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Romans 7 –  BereanNation.com

It is always useful to recall from where we have come for present context, so a short review is always in order.  In chapter 1, after Paul introduces himself, his credentials, and his audience, he begins to speak about the subject that we have now termed in our understanding, RADICAL DEPRAVITY, detailing it in 1:18-32, giving both reasons and examples regarding the terrible and approaching wrath of God.

Chapter 2 becomes a little more specific, addressing a specific target audience – the Jew in their midst – that perhaps had come because of some kind of agreement that Jesus was a man to follow, but still relying on their own Jewish ritual, rite, sign, or even membership of the specific group for their salvation.  Paul went on to explain that there is no ritual, rite, sign, place, set of words or actions, or membership of any specific earthly group that has salvific effect.  That salvation [soteria] only comes from one source for everyone – from Christ alone, by grace alone through faith alone, as the theologians of the Reformation put it.  Romans 3 talks about the straight up gospel, and tells us not only why we need to be saved from that coming wrath, but the hows and the whens and all of that.

Then in Chapter 4. we saw Abraham, the Old Testament example of justification by faith.  The chapter discussed in detail that Abraham was not justified by following the Law, which came 430 years after Abraham, or by circumcision, because this covenant was a unilateral covenant that God performed all by Himself before circumcision was ever given as a symbol of the Abrahamic Covenant – and certainly WELL before the Mosaic Covenant.  Then in Chapter 5, we saw how that extended to all of us who believe now, and talked about how this “justified” us before God, or “acquitted” us before God of the unrighteousness by our great Substitute that took our place to pay for our sins, having lived a perfect life before God and then knowingly and willingly surrendered it.  That’s right, Jesus was no victim – he was an active participant – as was the rest of the Godhead in this plan.  However, the chapter briefly spoke about something else that will be the subject of chapter 6 – sanctification – the process whereby God uses the difficulties that He allows (I argue engineers) in our lives to make us more like His son; this will literally take the rest of your life.  But we must choose to yield to God and His work in our lives through the Holy Spirit within us, and that is the problem.

Although we have been born again, or redeemed, or saved, or regenerated – whatever term you are comfortable with here – and although we are renewed in our spirit by the indwelling Holy Spirit, we still live in the flesh and in the world system that is controlled by the father of lies.  Our own flesh is what we are to consider as dead – but it isn’t easy, because it for now is still alive and it fights us, being still enslaved to sin through death.  And that is what the entire subject is in chapter 7.

So let’s get into the chapter.

KV24:  Who will set me free from this body of death?

1-6:  Dead to the Law through Christ

7-13:  Evil sin kills through the good Law

14-25:  The conflict of Old and New Natures

KV24:  Who will set me free from this body of death?

Paul here is going to juxtapose his own life with the reality of sin that dwells in his body, still corrupt, still trapped, alive, and kicking.  He is going to address is with sensitivity also, lest all the Jews in the crowd want to stone him, because one thing that the Jews were known for was a love of the Law.  Sometimes, it was even misplaced in that they worshipped the Law and not the Lawgiver, but just the same, that’s how they were – and they came by it honestly.

Psalm 119 is a psalm of David, and is the longest single chapter in the entire Bible at 176 verses (22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet times 8 verses per stanza).  Its entire purpose of that Psalm is to extol the virtues of the Law of God!  David, of course, loved the Lord and His Law, and wrote in Psalm 138:2, “I will bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; for You have magnified Your word according to all Your name.”  How magnified is the name of God?  As supreme being, I would think pretty big – and His word has the same exact weight of magnification. 

So here is Paul, having been saying for a bit now that the Law is not what saves us, the Law has been fulfilled in Christ, the Law made sin abound, the law could not save anyone, the law could only demand penalty be paid, and that penalty for breaking it was only ever death.  If you will recall from chapter 6 though,  that even though by breaking the law we earned death to ourselves, God gave us a gift in that His Son Jesus died on a Roman cross to pay that death penalty for us, and has not only saved or justified us by that willing, knowing sacrifice, but has also changed and sanctified us by decree at that time, having made us a new creature in Him.  (Yes, that process will take the rest of your life, so don’t waste your sorrows, as Paul Billheimer once wrote.)  What does this mean for us now, because we who were immersed into His death and resurrected into His life, are still here in the flesh.  Let’s get into this.

1-6:  Dead to the Law through Christ

Paul here uses an example to demonstrate his meaning to the audience.  As we were immersed into Christ’s death, this has some direct implications, which we read about last time, but that Paul will now expand on.  I’m going to jump right in.

1:  Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives?

  1. Remember I said that the “Jew in the pew” here wanted to stone Paul about this point?  It is because of their reverence for the Law of Moses.  I don’t happen to think that was necessarily even misplaced.  A reverence for the Law of God is a good thing, as we will see later, but even for the justified person, it presents a problem for the believer.
  2. Paul is using a great deal of sensitivity for his audience here.  He interjects the term “brethren” here to (I believe) speak to the Jew in the audience and remind them that Paul was also a Jew.  Further He says “I am speaking to those who know law.”  (There is no Greek article here.)  What law?  Well, ANY law, really.  Could be the Law of Moses, sure – but it could be Greek Law, Roman Law – heck Barbarian or Scythian law – it really doesn’t matter.
  3. He is even stating this in a way that is making an a priori presupposition for the hearer – that is, Paul was making this like a question that really needs no answer because everyone knows it.  (I’m not speaking about apologetics here, please let’s not get into that, I’m not really an apologist, I’m a pastor, and although I can use them, I prefer just to teach the Scriptures.)  What is that point? 
  4. Paul says that the law only has jurisdiction over living people.  That does seem kind of self-evident, does it not?  Let’s say a person on a motorcycle has caused a serious accident by speeding and ignoring traffic signs in a fatal manner for themselves.  Do you know what you will never find any officer anywhere in any jurisdiction doing?  You won’t find him stooping over the body of the motorcyclist writing a ticket.  What would the point be?  The person is dead.  That’s beyond the jurisdiction of the officer of the law.  And Paul is about to use a very familiar example in a limited fashion here.

2:  For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband.

  1. I need to start here with a warning – don’t use this a proof text for marriage statutes.  This is not what Paul is talking about, and if you do use this as that kind of theological support you come away with a very inconsistent view of marriage when you push this back through passages in Matthew, Luke, and elsewhere in the New Testament.  Paul is using this in a limited way, and that’s all this passage should be used for.  Don’t build theological arguments about marriage from it, you really cannot for the reasons I have stated.  So what is Paul saying?
  2. He’s giving an example of the jurisdiction of the law only being over living people.  Read it carefully like we always do – if a married woman is bound by the law while her husband is alive, and she is released from the law concerning him if he dies, Paul is showing that marriage is only binding while both parties live.  That’s all that Paul has said here.  It’s the next verse that seems to cause all the problems anyway, so let’s go there.

3:  So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.

  1. Paul is now giving a circumstance under which the law is broken.  Paul, of course, is correct.  However, Paul is only using this verse in a limited sense.  If the woman, while her husband is alive, is married to another, she becomes an adulteress.  Of course she does.  She also becomes a bigamist or polygamist – she has more than one spouse.  That’s all Paul is saying here.  This is not Paul making law, it is him applying law in a way that everyone in that day could recognize.  There are legitimate reasons for divorce that involve the protection of women, by the way.  Even the Mosaic Law recognizes that.  See what could happen if you build a theology around a verse without doing it in the context of an entire understanding of what the Scriptures have to say about this subject?
  2. And again, Paul reiterates that when he talks about what happens if that husband were to die – the married woman would be released from her legal obligation and be set free from this law and all of its penalty (which as you will recall was death by stoning).  How much is she set free?  She is as free as before when she was an unmarried virgin – she may choose to marry again to anyone she pleases, though if she is a believer it would be within the will of God.  How do we know that this is a limited application only? 

4:  Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.

  1. Because Paul places US as BELIEVERS into the example as the married woman, that’s how.  We were also made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that we may be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead!  We were made to die to the Law so that God could join us to Christ in His resurrection (Him who was raised from the dead) so that WE might bear fruit to GOD!  Wow!  What does that mean?  I think we can take Galatians 5:22-23 here at its word – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” 
  2. But Gerry, says the Charismaniac in the back, what about the gifts of the Spirit?  Okay, I’ll answer because that deserves an answer.  First, let’s look at the passage.  1 Corinthians 12 beginning in verse 4 says, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”  I don’t think this is the same thing, because God never anywhere calls these gifts “fruit.”  These gifts are only ever called that and listed off together as gifts of the Holy Spirit in this passage.  Likewise, the earlier “fruit” of the Spirit are only ever listed off and named “fruit” in Galatians 5.  God uses different words, and to say otherwise is what is called by theologians an ontological category error.  In English for you non-theologians, you’re calling something by the wrong name.  Fruits are something you consume, while Gifts are something you open for example.  They belong to different categories.
  3. We are clearly talking about fruit, something that blossoms as a result of our actions, as opposed to gifts, which is something that God gives to whom He pleases.  Do not be a Charismaniac and make this all about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, one gift of which is DISCERNMENT!  You need to discern the truth at all times.  John says it like this in 1 John 4:1 – “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”  He even gives the things to look for, but if you’re really interested, read the rest of 1 John 4 yourself.

5:  For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.

  1. Remember in the last chapter that Paul made a contrast between something he called our “old anthropos or our old man” and a new nature that Christ purchased for us and gave us as a part of our redemption by his willing and knowing sacrifice on the cross?  He’s on that again.
  2. How does Paul describe that old man?  It is important that we learn to recognize the description, because we need to first see it in ourselves to mortify it, and discernment calls for us to see it in others as well so that we may test those spirits to see if they come from God.  He calls it the flesh, yes, but he says that these are the same thing as “the sinful passions that were aroused by the Law.”  Think about this – did you really want that bauble until someone drew your attention to it by telling you that you couldn’t have it?  Probably not.  To make this practical, do homosexuals decide that they are homosexuals in a vacuum?  My contention is that you make it an option by either forbidding it strongly or by making it something “preferred,” as we often see today.  Wrong is wrong, beloved.  And context is irrelevant where the flesh is concerned – it wants simply because it wants – and it will never really be satisfied either.

6:  But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

  1. Thank God that we have been released from all that nonsense!  We no longer have to be the way we were with Barbara.  We have been released from the law because we have died.  We have been immersed by faith into Christ’s death, from chapter 6.  This has the result of allowing us to be raised with Him too, so that we now serve in newness of the Spirit (the Holy Spirit) and not the oldness of the letter (the adherence to a codified set of rules).

To summarize, Paul, using the example of a married woman who has been set free by the death of her husband, Paul is saying that we like that woman who has in freedom given by that death, been (past tense) joined to another, that one being “Him who was raised form the dead,” that is, Christ, so that we may bear fruit for God.  That fruit is a result of our growth as Christians, by the way, and it cannot be helped or hidden.  We also determined that this fruit is ontologically different than the “gifts” God gave each member of the church when they were saved to use for the benefit of the church.  God gives whatever He wants to whomever He wants.  I will avoid the whole “cessationist/continuationist” argument here because it isn’t really necessary – a sovereign God does whatever He wants whenever and with whoever for whatever reasons, whether we understand them or not.  Paul has basically said that we have died with Christ and have therefore been set free from the Law because of that.  And there are reasons, so let’s see what that means in the next section.

7-13:  Evil sin kills through the good Law

Doubtless there were a good number hearing this that were wanting to stone Paul because he was making the Law out to be a bad thing, and as we have already discussed, this is because they had an almost-built-in reverence for the Law.  It likely didn’t help that they were had the “oracles” of God – that written Law that God had once given to their forefathers.  Paul is about to disabuse any of those individuals of that notion in this next paragraph.

7:  What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.”

  1. And in Paul’s usual fashion, he is going to deal with it head on.  The first thing Paul does is ask another of those rhetorical questions with really self-evident answers.  Is the Law sin?  “NOT EVER.”  There’s that same strong no he used in chapter 6 and earlier.  In fact, he uses another phrase we know well in English – alla, which means “but” to mark opposition to what was just asked – kind of like “on the other hand” or as the translators used, “on the contrary.”  What did he say then?
  2. On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law.  “Known” = Gk. Ginosko, to recognize or perceive.  Paul is saying that the use of the Law here is to recognize what it means to miss the mark, or not satisfy the standard set by God.  He then uses another example – covetousness.  He would not have known what that means – to covet something – if the Law had not said “you shall not covet.”  We can avoid all but the most general definitions of what it means here, as well – it means to want something so badly you will do anything to get it, including, lie, cheat, steal, kill, like that.  Why can we avoid all but the most general definitions?  Because we are talking about the most general application, not specifics here.

8:  But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.

  1. Now with an understanding that the Law is not sin, introduces sin into its proper place in the equation – as an opportunistic interloper – and watch what happens when sin is introduced!  It opportunistically takes advantage of the commandment and because it resides in the flesh, our old man, our old self, the natural or fallen individual, whatever terminology you want to use for the phenomenon, provokes the flesh in the direction of violating the law.  This is one of the reasons that sin is often called lawlessness – it is the opposite of law – any law.
  2. In the case of coveting, it produces all kinds of covetous desires for the natural man to act on – “coveting of every kind.”  So much for antinomianism!  You cannot expunge this kind of desire simply by removing the standard.  The problem isn’t the standard.  I mean apart from the Law, sin as a power is dead, right?  Or is it?

9:  I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died;

  1. Maybe, and maybe not – it isn’t the main issue.  Sin is still inside of the natural man because that natural man is still under the curse God placed on the earth, and sin as a phenomenon is still operational in that natural man.  Paul here says it like this – “I was alive apart from the Law.”  No law, no opportunity for sin to operate.  Introduce a standard, or a Law of some kind, sin becomes alive – and when that happens in the natural man, the natural man will act on it and die because of sin.  Sin earns for us that death penalty that we have been talking about.  And Paul logically advances that thought further.

10:  and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me;

  1. You see?  The commandment was meant to result in life by God who gave it.  Instead, it gave nothing but death and condemnation for the failure to keep that legal standard.

11:  for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.

  1. See?  Sin is an opportunistic, lying killer, coming from the direction that was originally intended to bless us, fooling us into thinking we are doing the right thing when all the while we are earning wrath and condemnation either because we do not understand the standard and err, or wish what is against the command and seek it out in contravention of the standard.  There are other ways it could fail as well, but aren’t those depressing enough?

12:  So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

  1. See?  The Law is not at issue.  It was given by God and is holy, and righteous, and good.  There is nothing at all wrong with the law.  The problem, beloved, is in us.  But did this actually come from the Law or the giving of the Law?  No, actually.  Here is the reason…

13:  Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.

  1. Paul asks this as another of his by-now famous rhetorical questions used as a teaching device.  Did that good Law become a cause of death for me?  “NOT EVER.”
  2. Paul here explains that sin did this all by itself and that’s one of the reasons we call it sin.  The standard is good and right – but by coming at us from the direction that should have instead given us blessing, the standard is untouched and remains holy – but sin becomes utterly sinful.

Clearly when a standard of any kind is given (by God especially, but any standard will do), it is for the blessing and protection of those for and to whom it is given.  The nature of sin itself is lawlessness, and it will always take the sinful, natural man in the direction of sin, and that will always result in death.  Sin is not the same as the standard.  Lawlessness does not use the law standard lawfully.  Our (and Paul’s) problem is that each of us still dwells in our fleshly body, despite being given a new and godly nature in Jesus Christ, and this has implication.

14-25:  The conflict of Old and New Natures

This has set up the whole struggle for the Christian.  While we are trying to dutifully and lovingly please our God by obeying what He says, this entity called sin is actively working against us to pull us down as far as it can to our destruction.  Remember the Puritan John Owen’s words:  “If you are not killing sin, you may be assured that sin will be killing you.”  And that is what we have come to see as a choice to ether serve sin or to serve the true and living God as Christians.  Unbelievers have no choice at all.  They MUST serve sin, and no other choice is possible unless God grants them repentance – the very reason we evangelize – to give everyone a chance to at least hear about the other option!  And for those that do not want this, they can be at peace that God will never “do violence” to their will, as it says in section 3 of the Westminster confession and the 1689 London Baptist confession.

Let’s have a look at what Paul is talking about.

14:  For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold  into bondage to sin.

  1. Paul starts his line of reasoning here, and states that the Law is spiritual.  We may take that as a given here, because we have the entire Old Testament as reference here.  However, Paul is stating the problem – although the Law is spiritual, WE are decidedly NOT.  We are flesh, and sold into sin, literally.  (The word “bondage” does not occur in the Greek here.)  If we are sold into sin because we are in the flesh, according to what Paul has said so far, then we are not able to do anything but serve our master, sin.

15:  For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.

  1. This is interesting.  When serving his master, sin, he does not understand what he is doing.  Isn’t that what Jesus prayed on the cross?  “But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.”  That’s Luke 23:34.  However, it doesn’t remove us from accountability, and we even realize it, because we hate the thing we’re doing!  And we are still aware that there is a difference between the right thing and doing the thing we hate!

16:  But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.

  1. And this is the point where the Jews all put the stones back on the ground.  Even in the breaking of the Law, because of how Paul knows that he is breaking the law to sin and he hates that he’s doing it and can’t seem to stop himself, He is actually agreeing with the Law and not the thing he is doing – and that helps him and all of us to know that the Law is good!  Even if we can’t keep the Law!  We know it’s good and we need to acknowledge that!

17:  So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

  1. From everything Paul has just said, the one way we CANNOT interpret this is that “the Devil made me do it.”  Paul is not speaking about whose fault your sin is – he’s well past that – it’s yours like it or not – this is about who is responsible for the sin when a Christian sins and he didn’t really want to or even know what he or she was doing.  The Christian, let say me, still did it, and must answer for it.  But as we go on, we begin to realize that our flesh, our natural man as I am terming it, still has that sin or lawlessness in it, and this sets off a titanic struggle between my flesh and the new spiritual man Christ has made me.

18:  For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.

  1. Who exactly is saying this?  It’s the APOSTLE PAUL, beloved!  HE says that no good thing dwells in him, that is in his old man, his flesh, his former nature.  How can we know?  Well, first because HE says so.  Second though, because in himself he finds a willingness to be good and do the right thing – but not the ability to DO what is right and good.  And if PAUL is like that, so are WE, because the same Lord saved us by the same sacrifice.  Even as a Christian, we are NOT capable in our old nature of doing the good and right thing, the thing that God has decreed us to do.

19:  For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.

  1. Paul is saying that there is something in our old nature that is making us do the opposite of what we know to be right and good.  The very fact that Paul himself cannot get this right tells him (and us) that there is something in him (and us) that is making it this way.

20:  But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

  1. Paul is saying that if you are doing something other than the right and good that you want to do, that thing is called sin, and it is dwelling in you, that is your flesh from previous verses, where it still has purchase – and IT is the PRIMARY cause of your problems about why you don’t do the good you know you should, and you DO do the things you know you shouldn’t by default.  You live in the flesh, and it has this priciple of lawlessness in you that just won’t leave it alone, apparently.

21:  I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.

  1. To put a finer name to the principle, Paul says that “evil” is present in me.  That word for evil means something roughly equivalent to “poor character” in this usage.  It is the opposite of “good.”  This evil that is present in him (and us) prevents us in the flesh from doing what is good and right.  And it makes sense.  Sure, we may be redeemed, but we still have a fleshly body, and that still holds some sway over our actions.  When we sin, it is not our new nature in Christ but our old nature that was sold into sin by our own sin and by one original one in Genesis 3.

22:  For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,

  1. I had to pause when I hit this verse.  I wondered why it was just off by itself when Paul is narrating his own private struggle as an archetype of sorts for all Christians.  We know from what has come before that evil lives in us, even as Christians in what we have called “our old nature” in our terminology.  Why does this occur here? I wondered out loud as I mad myself a cup of Yorkshire Tea.  I took a nice, hot, better sip and the Holy Spirit opened up the passage for me.  This is here to give hope!  Christians go through these things.  They cause terrible trial and soul-searching in all of us – to the point we sometimes wonder if God really redeemed us at all, and over minor things! 
  2. Beloved, one of the proofs that God HAS saved you, or caused you to be born again, anew, from above, or regenerated you to justification – whatever term you want to use for it, is that when you read the Law, the written word of God is that it causes you inner joy.  The chances are that if you know that joy, that God has saved YOU!  It doesn’t mean your life isn’t unmanageable or even good – but it does mean that God chose you to be His from before time began, and that should give you HOPE!  Remember, the New Testament uses hope to mean a future certainty and expectation.  Society uses it to mean something we wish would happen with no real support or possibility of outcome.  Use the New Testament meaning here.
  3. In this usage, “joy” means to delight with oneself inwardly in a thing, according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.  The word here is one word for “joyfully concur” in this instance, and the delight with yourself in this case is with the Word of God, and that is an inner joy, an experience that seems to be able to occur regardless of how your other circumstances make you feel.  No matter how much trouble you might be in, this joy fills you to the point that you live differently.

23:  but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.

  1. And it turns out we need that hope and joy, because there is a different law in our own bodies that moves in a direction counter to the way we should or even want to go.  It opposes that new nature and makes the believer a prisoner of the law of sin within themselves.  And there is likely not a moment of a day that goes by that we don’t somehow know it, either.  We all struggle with our own sins.  I certainly do, some of you have shared in friendship your circumstances with me, and it helps both you and I to fellowship about that.  As I said earlier, the fact that sin is operating in you does not remove you of personal responsibility, because you still did it.  And some things, we don’t seem like we’re able to STOP!  It’s no wonder Paul makes the following declaration.

24:  Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from  the body of this death?

  1. Beloved, if you’re in that place, it is a pretty dark place, isn’t it.  Who here is familiar with a wonderful song written by a man named John Newton, called Amazing Grace?  Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a …WRETCH… like me!  You know, over the years, I’ve had a number of people tell me how much they hate that song, including my own mother, but not just her.  When I ask why, I have only ever gotten one answer:  “I.  AM.  NOT.  A.  WRETCH!!!”  In just about that tone.  What’s wrong with being a wretch?  Grace has been made available so that you can be saved from your wretchedness.
  2. The word “wretch” is actually describing your emotional state.  It is a direct synonym of “miserable.”  Friends, if you’re really a Christian, and you want to love, serve, and please the Lord, but you can’t because this evil that is clearly in your natural man is stopping you even a part of the time, this makes you miserable!  You are wretched!  And if you’re not, the only reason I can think of is that you are not truly one of His chosen people.  Don’t be downcast, I could add the word “Yet.”  Because You can become one of His chosen people!  YOU can be delivered from the body of this death.  How, Gerry?  How?

25:  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

  1. That’s how!  Through Jesus Christ our Lord!  He has already paid the price of your redemption and given you a NEW nature that wants to serve Him!  And what Paul is doing here is setting up the next chapter, but this states in most clear terms as to what is going on – we are in a war.  We are not on the attacking or defending sides though- we are in fact the battle ground.  Both the desire to serve the Lord and the desperate need to serve sin and ourselves is also in us, and the two ideals are at WAR – ALL-OUT WAR – inside us.  Thank God that Jesus has redeemed us and that He shall win the battle, as Martin Luther said in his great Hymn, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.

Now, this is what chapter 7 talks about, and it seems a terrible place to stop for today, because frankly, it can be depressing.  If we were to just end the book of Romans here, we would not see the entire Gospel.  Next week, we will be in chapter 8, and we will see it all.  However, we are going to break Romans 8 into two parts.  The first part, Romans 8A, will consist of verses 1-25.  The Second part becomes Romans 8B and will be from 26-39.  That way, I hope I can bring out some of the real richness in that chapter.

As a way to end on hope, I will end our consideration of Romans 7 with the first verse of chapter 8:  “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  No matter how intense the battle within may become, there is no condemnation for those that are in the Saviour.  So make sure that you are in fact in the Saviour by repenting of your sins and believing that He died in your place and that God the Father raised Him from the dead according to the Scriptures.  We’ll see more about the mechanics of this in Romans 10, by the way.  That’s chapter 7, we’ll see you next time for chapter 8A!

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