Today: [Romans 7:] Deliverance in Christ Alone: In chapter seven of Romans we see the terminus of the Roman road. In these verses, Paul reviews the futility of man’s attempt to meet the demands of a Holy God outside of Christ. He points out when we accept Him we are empowered to be free from sin, sin’s consequence and the sin principle that we were born with because of Adam’s transgression in the garden.
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[Rom 7:1-13 KJV] 1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? 2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to [her] husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of [her] husband. 3 So then if, while [her] husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. 4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, [even] to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. 5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. 6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not [in] the oldness of the letter. 7 What shall we say then? [Is] the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. 8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin [was] dead. 9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 10 And the commandment, which [was ordained] to life, I found [to be] unto death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew [me]. 12 Wherefore the law [is] holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. 13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
In chapter 7 of Romans, we come to the end of what theologians call the Roman Road. The Roman road (chapters 1-7 of the epistle to the Romans) is the first of two bodies of work in the New Testament that are purely theological (the other being the book of Hebrews). The Roman Road lays out the need for, and the basis of the salvation of God extended to men in the incarnation, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. In review let us consider the waypoints along the way that we considered in our introduction to chapter 6:
In Romans 1 Paul declares that the sin condition results from the fact that man does not like to retain God in his knowledge, therefore God gives them up to those actions and heart conditions that fall under the definition of sin. This is important to realize because why would we condemn men for what God has given them up to? Sin is symptomatic of men not retaining God in their knowledge, the knowledge of God that is inherent in the law for the Jew and in the knowledge of creation for everyone else. Romans 2 concludes that because what may be known of God is evident to all men there is no excuse man may insist upon that exempts him from accountability to God whether one believes in God or not. This condemnation is upon those who offend and likewise upon those who believe based on their knowledge of God’s law that they are qualified to condemn others.
In Romans 3 Paul then answers the question of what is the benefit of being a Jew and receiving the law, if the law is not a basis to escape judgment. In other words, if we know right from wrong and do our best what is the point if our best efforts to obey God are no basis of approach to God? The answer is that God’s law is given to convince us of our need of the salvation only found in Christ. Thus all men are rejected as inherently incapable of being vindicated before God either by ignorance of the law or knowledge of the law. Salvation is only found in Christ through the faith that God has given to every man. In Romans 4 Paul gives Abraham as an example of a man who was justified not because he was a good man or because he had any religious standard of performance handed down to follow. Abraham was justified and placed in a beneficial relationship with God because he chose to believe promises that God communicated to him that he would be the father of many nations and all the nations of the world would be blessed in him. This, Paul contends was not a unique covenant for Abraham only but for all men – whereby we are invited to approach God through faith not merely in a promise but faith in Christ and thereby come into a covenantal relationship with Him. The difference between Abraham’s approach to God’s and ours is that our faith is based upon the person of Christ and His work on the cross not just to bless us but to deliver us entirely from the full scope of the consequences of the fall. These promises are fully and completely based upon who Jesus is and what Jesus did, and our evil cannot diminish the promise neither can our good augment that promise in any way.
At the beginning of chapter 7, Paul addresses those who think that keeping the law of God constitutes acceptance into God’s economy or kingdom. He uses the analogy of a woman married to her husband being bound to him in life but released from her marriage bonds at the death of her spouse. The point Paul is making is that because Christ died for us, we are considered by the court of heaven in God’s eye to be dead and therefore released from the law by which we could never be justified but only condemned. Verse 4 reiterates that when you assert the faith that God has given to every man you are considered dead not because you have actually died but because you accepted the death of Jesus as paying for your sin; thus death cannot hold you and offense cannot declare you guilty. You are now married to Christ that you might bring forth fruit unto God just as a bride conceives and brings forth children to her spouse. You are therefore delivered from the law just as a woman whose husband dies is delivered from her vow of betrothal to that now deceased spouse. Does that make the law sinful? No. The law caused us to know we NEEDED to be set free, even though it could not set us free because it depended on the will of man which was deceitfully and irretrievably doomed and evil.
When we were bound by the law (before we accepted Christ death as our death) it was the SIN principle in us that used the commandment as a pretense of provoking us to violate it. This is an important point. Sin is not just the act of disobedience. There is in man a SIN PRINCIPLE that is functioning and alive that holds us in bondage by provoking us as a malevolent power to violate every command that God gives upon learning of it. The commandment was ordained as an expression of life v. 10 tells us but sin as a force and root of evil within human nature takes occasion upon discerning God’s command and deceives us into transgression and thereby brings death to us and every manifestation of the consequences of iniquity in our lives even to the point of even condemning us to everlasting punishment if sin were to go unchecked by the redemption that is in Christ. The law then is holy, and the commandment is sacred not for the purpose of punishing us or bringing death but to cause sin to appear and be manifest as precisely what is is (v. 13).
[Romans 7:14-24 KJV]
14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that [it is] good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
We saw in the first part of the chapter that the law was good and holy but sin as a principle within us, an evil and potent force that is part of human nature causes us to be bound to sin because we are in our persons carnal (motivated by sinful flesh) and therefore we are obliged by sin unless freed by faith in Christ. This is the struggle that Paul identifies in v. 15 – the things that you want to do you are not doing and the things you don’t want to do you are winding up doing. Paul grieves over the need for deliverance. How do we get free from the chronic and fatal capacity for sin that arises not just out of transgression but out of a sin nature that we are born with as a part of our person? In Christ alone according to your faith. You see – Paul says in verse 17 that sin will sin within you with or without your desire to do so or not. The good you want to do is a failure and the evil you want to avoid you will not be able to avoid even if you find the law of God delightful to your mind, the sin nature outside of Christ will cause you without fail to obey it and disobey God. In verse 24 the anguished cry of a man who sees God’s law and cannot keep it is:
Who shall deliver me from this body of death?
The answer is “Jesus Christ our Lord…” Do you see the truth of this? We cannot deliver ourselves. We are not saved by the will of man or any desire we have to do rightly and not do wrongly. It isn’t enough to want to do right. God does not justify you because you have good intentions. Having your heart in the right place does not put you in right relationship with God. The only thing that puts you in right relationship with God is by accepting the person and work of Jesus as the only basis by which God will ever willingly come into a relationship with you. Your evil excludes you, and your good prohibits you. Your intentions or your sincerity are not enough. The only thing in you that aids in coming to God is the faith that God has given every man not alone having saving power but when attached – when your faith is attached to the person of Christ and belief in what He did for you 2000 years ago – then saving grace comes that secures you eternity, delivers you from the sin nature and establishes you in the earth as a new creation, god-kind on the earth walking through life as the veritable house of God and dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.
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