost in Eden? First, and most importantly, fellowship with God. Second, bodily immortality.
Jesus Christ has come to earth to enable us to regain fellowship with God, and bodily immortality. Both of these are what is meant by “eternal life.”
We regain fellowship with God and bodily immortality by fighting the good fight of faith. We resist sin to the best of our ability, and then God helps us. If through His Virtue we succeed in keeping our sin under control, in the Day of Resurrection Christ will remove all sin from our personality and clothe us with a body of righteousness that not only does not sin but even repulses it. This is the white robe of the saint.
Now we are righteous in body, soul, and spirit. Also, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are dwelling in us. Here is total redemption.
We can understand how infinitely superior the new covenant is as compared with the Law of Moses. We become free from the Law of Moses by dying on the cross with Christ. Now we are authorized to be married to Christ and to bring forth the fruit God is seeking, which is His moral image in man.
Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:27,28)
In the near future the behavior of people will become incredibly foul. The tares of wickedness will come to maturity.
At the same time, God has prepared a marvelous salvation for us. He is about to move His Throne from Heaven to the hearts of His saints, in the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles.
- We have been saved by believing in Christ and being baptized in water.
- We have been filled with the Holy Spirit of God.
- Now it is time to press into the fullness of redemption, as the Holy Spirit leads us in putting to death the deeds of our sinful nature.
If we are totally faithful and obedient in the approaching age of moral horrors, God will protect us and our loved ones. We will sing and dance in the heights of Zion while the world is in the flames brought on it by sin and perversion.
But if we permit ourselves to drift along, especially in America, giving our attention to buying and selling, marrying and giving in marriage, business and usual, then the terror of the night will come upon us suddenly and we will not be able to stand in victory before the Son of Man.
(“Romans, Chapter Seven”, 3282-1)