Romans 7

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Helen, Sep 14, 2005.

  1. Helen

    Helen
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    In two recent threads the matter of both the age of accountablity and whether or not all babies/children go to heaven has been hotly disputed. Much of the theology involved includes what Paul was talking about in Romans chapter 7. I personally have been accused of badly misinterpreting this chapter. To set the record straight, here is how I read it. I am using the NIV for the sake of clarity, but any translation should work here.

    * * *

    Romans 7

    In verses 1-3, Paul brings up the illustration of the binding of marriage until death and refers to this as a picture of living under the law. If we go back to Romans 6:3, we find that Paul reminds his readers that when they were baptized, they were baptized into Jesus’ death. Following up on this, he states in Romans 7:4,“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 form the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.” Here Paul is talking about himself along with his readers, using the pronoun “we.”

    He continues in the same vein: “For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death.”

    Again, he is talking in the first person plural and including himself with the ‘we.’

    Verse 6 reads: “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.”

    He is also including himself in this ‘we.’

    In verse 7, he starts with a question:

    “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law.”

    Here he starts with the first person plural in the first question. There is nothing to lead us to think this is any different from the first person plural which preceded it, where he is including himself with the readers. Immediately, however, he switches to the first person singular. There is no possible grammatical interpretation at this point which would lead anyone without prior motive into thinking that Paul is not referring to himself here.

    He continues: “For I would not have known what coveting really was if he law had not said, “Do not covet.”

    Again, there is no possible way, given the context, that he is not speaking of himself personally and using himself as an example for the readers.

    He continues: ”But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead.”

    Paul is thus putting himself back into the condition he used to be in at this point in the narrative. The verb “produced” is in the past tense and thus the action is something that occurred some time before. Paul then states unequivocally that sin has no power without the law. To be dead is to be powerless. It may be there, but it is powerless.

    Then Paul speaks of something else which is highly disputed on this forum. Here are his words:

    “Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.”

    There is absolutely no indication he is speaking of anyone other than himself personally, and using himself as an example. We also know that there is no such thing as reincarnation, so he is not talking about physical death. He is talking about spiritual death. He is saying that he was spiritually alive, or with God, at some point and then, when he understood what the commandment meant, his sin nature rebelled against it and in this way sin ‘sprang to life’ in him and he died.

    At this point in his narrative, he is portraying himself as spiritually dead. It is in the past, as the verbs indicate, and not his present state, but this is the point in his narrative where he is separated from God due to his sin. He continues:

    “I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.”

    This is personal knowledge he is talking about here. This is something he, himself, found out. He was a trained Pharisee and part of their training and belief system was that the law gave life and that obeying the law perfectly was therefore pleasing to God and would guarantee one’s place in the afterlife. This is salvation by works, which he believed in before being confronted by Christ on the road to Damascus. This sentence is a clear reference to the training he had received as a Pharisee.

    Verse 11 reiterates his point: “For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.”

    He is, at this point in his narrative, dead spiritually. He has mentioned this twice now.

    Verse 12 reads “So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.” This is his summation regarding the law and the answer to the question asked in verse 7, “Is the law sin?”

    But Paul does not stop his narrative. He asks another question: “Did that which is good, then, become death to me?”

    Again, he is talking in the first person, using himself as an example, and is still in the condition, at this point in the narrative, of spiritual death. He then answers his own question:

    “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.”

    He is still talking in the first person, and he has repeated again that he is at the condition of spiritual death in his narrative. THIS is why, he says in the next verse (v. 14)

    “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.” This is not Paul at his point of salvation, but before. He then describes the plight of the unsaved person:

    “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

    This is not the condition of a saved person! Through our wonderful Savior, we are given not just the desire to do good, but the opportunity and power as well, as He works His perfect will through us by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. How different is that from the forlorn “what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do”!

    Paul continues to describe his condition before salvation:

    “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. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.”

    If Paul were speaking as a saved person here, he would not be speaking of sin living in him, for just a bit before, in this very letter to the Romans, he wrote “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” (Romans 6:6) This again emphasizes that his narrative in Romans 7 is describing himself in an unsaved state, for he has described himself as “sold as a slave to sin.”

    And he continues, in verse 18: “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.”

    This is what it means to be sold as a slave to sin. It does not mean that the unregenerate sinner does not know what is good and does not desire what is good! It means that the good that he wants is totally unattainable by or to him and that he is not in control of his own sin nature, which is ruling even his desire for good.

    This is, indeed, a seemingly helpless and hopeless situation. It is wanting to fly and having no wings, or wanting to speak and having no tongue. Paul describes this plight in verses 21-23:

    “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.”

    Again, this is not a saved person speaking. Paul has put himself back into the condition he was in before salvation in order to use himself as an example in this narrative and to make a point about the difference between law, which is holy and good, and grace, which alone saves. It is at this point in his narrative, however, that he culminates the condition of the unsaved person with the famous “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”

    And then there is his moment of narrative salvation: “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

    At this point he recaps his condition before salvation: “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.” That is the unregenerate state – a slave to the law and a slave to sin simultaneously. No wonder he speaks of it as a war being waged within him!

    Chapter 8, which, remember, is man’s division and should not be there at all, picks up the narrative at the point of salvation:

    “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

    This is his last use of the first person singular, as the narrative has ended with his full salvation and freedom in Christ.

    He then goes on to explain the theology of what he had just used himself as an example for and chapter 8 ends with that wonderful, ringing affirmation:

    “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    Amen.

    Paul used himself as an example in making a series of theological points. He was spiritually alive before he understood the commandment/Law. Understanding caused his rebellious sin nature to respond to sin which sprang to life in him with his understanding of the law, and he followed his sin nature, dying spiritually. He remains, in the narrative, in that state of spiritual death, which he reiterates a number of times, a slave to sin, until his verse of thanks to God for Jesus Christ and the affirmation at the beginning of Chapter 8 that there is now no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ Jesus.

    This is being a slave to righteousness, which means we are quite capable of doing the good we want to do, for it is the Holy Spirit in us who is doing both the desiring and the action and we are SLAVES to that righteousness. It is a joyful slavery, but a slavery nevertheless. Nor can we serve two masters, for now our sin nature is dead. This alone guarantees that Paul must have been talking about the unregenerate state in the majority of chapter 7 of Romans, and using himself as an example.

    This, then, leads to the inescapable conclusion that we are all born spiritually alive in Christ. Born with a sin nature which guarantees our spiritual death in the future should we live to an age at which the law is comprehended, but born not yet dead spiritually. This is why ALL babies and children are His and go to heaven. He is their Savior as much as ours, for He has saved them from their sin natures just as much as He has saved us from ours. For us who have known the law and therefore have died because of our sin natures, we have had the choice regarding Christ – accept Him or reject Him. And on that choice our eternal destiny hangs.
     
  2. Craigbythesea

    Craigbythesea
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    Helen,

    I have studied more than 300 commentaries on Romans, and I have more that 230 of them in my personal library. Needless to say, I have come across some very weird ideas, but your interpretation is the most jumbled interpretation that I have ever seen.

    The first 8 chapters of Romans form a single, cohesive unit in which Paul continues to build upon what he had already written earlier in the epistle, and many commentators limit their comments to those 8 chapters. Some commentators, however, have devoted an entire volume to a single chapter or a portion of a single chapter. The literature on Romans 7 is immense, with many volumes devoted exclusively to the study of that single chapter.

    Chapter 7 consists of two parts, each with its distinct theme and argument:

    The Jurisdiction of the Law
    This part of chapter 7 is an elaboration and explanation of what Paul had written in verse 14 of the previous chapter: “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

    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?
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.

    The primary purpose of this part of chapter 7 is to establish that Christians are no longer under the Law because we “have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound.” (v. 6)

    The Nature and Function of the Law
    This part of chapter 7 deals with the question that arises from Paul’s words in verse 5 of this present chapter, “the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law….”

    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."
    8. But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.
    9. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died;
    10. and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me;
    11. for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.
    12. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
    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.
    14. For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to 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.
    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.
    17. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in 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.
    19. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
    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.
    21. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.
    22. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,
    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.
    24. 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, 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.

    The primary purpose of this part of chapter 7 is to establish that “the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good,” but when the natural man, in his fallen state, is placed under the jurisdiction of the Law, the result is sin.

    Chapter 8 picks up where chapter 7 left off, and Paul tells us that there is, therefore “now condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Why is there now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus? Because “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” That is, we are no longer under the jurisdiction of the Law, and therefore we cannot be condemned by it. The Law could NOT justify us, indeed, “the power of sin is the law.” (1 Cor. 15:56) But, “what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” And it is very important to note here that the last clause is not conditional, but consequential. That is, we “do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” because Jesus “condemned sin in the flesh.”

    8:1. Therefore there is 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.
    3. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
    4. so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

    (All Scripture is from the NASB, 1995. Everything else is my own composition.)

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Helen

    Helen
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    I have no argument with you regarding what you said at all. I was pointing out, however, that Paul was using himself as an example of what the law did, and that he states, as you yourself quoted, that he was alive before he comprehended the law. There is no grammatical or logical reason to suppose he is talking about anyone other than himself from verse 7 on into chapter 8. This means there is no logical, grammatical, or theological reason to suppose that all babies and children do not belong to Christ or that there is not an age of accountability at some point.
     
  4. HankD

    HankD
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    Hi Helen,

    I have often pondered the role of the Holy Spirit in accountability. In my own case, I went my merry self-assured way until I was struck down by the conviction (reproval) of my sin and not just my sin but my very soul/self as a doomed sinner.

    I had no need of a Savior until sin was revealed in me by God (I certainly woudn't have caused that misery to myself), then I pleaded for mercy.

    Psalm 40
    I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
    2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.
    3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.

    However, I don't believe everyone has the same strength of conviction imparted to them. Some no doubt, especially children IMO, have a mild experience. God knows exactly the measure to loose the shifting sand of self-assurance.

    Mark 3:27 No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.

    I believe there can be guilt for sin and even a guilty conscience without this conviction of sin from the Spirit upon which the new birth depends.

    So, I suppose my question (or comment) is: Can there be accountability until reproval of sin from the Spirit of God?

    John 16
    7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
    8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
    9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
    10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
    11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.


    HankD
     
  5. Helen

    Helen
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    Thanks, Hank. When I first noticed that age delineation of 20 years old in Exodus, and how many times had I read the entire Bible before that? (Many) -- I started looking at my own life, and then my children's, and then asking questions of others.

    I was raised in a non-Christian home. I married at 24 and was a mom eighteen months later. I was looking at my little newborn son and determining he was NOT going to grow up as confused as I had been. I had gone to Sunday School and church with friends a good part of my growing up years, but it was then, at 25, that the Bible convicted me of my sin and I told God if He still wanted me to please take me!

    My husband grew up with two Salvation Army officers for parents (the missionary kind, not the social work division). He was 21 when he wrestled with the Lord and gave in to Him.

    My son, the one I was looking at when I was 25, grew up really knowing Bible and with a Christian mother (his dad left us in 1991) -- me -- and when he was 22 told me he had finally given everything to the Lord.

    As I asked questions of people, more and more I heard responses that, regardless of the childhood, the early to mid-twenties seemed to be a time of major decision-making where the issue of God is concerned.

    Childhood conversions? I think they are done out of desire to please other people. My youngest daughter, for instance, 'accepted' Christ about 14 or 15 times before she was even eight years old because it excited the adults around her and she got suckers and Bibles and such for raising her hand in VBS, or Sunday School, or Christian camps. She is also the one who got kicked out of Bible College at 19 for lying, cheating, and stealing from others....

    I worked with teen church groups for years. So many times the teen 'convictions' did not survive the twenties. So many times the kids who seemed hopeless as teens became firm believers a few years later...

    It fascinated me.

    And then I noticed Paul's words in Romans 7 in a new light -- he was ALIVE before the law became really known, as being understood, by him.

    It started falling into place. God telling the Israelites that from 20 and up they would die in the desert...but the younger ones, who for sure had helped parents or joined with them in rebellion, were not being held accountable in the same way and thus were allowed to enter the Promised Land.

    The late teens. That's a major time in our lives. That's the time when it starts really hitting about right for the sake of right and wrong for the sake of wrong. 18 or 19 to 25 or 26 or so -- here is the age where we find the core of the protest movements over this or that. They are coming into consciousness of fairness past themselves, of justice not just as it applies to them.

    And it would then be from the mid-teens on that we become conscious of what Paul is talking about regarding the good I want to do is what I do not do!

    We see this part of the Bible being acted out in front of us every day of our lives in the people around us!

    Why on earth would pagans (all non-Christians for the sake of this argument) try to make excuses for their actions, or say they do more good than bad, or even try to be good at all if they had no concept of what good was? They know. They are caught in the Romans 7 battle being waged within.

    Paul's words are so clear! But they also indicate that there are those up to some point in their lives who are not yet spiritually dead. This drops Calvinism out of the picture and you will find they will fight tooth and nail to keep their theology regardless of what the Bible says and regardless of what they see around them in real life, which agrees with the Bible.
     
  6. Craigbythesea

    Craigbythesea
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    Helen wrote,

    Helen, Paul does NOT say that “the law became really known” to him; he says “the commandment came.”

    7:9. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died;

    Let’s go back to my outline of Romans 7 of which you wrote,

    Chapter 7 consists of two parts, each with its distinct theme and argument:

    The Jurisdiction of the Law
    This part of chapter 7 is an elaboration and explanation of what Paul had written in verse 14 of the previous chapter: “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

    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?
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.

    The primary purpose of this part of chapter 7 is to establish that Christians are no longer under the Law because we “have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound.” (v. 6)


    Now let’s take a closer, more detailed look at this first part of chapter 7. In verse 6, Paul wrote that we have now “been released from the Law.” And how does Paul say that we have been release from the Law? He says, still in verse 6, that we have “died to that by which we were bound.” But what does Paul mean when he says that that we have “died to that by which we were bound”?

    Paul taught us what he meant earlier in the chapter by using an analogy. Under Roman law, “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. 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.” And then he shows us the application of the analogy:

    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.

    When a married woman’s husband dies, she is free to remarry; she is completely released from the Roman law pertaining to her first marriage. Likewise, we “were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ.” That is, our first husband, our “old man,” died with Christ on the cross that we may become the bride of Christ. Compare Rev. 21:2.

    And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.

    And, of course, if that first husband, that “old man,” is still alive, we are committing adultery with Christ. (Rom. 7:3)

    In this seventh chapter of Romans, Paul is, of course, primarily addressing the Christians in the Church at Rome who had been Jews under the Law because it was absolutely essential that they understand that the Law could NOT save them and that, in Christ, they had been released from the Law.

    Helen, I am going to take a break here and ask you if you are still with me. If you are, we can then take a look at how what Paul has said so far in Romans 7 shows us more clearly what he is talking about in the second part of this chapter.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Helen

    Helen
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    Right. This is speaking to them regarding their current (as opposed to past) state -- that of being saved by Christ.

    In this part of chapter 7, yes, I have absolutely NO argument with what you are saying! This is reference to the fact that when we become Christians, we died to the law and were born again in Christ.

    Born AGAIN. The first time we are born, though, from our mothers, we are not born to death, but to an original life. One without the law, as no infant knows the law.

    Then the law comes. Not mom and dad's law, but God's law. And when that comes into a life, then sin springs to life and the person dies spiritually. That is the point of verses 7-11.

    Paul then picks up from that point of death spiritually and describes the condition of the person in those poignant verses which follow. Then there is that almost scream of "Who will rescue me...?" and then the heartfelt thanks to God for Christ.
     
  8. HankD

    HankD
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    Yes and I knew I was secure and was delivered from the pangs of this death from this verse of Scripture:

    John 5
    24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

    I don't much care for either Calvin or Arminius.

    I have the one who delivered me, that is all we need.

    HankD
     
  9. Craigbythesea

    Craigbythesea
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    Helen wrote,

    Helen, let's not get ahead or ourselves, or Paul either. We need now to look at part 2 of Romans 7,

    The Nature and Function of the Law
    This part of chapter 7 deals with the question that arises from Paul’s words in verse 5 of this present chapter, “the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law….”

    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."
    8. But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.
    9. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died;
    10. and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me;
    11. for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.
    12. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
    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.
    14. For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to 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.
    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.
    17. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in 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.
    19. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
    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.
    21. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.
    22. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,
    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.
    24. 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, 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.

    The primary purpose of this part of chapter 7 is to establish that “the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good,” but when the natural man, in his fallen state, is placed under the jurisdiction of the Law, the result is sin.


    Now let’s look at this second part of chapter 7 more closely. In our English translations of this passage, the first person singular pronoun, “I,” is used about 28 times. We know from both Greek and English literature that the first person singular pronoun is usually used literally, but sometimes it is used rhetorically. Since it is usually used literally, we can assume that it is used literally in this passage unless there is a reason to question that assumption. In the case of this passage, there are several reasons to question that assumption, three of which are very obvious to most readers.

    1. The language used to describe the man designated by the first person pronoun does not even come close to matching the description that we find of Paul in his other epistles or in the writings of Luke in the Book of Acts.

    2. The man designated by the first person pronoun is struggling to keep the Law, and this is especially true of the man designated by the first person pronoun in Romans 7:14 – 25 which is written in the present tense, and at the time of writing, Paul was obviously not a Jew struggling to keep the Law, but a Christian living in and by the grace of God.

    3. In verse 14 of this passage, the man designated by the first person pronoun is said to be sold unto bondage to sin using the present tense, and of course it is not possible for a Christian to be sold unto bondage to sin.

    Let’s take a look at reason #1 first, and then take a look at reason #2, and then reason #3.

    In his Epistle to the Philippians, Paul writes of himself at the time of writing,

    Phil. 3:2. Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision;
    3. for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,
    4. although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more:
    5. circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee;
    6. as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.
    7. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
    8. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,
    9. and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,
    10. that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
    11. in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

    This passage of Scripture stands in stark contrast with the man designated by the first person pronoun in Romans 7, and this is especially true of the man designated by the first person pronoun in Romans 7:14 – 25 which is written in the present tense. Notice especially these words, “as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless,” in v. 6. Notice also these words, “we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,” in v. 3.

    And in the Book of Acts we read,

    Acts 26:4. "So then, all Jews know my manner of life from my youth up, which from the beginning was spent among my own nation and at Jerusalem;
    5. since they have known about me for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion.

    Certainly we do NOT find in these passages a man who is desperately trying to keep the Law but failing to do so, only to find himself sinning against the Law. Therefore, the man designated by the first person pronoun cannot be Paul.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Craigbythesea

    Craigbythesea
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    Now let’s take a look at reason #2.

    The man designated by the first person pronoun is struggling to keep the Law, and this is especially true of the man designated by the first person pronoun in Romans 7:14 – 25 which is written in the present tense, and at the time of writing Paul was obviously not a Jew struggling to keep the Law but a Christian living in and by the grace of God. Indeed, the experience described in Romans 7 is a Jewish rather than a Christian experience because:

    A. The man designated by the first person pronoun is struggling to keep the Law—Jews are under the Law; Christians are not under the Law and do not struggle to keep it.

    B. The man designated by the first person pronoun is trying to succeed through his own efforts, his own works of the Law—Jews try to succeed through their own efforts, their own works of the Law; Christians do not try to succeed through their own efforts but rather they trust in the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.

    C. The man designated by the first person pronoun is under the Law rather than the grace of God— in Romans 7:14-25, the word “law” is found 9 times; the word “grace” is not found at all.

    D. The Holy Spirit and His power are not involved in Romans 7:14-25—in this passage the Holy Spirit is not mentioned at all, but three times we find the word “flesh.”

    E. The man designated by the first person pronoun is said to “joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man.” Only a Jew joyfully concurs with the law of God—to the Christian, the law of God is the power of sin,

    1 Cor. 15:56. The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

    The experience described in Romans 7:14-25 is a Jewish rather than a Christian experience. Therefore, the man designated by the first person pronoun in the present tense cannot be the Apostle Paul. The experience described in Romans 7:7-13 is that of the coming of the Law (“when the commandment came”). Since we know that the “I” of Romans 7:14-25 is rhetorical, there is no reason to believe that the use of the “I” in Romans 7:7-13 is literal rather than rhetorical, especially considering that the expression, “when the commandment came,” very much more closely fits the concept of the giving of the Law by God through Moses than it does Paul as a young child reaching an age when he is able to comprehend, and become accountable to, the teachings of the Law. Therefore the experience described in Romans 7:7-13 is that of the coming of the Law, not to Paul as a child, but to the Jews.


    Now let’s take a look at reason #3.

    In verse 14 of this passage, the man designated by the first person pronoun is said to be sold unto bondage to sin using the present tense, and of course it is not possible for a Christian to be sold unto bondage to sin. And the very man who was said to “joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man” is said in the very next verse to “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.” And of course it is not possible for a Christian to be “a prisoner of the law of sin.” Jesus himself said,

    John 8:31. So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, {then} you are truly disciples of Mine;
    32. and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
    33. They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, 'You will become free'?"
    34. Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.
    35. "The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.
    36. "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Helen

    Helen
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    Craig, you might have missed the point that it WAS first person for Paul because, before he was saved, he WAS a Jew -- a trained Pharisee -- who DID take delight in the law and found he was unable to fulfill it himself.

    He is telling his own story. He takes us from his spiritual life before the law came into it, to his spiritual death after the law came into his life, to his struggle to maintain under the law and his futile struggle to do so, to the joyful cry of Thanks to God at the end and the ringing "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!"

    Telling one's story as a series of present tense moments is also a Greek thing. It is also used in Oriental cultures. In this sense, then, Paul was making sure his message could be understood by both Greek and Oriental cultures.

    Do others also have the law? According to Paul, in Romans 2, the answer is yes. It is not the law as we think of it in the books of Moses, but rather

    Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.

    You will notice this is, also, written in the present tense, although it certainly has past and future applications as well...

    In that same chapter, in verses 26-27, we also read the following:

    If those who are not circumcised keep the law's requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.

    You know, I am sure, that 'the circumcised' refers to Jews and the 'uncircumcised' refers to Gentiles.

    Paul's letter to the Romans was, I hope it is clear, to both. This includes chapter 7.
     
  12. Craigbythesea

    Craigbythesea
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    Helen wrote,

    I did NOT miss anything. As I have already posted, the writings of Paul and his theology have been my primary field of study for more than 25 years and I have carefully and prayerfully studied several hundred volumes of literature on the Epistle to the Romans and the theology that Paul presented to his readers in that epistle and his other writings. Yes, Paul would very likely have delighted in the Law of God, but the struggle with sin depicted in Romans 7:14-25 is in stark contrast to what we know about the Apostle Paul from his other writings and from the writing of Luke in the book of Acts. And more than that, Paul's personal experience here is irrelevant to his presentation. Paul is clearly using the rhetorical first person present describing the experience of his readers, rather than his own experience, so that they can identify with his words.

    You are speaking of a genre of literature that entirely foreign, not only to Paul in this epistle, in which it would be ridiculously inappropriate, but to Paul in all of his letters and the entire body of literature that makes up our New Testament.

    Having studied the writings of hundreds of scholars on this subject, I can confidently say that your interpretation is not only out of the ballpark, put thousands of miles away from it! You are radically misunderstanding the man Paul, the genres of literature that he used, and the entire scope and form and structure of his argument. As to the form and structure of his argument, he writes,

    “the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh”

    It is expressly clear to me that you are not familiar with the form and structure of Paul’s argument. It is also expressly clear to me that you do not understand Paul’s uses of the Greek word nomos throughout the first eight chapters of Romans. And I highly suspect that you have never read this epistle in the original language or studied even one exegetical commentary on the Greek text of this epistle, and that you do not, therefore, have the necessary knowledge or background for a serious discussion on the subject at hand, so I shall no longer attempt to dialogue with you regarding Romans 7.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. dale kesterson

    dale kesterson
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    Helen, wonderful exposition of Romans 7. As Craig said, there are many other interpretations on it, but I hold pretty much to what you wrote. Many will disagree with you, but I also see Paul writing about himself before he was born again eventhough it was in present tense. Many use what is called "dramatic present" when trying to make points and that is what Paul was doing.

    Over on another discussion group, we had a good dialogue on the Romans 7 man. I rather enjoyed Martin Lloyd-Jones exposition on it which which is much in common with what you wrote.

    dale
     
  14. Helen

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    Thanks, Dale, I needed that! It gets really strange when one is ridiculed for a simple reading of the text. I do think Bible explains Bible and all of Craig's hundreds of other authors are not nearly as pertinent as the Bible itself in explaining Bible.
     
  15. dale kesterson

    dale kesterson
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    Craig said:
    Craig, The phrase "knowledge puffs up" in 1 Cor 8:1 really comes to mind when reading your post. It ends with "but love builds up. Take note.

    Craig, do you realize that godly men who have studied longer than you and who read from the original Greek better than you may disagree with your interpretion? But when a laywoman who actually agrees with one of these scholars discusses her interpretion, you say she is not worthy of your intelligence.

    Do you think an apology is in order?

    Just a thought from an unworthy sinner.

    dale
     
  16. Craigbythesea

    Craigbythesea
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    Helen,

    Let’s tell it like it really is.

    I have NEVER ridiculed anyone for a simple reading of any text in the Bible. I did the very same thing myself before I had the opportunity to get a good education.

    There is an obvious and vast difference between the Bible explaining the Bible and a lay person’s interpretation of the Bible explaining a lay person’s interpretation of the Bible. Do you really believe that a lay person is as qualified to interpret the Bible as a highly educated scholar? Take for example Ernest De Witt Burton. He was a professor of New Testament Interpretation in the University of Chicago, one of the world’s most elite and expensive institutions of higher learning that pays it faculty among the highest salaries of any university in order to attract and retain the very finest scholars.

    Ernest De Witt Burton is internationally known for two very important works,

    Moods and Tense in New Testament Greek

    A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on The Epistle to the Galatians.

    In his preface to his commentary on Galatians he wrote, “In the quarter of a century in which I have made this commentary the chief centre of my work as a student of the New Testament, I have called to my assistance in the collection of material and to a certain extent in the study of it, a goodly number of those who have been studying in my classes, chiefly Fellows of the University of Chicago.”

    A quarter of a century to study one short book of the New Testament? No, a quarter of the century “confining [himself] to a few of the several lines of study which an interpreter might properly and profitable undertake.”

    Very few laymen have any concept at all of the enormous amount of information that has been collected about the Bible and the individual books it contains, information that is essential to its accurate interpretation. Ernest De Witt Burton’s 541 page commentary on Galatians was published 85 years ago, and a tremendous amount of research has been directed toward that book of the Bible during the past 85 years, making Burton’s work seriously outdated.

    Paul’s Epistle to the Romans has been the subject of a vastly larger number of studies that most lay persons have no knowledge of whatsoever. They read through an English translation of Romans and think that by doing that they can interpret it as accurately as anyone else. If they are right about that, why did Ernest Käsemann spend 50 years studying that epistle before he undertook the writing of his commentary on Romans?

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Craigbythesea

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    Dale,

    I have been on the opposite side of the argument with Helen several times regarding Gen. 1-11. She reads the Bible and assumes that she has correctly understood it, and that those who have studied the Bible for many years in an academic setting and who interpret it differently do not understand it. Helen’s interpretation of Romans 7 is not too very bad; the real problem is that she absolutely refuses to learn from those who have a more learned interpretation than she does. If you are interested in learning some of what I have learned about The Epistle to the Romans during the more than 25 years that it has been my primary field of study, and sharing with me what you have learned, I will be glad to dialogue with you; but if you think that you know it all, I don’t have time for you.

    Charles H. Spurgeon expressed this thought more eloquently,

    “In order to be able to expound the Scriptures, and as an aid to your pulpit studies, you will need to be familiar with the commentators: a glorious army, let me tell you, whose acquaintance will be your delight and profit. Of course, you are not such wiseacres as to think or say that you can expound Scripture without assistance from the works of divines and learned men who have laboured before you in the field of exposition. If you are of that opinion, pray remain so, for you are not worth the trouble of conversion, and like a little coterie who think with you, would resent the attempt as an insult to your infallibility. It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others.”

    [​IMG]
     
  18. blackbird

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    Moderator note:

    Let the readers of this forum be reminded of the Baptist Board's posting rules

    Rule #3 Show grace to the other posters. When someone disagrees with you, discuss it, but be slow to offend and eager to get into the Word and find the answers. Remember, when discussing passionate issues, it is easy to go too far and offend. Further, if we are "earnestly contending for the faith" it would be unrealistic not to expect at times to be misunderstood or even ridiculed. But please note that your words can sometimes be harsh if used in the wrong way. The anger of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

    This moderator believes that a fellow Sister's intelligence has been publically insulted and that a public apology from Craigbythesea is in order.

    Blackbird
     
  19. dale kesterson

    dale kesterson
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    Craig, I have read countless commentators and love their godly interpretion of Scripture, however I do not accept them as God-breathed. Study, conscience and prayer play a large role in my discernment. Sometimes I just accept that both sides have possiblities and consider the wisedom of both. However, just because someone says such does not mean our conscience will immediately concede "defeat". It is not a competition we have here, it is for edification.

    Let God be truth but every man a liar (Rom 3:4)

    By the way, the quote by Spurgeon is good as any, but I do not think the was pointing at people like our sister Helen, but Charismatics (or such) who see everything theology as from the devil.

    "Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. (Mat 7:6 ESV)

    Do not misunderstand me, I enjoy reading your posts. It is just that the approach could have been handled better.

    In Christ,

    dale
     
  20. Helen

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    Thank you, blackbird. I also believe Craig owes my husband a public apology for the public slander of his character and work.
     

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