Romans 7 & 8 – Three Principles At Work

Rom 7:1-8:30 Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 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. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Purpose of the Romans letter

At the time of the writing of the letter of Romans to the church in Rome, Jewish people had returned to the city after being banished by Emperor Claudius. This exile included Jewish Christians too. When they returned to the city, there was division in the church because of customs differences between how the Gentiles practiced their faith versus the Jews. So Paul writes the letter to address this division and restore proper fellowship.

One of Paul’s main points is to remind the Gentiles the Jews were God’s first chosen people, and even though the promises of God to the Jews had been revoked because of disobedience, and now the promise of salvation was now available to all, this does not mean God has turned His back on the Jews. In fact, the promise is now available to all – both Gentile and Jew alike for those that believe in Christ.

In fact, if the Gentiles do not obey God they too will be “broken off” just as the Jews had been.

Rom 11:17-24 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.

In order to make his point, Paul explains the history of the Jews and how the promises were made to them. Paul then moves into the significance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and how through His death and resurrection, we are now no longer under bondage to sin, but free to serve the Spirit. Paul then explains, in light of this fact, how Christians should live their lives.

Theological Controversies

To understand the meaning of Romans 7 and 8 we also need to discuss the theological controversies that surround Romans 7. Romans 7:14-23 is a favorite for modern day preachers because they believe is justifies the belief in unconditional eternal security, however, this belief can’t be proved from the Bible. The reason why it’s so popular is this passage is often used as a tool to comfort people in their sins and remove responsibility from the sinner for his actions. After all, so goes this teaching, you can’t help it!

However, given the appearance of surface level contradictions in the text of this passage, it’s important we search out the true meaning. After all, Peter wrote a letter to the church in which he says some of Paul’s writings are so hard to understand that listeners twist them to their own destruction.

2nd Peter 3:15-18 – and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

We must ask ourselves what would cause our destruction in the twisting of a passage? Sin…that’s what. Any interpretation that rubber stamps sin as being okay with God is a false interpretation and will definitely lead you off the narrow path to salvation.

Due to the theological debates throughout history about the Romans 7 passage, we’re on pretty solid ground identifying this passage as one of the complicated passages Peter is referring to.

Some scholars have thought Paul was writing a hypothetical scenario, describing himself before he knew Christ. Well known scholars like Adam Clarke support this interpretation of this passage.

On the other side of the argument, you have modern scholars like Charles Stanley interpreting this scripture as Paul describing himself AFTER knowing Christ.

Logically, proponents of this passage representing Paul as a Christian seek to justify sin as being “an okay thing” in the life of the Christian. Taken to it’s logical conclusion, this interpretation sets people up to think they can sin as they like and still inherit eternal life which is a false teaching of scripture.

By biblical precedent, we know this not to be true. God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden and pronounced a curse of spiritual death on them for committing just one sin. God also killed several thousand Israelites for sin.

The New Testament, which explains our relationship with Jesus Christ if we believe in Him, makes these statements about the believer.

John 3:16-21 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.

John 15: 6-8 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.

1st John 2:3-6 And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, I have come to know Him,and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in Him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in Him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

Paul also makes a convincing statement in Romans itself.

Romans 7:24-8:2 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, one 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 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

So for purposes of this discussion we are going to state that Romans 7 represents Paul using a hypothetical to prove a point about unbelievers and their relationship to the law of the flesh, one of the principles we will be discussing today.

The Principle Of Covenant

In the beginning of Romans 7, Paul uses a general principle of covenant to provide an example and make a point about our new relationship in Christ, if indeed we are in Christ.

The example used is one of husband and wife. In the Mosaic law, God forbade a woman to marry another while her first husband was still alive. But if her first husband died, her obligation was released and she could marry again.

Paul uses this example to describe what Jesus did and the impact it has for us. While an unbeliever, we are under the covenant of the law. We must fill every obligation of the law while under this covenant. With the death of Christ, we are freed from this covenant to enter a new covenant made with the blood of Christ; one that involves the forgiveness of our sins. Since sin is a transgression of the law and no one can live under the law perfectly, it was necessary that Jesus create a new covenant that would save us and enable us to fulfill the law.

Luke 22:20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.

The Principle Of The Law Of The Flesh

The bulk of Romans 7 is Paul’s description of the unbeliever’s plight of being under the law, sold into the slavery of sin through the flesh.

Romans 7:13 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, that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God;

The law was not made for the righteous, but for the unrighteous to lead unbelievers to Christ.

Galatians 3:22-27 But the Scripture has shut up all men under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Under the new covenant made with Christ, we are freed from the law of the flesh.

The Principle Of The Law Of The Spirit Of Life

Those who crucify themselves and die with Christ in the flesh (repentance) now have no obligation to the flesh (sin). This is a “new” thing.

Romans 7:6 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 the oldness of the letter.

Newness translates kainotēti, the kind of newness that never previously existed; this is the human spirit newly restored from the Fall.

Romans 8:4-9 In order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; 8 and those who are in the flesh are not able to please God. 9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit Of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

1 Cor. 5:17-20 Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Conclusion

Sin is the “undisclosed issue of our time in the church”. Christ died so you could be saved from your sin here and now so you can serve Him. Only those who overcome their practice of sinning can inherit eternal life.

It’s hard. The world hates us. But it’s our mandate from Him.

John 15:18-21 If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, “A slave is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.

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