I love Romans 7 and that is why I want to keep it by itself. It brings to a culmination all the preceding chapters, regardless of your culture, background, belief systems, or personal view or opinion of how good or bad you are doing and says, ‘Hogwash!’ to it all.
Ending chapter 6 with, ‘the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’ is the perfect setup for chapter 7. What do you mean death? Is it physical death? No! Or people would be dropping dead left and right! Actually there wouldn’t be any people, because remember reading ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’? So what does this death mean?
The wages of sin being death is actually a good thing when viewed from a proper perspective; for how else will we be able to discover the gift of life which is what dead people need, right?
The beginning of chapter 7 is very profound if you would like to read it; but make sure you take a mental note as to him stating that he is speaking to those who know the law. The setting is the Ekklesia in Rome, and I can only imagine the mixture of cultures, nationalities, and old belief systems that were present when this letter was being read. Obviously there were Jewish converts in the crowd who would explain in more detail after the reading of the letter some of what Paul was talking about. How cool would that have been?
I want to pick it up in verse 4 and commentate from about there and on. It takes some honesty, reading, and reading it over again; and if I may suggest reading the first 6 chapters along with this one, so you can can get a fuller picture of what brought death and what brings life.
Since we do have the recorded history of Paul’s life, it is easy to see and understand why God would use him to preach to the Gentiles in a mixed audience of Jewish believers. The Jews for the most part knew all about Saul, (his name before conversion); all about his heritage and zeal for God. It was only by the spirit of Christ in him that he proclaimed with boldness, ‘For when we were in the flesh, (we still are btw, physically anyhoo!), the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.’ There’s that word again!
It is the perfect prelude to one of the least taught discourses in the entire bible, (that’s just my opinion btw!)! It is NOT to be USED as an excuse, even though it is sorts, nor is it to be used to preach to someone’s flesh! On the contrary, it will show very clearly what happens when you do preach to people’s flesh rather than the new spirit inside of them.
Like I said, the wages of sin is a good thing, hence Paul stating, ‘I would not have known what sin was unless the law said ‘do not covet.’ To paint a picture of Paul, he would have to be considered let’s say the Billy Graham of his day to the Jews before his conversion. By all outward appearances he was one of the holiest of holy-rollers! According to the law that is! There are many places you can read his story, but let’s stick to this particular area. Our Father leaves no stone un-turned, and our brother Paul is the perfect example to throw a ‘gotcha’ moment out there! He said, ‘I would have not have known what covetousness was unless the law had not said, ‘Thou shall not covet.’ Bamm! Modern day terminology: Just when you think you are all that and a bag of chips….doh! Something you can’t see on the outside, except when it manifests itself in actions. And as much of a Pharisee as Paul was, apparently it was not until he got knocked off his high horse that the scales on his eyes finally fell off to the true purpose of the law; to kill him! As he stated, ‘I was alive once apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died!’
So upon careful examination of our brother Paul’s exhortation in Romans 7, we can see that the law did what it was supposed to do in what would seem to be even the most righteous dude; it showed him the wages of sin are death! Not a paddling or the woodshed as my brother Bob George put it! And especially not that out of fellowship BS! It is spiritual death which is exactly what our amazing Father designed it to do; kill us!
It is then that a couple of things happen; that is if we are honest! We will see that without being made alive in Christ by accepting that gift of life He died and was raised to give us; that even our best goody two-shoes days are dung in the eyes of Him who loves us, and gave Himself for us! It turns out folks that because we do still live in this flesh, we do have an excuse as to why we do dumb things. Sin seizes the opportunity and produces all kinds of desires contrary to our new man on the inside. All I can DO about that is say, “thanks be to God who has delivered me from this body of death.’ It also brings to mind why Jesus said to abide in the vine which is Him, and He is the one that makes me grow as He fights the war that is going on between my flesh and my new spirit! That new spirit being His! I heard a friend once say my mind is trying to catch up to my new heart, and that rings oh so true for this saint.
Do I know when I am not abiding? Of course! All kinds of crazy things happen; but as we will see in the next chapter, there is therefore now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ! How awesome is that!
Until next time…keep abiding! Just gotta be me…Lisa