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ROMANS 5 - 8

CHRISTIANITY IN THE COURTROOM

by LARRY CORY

 

A SUMMARY OF THE MESSAGE OF
ROMANS

 

Introduction and theme: The gospel of God (1:1-17)

The need for the gospel: Man's sin deserves God's righteous wrath (1:18-3:20)

The need met by the gospel of God (3:21-8:39)

A problem caused by the gospel of God (9-11)

Practical responses to the gospel of God (12-16)

Conclusion (15:14-16:27)

 

Introductory Information about the Book of
Romans

1. The book of Romans:  In Paul's time, Rome was the central city of the world and of the Roman Empire.  Nevertheless, Paul, who was God's chosen Apostle to the Gentiles (nations other than Israel), had not yet gone to and personally ministered to this most important of Gentile cities.  See Romans 1:5-13, 15:22-24  In his letter to the Roman Christians, Paul provides a summary of Christianity to the Christians of the key city in his world.  In Paul's letter to the Romans we find him dealing with the most crucial of issues -- that all men, Gentiles and Jews alike, can be saved from God's wrath by faith in the Gospel of God.  Then, Paul explains to the early Christians of Rome (and to us) how belief in the Gospel of God will lead, by the power of God, to transformed lives.

2. The church at Rome:  Though Paul had not been to Rome, the church there was thriving.  "First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world." (1:8)  Though the church at Rome was strong, there were also strong attacks on the basic message of the Gospel.  Paul wrote this letter to them to strengthen them, so that they could resist the attacks that they were facing and would face.  See 15:14,15, 16:17-20

 

THE MESSAGE OF ROMANS

     How do you stand before the righteous and almighty God?  Is He upset with you and condemning you?  Does He accept you?  How can we know the answers to these questions?  The book of Romans, probably more than any other book in the Bible, gives us the facts on how we each stand before God.  The facts presented to us in this book determine our righteous and legal standing before the holiness of God.  In a court of law it makes no difference whether we feel that we are innocent or guilty.  What is important is, are we actually innocent or guilty?  Also, it makes no difference whether or not we feel innocent or guilty before God; what is of supreme importance is whether or not we are innocent or guilty.  In the book of Romans, Paul clearly presents to us the facts about our standing before God.
     In Romans there is a legal battle between Paul, who represents the Christian position that we can only get right with God by faith through grace, and an imaginary religious legalist, who argues against the Christian position and says we must earn our standing before God as he believes he has.  Paul handles each charge with the same type of skill that Perry Mason handled a court case in his famous television series.  Paul successfully argues that the religious legalist needs God's grace as much as the lowliest pagan!
     In Romans 1 through 4, Paul establishes that we are all sinners who stand condemned before a holy God.  Both the pagan or non-religious person and the religious person are sinners and incapable of meeting God's holy standards.  There is only one way we can be saved from God's judgment and that is "apart from the law," "freely by his grace," and "through faith" in Jesus Christ's "sacrifice of atonement".  What we could not do, Jesus did by giving Himself as a sacrificial and just payment for the sins of mankind.
     In Romans 5 through 8, Paul explains how our new standing before God affects the way we who have believed in Christ are now to live.  We are no longer in a law and punishment relationship with God.  Before we were under law, but now we are under grace.  How will our brand new relationship with God affect our new lives?  There is no better place to receive the answer to this question than in Romans 5 through 8!

SALVATION FROM THE POWER OF SIN (5:1-8:39)
In John 8:34, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin."  There is a view in our world that freedom means being able to do whatever you want to do.  Then they add, "as long as it does not hurt anyone."  Jesus explains that freedom is being able to do what is right.  We are all slaves to sin and He came to set the slaves free.  "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36)  Romans 5 through 8 explains how we can receive through the Gospel of God, the power to be free from slavery to sin.  It does not mean that we will never sin again, but it does mean that God has given us through what Jesus made available for us through the cross: the power to be able to choose not to sin.  In these very important and rich chapters, you will find clear instructions about how we have been saved from the power of sin.

Throughout these chapters, the main sections have been titled "New..."  It is because of what is "New" for us who are Christians that makes it possible for us to be free from the power of sin: our new position before God, our new identity, our new resurrected life, . . .  In these chapters we will be looking at what is new for the Christian and why it frees us from the power of sin.  This whole section can be summed up by Paul's words in 6:14: "For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace."

1. Our new position before God: We now stand in God's grace (5:1-2)

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith in this grace in which we now stand."

Thought Question:  Give as many reasons as you can why you can get excited about what Paul says in these two short verses.

 

 

In the first 4 chapters of Romans, Paul has established that all of us have sinned and fallen short of God's glory and His requirements for us to get right with Him.  Then, Paul tells us about God's grace.  Apart from God's grace, we all stand condemned before God.  But in God's grace, we have peace with God!

There is a difference between the "peace of God," that is the peacefulness that is within God's own heart that He gives to us if we cast our cares on Him, and "peace with God."  Peace with God means that there is no enmity or war going on between God and us.  Here, in Romans 5:1, Paul says that because we are now "justified through faith," we have "peace with God." 

"Justified" is a legal term.  It means that our record of sinfulness and all the penalties that we deserve for all the breaking of God's laws that we have done has been totally cleared.  When Paul says we are "justified,' he means that our long record of law-breaking has been totally cleared before God.  Our record is cleared "through our Lord Jesus Christ."  He cleared our record by taking the penalty on Himself.

Notice that "justified" is in the past tense.  Our being "justified" or made legally right with God is a past event.  Jesus died for us in the past.  We believed in Him and His death for us in the past.  Paul, then, moves forward to the present.  Our "peace with God" has made it possible for us to have "access" or be introduced into a new position before God.  Our old position before God was a position of works.  I, along with many others, once thought that there is a big balance in heaven.  I believed that on one side were being put all my good works and on the other side were being put all my bad works.  I believed that if my good works weighed more than my bad works just before I died, I would go to heaven.  What I did not understand was that the only works that God would accept was a life of total perfection and holiness.  I needed to be perfect just as He is perfect and holy.

As a result, if we are on a works basis with God, we all stand condemned!  But, through the blood of Jesus Christ, we now have been introduced into a totally new position before God: we now stand before Him in a position of "grace."  Now---and this is so critical for us all to understand---we do not get what we deserve from God, but now and for eternity we get from Him what we do not deserve. 

Our new position of grace makes it possible for us not only to be saved from the penalty of sin, but it also makes it possible for us to be saved from the power of sin.  We cannot on our own free ourselves from sin's power, but as we will see in the next chapter, God's grace frees us from both the penalty of sin and from the power of sin.

There is nothing in all of life more important to us than that we stand in grace before God.  If we were in a position of works and law before God, we would also be in a constant state of fear before God.  We would always be afraid that God was at any time going to give us what we deserve.  But, in our state of grace, we can be continually and boldly going to Him for grace to help us in our times of need.  See Hebrews 4:16

The word "stand" means stand fast or stand firmly.  It means that we can be confident or certain of this new position of grace before God!  Paul talks about this certainty in II Timothy 1:12: "because I know whom I have believed and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day."  We can be confident that God will be gracious to us if we put our trust in Him.  Other parts of the Bible that talk about standing in God's grace are as follows: I Corinthians 15:1; II Corinthians 1:24; Ephesians 6:11,13-14; and I Peter 5:12.

Paul closes these verses with a look to the future.  We have been justified (past); we now stand in God's grace (present); and "we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God" (future).  Children rejoice in the hope of Christmas.  We, who are Christians, because of our new standing in grace before God, have a hope that is infinitely greater than Christmas.  For we will one day see the full glory of Jesus Christ, the full glory of the Father, the full glory of the Holy Spirit, and the full glory of heaven.  The disciples got a short look at Jesus Christ in His glorified state when He was transfigured before them on a mountain.  See Matthew 17 

We are given some insights about what the future glory that we will experience will be like.  We are told in Philippians 3:20-21 that our bodies will become like His glorious body.  I John 3:2 says that when we see Him, we will become like Him.  We are told in Romans 8:28-30 that God has chosen us and has been working all things together for good for us so that we will one day be glorified and become conformed or transformed to be like His Son.  In Romans 8:18 we are told "that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."  Now, does not all of this description of the glory that is before us, give us a reason to rejoice?  And we are even told that as we behold Jesus today in all the glory and beauty of His character, that we are even today being transformed into His glory. See II Corinthians 3:18  We, without question, all have a great reason to be rejoicing in "in the hope of the glory of God"!

2. Our new Attitude toward trials: God's grace gives us victory over trials

(5:3-10)
There are times when it seems that we are not standing in God's grace, but getting what we deserve for all the sins we have committed.  We can feel like we are still under law.  When troubles come into our lives, we can easily feel that we are going through these tough times because God is still angry with us and is still punishing us.  Why else would God allow sickness, financial need, family strife, injustice, personal attacks, and more to come our way?  As we will see in these verses, trouble in our lives does not mean that God is angry with us.  Instead, even our troubles are a part of God's loving and gracious plan for our lives.

a. God now uses troubles to develop our new life in Christ. (5:3-4)

"Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."

Thought Question:  What is there about being a Christian that makes it possible for us to rejoice in sufferings?  List as many reasons why we can rejoice in troubles as you can think of, using these verses and other teachings in the Bible.

 

 

A Christian is not immune from the type of suffering that occurs to all men and women.  Although God has not chosen to exclude us who are Christians from troubles that face all people, He has chosen to use our suffering for good.  God uses our trials for the development of Christian character in us.  Therefore, we can rejoice in whatever life brings us, because we can know that God will make it turn out for our good.

We are told here very clearly that troubles are always going to be part of the Christian life.  See the following verses for other verses that state we are to rejoice in our trials: I Peter 4:12; James 1:2; Matthew 5:11-12; John 16:33; Acts 5:41, 14:22  The reality is that we who are Christians not only will not be rescued from all of our trials, but the Bible indicates that because of the persecution of Christians and Satan's attacks on us, we will experience even more troubles and difficulties than the non-Christian.  Is this an indication that God does not love us?  No, through the eyes of faith, we can rejoice in our troubles.

Does this mean we are to say, for example, "Whoopee, I am sick!" or "Whoopee, someone hates me!"?  Ray Stedman shares briefly what rejoicing in our troubles is not. "First it is not a form of stoicism.  It is not simply a 'grin-and-bear-it' attitude, or tough it out and see how much you can take, or 'just hang in there until its over and don't let anything get you down' or 'keep a stiff upper lip.'  Many feel that if they do that, they are fulfilling the word and 'rejoicing in suffering.'  That is not it.  Non-Christians can do that.  Many pride themselves on how much they can take.  Sometimes people who are non-Christians put us to shame by the things they can bear without complaining.  Rejoicing in suffering is not merely being stoical.  Furthermore we are not expected to enjoy the pain….Those who feel that way are called masochists.  They like to torture themselves.  You may have met people like that, folks who are not happy unless they are miserable.  If you take their misery away from them, they are really wretched…..Nor is he saying that we are to pretend we are happy.  Some think this passage says that when you are in public, you should put on an artificial smile and act happy, even if your heart is hurting like crazy.  But Christianity is never phony.  Phoniness of any kind is false Christianity."  "Taken from From Guilt to Glory Volume I by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1978 by Multnomah Press."

So, what does he mean by rejoicing in our sufferings?  It does not mean that trials are not tough times for us.  In Hebrews 12, another Bible section that teaches about the purpose of troubles in the Christian life, we find these words:  "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."  We cannot enjoy the suffering, but we can rejoice as we believe that God is using our trials to build good into us.

Notice, Paul says we can rejoice "because we know that suffering produces perseverance…"  We can rejoice in our sufferings because we know something that the non-Christian does not know.  We know that God is in charge of everything and He is in charge of our lives.  Nothing can happen to us unless our loving Father in heaven allows it to happen.  Someone has said that our troubles are Father-filtered.  We see an example of God's sovereignty in the book of Job.  Satan wanted to bring down calamity on Job to show to God that Job only loved and believed in Him because everything was going well for him.  Satan could only bring the calamities down on Job, though, that God allowed him to do.

We can rejoice in our troubles because we know that God has a good reason for them.  Paul gives some of the good reasons why God allows trials to come onto our live in these verses.  First of all, if we go through our trials with faith and rejoicing, the trials will produce "perseverance" in us.  When bad times come into our lives, we first tend to handle them in a very immature and futile sort of a way.  We can grumble, have a pity party, get angry, lash out with words, and do a lot of things that do no good and only make things worse (sometimes, much worse!).  But, the second time we face that same type of trouble, we can respond better than we did the first time.  We can learn from the mistakes that we made the first time and respond in such a way that it produces more good than harm.  At a later time, we may be able to persevere longer and take more before we begin to do the types of things we did the first time.  The third, fourth, and fifth times we can grow to the place where we can take more and persevere longer in trials.  God uses trials in our lives to help us to be people who can take more of the unpleasantries of life without lashing out in anger at God and men.  In the end, with God's help, we come out of our trials better people than when we went into the trials.

Paul learned this type of perseverance from the trials in his life:  "You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, suffering---what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured.  Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them."  "And I was delivered from the lion's mouth.  The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to the heavenly kingdom."  (II Timothy 3:10,11, 4:17,18)  When we go through trials, we learn, first of all, that we cannot handle it alone.  We also learn that God can bring us safely though the troubles to the other side; a better person for having gone through the tough times.  We further learn that we did not go through the troubles alone.  He was always with us, helping, guiding, rescuing, and strengthening us.

Next, Paul says that troubles will produce "proven character" in us.  If Jesus was not in us, our trials would crush and embitter us.  But, because God's life is in us, the trials knock off the rough edges, burn away the impurities, and break our futile reliance on our own strength and wisdom.  It is human for us to think that we can live godly lives in our own strength.  Peter thought he had the power to not fail Jesus by denying Him.  The trial brought by Jesus being arrested was more than he could humanly endure, and he failed.  But, his human failure would help him to learn that he needed to rely more fully on Jesus Christ.

Trials produced "proven character" in Peter.  Listen to his own words: "though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith---of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire---may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (I Peter 1:6,7)  Peter's character had been refined by trials and he explains that God will use trials in all of our Christian lives to produce true, genuine, and proven character.

Last of all, trials will produce "hope."  In verse two, Paul says we can rejoice "in the hope of the glory of God."  How can we develop this type of hope so that we can confidently rejoice about it?  One way we can develop this hope is mentioned in these verses.  Trials help us to grow in "hope."  How does this work?  As we go through trials and see that God is using them to help us gain "perseverance" and to help us develop "proven character," we begin also to grow in "hope."  If God can use even our troubles to do good in our lives, certainly He will continue to do good for us in the future. The ultimate good will be our final transformation into Christ's likeness: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who have been called according to his purpose.  For those God foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son," (8:28,29a)

b. Because of God's love for us, we can know that He is using even
our troubles for our good. (5:5-10)
We will see in these verses that God has revealed His love for us in two supreme ways:  He has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit and He poured out His wrath for our sins on Jesus instead of us.

(1) God's love is poured out into our hearts. (5:5)

"And hope does not disappointment us, because God has poured out   his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given to us."

Thought Question #1:  What is meant by, "God has poured out his love into our hearts"?  

 

 

Thought Question #2:  How does God's love in our hearts encourage us as we go through trials?

 

 

In the famous Christian hymn, "He Lives," there is this line:  "You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart."  In Romans 8:14-16 Paul says these words: "those who are led by the Spirit of God are Sons of God.  For you did not receive a Spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received a Spirit of Sonship.  And by him we cry, Abba, Father.  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." Each Christian knows subjectively that he is loved by God and is now in God's family.  We know experientially that God is in us and that God's type of love is within us.

Paul begins, in these verses, to explain to His readers how they can know that God loves them, even though they are going through very tough times. One way they can know that God loves them is that he "poured" His love into them.  What is meant by "poured out"?  These two words describe a cloud burst and not a drizzle. God has expressed His love for us through the filling up of our spirits with His Holy Spirit, so that it is now unmistakable to us that He loves us.  How does love from the Holy Spirit flow into our lives?  There really are many ways: sometimes a new Christian will report at one of his (or her) first church services that the pastor was speaking just to him.  Why does he feel that way?  It is the Holy Spirit working in his heart.  Sometimes we see a verse or a part of the Bible as we have never seen it before.  It makes sense to us and we feel that God has made it real to us.  How does this happen?  Again, it is an example of God pouring out His love to us through the Holy Spirit.

Also, it is because of God's love within us that we can be confident that God can use our trials to transform us.  If God was not in us, our trials would crush and embitter us.  But, with God's love in us, the trials refine and change us so that more of Him and His love shines through us.  As we see more of His love in our lives, it increases our hope in what God can do in our lives and increases our hope that God will complete His plan for our lives.

There are many examples of how God's gift of the Holy Spirit blesses our lives.  He give us discernment about false teaching. See I John 2:20,23  He confirms to us that we are Christians. See Romans 8:16  He gives us power to perform spiritual ministries(spiritual gifts).  See I Corinthians 12  He gives us the ability to live the Christian life and to love as He loves – the fruit of the Spirit. See Galatians 5:16-25  And He reveals to us what is in His Spirit as we read the Bible.  See I Corinthians 2:12

The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is proof that God has begun a work of love inside of our lives.  Because of God's Spirit united to our spirit in an eternal love relationship, we know God's love for us.  As the hymn that was mentioned says, we know that He lives because He lives within my heart

In the hymn, "It Is Well With My Soul," the hymn writer had gone through a horrible trial.  His whole family had died of drowning in a tragic ocean accident.  Why could he say it was well with his soul?  It was because the love of God was poured out in his soul through the Holy Spirit.  His trial had not changed His belief that God loved him and it was still well with his soul!

(2) God's love for us was also shown to us in an unmistakable way by a

wonderful sacrificial act of God in history. (5:6-10)
"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this way:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his son, how much more having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!"

Thought Question #1:  What is the main difference between the type of comfort Paul gives in these verses and the type of comfort he gave in verse five? (See if you can figure out this major difference.)

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Why can we who are Christians be "much more" sure of God's love now than when we did not know Him? (5:9-10)

 

 

Thought Question #3:  Why can Paul say, "how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him"?

 

 

We have the subjective awareness that God loves us through the expression of His love for us through the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  We also have the objective demonstration in history of God's love for us when He gave His Son to die for us.

First of all, how able were we before we became a Christian to save ourselves from God's judgment?  As Paul says in verse six, we were completely and absolutely "powerless" to save ourselves, or to in any way earn our salvation.  If God did not save us, we would have had no alternative but to be deserving of eternal judgment and doomed to eternal punishment. 

Next, we were not only "powerless" to save ourselves; we were also "sinners" when Christ died for us.  When Jesus was hanging on the cross, He hung there not because we were such good people.  Instead, He hung there because our sin was so great before a holy God that someone had to pay a horrible penalty before our life of rebelliousness and foulness could be legally cleansed before God.

We can understand someone being generous toward someone who has lived what appears to be a good life.  We can feel that those who do good should be appropriately rewarded for what they have done.  But, as Paul says here, it is rare that someone would die even for a good person.  "Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man."  "But God demonstrates his love for us in this:  While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

Thirdly, in verse ten we are told that God loved us when we were His "enemies."  In Romans 8:7, Paul makes this clear statement:  "The sinful mind is hostile to God.  It does not submit to God, nor can it do so."  That is what we were like before we were Christians.  That rebellious part of us is still with us in our flesh as Paul will explain to us in Romans 6 through 8.  There was a war between God and His enemies, and each of us were one of His enemies!  Paul's point is that if God loved us when we were "powerless," "sinners," and "enemies."  How much more, then, can we be assured that He loves us now that we are part of His family?

God greatly and sacrificially loved us when we were ugly, rebellious, unloving, and even when we were his "enemies"!  If God loved us when we were willfully sinning and hating Him, can we not be sure that He loves us now; even though we at this time may be going through some very tough times.  In Romans 8:28, Paul says:  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love    him . . . ."

It is hard for us to believe that God loves us when we are hurting.  But, we have the subjective evidence of His love for us by the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  We also have the objective evidence in history.  For Jesus Christ, God's Son, died for us at a specific place and time in history.

Ray Stedman and Martyn Lloyd-Jones sum up what Paul said in these verses in the following two ways: "If I clearly knew God's love when I became a Christian---when I was an enemy and helpless and powerless---how much more can I count on God's love now that I am his child?  Even though I do not feel loved right now, even though it seems as though God is against me, how much more can I count on God's love for me right now!"  "Taken from From Guilt to Glory Volume I  by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1978 by Multnomah Press."  "What he is saying is this:  'If, while you were an enemy in His sight, He sent His Son to die for you, is it likely that His attitude is going to change now that He regards you as His child?'"  "Taken from Romans Chapter 5:1-21 by Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  Copyright 1971 by Zondervan Publishing house."

In verse nine Paul goes on to say: "Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!"  If God started this salvation process for us at the infinitely great price of His Son dying for us, we can be absolutely certain that God will continue what He started and save us from God's wrath! A church elder at our church said this a few years before he died from cancer:  "I have always put my confidence in what it says in Philippians 1:6: 'being confident of this that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.'"

Then, in verse ten, Paul adds another thought to give us still added certainty of God's love as we are going through our times of troubles.  "For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his son, how much more having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!"

Once we were dead and outside of His life.  Now, His life is in us.  If His death brought reconciliation between God and us, shouldn't His life in us do much more?  When we became a Christian we believed in His death for us to save us from the penalty of sin, now we can also believe in His life in us to save us from the power of sin.  So, now we have the benefit of the Son of God in great love dying for us to save us from sin's penalty and the life of the Son of God living in us to save us from sin's power.

Notice the "Much more"s in verses nine and ten.  If God was willing to begin the process of salvation at such a great price to Him, how "much more" likely it is that He is now continuing what He started.  If Jesus' death started us on the road to salvation, how much more is it true that Jesus' life is continuing His work in us right now.  For example, if you paid $10,000 down on a car, it is likely then that you would pay the remaining five $100 monthly payments on the car until it is paid for.  It is very unlikely that you would lose the $10,000 you put into the car by not paying the five $100 payments.  If we can be reasonably sure that we would follow through in this way, we can be absolutely certain that God will follow through in what He began at such a great price to Him!

Paul begins this section by saying that Jesus died for us "at just the right time."  We can also be certain that just as God was totally in control and sent His Son into the world to die for us "at just the right time," so we can be certain that God is totally in control of the trials we are now going through.  He is also loving us right now just as He loved us when He sent His Son to die for us.

3. Our new identity – We are no longer in Adam's family, for we are in Jesus'

family. (5:11-21)
These verses are some of the most important verses in the Bible for a number of reasons:  (1) They contain the clearest statement in the Bible about what has been come to be called the "original sin."  Here Paul tells us why man has become like man has become.  Adam, the first man and the representative of all men, chose to rebel against God and, as a result, all of mankind became a fallen, sinful race.  (2) Paul, here, presents Adam not as a mythical person, but as a man who began human history.  (3) Finally, these verses state clearly the singular cause of mankind's problem---man's sin was begun by Adam's sin and fall, and the singular solution to man's problem---Jesus Christ's righteous sacrifice for man's sins.  Adam is the cause of mankind's problems, and Jesus Christ is the solution to our problems.

a. The means by which we receive our new identity:  Rejoice for we are now

reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. (5:11)
"Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation."

The Christian is described as being reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.  In 5:12-21, Paul will first explain why we needed to be reconciled---we were in Adam.  Then, he will explain what has happened to us now that we have been reconciled to God---we are in Jesus Christ.  If we truly understand what we were taken out of and what we have been brought into, we will rejoice!

Rejoicing will always be a distinguishing characteristic of a Christian who has a true understanding of what God has done for him through Jesus Christ.  He has already said that we are to rejoice because of the hope that we now have that we will experience God's glory. See 5:2  Then, he said that we can rejoice even in our trials, for we can be confident that God will use them in our lives to make us to be more like Him.  Now, he says we can rejoice because of our reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ.  We can rejoice because of all that this reconciliation means.

An unquenchable joy should and can be a characteristic of the Christian life.  It will always be true that we have been reconciled to God.  We will always have our certain hope, and we can always rejoice even in our trials.  Because of this never-ending reality, there is no legitimate reason why we should ever lose our joy.  We may lose our joy, but there is no legitimate reason why we should.  As Paul says in I Thessalonians 5:16, "Be joyful always." 

b. The need for our new identity: We were in Adam – sinful, fallen and

condemned. (5:12-14)
"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned---for before the law was given, sin was in the world.  But sin is not taken into account when there is no law.  Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam who was a pattern of the one to come."

Thought Question:  What does Paul mean by "because all sinned" in verse 12?

 

 

In verse 12, Paul very succinctly describes how sin and death came into the world.  Sin entered the world through one man, and death came from that one man's sin.  Adam was the seed of the whole race.  If you plant an orange seed, you will get an orange tree.  If you plant a lemon seed, you will get a lemon tree.  Adam voluntarily sinned and broke off his relationship with God.  This fallen man, separated from God, is the seed from which the fallen race of man has come.

Adam became rotten and the rest of us became rotten.  In our culture there is an explanation for our rottenness.  We are still evolving toward perfection.  We are rotten now, but we are slowly evolving out of our rottenness.  In their view, man's best is still ahead.  The Bible says that the very opposite is true.  We were perfect; Adam sinned; we lost our perfection; and we have become sinners.  We are not climbing; we are fallen and are falling.

Adam and Eve were warned that if they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would die.  They made the awful choice of disobeying God, and they immediately experienced spiritual death---separation from God in the realm of their spirits.  They also began immediately to head toward physical death.  Now, because of their sin, our world is a place of death.  It is a place of spiritual death as we see guilt, hate, selfishness, conflict and many other forms of death all around us.  It is also a place of physical death, for we are all heading toward physical death.  The cemetery is a very real and inescapable part of our world.

What is the origin of all this death?  The Bible explains that it all began with one man choosing to sin by disobeying God:  "and death through sin."  Death came to us all through Adam's sin.

Then, at the end of verse twelve, Paul makes a very significant statement:  "because all sinned."  Is Paul repeating what he said in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"?  If we ponder on his thoughts in verses 13 and 14, we must conclude that his point here is that we all sinned when Adam sinned.  He was the representative for the human race when he sinned.  So when he sinned, we all sinned.  When he fell away from God, we all fell away from God.  Because of Adam's sin, each of us was born a sinner, separated from God.  A baby does not need to be taught to be selfish and self-centered; each of us is born that way.

Adam represented us in the Garden.  When he chose to disobey God, he made that choice for all of us.  Paul uses two arguments to persuade us that we all sinned when Adam sinned:  (1) As Paul explains in verses 13 and 14, people who lived between Adam's time and Moses' time all died.  Adam broke God's law that was given him in the Garden of Eden, so we can understand why he died.  Also, during Moses' time, if the people of Israel broke the law given to them on Mt. Sinai, they could be punished by death.  But, in between the law in Eden and the law of Mt. Sinai, there was no law; yet people died.  The question that must be answered then is, "Why did they die?"  They could not have died because they ate of the tree in the Garden of Eden.  They did not eat of that tree.  They could not have died because they broke the Ten Commandments.  The Ten Commandments had not yet been given.  Paul's answer is that they died because Adam broke the law as the representative for the whole race of man.  They died because Adam, the representative of each man and woman, broke the law in the Garden of Eden and brought death to all mankind.

He says in verse thirteen, "sin is not taken into account where there is no law."  An example of this would be what happened in early western towns.  Someone could come into a lawless town and shoot someone and not be punished.  It was obviously sin and wrong; but if there were no law, he would not be breaking a law.  But, if they set up a system of law and order and murder became punishable by death, someone who murdered someone would be hanged.  So, once more, the reason why those between Adam and Moses died when there was no law was because when Adam sinned, they (and we) died because of the law he broke.

(2) The second reason we can be confident that Paul is saying we all

sinned when Adam sinned is that in the rest of the chapter Paul states as a fact that Adam's sin brought death to all men: "the many died by the trespass of the one man." See 5:15

This may be a difficult concept for us to understand and accept, but the verses that follow in chapter five hinge on our believing we all sinned when Adam sinned.  For, as Paul will argue in the next section of verses, Adam's sin got us into the mess mankind is in and Jesus' death on the cross and our identification with Him as the representative for all mankind gets us out of the mess!

c. The benefits of our new identity: We have left Adam's sinful, fallen and

condemned family; and we have entered Jesus' righteous and alive family. (5:15-17)
"But the gift is not like the trespass.  For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!  Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin:  The judgement followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.  For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ."

Thought Question:  According to these verses, in what ways is Jesus Christ' death on the cross for us not like the trespass of Adam?

 

 

If we scramble, poach or fry rotten eggs, we will still end up with rotten eggs (poached rotten eggs, etc.).  So if we educate, psychologize, jail, program, give money to fallen men, we still have fallen men (educated fallen men, etc.)  What we need is to cook with fresh eggs; and what we also need is to become a completely new man.

From these verses we see that it is much easier to scramble an egg than it is to unscramble an egg (a new metaphor with eggs).  It is also easier to make a mess, than it is to clean up a mess.  So, it was much easier for Adam to get us into the mess than it was for Jesus to get us out of it.  Jesus came as the last Adam, the last representative of man, so that he could begin a whole new human race.

Paul starts out these verses with these words:  "But the gift is not like the trespass."  If someone lied and swindled you out of $2,000 and someone else gave you a gift of $100,000, would the sin and the gift be the same to you?  Clearly the gift would both be different and much more.  First of all, taking and giving are clearly not only different, they are complete opposites.  Also, you would not only have the $2,000 restored to you, but you would have another $98,000 as well.

Life multiplies and grows.  It is much more than death.  It is not just the opposite of death, it is "much more" than death.  So, what Jesus did for us is completely different and is much more than what Adam did to us.

Jesus' gift (His death for us) also gave us "justification" or legal acceptance before God.  "Again, the gift of God is not like the result of one man's sin:  The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification." (5:16)  Martyn Lloyd-Jones gives the following definition of justification:  "Justification is a legal or forensic term; it refers to a judgment delivered by a judge upon the bench.  Justification is always the opposite of condemnation; and here is the verse which perhaps says that more plainly than any other single verse.  In other words, as condemnation is a forensic term, the contrast, which is the result of the free gift, is a forensic, that is, a legal pronouncement of justification:  God as judge pronounces us to be righteous in Christ.  In spite of what we have inherited from Adam, in spite of all the sins of which we ourselves have been guilty, God pronounces us to be clear; and that he regards us as righteous in Christ.  All our sins are blotted out, and God declares us to be acceptable and righteous in His most holy sight.  It is the complete and exact opposite and antithesis of condemnation that came upon us as a result of Adam's sin and the judgment that was pronounced upon it.  Nothing could be more full, nothing could be more free, nothing could present such a glorious and such a striking contrast."  "Taken from Romans Exposition of Chapter 5:1-21 by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  Copyright 1971 by Zondervan Publishing House."

Then, Paul contrasts the death that came through Adam with the life that comes through Jesus Christ.  "For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ."

Paul says that because of Adam's sin, death has reigned in this world.  Listen to Martyn Lloyd-Jones' words that so powerfully describe our world:  "Death reigned!  What a graphic statement that is!  Can you think of, or imagine, any statement which more perfectly sums up life in this world apart from Christ than that particular phrase?  Death reigned!  Death came in as a conqueror; death triumphed over all; death held sway over 'all flesh'.  And so the whole of mankind, as the result of this one sin of Adam, has been subject to death and to the tyranny of death."  He also says the most horrible thing conceivable is death.  "Taken from Romans Exposition of Chapter 5:1-21 by Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  Copyright 1971 by Zondervan Publishing House." 

Many of us have attended the funeral of a friend or family member.  If we believed that death was the end for that person, there is nothing worse than death!  If we believed that death was the end of our life, there is nothing worse than death!  Adam brought us death, but Jesus brought us life!

Let us look at some of the many ways that Jesus' one gracious, sacrificial death for us is different and "much more" than Adam's one sinful act: (1) Adam disobeyed and Jesus obeyed; (2) Adam's act was selfish and Jesus' act was selfless; (3) Adam's act brought condemnation and Jesus' act brought justification; (4) Adam's act brought death and Jesus' act brought life; (5) Adam's sin led to a world full of sin, but Jesus' act brought justification for all of mankind's sins (it is always much easier to make a mess than it is to clean it up); and (6) Adam's act lost all of mankind our righteousness and Jesus' act gives us His righteousness (it is as if we lost $2,000, but a rich man gave us $1,000,000,000).

d. One act of disobedience got us into our sinful mess and one act of

obedience made us righteous. (5:18-19)
"Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.  For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteousness."

Thought Question:  Do these verses teach that all will be saved?  Explain your answer.

 

 

Some have believed that these verses teach that all men will be saved.  They have therefore concluded that these verses teach universalism: All were condemned to eternal death in Adam, and all have been saved in Jesus Christ.  But, Paul is very clear throughout the book of Romans that it is only "all who believe who will be saved."  Verse 3:22 and 3:26 are two examples:  "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." (3:22)  "he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." (3:26) 

Also, "all" is used throughout the Bible to speak of all in a general sense rather than referring to every single person. "They came to John [John the Baptist] and said to him, Rabbi, that man [Jesus Christ] who was with you on the other side of the Jordan---the one you testified about---well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him." (John 3:26)  Obviously, every single person in the world did not come to Jesus Christ.  The "everyone" describes His popularity with a large number of the people.  The "all" in these verses is not every single person, but it is available to everyone who chooses to receive what He offers by trusting in Christ's sacrificial act for salvation. 

In these two verses we have come to the end of Paul's parenthesis.  Paul began to make his point in 5:12.  Then in 5:13-17 he explains more fully what he meant in verse 5:12.  But, in 5:18, he is continuing on from 5:12.  it will help you to see Paul's flow of thought if we remove the verses that are a parenthesis and quote 5:12, 18-19:  "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned. (……5:13-17…..) Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.  For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous."

We can summarize verses 18 and 19 by saying that when we were born, we were all in Adam; but when we believed in Christ we were put in Christ.  When we were in Adam, we were "made sinners."  We were put in the category of sin; and all that that means: we were condemned, dead, and received a fallen nature.  When we were put in Christ, we were "made righteous."  We were put in the category of righteousness and all that that means: we were legally freed from guilt.  We were justified, made alive, and received a new nature.

But, what if we sin?  Listen to Martyn Lloyd-Jones as he answers that very question:  "'Ah,' says someone, 'but what if you sin tomorrow?'  I reply that I am still a righteous person.  The fact that I may sin tomorrow does not mean that my standing before God is changed and that I go back and am 'in Adam' once more, as I was before.  You cannot go back and fore like that as to your position---such a suggestion is monstrous.  We are either 'in Adam' or else we are 'In Christ.'"  "Taken from Romans Exposition of Chapter 5:1-21.  Copyright 1971 by Zondervan Publishing House."

If, therefore, we have believed in Christ we are also now in Christ.  We are no longer in Adam's family, no longer condemned, no longer dead.  We no longer suffer the consequences of Adam's sin, but we reap the benefits of Jesus' act of obedience.  "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God." (II Corinthians 5:21)

e. If one act by Adam got us into our sinful mess and one act by Jesus got us

out the mess, why did God give us the Law? (5:20-21)
"The law was added so that the trespass might increase.  But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Thought Question:  If sin got us into the mess and Jesus got us out of our mess, why did God then give us the Law?

 

 

If the Law was not given to condemn us---Adam did that--- and it was not given as a means for us to become right with God---Jesus did that---then why did God give us the Law?  Here, Paul says that God added the Law so that sin "might increase."  As we will see in chapter 7, the law actually makes us sin more.  The Law first tells us what we are not to do, and then we do what we are not to do.  We are told the right thing to do.  Instead of doing it, we do the very opposite of what we are to do.  The Law actually makes us sin more.

Paul explains here that the Law was given to stir up our rebellious nature, so that we could see how sinful we are and how much we need to be saved by Jesus Christ!  We use reverse psychology on people because we know that if we tell someone to do something, they will want to do the very opposite of what we tell them to do.  The Law shows us that we not only sin, but that we are sinners in the very core of our being.  The Law shows us that we are sinners by nature.  Doing right comes hard for us, sin comes easy.  In Romans 7, Paul tries to do good and he tries to obey the Law.  After many failures he cries out:  "What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this death?" (Romans 7:24)  It is only when we see our sin and our inability to do what is right and good that we are ready for God's grace through Jesus Christ.  The Law was not designed so that it would save us, but to show us our need for a Savior.

Before we speak about the reign of God's grace, we need to look at Paul's words, "sin reigned in death."  First of all, we will consider Paul's words: "sin reigned."  Jesus says in John 8:34 that "everyone who sins is a slave of sin."  And, of course, we all sin.  As Paul says "Sin reigns"!  We like to think that we are in charge of our life; that we are reigning and not sin.  But, sin is the ruler of this earth and not us!

Next, he says that "sin reigns in death.When sin reigns, it is not pretty.  Sin sucks the life of our world.  Sin turns God's gift of sex and marriage in to all kinds of death: incest, abortion, pornography, adultery, homosexuality, pedophilia, profanity, and other forms of ugliness.  Sin takes all that is good and pure and turns it into perversion and ugliness.  "Sin reigns in death"

Now, we can focus our attention fully on God's grace.  In 5:20 Paul says, "But where sin increased grace increased all the more."  The Greek words picture sin increasing, but grace hyper-increasing more than sin.  It is like a laundry putting in way more washers than are needed, so that it is able to easily keep up with the dirty clothes that come in.  So, grace does not just keep up with our sin, but it hyper keeps up with our sin.  It is like your car getting covered with mud, but you go through a truck wash that is designed to wash a semi-truck.  It doesn't just clean your car, it hyper-cleans your car.  So, grace hyper-cleans you of your sin.  It is way more than enough to deal with your sin.

God's grace is much more than we need.  Sin digs a hole; grace fills that hole and puts a house on it.  God's grace overflows and gives us much more than forgiveness.  He gives us His righteousness, His life, complete access to His throne, help in time of need, His Word, His guidance, His church, and eternal life.  That is overflowing!  Grace does not merely make us not-dead; it makes us richly alive forever!  "And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace." (Ephesians 2:6-7)

In 5:21, Paul says that just as sin reigned in death, so grace will now "reign through righteousness to bring eternal life."  Reigning is a term that is associated with monarchy and kings.  In Paul's day it was not unusual for a king to conquer another king and totally overflow and completely take over the other king's country.  That is what grace does to sin.  It completely conquers sin and overflows all over sin's old territory.  It replaces death with eternal life.

How does grace reign?  Paul says grace reigns through "righteousness."  God did not ignore sin; He chose an absolutely righteous way to conquer sin.  The payment for our sin that was paid for by Jesus Christ was a totally just and righteous payment.  God did not ignore the Law when He sent Jesus Christ as the second representation for all of mankind.  He righteously fulfilled all the requirements of the Law when He graciously made it possible for us to become identified with His Son Jesus Christ.

4. Our new resurrected life:  Jesus and we have conquered deathand risen

to a new life. (6:1-14)
Paul realizes that there will be those, particularly the Jewish legalists, who will ask: "Well, then, if the law causes sin to increase, and grace increases even more and forgives all the sin, why not sin all we want so that grace will increase even greater?"  Those who are deeply entrenched in a religious system of works-righteousness will inevitably bring up this argument.  Paul beats them and others to the punch by bringing up the issue himself.

a. It is inconceivable to Paul that we who have "died to sin" would want to

continue in sin. (6:1-2)
"What shall we say, then?  Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means!  We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?"

Thought Question #1:  According to these verses, why should we no longer sin?  After all, our sins are all going to be forgiven anyway.

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What is meant by "died to sin"?  When did we die to sin?

 

 

Paul asks, "Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?"  Paul says that the reason that we who are Christians cannot now sin all we want is because we have "died to sin."  When did we die to sin?  We will learn in the following verses that we "died to sin" when we believed that Jesus died for us.  Paul is not saying that we are presently seeking to die to sin or that someday when we have completed a process of seeking to die to sin we will die to sin.  He is saying that every one of us who has become a Christian "died to sin" when we became a Christian.

We will see from the rest of the chapter that we "died to sin" when we chose to end our old sin-enslaved life and begin a new life with Christ.  Why then would we ever want to go back to the life we left and hated?  Paul says, "by no means."  The New American Standard Version is much stronger:  "May it never be!"  It makes absolutely no sense to Paul that anyone who has seen his or her sin for what it is and has recognized the price that Jesus paid to absorb on Himself the penalty for that sin would ever want to "go on sinning so that grace may increase."

What is meant by "died to sin"?  There are a number of misunderstandings about what is meant by these words.  There are those who teach that being dead to sin means that we are now like a dead person in relation to sin, and sin no longer appeals to us.  As a dead person would not be tempted to sin, so, according to them, we are also no longer tempted to sin.  Our own experience shouts to us that we are not dead to the appeal of sin.  We who are Christians are still tempted to sin.  Paul exhorts the Roman Christians in 6:13 not to offer their body to sin.  This exhortation would have been unnecessary if sin no longer had an appeal to them.

Another misconception is that Paul is saying that if we love God, we ought to choose to die to sin.  But, Paul is not saying here that we should die to sin; he is saying instead that we have already "died to sin." 

Still another misconception about "died to sin" is that it means that we have made a commitment to not sin again.  But "died to sin" is not some act of dedication that we have made, it is what Jesus did for us when we became a Christian.  To put it briefly, we came to the end of our sin-oriented and sin- dominated life when we believed in Jesus' death for us and became Christians.  When we believed in Christ, we died with Christ, were buried with Him, and were raised with Him to a whole new type of life.  Baptism symbolizes what happened to us; as Paul will explain to us in the following verses.

b. Baptism symbolizes how our new life began. (6:3-10)

"Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.  If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.  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---because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.  Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.  The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God."

Thought Question #1:  According to these verses, what do you believe is the "old self"?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  According to these verses, what do you believe is the "body of sin"?  Also, how was it "done away with"?

 

 

Because each word in this very important part of Scripture is so important, short sections of the verses will be quoted followed by an explanation of the meaning of the words.

"Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?" (6:3)

First of all, what does Paul mean by baptism here?  Listen to Ray Stedman's words:  "The passage deals with how we died to sin, how we became separated from Adam and were joined to Christ.  No water can do that.  That requires something far more potent than water.  It is, therefore, a description of the baptism of the Holy Spirit (as it is called elsewhere in the Scriptures).  John the Baptist, who made his reputation because he baptized in water said, 'I indeed baptize you with water, but there comes One after me greater than I, who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.'  That is what Paul is talking about here---the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which places us into Christ.  Water baptism teaches by symbol, the meaning of the baptism of the Spirit."  "Taken from From Guilt to Glory Volume I by Ray C. Stedman.  Copyright 1978 by Multnomah Press."

Some teach that Paul is teaching here that we are saved by water baptism.  This has come to be called "baptismal regeneration."  In other words, we cannot become saved or regenerated (receive a new birth) apart from water baptism.  But, Paul has just spent five chapters arguing that we are saved by faith.  It would therefore be completely irrational for him to now say we must be baptized to be saved.  Instead, he is saying that water baptism describes what faith in Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection have accomplished for us.  See Acts 10:44-47 where the Gentiles believed first and then were baptized.
Now, what does Paul mean when he says we were "baptized into his death"?  It simply means that when we believed in His death for our sins on the cross and became Christians, we received the full benefits of what He did for us.  It means that Jesus brought that old life to a just and final end.  We could not be done with that old life until the penalty for our sins was completely paid for.  Our sins are now paid for, so we are now able to start a new life!

Paul was saying the same thing in Galatians 2:20 when he said:  "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live."  His old life ended when he believed that Jesus was crucified for him and he became a Christian.  After that, he had started a whole new life.  Just like Paul, our old life ended and our new life began when we became a Christian.

"We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." (6:4)

We not only "died with Christ," we were also "buried with him."  As Martyn Lloyd-Jones observed, we do not bury a body until we are absolutely certain it is dead.  If we have been buried with Christ, we can be absolutely certain that our old life is completely and irretrievably dead.  As those who died and were buried with Christ, we are completely done with our old life.  Do I hear any hallelujahs?

But, we did not stay dead, for just as Jesus was raised from the dead, so we have been raised to a "new life."  Jesus was raised from the dead by the glorious, almighty power of the Father.  What does that mean to us?  The very same glorious, almighty power of the Father that raised Jesus from death to life has raised us from death to a new life.  We were dead and hopelessly enslaved to sin; now we are raised from this dead life and are, now, no longer a slave to sin!  "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know…his incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is like the working of his mighty strength which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead . . . ." (Ephesians 1:18-19)  There is no question that Paul is teaching that we who are Christians have been saved from the power of sin!

"If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection." (6:5)

"United" is a key word is this verse.  Ray Stedman has the following to say about this word:  "Paul uses a word from botany here.  The word 'united' means 'to graft a branch to another.'"  "Taken from From Guilt to Glory Volume I  by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1978 by Multnomah Press." 

Although we did not physically accompany Jesus when He died, was buried, and rose from the dead; we have been grafted into Him and now share in the benefits of what He accomplished for us in His death, burial, and resurrection.  In the next verses we will learn of the benefits that are now ours because of what Jesus did for us. 

"For we know that our old self was crucified with Christ so that the body of sin might be done away with," (6:6a)

What is our "old self" that was crucified with Him?  If it was crucified with Christ, it can no longer be alive; it is dead, buried, and gone.  The "old self" is you and I before we became Christians.  It is the old non-Christian self.  That old non-Christian self is dead and gone now that we have become Christians.  Of course, you are still the "old self" if you have not yet become a Christian.  For me the "old self" died and was buried at a fraternity house at San Jose State College.  I left the "old Larry" there many years ago.

Next, what is the "body of sin" that needs to be "done away with"?  Some believe that the "body of sin" is simply another way of saying the "old self."  But, Paul is not just saying the same thing twice (a tautology).  Instead, he is saying that the "old self was crucified with Christ so that the body of sin might be done away with."  The "body of sin" is our human physical body when we were the "old self" of our non-Christian days.  Our body at that time was completely enslaved to the power of sin.

Paul described the "body of sin" in Romans 1.  It is what happened when men and woman exchanged the truth about God for a lie, became blinded to God's light, and God gave them over to sinful passions.  Paul describes the "body of sin" in Ephesians 4:17-19:  "So I tell you this…no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.  They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.  Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more."  That is the "body of sin."  That was your body and my body before we became Christians.

Paul goes on in Ephesians 4:20-24 to explain that when we become Christians we put off this "body of sin" "which is being corrupted by deceitful desires" and put on the new man.  The new man is "created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."

Before we were Christians, we had to sin, for we did not have the power and the desire to overcome sin in our bodies.  Paul concludes this verse with these words:

"that we should no longer be slaves to sin." (6:6b)

The theme of Romans 5 through 8 is "salvation from the power of sin."  We can be saved from sin's power and domination of us because when we were crucified with and raised with Christ, we became a new man (or woman); and we no longer live in a sin-enslaved body.

Paul is not saying here that the body itself is sinful.  Jesus had a physical body, and His body obviously was not a body of sin.  No, the desires of the body are not evil.  God created our bodies with their cravings for food, sex, rest, and other healthy desires.  But, in fallen man these desires became corrupt, sinful, and dominating.  When fleshly passions run a person's life, that person selfishly lives only for the gratification of those desires.  As we will learn in Romans 7, even the Christian is not able to control his body with its fleshly desires.  Only God can bring these desires under control. See Romans 7:14-24, 8:5-7

When we become new creatures in Christ, we have Christ's resurrection power so that we can bring these fleshly desires under God's control rather than having them controlling us.  We do this by seeking first after the gratification of the desires of the Holy Spirit within us.  "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." (Romans 8:5)  "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." (Galatians 5:16)

"because anyone who has died has been freed from sin." (6:7)

Martyn Lloyd-Jones observes that Paul makes a change in this verse.  In the verses before and after this verse he talks about "we" and "us," but in this verse he says, "anyone who has died."  Lloyd-Jones' explanation is that Paul is making a general statement that is true when anyone dies.  When anyone dies from that point on he is free from the enslaving hold that sin has had on him.  Why did Paul make this general statement that a dead man is "freed from sin"?  It is because we also have died to our old life when we became united with Christ in His death.  The old man died.  For me the old Larry died.  For you the old_________ died!  But, we can go on because we did not just die.

"Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him." (6:8)

Paul is saying if we did the first thing with Christ, we also did the second thing with Him.  He died and then resurrected.  So, if we died with Him, it then follows that we have also resurrected with Him.

In verse eleven Paul will make an application to this verse:  "In the same way, count yourself dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus."  Paul is not talking in verse 8 about a future resurrection, but a resurrection from death to life right now.  It is similar to what Paul says in Ephesians 2:4,5:  "God, who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions."  Paul goes on to show how Jesus died to sin and also lives to God.

"For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.  The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God." (6:9-10)

In these two verses, Paul is not describing anything about our Christian experience.  His total focus is on what is true of Jesus Christ.  Martyn Lloyd-Jones observes:  "Until we are clear about that, we shall never be clear about our own position, and consequently we shall never get victory in our lives….What the New Testament tells you to do always, in the first instance, is to forget yourself altogether---to forget all your problems, your temptations, your difficulties, everything else; to forget yourself and look at the Lord Jesus Christ.  Consider first His relationship to sin.  Then, when you have got that clear, the next step is to say, 'I am joined to Him, and what is true of Him is true of me, therefore I deduce this about myself.'  That is exactly what the Apostle does here; and he does not come to the 'Therefore' until verse 11."  "Taken from Romans Exposition of Chapter 6 by Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  Copyright 1972 by Zondervan Publishing House."

What Paul is saying in these two verses is that when Jesus was raised from the dead, it showed that He had completely conquered the power of sin and the death caused by sin.  So, He will not need to die for sin again.  Instead, He now lives in a continual relationship with God.  Listen to Jesus' prayer in John 17:5:  "And now, O Father, glorify me in you presence with the glory I had with you before the world began."  Jesus died once and now "he lives to God."  What is Paul's message to us?  Jesus died once; we also died just once with Jesus Christ.  Now, we are to live with Him.  We are to live our new life in a continual relationship with God, as Jesus lives in a continual relationship with the Father.  See also Revelation 1:18; Ephesians 1:19-23

The following diagram is helpful in understanding Romans 6:1-10:

Old self - New self

The "old self" is you and I before we became a Christian.  The "body of sin" is our physical body before we became a Christian.  It is the body without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that was enslaved to its fleshly desires.  The "new self" is you and I after we became a Christian.  It is you and I indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

c. Therefore, first believe you are raised to a new life.  Then, offer yourself to

God so you can experience this new life. (6:11-14)

"In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus." (6:11)

Thought Question:  What do you believe Paul means by "count yourselves"?

 

 

This is the very first time in the book of Romans that Paul urges his readers to do anything.  Up to this point, Paul has been teaching doctrine; particularly doctrine about our sin and what God has done for us because of our sin.  But, in this verse he says: just as Jesus died to sin, and lives to God; "count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God."  What does Paul mean by these words?  He simply means that when temptation comes, you do not have to give into the temptation and sin.  You can now and should now choose to live by doing what God wants you to do.  The same power that raised Jesus from death to life is now in us to raise us from the death of sinning to the life that comes by obedience to God. 

Paul has powerfully and pointedly revealed to us that apart from Jesus Christ, all of us are seekers after sin rather than seekers after God.  But, then, he reveals to us that God in His grace has made it possible for us to become seekers after God.  Jesus died, we died to our old life.  Jesus was buried, we were buried.  Jesus was raised to a new type of life, we were raised to a new life.  What should we do, then?  We should stop the old sinful life, and live the new life!

He says, "count yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus."  What does he mean by "count" or as it says in another translation, "reckon."  Here are some examples of times when there is a need for considering or reckoning something to be true.  A student does poorly on one test and loses her confidence.  A parent, friend, or a teacher might rehearse her whole history of success in school, and then say to her that she needs to consider these facts and gain confidence that she is a good student.  She would, then, based on the facts of her past success in school, "count"herself to be a good student.  A young man may have been very short in stature all of his young life, but recently has gone through a very sudden growth spurt.  Now, he is actually average height, but he still feels short.  Someone might say consider the facts and "consider," reckon," "count" yourself now as being of average height, because you are of average height! 

Martyn Lloyd-Jones gives one more example of the need to reckon or consider something to be true:  "Or we could use again the familiar illustration about the slaves that were set at liberty after the American Civil War.  There were many thousands of people then who had been born as slaves and brought up as slaves and who had lived as slaves.  But the American Civil War settled the question of slavery, and slavery was abolished.  However, many years afterward many of those former slaves, and especially the old ones, kept on forgetting that they were at liberty.  They had to learn to reckon themselves to be no longer slaves.  And it took some time because all men tend to act according to habits and customs and practices which have been long ingrained.  The way to get rid of all this evil is to tell yourself what is true about yourself; that you are not longer a slave, but that you are a free man.  That is what I mean when I say that the Christian no longer sins as a slave but as a free man; and that is why I say he is always a fool when he sins.  The compulsion has gone; it is he who now yields voluntarily."  "Taken from Romans Exposition of Chapter 6 by Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  Copyright 1972 by Zondervan Publishing House."

Paul is saying that because of what Jesus did for you and me, we no longer need to be a slave to sin.  The first step is to consider or persuade ourselves that what God says is true is true.  Remember, we are not trying to persuade ourselves of something that is not true.  Instead, we are seeking to persuade ourselves of something that is totally true.  We need to reckon or consider it to be true until we become confident that it is true! 

Martyn Lloyd-Jones commentary on Romans 6 presents an excellent teaching on what it means for us to be completely new creatures in Christ.  The following will give you a flavor of what is contained in this book:  "How does it work?  It works in this way.  I lose my sense of hopelessness because I can say to myself that not only am I no longer under the dominion of sin, but I am under the dominion of another power that nothing can frustrate.  However weak I may be, it is the power of God that is working in me; and it is God's purpose to deliver me from every vestige and trace and remnant of sin, until I become faultless and blameless.  I know that that is true.  There is a power working in me which is against sin and sin's power.  I have been taken out of the realm of sin and I am being purged and purified, God is working in me.  However great the power of the devil may be, I know that this power is greater:  'Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world' (I John 4:4).  When I say that, and believe it, I can smile at the devil, I can defy, I can resist him and see him fleeing from me.  I can resist him, 'steadfast in the faith'.  I used to be terrified of him, but no longer!  Oh yes, if I were still alone I should be terrified; but Christ is with me, I am in Him.  Therefore I need fear nothing that the devil can do to me.  I can defy him, though he is a 'roaring lion roaming about seeking whom he may devour.'  In Christ I can resist him . . . To realize all this, furthermore, leads to a sense of joy and of hope.  When you realize these things you begin to smile; you stand up, you shake yourself.  You say, 'what a fool I have been for being so depressed for so many years!  Why did I ever allow the devil to tyrannize over me?  Why have I listened so much to the accuser of the brethren?' . . . When we are miserable and unhappy and defeated and pessimistic and morbid and introspective we are in no condition to fight and conquer the world, the flesh, and the devil.  You cannot do your daily secular work properly if you wake up in such a condition.  If you wake up feeling dull and lethargic and unhappy, and sorry for yourself, nothing seems to go right . . . but if you are feeling well and happy, everything comes so easily and you go through your work like a knife through butter.  'The joy of the Lord is your strength.'  Well, this is the way to that joy.  It is to realize that this is true of me, that I am 'dead indeed to sin, but alive to unto God', and that because I am in Christ this power is coming down through the ligaments of supply to me.  I am no longer left to myself, I am receiving power from the Head, the life of God is in my soul, and I am filled with joy which turns into further strength."  "Taken from Romans Exposition of Chapter 6 by Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  Copyright 1972 by Zondervan Publishing House."  We are left with no doubt, Martyn Lloyd-Jones has "counted [himself] dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus."  May we also do the same.  For everything that was true for Martyn Lloyd-Jones is also just as true for each of us!

"Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.  Do not offer the parts of your body to sin as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness." (6:12-13)

Thought Question:  Do you believe that these verses agree with the popular teaching, that we should "let go and let God"?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

Paul compares the human body of a Christian to a weapon.  A weapon can be used by a soldier for a good cause.  But this same weapon, if it is dropped, can be picked up and used by an enemy soldier.  So, in the same way, your body can be used by God or it can be used by Satan for his nefarious purposes.   Paul urges his readers, which includes us, to offer our bodies to God so that they will become "as instruments of righteousness."  How does this work in our everyday life?  We are able to do this only if we apply what Paul has already taught us in this chapter.

Many of us who are now Christians did not begin our Christian life until we had spent some time as non-Christians.  We now respond to temptations much differently than when we were a part of the world.  Consider the two possible responses you might make to the following situation.  Your television set (if you have a TV) was left on, and suddenly you realize that there is something that is showing that is totally unacceptable.  The "old you" may have been drawn to what was playing on the television set; even making sure that not a lurid moment was missed.  But the new you immediately turns off the television.  But, why do you turn off the television set?

There are three ways you and I can respond to the immoral content of a television program.  First of all, we can give in to the temptation and watch the show.  Then we would be allowing ourselves to be controlled by the flesh.  Secondly, we may think we would like to watch it but we know we should not watch it, so we turn it off.  Here, we would be operating under the Law.  We want to watch it, but we know that God does not want us to watch it, so we turn it off.  Ultimately, we will find that our trying not to sin when we really want to sin, will fail.  More will be said about the failure of trying to operate under the Law in Romans chapter seven.  The third response is to really believe that we are a new creature in Christ and that in the deepest part of our new self we do not want to sin.  We have "put on the new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:24)  So, because we are now dead to sin and alive to God, we should now choose to not allow our fleshly and mortal bodies to be controlled by sin, but we should give our bodies to God to be controlled by righteousness. See also Romans 12:1 and I Corinthians 9:27

The television example, of course, is just one way our bodies can be used and controlled by Satan.  Paul gives an example of a very destructive way our bodies can be used by Satan in Ephesians 4: "In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold." (Ephesians 4:26)  "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God….Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:29-32)

These verses bring up the critical issue of how we are to live the Christian life.  Some would say that we are to "let go and let God."  In other words, our primary responsibility is to let Jesus Christ live through us.  But, in these verses we are told that because of what Jesus has done for us and our identity with His death and resurrection, we are to choose not to let sin reign over us.  We are to walk in our new life, decision by decision.  The Christian life and not giving in to sin is a very alert and active decision-making process, not a passive let God live through us type of life-style.

Still others teach that we can have a sudden, once-for-all deliverance from the power of sin.  But these verses tell us, instead, that we---who no longer need to be controlled by sin---should continually choose to resist sin.  The power of sin is still there in our mortal and physical bodies, but we as new creatures in Christ can choose to not let sin control us.  We can choose righteousness over sin.

We also find this teaching in Colossians: "put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed." (Colossians 3:5) See Ephesians 4:20-5:2  Listen also to Philippians 2:12,13:  "work out your salvation…for it is God who works in you to will and to act."  God works in us as we work at obeying Him.  We can do this because we died, were buried and have risen to a new life with Jesus Christ!

So, now, for we who are Christians to go on sinning is to deny the value of all He did for us.  He made us new people, so we should now live like the new people that we now are.

We will now focus on what Paul says about our bodies either being used as instruments of "wickedness" or "righteousness."  Warren Wiersbe points out the tenses in verse 13 in the following way:  "Do not constantly allow sin to reign in your mortal body so that you are constantly obeying it lusts.  Neither constantly yield your members of your body as weapons [or tools] of unrighteousness to sin; but once and for all yield yourselves to God."  "Taken from Be Right by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1977 by Victor Books."

What Paul is saying is that each of us who are Christians can be used as instruments by Satan or by God.  For example, Satan can use Christians to further the goals of his evil kingdom.  If we allow ourselves to be filled with hate, greed, or lust, Satan can use us to destroy and tempt others.  He can use us to spread his lies.  He can use us to pervert the beautiful into something ugly.  Paul says, "Horrors, that you could be used by Satan in this way.  Instead, yield your body to God and be used for His holy purposes.  Be used by God in giving, in loving, in telling the truth, and in uniting the church."  In 6:19, Paul puts it in this way: "just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness." (6:19) See also II Corinthians 5:15

Why should we "offer the parts of our bodies to him as instruments of righteousness"?  There are many insufficient reasons we can seek to do what is good and not what is wicked and selfish.  Some would tell us that righteousness can be used as a means to personal success.  You do what is right so you will excel in life.  The book of Proverbs does clearly proclaim that righteousness and wisdom lead to the greatest riches, which is knowing God.  It is also true that those who do what is right are most likely to succeed.

Still others offer righteousness as the way to happiness and bliss.  Martyn Lloyd-Jones, though, focuses on what Paul emphasizes here.  We are to offer our bodies to God so that he can use us.  "Here I am struggling and striving, defeated and unhappy.  Suddenly I look at an advertisement which says, 'Come to the clinic.'  I am quoting actual words that are used – come to the clinic?  What you need we are told, is to come to the clinic, to the spiritual hospital, and here your sickness and your illness can be dealt with.  But as I read the verses that we are studying I see no suggestion whatsoever of a clinic.  Rather, I find a barracks; not a hospital, but a military center.  What do I need?  What do I find?  I do not find a doctor here.  What we all need is not a doctor, but a sergeant major.  Here we are, as it were, slouching about the parade ground feeling our own pulses, feeling miserable, talking about our weaknesses.  So we say, 'I need a doctor, I need to go to the clinic, I need to see the medical officer.'  But that is not right.  What you need is to listen to the voice of the sergeant major who is there shouting out the commands of God to you – 'Let not sin reign in your mortals body.'  'Yield not your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin.'  'Yield yourselves unto God.'  You have no business to be slouching about like that; stand on your feet realize who and what your are, enlisted in the army of God.  'Present yourself.'  This is not a clinic." "Taken from Romans Expositon of Chapter 6 by Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  Copyright 1972 by Zondervan Publishing House."

consider the many military terms used in exhorting us to live the Christian life:  "Put on the whole armor of God." (Ephesians 6:11)  "Fight the good fight." (I Timothy 1:18)  If we allow our bodies to be controlled by sin, we are allowing ourselves to be used by the enemy forces for their evil purposes.  We are in the most important battle of all.  It is up to each of us who are Christians as to how our bodies will be used: by sin and the Devil or by God! 

We now come to the final verse of this section of verses, verse 14:  "For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace."

Thought Question #1:  What does Paul mean by "under law"?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What does Paul mean by "under grace"?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  Why will sin "not be our master" when we are under grace and not under law?

 

 

Paul begins the section in 6:1:  "Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?"  The answer is all that Paul says in 6:1-14:  Because of God's grace toward us through Jesus Christ, we have died to the old life of sin and we have risen with Christ to a whole new possibility – a life where we can be free from the power of sin.  And so, as Paul says here in verse 14, sin shall not be our slave master.  For through the grace of God, we can now conquer that which has conquered us all of our pre-Christian days.  Why would we want to go back to being under sin's enslaving power?

What does Paul mean by being "under law"?  He will go into this subject in much more detail in chapters 7 and 8.  But, we can say at this point that it is what some have called, "Plan A" for getting right with God.  In "Plan A" or "the law," we get right with God by continuously obeying God perfectly.  In Romans 7 and 8 Paul will make it very clear that we cannot get right with God through the Law.  Instead, our efforts to get right with God will lead to condemnation as we continually fail to live up to God's perfect standards.  It is only when we live under God's grace that we are able to be freed from sin's enslavement of us. God's grace--- what God has given us that we do not deserve--- has made it possible for us to do what is right.  We no longer have to sin.  See also Romans 3:19,20  We will be looking, in depth, at what it means to live under law and under grace when we cover the next two chapters in Romans.

5. Our new slavery – We are a slave of Jesus Christ and no longer a slave of

sin. (6:15-23)
Those who choose to live under sin can feel that they are the ones who are really free.  For they are free to do whatever they want, whatever is fun and whatever is pleasurable to them; even if some say that what they are doing is wrong.  They usually argue that nothing is wrong unless it hurts someone.  In these verses Paul asks again, why not sin if we are under grace and will be forgiven anyway.  The question in this verse is somewhat different from the question in 6:1.  There he asked, "Shall we go on sinning?" or shall we live a life of sinning.  Here, Paul asks, should we do even one sin?  Paul is about to give a number of reasons why we should not sin even once.

a. Reason # 1 why we as Christians should not sin:  If you sin, you become

sin's slave (6:15-16)
"What then?  Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?  By no means!  Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey---whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness."

Thought Question: Why do you think that Paul contrasts sin leading to death with obedience leading to righteousness?  (Why are sin and obedience opposites?  Why does he contrast death with righteousness rather than with life?)

 

 

Sin at first looks pretty good.  Why not give into temptation this one time?  After all, I am already forgiven.  Then, you sin and sin says, "Gotcha!"  See Proverbs 7:6-27 and James 1:13-15  Sin goes fishing for you, and if you grab the bait, you are hooked.  It is much easier not to sin the first time, then to try to stop sinning once you have gotten started regularly doing a particular type of sin.  For example, sexual immorality can get hold of a person and become the central driving part of that person's life. 

Jesus said, "I'll tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin." (John 8:34)  We do not like to see ourselves as a slave of anyone or anything.  But, as Paul says here, we are either controlled by sin or by God.  Consider all of the ways sin can controls us: We cannot control our tongues as James says in James chapter three.  We can tame and control all kinds of animals, birds and sea creatures, but we cannot tame and control our tongue.  Out of our mouths flow all kinds of garbage: gossip, anger, immorality, disrespect, rudeness, impatience, harsh words, and slander.  Then think of the whole area of man's addictions: alcohol and drug dependency, overeating, greed, gambling, and workaholism.  Then add our pride and boasting.  Apart from Jesus Christ, we are slave to all types of sin-slaveries.

Why does Paul say that we are either slaves of sin which leads to death or a slave to obedience?  We would think he would contrast death to life.  Instead of saying, "obedience that leads to life," he says, "obedience, which leads to righteousness."  Why does he choose to say "righteousness"?  As Martyn Lloyd-Jones observes, if he had said that obedience leads to life, he would have sounded like he was teaching that we are to earn life by our obedience.  Instead, he chooses to say that a slavery to obedience leads to righteousness.  The Bible teaches us that a righteous life is fullest life we can experience.  "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled." (Matthew 5:6)  If we regularly choose to obey God, we will also find that we are experiencing life at its fullest.

b. Reason #2 why we as Christians should not sin: When we became a

Christian, we chose from the heart to leave the slave-hold of sin to become a slave to God. (6:17)
"But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted."

Thought Question:  Does this verse teach us about something that is true of every Christian?  If your answer is yes, what does it say that is true of every Christian?

 

 

Each time we are in a situation where we must choose between what is right and wrong, between sin and obedience to God, we need to remember that when we became a Christian, we chose wholeheartedly against sin and for God.  We decided that we did not want to be slaves any more to wrong, but we wanted to be slaves to right.

In Romans 6:1-14, Paul explains what God did for us through Jesus Christ's death and resurrection.  In Romans 6:15-23, Paul describes what we did.  We chose to follow Christ.  This is what has been called our conversion; our wholehearted choice to obey Christ.  In these verses, Paul describes two stages of conversion: (1) what you were before your conversion – slaves of sin; (2) what you chose wholeheartedly to do – to obey that "that form of teaching" that Paul gave to them and has given to us.  What had Paul given to them?  It is the message of grace that he is presenting throughout the book of Romans.  But, this "form of teaching" needs to be obeyed.  We need to go from obeying sin and unbelief to obeying God's plan and ways.  In Romans 1:5, Paul said that we became Christians by the obedience of faith.

According to this verse, why should we not now choose to sin?  When we became Christians, we chose a life of righteousness over a life of sin.  Why would we ever now choose sin over righteousness?

c. Reason #3 why we as Christians should not sin:  We have become a slave

of righteousness. (6:18)
"You have been set from sin and have become slaves to righteousness."

Thought Question #1:  How have we been "set free from sin"?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  How are we "slaves of righteousness"?

 

 

What happened when you obeyed the Gospel?  You were set free from sin and became a slave of righteousness.  A Christian is no longer what he was.  He has become something quite different.  This all became true when you and I chose from the heart to leave the life of the old man and begin the life of the new man.  Paul says the very same thing in Ephesians 4:20-24: "You did not come to know Christ that way.  Surely you heard of him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.  You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."

Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out that this conversion is not merely an intellectual, an emotional, or a willfull decision.  Conversion involves the whole heart: mind, emotions and will.  A part way decision can rightly be criticized as mere intellectualism, emotionalism, or as an exertion of self-will.  Some decisions for Christ are merely willful decisions that are responses to social pressure.  True decisions for Christ are made when it is a thought-through and heartfelt decision that will last a lifetime; even when faced with trials and sorrows.  See Hebrews 3:6,14 and Matthew 13:20-23

There is a debate over the issue of whether obedience has any part in salvation.  Some say that including obedience in a salvation invitation is saying that you need faith plus obedience to be saved.  But, what Paul is teaching in these verses is that true faith includes the realization that I have been disobeying God and am a slave to sin.  Those who have this true type of faith desire to go from slavery to sin to obeying God.  As James says, faith without works is dead. See James 2:17  A faith that does not result in some type of action based on that faith is not true faith.  Someone who said he believed that a bridge was safe, yet drove thirty miles out of his way each day to avoid using that bridge, would not really have faith in that bridge.  If he had faith in that bridge, he would drive over that bridge each day, thereby saving hours of driving each month.  A person who says he believes that Jesus died because of our sins and that being free from sin is the best way to live will not want to continue in sin.  Christians are those who have come to believe that sin is not the way to live and that godliness is the very best way to live.  Listen to Paul's words in Titus 2:11-12:  "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age." 

What does Paul mean in verse 18, when he says, "You have been set free from sin"?  He, of course, does not mean that we no longer sin and are now perfect.  What he simply means is that we are free in the sense that we no longer need to be bullied around and controlled by sin.  It is no longer our master.  We still can sin, and the temptation to sin can be just as strong for us today, if we allow ourselves to be allured by it.  But, we also can choose to be free from sin by following Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. See Galatians 5:16 and II Peter 1:3-4

What, next, does Paul mean by being "slaves of righteousness"?  It means that all who are Christians have a new master.  Sin used to be our master.  Now, our master is "righteousness."  The first observation we can make about this part of verse 18 is that all who are Christians have gone from being slaves of sin to being "slaves of righteousness."  Do we first receive Jesus our Savior and then, possibly years later, receive Jesus as our Lord?  Here, in this verse, it is clear that all Christians have gone from having sin as their lord to having Jesus as their Lord.  In other words, when we become Christians, we have immediately chosen to begin to obey God rather than obey sin.  It is, of course, possible as it says in II Peter 1:9 to forget about what God has done for us and drift back into our old ways.  Paul is reminding these Christians in Rome of the decision they made when they first became Christians, so that they will not drift away from their new life of righteousness.  The book of Hebrews was written to Hebrew Christians to warn them, so that they would not drift away as well:  "We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away."

d. Reason #4 why we as Christians should not sin:  Sin and slavery to sin

pulls us downward toward even greater sin. (6:19a)
"I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves.  Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness. . . ."

Thought Question #1:  What does Paul mean by "human terms"?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Give two examples of how sin tends to lead to more sin.

 

 

Introduction to Reason #4 (6:19a)  Paul, in this verse, explains why he is using the human illustration of slavery to explain why we should not sin.  In verses 15-23, Paul uses the word "slavery" in verses 6:16,17,18,19,20 and 22.  Illustrations are helpful in clarifying some Scriptural truth.  When Paul uses the word "slavery," he is not saying that we are slaves to Christ in a similar way to which people were enslaved in our Southern states prior to the Civil War; whereby, they were bossed around inhumanely by their slave bosses.  That is not Paul's point at all.  What he is saying, instead, is that our flesh is weak and unable to choose to do what is right.  So, our flesh is going to be ruled by something.  For us to be free from slavery to sin, we must voluntarily choose to be ruled by God.  Now, that we have God's resurrection power, we can offer ourselves in obedience to God.  Because hundreds of thousands of people in their world were slaves and slavery was very familiar to them, he uses slavery to illustrate our need to choose obedience to God over our only other choice: slavery to sin.

We must remember, though, that the Christian life is different than the slavery of Paul's time in at least the following ways:  (1) Our Lord is not demanding and harsh.  (2) Our Lord is not using us for his selfish purposes.  (3) Our Lord does not desire to keep us in bondage.  (3) Our Lord desires to set us free to live the very best type of life – a life of holiness and righteousness.  (4) Our slavery to Christ, then, is not involuntary, but it is a choice that God encourages us to make.  (5) Our slavery is not an imposed-upon-us type of relationship, but Jesus Christ desires that we obey Him only if we love Him.  See John 14:21

Now, back to the rest of the fourth reason why we should not sin: "Sin and slavery to sin pulls us downward toward even greater sin.":  "Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and ever-increasing wickedness."  In Luke 15, Jesus describes a prodigal son who takes his inheritance and quickly squanders it in self-indulgence and a party style of life.  His life goes downhill.  Is not this where sin always leads?  Alcohol use ultimately leads to diminishing one's life and even to alcoholism: "do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery." (Ephesians 5:18)  Deceit leads to more deceit to cover the lies.  Sex outside of God's boundaries leads to sexually transmitted diseases, emotional insecurity, destroyed marriages, and other types of chaos.  The use of addictive drugs often leads to robbery, drug-selling, and prostitution to support the drug habit.  We should not sin because sin does not stay at the samelevel; it always leads on a destructive and downward path.

e. Reason #5 why we as Christians should not sin:  Slavery to God leads us

upward toward His holy ways (6:19b)
"so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness."

Thought Question:  Give two ways that obeying God leads to a richer life.

 

 

Instead of offering ourselves in slavery to sin which leads us downward, we are to offer ourselves to a life of righteousness which leads us upward toward God's holiness.  In II Peter 1:3-11, Peter first says that God has given us all that we need to live a godly life.  Then, he says, "to make every effort" to grow in godliness.  Finally, he describes how we will grow in "goodness," "knowledge," "self-control," brotherly-kindness," and "love."  He is describing growth in holiness and growth upward.

What is the difference between righteousness and holiness?  Here, Paul talks about "righteousness leading to holiness."  "Righteousness" is doing what is right; "holiness" refers to a character that is pure and without sin.  When we make right choices it leads over time to growth in purity of heart and soul.  Obedience leads to growth in holiness; whereas, sin leads you to become more and more vile.  If you obey and do what is right, you will become more and more holy and pure.

f. Reason #6 why we as Christians should not sin:  Slavery to sin leads to

shame and death. (6:20-21)
"When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness leading to holiness.  What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?  Those things result in death!"

Thought Question:  From these verses, what will sin always result in?

 

 

Paul again points out in these verses that we are not really free, for we must either be a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness.  He then gives another reason why we should choose to be a slave to righteousness. When we sin, we can never be free from the shame that always accompanies sin.  Much of what is done wrong is done in private or in dark rooms.  The reason is that those who sin are usually ashamed of what they are doing.  One of the reasons that alcohol is so popular is that it enables people to do what is wrong without feeling guilty about it.  At least, it helps the person who is drunk not to feel guilty while the alcohol is having its effect.

One of the reasons, though, we are driven to God is shame.  We are driven to the one who can remove our shame.

Slavery to sin, according to these verses, also leads to death.  The death he is speaking about here could be physical death, but the ultimate death is separation from God and His life.  This is what is most characteristic of the non-Christian; he is dead to the things of God.  He is blind to the evidence for God all around him.  He is dead to God's way of life.  He is alive to selfishness, but dead to God's pure type of love.  Why would we want to sin, even once, when we know it always leads to shame before God, and to becoming dead to God?

The prodigal son left home because he thought he would find freedom, but all he found was shame and death.  Whenever we give in to sin, we are duped into believing it will lead us to being free and happy; but each time we---just like the prodigal son--find it leads to shame and death.  But, when we humbly return to the Father we, like the prodigal son, find life!

g. Reason #7 why we as Christians should not sin:  Slavery to God leads to

holiness and eternal life. (6:22-23)
"But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Thought Question:  Do you believe the "eternal life" that Paul is talking about here is life we can experience right now, or is he talking only about life after death?  Explain your answer.

 

 

Obedience to sin leads to us being shamed; obedience to God leads to holiness and God being glorified.  In short, holiness is being like Jesus Christ.  When we are like Jesus Christ to any degree, people are able to that degree to see what God is like through the type of life that we live before them.  The fruit of God's Spirit is Christlikness and holiness.  As Paul says in Galatians 5:22-23, there is no law against Christlikeness, holiness, or the fruit of the Spirit.  The fruit of the Spirit is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Galatians 5:22-23) 

Obedience to God also leads to "eternal life."  This is not a life that we only can get after we die.  It is the quality of life that we will experience in eternity that we can now experience through our present relationship with the eternal God.  In fact, it is the kind of abundant life that God gives each person who believes in His Son and becomes a Christian.  see also John 17:3  Romans 6:23, sums up our choices, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus our Lord."

We can sin and get what we deserve, which is shame, death, and eternal judgment; or we can choose obedience to God and get what we do not deserve, which is holiness and eternal life.  We do not deserve these at all, but God through Jesus' death for us offers us this infinite and priceless gift.

Let's review what we have covered in Romans 6:15-23.  Should we sin, even once?  Let's summarize Paul's arguments for why sinning voluntarily even once makes no sense at all for us who are Christians:  (1) Reason #1 – If we sin, we become sin's slave (6:16).  We cannot sin without sin getting its hooks in us.  (2) Reason #2 – When you and I became a Christian we chose from the heart to leave the enslavement of sin and to become a slave to God (6:17).  Why would we ever want to choose sin over God?  (3) Reason #3 – We have become a slave of righteousness (6:18).  We no longer are who we once were; we now want to obey God.  (4) Reason #4 – Sin and slavery to sin pulls us downward toward even greater sin (6:19a)  Why would we want to choose to do that which we know will start us on a downward slide?  (5) Reason #5 - Slavery to God leads us upwards toward God's holy ways (6:19b).  Rather than choose sin, we should choose that which will lead us upward in our lives.  (6) Reason #6 – Slavery to sin leads us to shame and death (6:20-21).  When we sin, we feel ashamed of what we have done.  (7) Reason #7 – Slavery to God leads to holiness and an eternal style of life (6:22-23).  Why would we choose that which leads us to getting what we deserve, when we can receive holiness and eternal life which we do not deserve. Paul's argument leaves no reason why any of us who are Christians should ever voluntarily choose sin over obedience to God!

6. Our new freedom from the law – we are under grace and not under law.

(7:1-24)
God's law is His totally righteous legal code that continually exposes that we are falling short of His holy standards and requirements.  Being "under the law" means that we are also in a continual state of guilt and condemnation before God; for any disobedience of the law will result in condemnation, and none of us can perfectly obey the law.  Romans 7 tells us both what it is like when we are under the law and it prepares us for Romans 8 which describes what it is like when we are under grace.  Romans 7 and 8 are a detailed explanation of what Paul said in 6:14:  "For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace."

"Do you not know, brothers---for I am speaking to men who know the law---that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives?  For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage.  So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress.  But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man.  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 from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.  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.  But, now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code."

Thought Question #1:  In what way is our being released from God's Law like the wife who is free to remarry after her husband dies?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  In our dying to God's system of law, who died to free us from the law?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  How is living under the "new way of the Spirit" better than living under law?

 

 

a. Jesus' death frees us from the law (7:1-6)

How can a righteous God justly allow us to be free from the law?  These verses explain why we, who are Christians through faith in Jesus' death for us, are no longer under the law's demand for absolute holiness or we will be condemned.  Being under the law is similar to continually being followed by a policeman.  When we are under law, we are continually wondering, "Are we praying enough?  Are my motives pure enough?"  But, since we always fall short, we are also continually living in a state of condemnation and guilt.

When we are under the law, we do not usually do what Paul does in Romans 7:24:  "What a wretched man I am!"  Or what the tax collector does in Luke 18:13:  "God have mercy on me, a sinner."  Instead, our normal human response is to point out our strengths and others' weaknesses. We hide from our guilt before God.  We boast and blame, rather than humbly admit our failure before a holy God.

(1)  The law has authority over us as long as we are alive. (7:1)

"Do you not know, brothers---for I am speaking to men who know the law---that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives?"

Paul is stating a truism here.  If you are alive, you are required to obey God's law.  But, there is one way we can be free from the authority and demands of God's law; it is if we die.  For example, if someone killed someone when he was young but never was caught, he would still be required to pay the penalty for his crime if he ever did get caught.  But, if he died before he was caught, he would no longer be under the authority of the law.  What does that have to do with us?  Paul answer to this question is found in the following verses.

(2) An example of how death frees us from the law – the death of a

marriage partner (7:2-3)
"For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage.  So, then if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress.  But if her husband dies, she is released from the law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man."

A marriage relationship is legally binding before God on both partners.  If one member leaves the marriage and marries another, that second marriage is not acceptable and pure before God.  It is an adulteress relationship.  But, the death of one's spouse completely and legally ends a marriage.  Notice that it is the law that ties the woman to her husband.  When her husband dies, the law no longer has a right to bind her to her husband.  Death breaks the law's hold.  The law, for example, cannot take a dead man to court.

Paul's point in these verses is that there is a time when it is completely legal for a woman to remarry.  It is when her husband dies that she is "released" from the law's hold on her.  The Greek word that is translated "released" in these verses is translated "done away with" in 6:6.  When we continue in Romans 7, we will see that when we become Christians we are also "released" from the law's hold on us.  We go from being under the law to being under grace.

(3) Just as the death of a husband releases a wife from the "law of

marriage," so through the death of Jesus Christ we are free from the law and its condemnation (7:4-6)
"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 from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God."

Notice that in Paul's marriage illustration, the husband dies.  But, in his illustration relating to our freedom from God's law, we are freed from God's law when we die.  How do we die to the hold that God's law has on us?  We die by identifying with Christ's death for us.  As baptism symbolizes, we die with him and are buried with him.  We also, though, are raised with Christ.  So, we are no longer under the system of law that we died to when we died with Christ, but we are now under God's system of grace that we resurrected with him to experience!

In this case Jesus is both our old husband and our new husband!  Our old husband was the old man before we were Christians.  The old man was controlled by sin and condemned to death.  Jesus died, in our place, the death that our old man deserved.  But the risen Christ is also our new husband.  We are remarried to a resurrected and powerful new husband.  He will enable us to live a powerful new life.  He gives us His power to "bear" His kind of fruit or His kind of life.  See Galatians 5:22-23

Now under our new marriage partner, we are able to "bear fruit for God."  Under the new system we put our trust in God to justify us and to enable us to do what is good and godly.  "For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit."  (Romans 8:3-4) 

We now "belong to another."  We are no longer married to the old man, to Adam; but now we are married to Jesus Christ, the new Adam.  We now have a new purpose, to "bear fruit for God."  We are now able to express God's life through our new life.  We once lived for ourselves.  Jesus died that we might live for the very highest of purposes---to reveal what God is like to a watching world.  We are able to live this new life through God expressing His life through us.

"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.  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."

Verse five gives the negative – what it was like for us in our old life under the law.  Verse six gives the positive – what it is like for us in our new life in the Spirit.  Years ago I joined the U. S. Navy.  For four years, whenever I saw an officer, I saluted.  Occasionally I would pass by a captain or even an admiral.  When that happened I tended to get nervous and anxious.  I would salute and hope that my salute measured up to what the admiral expected.  But, when I got discharged from the Navy, I was no longer under the law of the U. S. Navy.  Today, if I should see an admiral I would be curious, but I would not be concerned about the law of the U. S. Navy.  The law of the U. S. Navy no longer has a hold on me.  I died to the Navy and came alive as a civilian. 

We who are Christians once were also under a system of law.  In our life under the law, we even at times tried to do what was right.  But, we discovered a principle that Paul will explain later in Romans 7.  We learned that we were unable to obey the law.  We discovered that it aroused "passions" in us that were sinful rather than holy.  These "passions" are the appetites of the flesh or the "sinful nature."  In the old man these "passions" ruled over us and controlled us.  Instead of controlling our appetites, the old man's appetites controlled us.

The law of God only condemned us, for it aroused our "sinful nature" or our "flesh."  All the law did was produce more rebellion in us.  See Romans 8:7  The written law showed us what to do, but it did not give the desire or the ability to obey its commands.  The written law only condemned us and showed us how helpless we are.

But, through Christ's death we have been discharged from the old system of law, and we have come alive to God's new system of grace.  In this new system, God has given us His Spirit to enable us to have the desire and the ability to obey His law.  We now have the newness of God's Spirit in us so that we might have the power and the passion to do what is good.  In the new system we do not look to an outward written law, but to the inward power of God's Spirit to enable us to do what is good and pure.  "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purposes." (Philippians 2:12-13)  Chapter eight is an extended explanation of this sixth verse of chapter seven.

b. Does that mean that the law is evil? (7:7-13)

(1) No, it is God's holy standard, which He uses to reveal to us what is

sinful – IT REVEALS TO US WHAT SIN IS. (7:7)
"What shall we say, then?  Is the law sin?  Certainly not!  Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law.  For I would not have known what covetousness really was if the law had not said, 'Do not covet!'"

Thought Question:  Is the law good or bad?  Explain your answer.

 

 

In the previous verses, Paul explained how Christians are released from the law.  He, of course, implied that it is good for Christians to be released from the law.  The Jewish legalists who objected to his teaching on grace would have been immediately offended, for they would have concluded that Paul was against the law.  In particular, they would have objected to him saying that the law aroused sin.  "Are you saying, Paul, that the law is bad?  Are you saying that it is the law that causes us to sin?"  Paul's answer is, "Certainly not!"  Of course, the law is not evil.  It is good.  But, it does tell us what is bad, evil, and sinful about ourselves.  For example, Paul says here that Paul learned from the law that coveting is sinful.

What happened to Paul is as follows: When he was a religious Pharisee, he was able to outwardly and superficially adhere to a set of rules.  He once thought that adherence to these regulations meant that he was obeying the Ten Commandments.  Jesus, though, revealed in the Sermon on the Mount that we are guilty of murder if we even have a murderous thought.  See Matthew 5:21-22  Paul believed that he had obeyed the Commandments if he had obeyed them outwardly.  But, the Tenth Commandment says that you shall not even desire that which God prohibits.   See Exodus 20:17  Paul discovered that he was continually desiring or coveting what is sinful.

If it was not for the law, Paul would not have recognized how evil his desires were.  The law taught him about his rebellious, evil, and lustful heart.  The law enabled Paul to see the ugliness of his sin before a holy God.  You may think that Paul's learning about how sinful he was does not sound like a good thing.  Nor may it sound good for us to learn about how sinful we are.  But, we need to learn about how desperately terminally ill we are morally before we will wholeheartedly seek after God's cure.

(2) No, but the law brings out the worst in us – IT PROVOKES SIN.

(7:8-13)
"But sin seizing the opportunity offered by the commandment produced in me every kind of covetous desire.  For apart from the law, sin is dead.  Once I was alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.  I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.  For sin seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me and through the commandment put me to death.  So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.  Did that which is good, then, become death to me?  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.

Thought Question #1:  According to these verses, how does the law surprise us in its effect on us?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  According to these verses, what is an important purpose of the law?

 

 

What does Paul mean by all of this?  He is simply saying that the sin in us is like a sleeping lion.  It is always there, but a particular type of sin may be asleep or dead at times.  It is there, but it is not always showing its ugly head.  Then the law tells us what we should not do.  It is the law's demands that wake up the lion and the sinful rebellion within us.

What we would think would happen is that God's perfect law would motivate us to want to do what is good and right.  What does happen when we learn of God's law against a particular sin?  Instead of the law keeping us from doing what is sinful; it actually awakes from within us the desire to do what is sinful.

Here is an example of the law waking up sin in someone.  Let's say that you put a sign in your car window that says, "Do not throw rocks at my windows."  What would happen, then, if a group of teenagers (or even adults) passed by your car?  Until they saw the sign, "Do not throw rocks at my windows," they would not even have thought about throwing rocks at your car's windows.  But, the law--- "You shall not throw rocks at my car windows"---would cause the sinful desire to throw rocks at your windows to come alive in them. 

The same thing happens with teenagers and adults when a group boycotts a movie.  Instead of lowering attendance at the movie, suddenly more people become interested in attending this forbidden movie.  See Romans 8:7; Colossians 2:21-23

It would seem that a holy and good law would not provoke us to do what is bad, but it does!  The reason is not that the law is bad, but the holy law provokes the bad that is already present in us.  This fooled Paul.  It was the very opposite of what he had expected!

Paul was a Pharisee before he was a Christian.  He was one of the most religious persons in all of Israel.  He may have been one of the most religious persons of all time.  Philippians 3:6 describes how Paul saw himself at that time: "as for legalistic righteousness, faultless."  At some time, though, God's law against coveting provoked sin in Paul and he saw that he was not faultless.  Instead, he saw that he was unable to stop his sinful coveting.

It could have been similar to what happens to us when we really see and understand what a Bible verse or Bible section means for the first time.  Possibly, what happened to Paul is that Paul really came to understand what "Do not covet" meant.  He found out that though he knew that it was sinful to covet, he could not stop coveting.  He could not stop desiring someone else's property or someone else's wife.  He came to realize that he was enslaved in a body that was in constant rebellion against God's holy law.

The law has the very same effect on us.  Before we understood God's holy requirements in a certain area, we might have felt quite good about ourselves.  We can be just like the Pharisee in Jesus' parable in Luke 18:9-14 who was glad he was better than other men.  When the law becomes real to us, though, we come to see ourselves in God's light.  Then, we join the tax-collector in that same parable who cries out: "God be merciful to me a sinner."  See also Isaiah 6:5.  When Isaiah comes into God's presence, he realizes he is a man of unclean lips in a world of people with unclean lips.

The effect that the law had on Paul was not what he expected; it fooled him.  It was the very opposite of what he expected.  The more he became aware of God's law, the greater was his desire to sin.  Instead of the law putting on the brakes and stopping him from sinning, the law stepped on the accelerator and increased his desire to sin.  It increased his desire to sin, rather than freeing him from the desire to sin.  The law had caused him to face the reality that he was not faultless at all, but he was instead full of fault.

The law's purpose is very profound and very important.  Its purpose is to enable us, as Martyn Lloyd-Jones says; to see our weakness, helplessness, and hopelessness.  Until we see our desperate state, we will not desire what God desires to give us.  It is the law's purpose to bring us to our knees, until we cry out for God's mercy and His help.  The law brings "death," so we will desire life!!

What does Paul mean in verse 11 when he says, "For sin seizing opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death"?  Something twisted and perverted occurs when a holy commandment of God leads us to sin.  We see what is good and holy and we conclude that we should do the opposite.  What causes us to do the very opposite of what we know is good and right?  Our desires overcome us and we want to do the very opposite of what is holy.  Not only do our desires overcome us, but they also lead us to justify doing what is wrong.  We deceive ourselves into thinking it is right.  See also II Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 4:17, 22; Hebrews 3:13  We not only do wrong, but we deceive ourselves into thinking that it is okay for us to do it.

How does sin deceive us?  We are "deceived" by sin in many ways:  We can see the sin in others clearly, but we can miss seeing the very same sin in ourselves.  We can see that sin is wrong when someone else does it, but we cannot see that it is wrong when we do it.  We can think that it is okay to hate as long as we do not murder anyone.  We can think it is okay to sin because otherwise we would have no fun in life.  And so, when we sin, sin deceives us.  See Romans 2:1

Today, many people believe that we are good people by nature.  They say that all we need is a good education, a good environment, and a good government.  And all our problems will be over.  This also is our ability to deceive ourselves about our sin and sinfulness.  The Bible clearly says that the problem is not our lack of education, our poor environments, or our poor governments.  The problem is our selfish and sinful hearts.  The perfect law reveals that we are far from perfect.  It also provokes us to sin to help us to see that, apart from Christ, we actually desire to do what is wrong.

God's law is holy, righteous, and good.  It describes the very best life possible.  But, as Paul has shown us, there is a major obstacle to living this good life.  Our flesh desires the very opposite.  Paul will, in the next verses, describe how he learned that God's law pointed one way, but his flesh pointed him in the completely opposite way!

But, before we look at these verses (7:14-25), Paul brings up one more question that needs to be answered:  "Did that which is good, then, become death to me? 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." In short, the question is "how come that which is good causes me to die?"  His answer?  It was not the law that killed him, but his sin that killed him.  It is not the law that kills us, but our sin that kills us.  The purpose of the law was not to separate us from God's ways and His life, but to show us how separated from God we already are.  As Paul says here, God gave us the law not only to expose our sin, but also to provoke our sin until we can come to see how horribly sinful we are.  As Paul says, the law provokes sin in us until we see how "utterly sinful" we are.  It is only when we see how sinful we are, that we will seeour need for God's grace!  Paul will now describe for us the process that God used in his life to enable him to see his need for God's grace.

c. The effect the law had on Paul (7:14-25

Paul's losing, losing, losing battle with the law.

(1) The first cycle of failure (7:14-17)

"We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.  I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  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."

Thought Question #1:  What is the principle that Paul has learned from the experience he describes in these verses?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What does Paul mean when he says that it is "no longer I myself who do it"?  Is Paul avoiding taking responsibility for his sin?  Explain your answer.

 

 

Romans 7 could be titled, "How Not To Live the Christian Life."  Romans 8 could be titled, "How To Live the Christian Life."  The problem with us Christians is that we all try Romans 7 before we try Romans 8.  We first try to live up to God's law by relying upon our own best efforts. 

There was once a brand of gasoline that was called Phillips 66.  They had the motto, "We try harder."  That is what each of us does in attempting to live the Christian life.  We try harder and harder to live up to God's standards.  But, each of us inevitably experiences what Paul experienced in Romans 7.  We try and fail, until eventually in total desperation we cry out like Paul: "I am a hopeless mess!" 

Peter is an example of this pattern. He told Jesus that he would never deny Him.  What happened?  He denied Him.  Then, Peter, the hopeless mess, realized his need to replace his weakness with God's indwelling strength. See Matthew 26:31-35, 69-75

Why did Paul give up in Romans 7?  Why did he not go straight to Romans 8?  It is because we are so proud and self-sufficient that we will always need to go through the Romans 7 failures before we are ready to try it God's way.

What if we did perfectly obey God's law?  Who would get the glory?  Our motives can never be pure unless we rely upon Him for His perfect life.

In the remaining verses in Romans 7, we find Paul trying again and again to obey God's law.  And we also find Paul again and again failing to obey God law.  From Paul's failures he will ultimately discover a principle, a spiritual law.  The principle that he discovers is very much like the law of gravity.  If we drop something over and over again, we ultimately discover a principle.  That principle is as follows: if we drop something, it falls.  Paul learned that if he attempted to obey God's law, he failed.  Even though he was a Christian and wanted to obey God's law, he could not obey it.  He did not do what he wanted to do, but he did what he hated to do.  "For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."

Let's look at what else Paul learned in Romans 7:14-17.  He begins by saying that he knows that God's Spirit gave God's law.  Thus, he knows that God's law is good.  He knows that obeying God's law is what he should do.  You and I also know that we should obey God's law.  We know that the Ten Commandments and moral laws in God's Word are good and that we should live as they teach us to live. 

Also, Paul found out that he does not end up doing what he should do, even though it is what he wants to do.  Paul discovered, instead, that he did what he hated doing.  Was Paul unique?  Or do you and I also find ourselves not doing what is good, even though it is what we want to do?  Instead, do we also find ourselves doing the very thing we hate to do?

Now, look at his conclusion.  He says that it was not really he that was doing it.  Now, that sounds like he is not taking responsibility for his sin.  It sounds similar to "the Devil made me do it."  But, his conclusion does make sense.  Here is what he is saying.  First of all, if he does not want to do it, and he still does it, he is doing something he has chosen not to do.  What he ended up doing was not what he in his innermost being really wanted to do.  If he did not do it, who or what did it?  Paul discovered that there was a force within him that was stronger than his deepest desires.  This force was controlling him, rather than what he really wanted to do.  He calls that force "sin."  There was a "sin principle" in him that was stronger than he, so that even when he chose not to sin, he still sinned. 

Have you discovered that this is true of you also?  Do you agree with Paul that the Bible teaches us how we should all live?  But even though you want to do what the Bible says to do, you can't do it; no matter how hard you try!  You have the desire and the will to do what is right, but you cannot do what is right.

Ray Stedman compares what Paul and we experience to what happens to a golfer.  He wants to hit the ball straight at the hole, but more often than not, he does not hit it the way he wants to hit it.  He hits it the way he hates to hit it.  That is what happens every time we try to obey God's law out of our own resources.  The sin in our body is stronger than our desires, and we end up doing what we hate to do.  When we, through our own resources and willpower, dedicate ourselves and commit ourselves to obey God, we fail over and over again just as Paul did.

Paul explained the problem at the beginning of this section:  "The law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual" (or fleshly).  Because our flesh does not want to do what is of God's Spirit, we cannot obey the law.  It is like turning on a water faucet and expecting the lights to turn on.  Water is incapable of flowing through an electric wire and heating up a light bulb.  Our flesh is incapable of empowering us to obey God.  In fact, in Romans 8:7, Paul says that the flesh is "hostile to God."  It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so."  You can want to obey God in your human spirit, but your flesh has no desire to carry out what you want to do.  Your flesh is stronger than your inner desire to do what is right.  You, with Paul, will discover that you cannot do what is right; even when you truly want to do it.

(2) The second cycle of failure (7:18-20)

"I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature [flesh].  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."

 

Thought Question #1:  Why do you think Paul says in these verses pretty much what he said in the previous verses?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Do you think that Paul is describing his non-Christian experience or his Christian experience in these verses?  Explain your answer.

 

 

Thought Question #3:  See if there is one word that stands out to you in these verses?  If you find that word, why do you think it is the most prominent word?

 

 

Earlier, Paul, when he was talking about how God's law against coveting had stirred up coveting in him, he was speaking in the past tense.  He was describing something that happened to him in his past.  In 7:14-24 Paul is describing his present struggles against sin.  Paul is explaining that when he attempts to obey God's law, depending only on his own desire to do what is right, he fails.  Even after Paul had been a Christian for some time, he still could not obey God's law using only his own best resolve to do what is right.  If Paul, the great Apostle, was unable to do what is right using his own resources, can we ever expect to do better?  Can we ever get to the place where we can succeed where the Apostle Paul was only able to fail?

The key word in 7:14-24 is the little word "I."  Paul is describing his own efforts.  Look at these verses and see if the words, "I," "me," and "my" stand out to you.  You have surely noticed that they dominate these verses!  He says when "I" try to obey the law, "I" always fail!

Some dispute that Paul was describing his Christian experience in these verses.  But notice what he says:  "I know that nothing good lives in me."  Does that sound like something a non-Christian would say?  A non-Christian is blind to his sinfulness.  Jesus said, "Light has come into the world, but men love darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." (John 3:19-20)  A non-Christian hates the light that exposes his sin.  Paul was in the light and acknowledged his sin.  He was, therefore, describing his experience as a Christian.

He also says a number of times in these verses that he wanted to do what is good.  But the non-Christian, according to Paul, is "dead in…transgressions and sins…All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts." (Ephesians 2:1-3)  Paul said in Romans 6:20 that when we were non-Christians, we were "slaves to sin." 

In these verses, Paul is a born-again Christian who is trying with all his heart to obey God's law that he knows is good.  But he is seeking to obey the law relying on his own resources.  Again look at 7:14-24.  There is nothing about relying on God in these verses.  There is only the many "I"s, "me"s, and "my"s.  Paul and we experience these cycles of failure to obey God's good law each and every time we look to ourselves for the desire and strength to do that which is good.

He wanted to do what is good but he kept on, as in the first cycle of failure described 7:14-17, doing the evil he did not want to do.  Once more he concludes that in him there was a desire to do sin that was stronger than his desire to do what is good.  He was a divided man; he wanted to do good, but there was a stronger part of him that wanted to do bad.  He is describing a paralysis within himself-the inability to do what he wants to do!

Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out that this is one of the most important lessons we can learn about man.  "More and more I am convinced that all the trouble about morality in this country [England] today, and in every other country, is due to the failure to understand this teaching.  Is it not utterly ridiculous to suggest that a certain amount of moral teaching, more education with regard to sex and certain consequences that may follow certain actions, are going to solve the moral problem?" "Taken from ROMANS by Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  Copyright 1973 by Zondervan Publishing House."

Paul was a new person and now on the inside, the new man that he had become, genuinely desired to do what is good.  But he discovered there was still a part of him that wanted to do what is bad.  The part in us that wants to do what is bad is our fleshly, base, or lower desires.  God has given us physical desires.  These desires are essential and necessary.  They drive us to do that which is necessary so that we will continue to live and propagate mankind.  Some of these cravings are hunger, the sexual drive, and the need for rest.  These desires are good when they are controlled, but they become bad when they control us-turning us into selfish and driven beasts. 

Jesus was describing this fleshly part of us when he said, "if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away."  (Matthew 5:30)  He was saying that we should do whatever it takes, so that we will not be dragged into sin by our fleshly desires.  Jesus also said that the one "who sins is a slave to sin." (John 8:34)  These desires are too strong for you and me to control.  When we try to control them, we end up like Paul did.  We end up doing what we do not want to do.

(3) The third cycle of failure (7:21-24)

These verses are Paul's final conclusion about his powerlessness over the flesh.  "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.  What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?"

Thought Question:  In these three consecutive sections of verses (7:14-17, 7:18-20, and 7:21-24), Paul describes three unsuccessful attempts by him to do what is right.  What does Paul learn from his repeated failures?

 

 

He has discovered a principle or law.  Every time he tried to do what is good, there is an evil part of him that begins to wage war against his desire to do good.  In the end he does not do the good he wants to do, but he instead does the evil he does not want to do.  Now, he realizes that he will get the same results every time he tries to do good.  So, quite understandably, he cries out, "What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?"
We need to remember that he was a Christian when he cried out in this desperate way.  He was at that point that we term a "defeated Christian."  It needs to be pointed out that he is not what James called a "double-minded" Christian (See James 1:8, 4:8) or a "worldly" Christian like the Corinthian Christians (See I Corinthian 3:2).  Paul would have done anything so that he could obey God.  He would have read the Bible more if that would have helped.  He would have prayed more, gone to church services more---he would have done whatever it took so that he could obey God.  He was likea boxer in the fifteenth round fighting a stronger opponent.  This boxer wants to win, but his arms have no strength left and his opponent is hitting him at will.  There is nothing he can do.  So, Paul had met his match.  If there is no one to help, he will have to give up, totally defeated.
He was totally conquered.  What had conquered him?  His own body had wrestled him into submission.  He was beaten, hopelessly defeated by the desires within his own body.
Paul is also like someone totally overwhelmed by his own debts.  He is like someone whose income is never sufficient to pay his monthly bills, who is going deeper and deeper into debt.  Who will rescue him?
Who had Paul been looking to for what he needed up to this point?  Who had Paul been focusing on to rescue him?  Again, notice the "I"s, "me"s, and "my"s in these verses.  He had been looking to himself alone.  Now, he realizes that he must look for help   ---outside---of himself.
Paul is at the point described in the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the poor in spirit."    Blessed are those who have come to understand their weaknesses; their total moral and spiritual weakness and poverty.  It is only when we have this sense of need that we are ready to cry out to God for His help.
It is where the people of Israel were when they had been in the wilderness for forty years.  They had not trusted that God could give them victory in the Promised Land.  But after forty years they were ready to trust God.  Romans 7 is a Christian's wilderness experience!  We cannot leave the wilderness of relying on ourselves until we have acknowledged that we are at the end of our resources and are ready to rely on God and not on ourselves.  Paul was ready when he cried out, "Wretched man that I am!"  Ok, now I am ready to try it Your way!

7. Through focusing in on God's grace though Jesus Christ (7:25-8:39))

Paul’s focus dramatically changes at this point.  He makes a paradigm shift.  He had been looking at the world in a limited way.  He was focusing on the law and his obligation to obey it.  Now, his focus totally changes.  He goes from focusing on what he is obligated to do to earn God’s acceptance, to focusing on what God has graciously done for him to make him acceptable in God's presence.  Instead of Paul looking at God’s unreachable holiness, Paul looks at himself through God’s eyes and sees his situation totally differently!  He suddenly realizes that through Jesus’ death, he is totally forgiven and no longer under any condemnation before God.  He also realizes that because of the indwelling Holy Spirit, he has within him the very power of God to conquer the sin and death that was so enslaving him.  "Who will rescue me from this body of death?" (7:24)  You and I cannot rescue ourselves.  But, what you and I cannot do, God can do.  Through the gracious gift of His Son’s death for us and the gift of the Holy Spirit, we need no longer be a slave to our body of death!! 

What You and I could not do, God did.  Through the gracious gift of His Son’s death for us and the gift of the Holy Spirit, we need no longer be a slave to the "body of death"!  What was it like when the North won our Civil War and slavery was outlawed?  Every person who had once been a slave was free!  But, not every slave in the South immediately began to live as a free man.  Many continued in slavery.  Romans 8 describes God’s victory that sets us free.  Just as there were many slaves who continued on in a form of slavery after the Civil War, so we as Christians can continue on in a form of slavery even though we have been set free.  For as Jesus said, "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36)

a. The focus shifts off himself and on to Jesus Christ (7:25)

"Thanks be to God---through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature [flesh] a slave to the law of sin."

Thought Question #1:  Why does Paul get excited and go from "wretched man that I am!" to "Thanks be to God---through Jesus Christ our Lord!"?  What do you think brought about this total change of attitude?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What is the "sinful nature" or the "flesh"?

 

 

How can Paul go from total despair to hope, joy, and gratitude?  What happens is that Paul dramatically changes his focus.  He had been focusing on himself and his need to obey God's law.  He changes his focus to what God has done for him through Jesus Christ.  Here is Paul's and our only answer.  It is not what you and I can and should do for God; it is what God has done for you and me through Jesus Christ.  The answer to the Christian's struggle with the flesh is Jesus Christ.  The flesh or the sinful nature can simply be defined as you and I without His life controlling us.  Without the power of God controlling our lives, we will always end up being controlled by our fleshly desires. 

As a non-Christian we were continually without Jesus Christ.  As a Christian we can live without totally relying upon Him.  The difference between Romans 7 and Romans 8 is as follows:  In Romans 7 Paul tries to measure up to God's requirements by relying totally upon himself.  He at that time was living in the flesh, rather than in the Spirit.  His efforts result in total failure.  In Romans 8 Paul trusts in what God has provided for him through Jesus Christ.  We will see in Romans 8 that Paul discovers that though he failed, Jesus Christ has totally succeeded.  He will discover that what He could not do in the flesh, he could do in the power of the Spirit.

Paul ends this verse by repeating the principle that he had learned: in his inner being he is a from-the-heart slave to God who wants to obey Him, but without God's provision through Jesus Christ, he is a slave to sin.

Condemnation comes when you look first at yourself and then look at the holiness of God.  The conclusion: He is holy and you are wretched!  Freedom from condemnation occurs when you look down at yourself from God's perspective.  Then, you will be able to see that you, sinful as you are, are just the type of person that Jesus died for and just the type of person that God wants to free from sin.

b. The focus shifts to our condemnation under the law to our new position in

Christ. (8:1-4)
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.  For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature [flesh], God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature [flesh] but according to the Spirit."

Thought Question #1:  Memorize the first words of Romans 8: "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."  Consider whether or not you really believe that these words are true.

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What is "the law of sin and death"?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  What is "the law of the Spirit of life"?

 

 

Thought Question #4:  How has "the law of the Spirit of life set [you] free from the law of sin and death"?

 

 

A story is told of a pioneer family who because they burnt a spot in the middle of an unburned part of that prairie, were saved from a prairie fire that completely surrounded them.  They were saved from the walls of flame that surrounded them because they stood on the spot that was already burnt.  In the same way we are saved from the fires of God's wrath because we stand on the place where God's wrath has already been poured out.  We are in Jesus Christ!  We stand in God's Son who took God's wrath for us.  "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

In our courts it would be unjust for someone to serve a sentence twice for the same crime.  Jesus served our sentence.  The sentence was death.  He served that sentence for us.  It would be unjust for God to punish us who are in Christ for the same crime as Jesus died for.  Satan would like us to live in fear that we are going to be punished for our sins, but even he knows that "there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ."

There is a very important but short word in this first verse of Romans eight.  It is the two-letter word, "no."  Can we believe this two-letter word?  Before God our sin's penalty has been fully paid for and there is "no" condemnation left for us at all.

What does Paul mean when he says "the law of the Spirit of life has set me from the law of sin and death"?  It is similar to what happens when a plane flies.  A plane is too big and heavy to fly.  It should not fly; it should fall.  But, there is another law that lifts the wings of the plane that sets it free from the law of gravity.  In the same way, Jesus' death to pay the penalty for our sin and God's Spirit within us are together a new law or principle that enables us to be free from the law or principle that had enslaved us to sin and death.

The law of sin and death was described for us in Romans 7:14-24: we try not to sin, we fail and sin, and we die (become separated from God and His life).  We repeat this cycle over and over again.  We discover that we cannot control the flesh, but it instead controls us!

The law of the spirit of life is described for us in Romans 8:  (1) God has paid for our sins through Jesus Christ.  So even though we will not in these bodies ever be able to perfectly live up to God's holy standards, we are no longer under condemnation.  (2) God indwells us by the Holy Spirit so that by His power in us, our flesh can be brought under God's control.

We cannot control the flesh, but God can.  In the same way as fire is evil when it is out of control, so our flesh becomes evil when it is out of control and when it controls us.  When our flesh is brought under God's control, it fulfills the good role that God meant it to have.  When we are voluntarily allowing God with His power to bring our lives under His control, we are becoming the people God created us to be.

An important emphasis in these verses is the contrast between the weakness of our human nature and the power of God's Spirit:  "For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature[flesh]."  God's law could never enable us to do what is good because our human flesh is incapable of being good.  This is a hard message for us to accept at first: we are incapable of being righteous.  Our flesh is weak and incapable of doing what is right.  Isaiah tells us that even our type of righteousness is filthy to God.  See Isaiah 64:6

But as Christians we have another way to live.  We do not have to put our reliance on our weak and rebellious flesh.  We can now rely on God's Spirit within us to do what we cannot do.  We cannot be righteous, but the Holy Spirit is righteous within us.  He who is within us can be what we could never be.  God desires that we no longer live independent of Him relying on our own ability.  He desires that we live dependent on Him completely relying on His ability. 

Before we move on to the next set of verses, let us focus in on some details of verses three and four.  First of all, Paul says that God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful man.  Although Jesus was not sinful like us, He was like us in that He also got hungry and tired; He also knew pain and sorrow like us. See John 4:6; Hebrews 4:15, 5:2

Jesus, God's Son came in flesh like our flesh, so He could be a sin offering for us.  He came to offer Himself as an acceptable sacrifice to God.  In the Old Testament times, God instructed Israel to offer sacrifices to pay or atone for their sins.  Once, when John the Baptist was at the Jordan River baptizing people, he saw Jesus and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29)  In the book of Hebrews, the author explains that the Old Testament sacrifices were a picture of Jesus offering His life as a sacrifice to pay for the sins of everyone who has ever lived or will ever live.  See Hebrews 10:6-10

When Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sins, God "condemned sin in sinful man."  We can see very clearly from Jesus' sacrifice for sin what God thinks and feels about sin.  He hates it!  Our sins cannot be ignored; they must be dealt with thoroughly and justly!  When Jesus died on the cross, we and our sin were condemned.  We should have died, but He died in our place.  We should have been condemned, but He was condemned in our place.

God did all of this so that we might now live a new life.  He "gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good." (Titus 2:14)  Now that the punishment is fully paid for, God is legally and righteously able to do what He has always wanted to do.  He can justly make it possible for us to be like Him!

c. Our new position with God and our new focus makes it possible for us to

go from death to life (8:5-17a)
Because of what God has done for us, we as Christians---forgiven through Jesus Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit---now are able to live a completely different life from the life we lived before we were Christians.  We learn about this new type of life in the rest of Romans 8, beginning with these verses.

(1) The mind that focuses on the flesh must sin, but the mind focused on

the Spirit experiences life and peace. (8:5-8)
"Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what that Spirit desires.  The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God.  It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.  Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God."

Thought Question #1:  What does "setting our mind" on something mean?

 

Thought Question #2:  How can we set our minds "on what the Spirit desires"?

 

 

A way of explaining what Paul says here that will make sense in our twenty-first century world is as follows: We who are Christians have two channels within us that we can tune into.  Before we were Christians, we could only tune in on the channel that focused on what the flesh desires.  We were focused on fleshly desires, possessions, competing with others for prestige, and such things as these.  The non-Christian's mind is on the channel of sex, success, possessions, violence, and thrills.  "They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.  Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more."  (Ephesians 4:18-19)

Now that we are Christians and because God's Spirit lives within us, we can tune into what God's Spirit desires.  For one thing, the Bible begins to make sense to us.  We now can desire to have the character qualities that are described in the Bible: God's holy character qualities.  We begin to see the things of the world as empty, evil, and ugly.  We begin to see love and purity as desirable qualities.  Our greatest goal on this channel is to get to know God and to become like Him.

The mind set on the fleshly channel leads to death.  This applies to "Winos" as well as to Presidents and Supreme Court Justices.  If their minds are fleshly, they are dead-separated from God.  But if our minds are tuned into God's life, we are alive-whether we are Billy Graham or a brand new Christian.  The sinful, fleshly mind is dead and unable to do what pleases God.  In fact, the flesh is opposed to God-"it is hostile to God.  It does not submit to God's law nor can it do so."  It is unable to do so.  The flesh-focused mind hates God and the things of God.  Some of us can remember our attitudes toward Christian things before we were Christians.  I can remember hating to listen to Billy Graham.  Now, I love to listen to him and love to read his books. See Galatians 5:17

What is the "death" that Paul talks about here?  First of all, it means that one is dead to God.  Since God is the only source of spiritual life, "death" is a separation from the One who is the source of this spiritual life.  "Death" is the opposite of the "life and peace" that comes from God.  "Life" is fullness to overflowing; "death" is emptiness.  "Life" is reproduction; "death" is the barren womb.  "Life" is growth; "death" is a shriveling up of that which was once alive.  It is the difference between a living tree and a dead tree.  "Peace" is freedom from guilt and fear; "death" is guilt and fear.  "Life" is love; "death" is bitterness and hatred.  We as Christians can choose between "life..peace" and "death."  What will be our choice?  When we become Christians we choose "life and peace" in Christ.  Why should we never choose "death"?

What does setting "our minds" mean?  John Stott gives this precise definition of what it means to set "our minds":  "Now to 'set the mind' (phroneo) on the desires of sarx [flesh] or pneuma [Spirit] is to make them the 'absorbing objects of thought, interest, affection and purpose.'  It is a question of what occupies us, of the ambitions which drive us and the concerns which engross us, of how we spend our time and our energies, of what we concentrate on and give ourselves up to." "Taken from Romans by John Stott.  Copyright 1994 by Intervarsity Press." 

Now, what is meant by "have their minds set on what" the flesh desires or what the Spirit desires?  In these few words are certainly the key to living the Christian life.  How do we set our minds on the flesh or the Spirit?  When we say, "mind you own business," we are saying that someone has been putting the focus of their minds on our private lives, instead of focusing on themselves and their affairs.  Setting our mind on the flesh is deliberately focusing on what the flesh desires.  It results in greed, lust, jealously, and puffed up arrogance.

Now, what does it mean to set our mind "on what the Spirit desires"?  Because God's Spirit indwells us, we have the ability to desire what God desires.  But, we need to choose from the heart to desire what God desires.  Therein lies the moral choice that is always ours.  Will we desire what God desires or will we desire the things of the flesh?

What are the things of the Spirit?  Here are examples: "Like the newborn babies, crave [desire] pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation." (I Peter 2:2)  "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you. O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the one living God." (Psalm 42:1-2)  "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled." (Matthew 5:6)  "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:24)  "Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart."  "The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold."  "Oh how I love your law!  I meditate on it all day long." (Psalm 19:34, 72, 97)  "Pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." (II Timothy 2:22)  Ultimately, we are to pursue God and His ways.  And we can do this because God Himself through the Holy Spirit lives in us.

When we were dead and separated from God, God and His ways did not excite us.  Instead, they were boring and even repulsive to us.  But now that God's Spirit indwells us, that which had no appeal to us, now can become our greatest joy and satisfaction.

(2) We can look at things through spiritual eyes because every Christian

has the Spirit of God dwelling in him. (8:9-11)
"You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature [flesh], but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.  And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ."

Thought Question:  What does this verse tell us is true of every single Christian? 

 

 

This verse tells us at least two things that are true of each Christian: (1) God's Spirit indwells us, and (2) God's Spirit gives us His life.  We are not dead like the non-Christian.  We are alive.  As Paul says here, if the Spirit of Christ is not in us, then we are not Christians.  If we are Christians, the Spirit gives us God's life.

There are some who would say that we do not receive God's Spirit until we have had some type of second experience or second blessing that is subsequent to our conversion.  But, Paul refutes this belief in this verse.  He could not have been clearer.  If anyone does not have God's Spirit, he or she has not become a Christian.  In I Corinthians 6:19,20 Paul says that the body of each Christian is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  See also 14:16-18

We see in these verses that the Holy Spirit is both the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ.  Here, we are faced with the mystery of the Trinity.  The Holy Spirit indwells each Christian.  This means that the Spirit of God the Father and the Spirit of Christ also indwells us.  The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are separate persons, yet are One.  It is this God who indwells us.

"But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.  And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you."

Thought Question:  What is meant by "your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness"?

 

 

Here we learn that God's Spirit raised Jesus Christ from the dead.  God's Spirit has performed that same miracle in each Christian's life-in your life and mine.  Before we were Christians, we were dead.  When we believed in Christ, God's Spirit resurrected us from the dead by giving us God's life.

In II Corinthians 4:16, we find this contrast between our body that is growing old and dying, and the new life of God within us.  "Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day."  Our bodies still experience the curse and are dead and dying, but inside of us who are Christians is the life of God.  Truly we have been spiritually raised from death to life. 

What is meant by, "your body being dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness"?  In Romans 6:23 Paul said that the "wages of sin is death."  Sin is what produces death in us.  Sin separates us from God, the source of spiritual life.  "As for you, you were dead in your transgression and sin." (Ephesians 2:1)  Even when we become Christians, the desires of the flesh can take us in an unholy direction.  These desires can take us away from fellowship with God and the life that fellowship produces.  These fleshly desires can take us from life to death.  The sinfulness that indwells our flesh can lead us to focus on living, only to indulge the selfish cravings and the lusts of the flesh.  The result is unrighteousness, sin, and death.

What can produce life in us?  What we need is the opposite of that which produces death in us.  Unrighteousness brought death to us; righteousness brings life to us.  For us to have God's life, we need His purity, love, and goodness.  Jesus, through His death and resurrection, conquered unrighteousness' hold on us.  God's Spirit of holiness and love enables us to do that which is righteous so that we are not separated from God and His righteous life. See Romans 6:18

(3) Therefore, we are all under obligation to live according to the Spirit.

(8:12-13)
"Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation---but it is not to the sinful nature [flesh] to live according to it.  For if you live according to the sinful nature [flesh], you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live."

Thought Question #1:  Paul's words, "we have an obligation" are not the type of words our modern-day world likes to hear.  Why are these words appropriate to use?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What does Paul mean by "but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live"?

 

 

If we have the ability to live according to the Spirit, we should live according to the Spirit.  If we have the power and ability to do what is right, there remains no justification for doing what is wrong!  God's Spirit is in us; it is up to us whether or not His life is expressed through your life and through my life.  These verses are another way of saying that it is our choice, and we are under obligation to walk now in the Spirit (See Galatians 5:16) and to be filled by the Spirit (See Ephesians 5:18).

There is a popular saying, "Let go and let God."  With regard to living the Christian life, this is not what the Bible teaches.  We are to believe that God has made us new Christians who have the Holy Spirit living in us.  Because His life is in us, we are able to live a godly life.  It is now up to us in the power of the Spirit to live a godly life.  See II Peter 1:3,4
Because of such things as our pride, the world's influence, Satan's forces, our sinful habit patterns, and our flesh being always with us, we will not perfectly live a life of righteousness in this life.  But, because of the presence of God's Spirit in our lives, the power to live a godly life is available to us.  So, we are under obligation to diligently seek after a life of godliness.  See Philippians 3:12-14; II Peter 1:3-11

In these verses Paul says, "by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body."  How do we "put to death the misdeeds of the body"?  As we have seen in Romans 7, Paul tried in his own strength to control his flesh.  Some, like the monks, have tried to run away from the world's temptations to bring their flesh under their control.  But, their austere life of rigid discipline just quarantined and isolated their sinful desires; it did not put them to death.

How can we "put to death the misdeeds of the body"?  We must choose on a moment by moment basis to not give in to what our flesh wants us to do.  As Paul says in Galatians 5:16, "I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh."

When we become Christians, we chose from the heart to turn away from the way of death that we had been living; and at the same time we chose from the heart to turn to Jesus Christ and His way of life. See Romans 6:17   Now, because of the indwelling Spirit of God, we are to moment by moment choose His way of life over the way of death.  Beginning in Romans 12 and throughout the rest of Romans, Paul will describe in great detail the type of life we are to live.

How can we "put to death the misdeeds of the flesh"?  We cannot do it ourselves.  Paul described how we will fail to be successful in conquering our flesh in Romans 7.  But, because we have God's life in us, we can choose, each moment, the way of the Spirit over the way of the flesh.  Each time we choose the way of the Spirit, we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh.

There are two different mindsets possible on this earth.  The mind can be set on the flesh's desires resulting in death, or the mind can be set on the Spirit's desires resulting in life and peace.  As Christians we are responsible to choose the desires of the Spirit.

(4) For then, you will be living as a son of God, for God's Spirit witnesses

with our spirit that we are a son of God (8:14-17)
"Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God."

Thought Question:  When are we "led by the Spirit of God"?

 

 

What does being "led by the Spirit" mean?  The fourth verse of this chapter defines it: it is when we "do not live according to the sinful nature, but according to the Spirit."  Galatians 5:24 gives the same message:  "Since we live by the Spirit let us keep in step with the Spirit."  The verse that precedes this verse makes it very clear what Paul means when he says "led by they Spirit."  "…but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body you will live."  Those who are led by the Spirit of God in this way are genuine sons of God.  You and I are sons of God if we are those who are regularly putting to death the desires of the flesh by walking in the power of the Spirit.  We are sons of God, because we are those who are living God's life.  If we see God enabling us to do what is right, we are at that moment experiencing what it is like to be God's sons.  Those who are led by the Spirit are led out of sinfulness and selfishness and into selflessness and holiness.  Paul is saying that if you are by the power of God's Spirit no longer enslaved by sin as you once were and growing in living a pure life, you are living as true sons of God.  This is what we must understand to move from the despair of Romans 7 to the hope of Romans 8.  We must realize that we are God's children and are, therefore, now able to live God's type of life by the power of God's Spirit.

There is a picture of God leading us from sin to His holy life in the Old Testament.  God led Israel from Egypt and ultimately to the Promised Land.  Egypt, where Israel was enslaved to the Pharaoh of Egypt, is a picture of man's slavery to sin and Satan.  God led Israel out into the wilderness where they received the Law.  The wilderness is a picture of what Paul described in Romans 7.  It is life under the Law.  We move from the wilderness of the Law into the Promised Land of abundance through faith in Jesus' gracious provision of an abundant life.

Although, it appears that Paul is particularly talking here about being led by the Spirit out of fleshly living and into godly living, being led by God's Spirit also includes being led by the Him in other ways.  He is the Spirit of truth, so we can tell if we are being led by God's Spirit by whether or not we are growing in our knowledge of the truth as it is revealed in the Bible.  See John 16:3-5  Are we seeing more clearly the truth about our sinfulness?  Are we growing in our understanding of God's holy ways?  God's Spirit is leading us if we are being led out of the darkness of man's lies and into the light of God's truth.

Another important question is, does being led by God's Spirit mean that we will be led by God's Spirit in our everyday decisions of life?  Will God's Spirit lead us in the following decisions: Whom shall I marry?  Where should I live?  Which church should I attend and join?  Should I become a missionary?  Some would say that they are led by the Holy Spirit when He gives them a "sense" or a "feeling" of what He wants them to do.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones has this to say about seeking to be led by God's Spirit in this way:  "They 'felt' that they were being led by God and guided by the Spirit.  But 'feeling' is too subjective a test, and therefore I cannot believe that the Apostle has it in his mind as a practical test which we can apply to ourselves, for it exposes us to the vagaries of subjectivism."  "Taken from Romans Expositon of Chapters 8:5-17 by Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  Copyright 1974 by Zondervan Publishing House."

He does go on, though, to give examples where God's Spirit did lead the Christians in the book of Acts.  See Acts 13:2, 15:28, 16:6,7  In these verses it says that the Holy Spirit spoke to Barnabas and Saul, that "it seemed good to the Holy Spirit," and they were "kept by the Holy Spirit" from preaching in a certain area.  He observes that there is no explanation in these verses of just how the Holy Spirit spoke to and led these early Christians.  Lloyd-Jones acknowledges that it is possible that the Holy Spirit may lead us through urgings and desires that He gives us.  But, he cautions us that putting our dependence in our subjective sensing without testing ourselves according to the Scriptures has led many into error and danger.
Garry Friesen has the following to say about what is meant by being led by God's Spirit:  "This verse is often quoted as proof of the idea that the Holy Spirit leads believers through inner impressions into the ideal will of God.  The word 'led' certainly looks like guidance, and the agent of leading is the Holy Spirit.  The context, however, deals a death blow to such an understanding of this passage.  Negatively, there are three considerations.  First, the context is not dealing with daily decision making in nonmoral areas.  Second, neither the verse itself nor the near context give any indication that the means of the leading is by inward 'impressions.'…..What the Apostle is discussing is righteous living.  The answer to the problem of slavery to sin (Romans 7:7-25) are given in chapters 8:1-17.  The solution set forth in a series of vivid, mutually exclusive contrasts is: good verses evil (7:19); the law of sin and death verses the law of the Spirit of life (8:2); life according to the flesh verses life according to the Spirit (8:5)….In this context, 'being led by the Spirit of God' is another way of describing life 'according to the Spirit' in which the Christian is putting to death the deeds of the flesh.'"  "Taken from Decision Making and the Will of God by Garry Friesen.  Copyright 1980 by Multnomah Press."

Now, we need to focus on another part of verse fourteen:  "Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God."  Paul continues the theme of "sons of God" in verse fifteen and sixteen:

"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.'  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children."

Thought Question:  According to these verses, how do you believe the Spirit "testifies with our spirit that we are God's children"?

 

 

In Romans 7 Paul felt like anything but a child of God.  He instead felt that he was a hopeless slave to sin.  God's law leads to a spirit of fear as we see our sinfulness before a righteous God.  When Paul, you, and I focus on God's law, we have a spirit of fearfulness.  But, when we begin to focus on God and His grace, God's Spirit frees us from fearfulness and gives us the ability to draw close to Him as our "Papa" or "Daddy." 

Before we became Christians, we stood before God the Judge.  We stood trembling in fear as a condemned breaker of His holy commandments.  See Isaiah 6:5  Now, we stand before that same God, but God's Spirit has set us from fear and has given us a spirit of sonship.  We can crawl up on the Judge's lap as those who need not fear His Judgment.  We can call the Righteous Judge, "Papa." See Galations 4:1-7

It is interesting that  "Abba," the Aramaic word that corresponds to our words "Papa" or "Daddy," was used by Jesus when He prayed to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane: "'Abba, Father,' he said, 'everything is possible for you.  Take this cup from me.  Yet not what I will, but what you will.'"

Also, notice that we "cry, Abba Father."  We don't just say it, but it comes from the depths of our hearts.  Before we were Christians, God was not much more to us than an intellectual concept.  Now, there is the personal and emotional closeness of a child to a loving father.  "But now in Christ Jesus you who were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ." (Ephesians 2:13)  "Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, Abba, Father." (Galations 4:6)

In Romans 7, Paul as a hopeless slave to sin felt that he could never draw near to a Holy God.  But, in Romans 8 he realizes that by God's grace He is and always will be close to God.  He realizes it both intellectually and emotionally.

Paul continues the theme of our being Sons of God and how we can tell that we are sons of God in verse sixteen:  "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children."  When does the Spirit testify "with our spirit that we are God's children"?  Within the context, it is referring to when we are crying out to God and calling Him "Papa."   God's Spirit gives us the ability and the assurance that God is our Papa or Father.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that Paul is referring here to a second experience that is available to every Christian, but that must be sought after before it can be received.  The context, however, of the verses indicates that Paul is speaking of the common experience of all Christians who have come to an understanding of what it means to live under grace.  As we enjoy our position in God's grace, God's Spirit gives us the ability to come to God as His child and to call Him, "Papa."  At that moment God's Spirit is witnessing to our spirit that we are God's children.

John Stott makes the following observation about Martyn Lloyd-Jones' belief that Paul is describing an experience in these verses that is attained by only the Christian who earnestly seeks after it.  "I do not feel able to leave these verses without alluding to an interpretation of them to which Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones has given currency…'This is the highest form of assurance possible; there is nothing beyond it.  It is the acme, the zenith of assurance and certainly of salvation…It brings a heightened love for God, an unspeakable joy, and an uninhibited boldness in witness.'  Dr. Lloyd-Jones went on to an impressive array of historical testimonies…I have no wish whatever to call to question the authenticity of the experience described.  Nor do I doubt that many Christian people continue to be granted similar profound encounters with God today…..My anxiety is whether the biblical texts have been rightly interpreted.  I have the uneasy feeling that it is the experiences which have determined the exposition.  For the natural reading of Romans 8:14-17 is surely that all believers are 'led by the Spirit.' (14), have received a spirit of adoption (15), and cry 'Abba, Father' as the Spirit bears witness to them that they are God's children (16) and therefore also heirs.  There is no indication in these four verses that a special distinction, or overwhelming experience is in mind; which needs to be sought by all although it is given only to some.  On the contrary, the whole paragraph appears to be descriptive of what is, or should be, common to all believers."  "Taken from Romans by John Stott.  Copyright 1994 by Intervarsity Press."
Paul finishes this section by putting the icing on the cake.  For if we are God's children, it means that we now have a very privileged position in God's family.  "Now if we are children, then we are heirs---of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory."

Thought Question #1:  How do these verses naturally follow from the preceding verses?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What does Paul mean when he says that we are "co-heirs with Christ"?  How should this affect our life today?

 

 

Hope is an essential part of life.  Because I came from a city that was known for its successful basketball teams, I have been a basketball fan for many years.  A basketball team can be behind in the score without losing hope.  But, there is a time when one team falls so far behind that there is no hope that they will overcome their opponent's lead.  At that time, they lose hope.  There are those in this world who also lose hope.  Their solution for their state of hopelessness is such things as busyness, entertainment, alcohol, drugs, and even suicide.  This type of hopelessness need never be the experience of any Christian.  These verses tell us of our magnificent hope.

What is our hope?  As children of God we are heirs to God's riches.  It is even more delightful to know that God Himself is our inheritance.  Do we believe that this is our hope?  It is hard for us to believe that we will be with the glorified Jesus Christ, while we are still living in the world that crucified Him.  But, we must first share in His suffering, so that we will one day also share in His glory.  He suffered and then He was glorified.  If we follow Him, we will first suffer; but then we will also be glorified!  See II Corinthians 4:17-18; II Timothy 2:12

What does Paul mean when he says we are "co-heirs with Christ"?  Paul's words here follow naturally from what he said in verses 14-16.  If we are children of God, that means that we, like all children, are heirs to our Father's inheritance as "co-heirs with Christ."  II Peter 1:4 says that God has "given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you might participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires."  A part of our inheritance is to share in God's holy "divine nature."  We suffer now, but one day we will share His glory, for we will be pure and holy participants in His divine and holy nature.  See I John 3:2; II Corinthians 4:17; Ephesians 1:11-14, 18-20

Here are some more of the promises that are made to us who are "co-heirs with Christ."  We will have bodies like Jesus Christ.  See Philippians 3:20 and I Corinthians 15:49  We will reign with Jesus Christ.  See Revelations 3:21  It in an inheritance that will "never perish, spoil or fade." (I Peter 1:4)  We will go to a home that Jesus has prepared for us: "In my Father's house are many rooms….I am going to prepare a place for you." (John 14:2)

Paul is writing to Christians (like all of us) who were experiencing persecution, confusion, and the types of suffering that we all experience.  Paul wants them to know that God did not promise us that we would be protected from experiencing the suffering that all men know.  But, he did promise them that on the other side of suffering, they would receive their inheritance as co-heirs with Jesus Christ.  They were now sharing in His suffering, but one day they and we will share in His inheritance.

You also may be going through a tough time right now.  God has not abandoned you at all.  Even God's Son did not live on this earth without suffering.  In fact, His suffering exceeded the suffering of any man.  But, just as there came a time when His suffering was worth it, so there will come a time when our suffering will be worth it.

d. Our new focus enables us to see how God is using our present suffering to

bring about our future glory. (8:18-30)
"If indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory."  When we look at the "I" width picture of life (the self-centered view), our sufferings can become pointless and unbearable.  But, if we see the big picture, we will see that there is a purpose for our sufferings and that there is hope beyond them.

(1) Our present sufferings are not even worth comparing to the future glory

that will be ours. (8:18)
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."

Thought Question #1:  What are some sufferings that you are going through right now?  How does this verse help you to deal with them?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What does this verse tell us about the glory that is ahead for you and me, and for every Christian?

 

 

As you read these words, there are Christians in other countries who are imprisoned and who are hemmed in by some type of unavoidable persecution.  Some of these tortured Christians will remain in this state of trouble until they die.  What can keep them going on while they are in their trials?  It is only the hope that each Christian has in Christ.  Paul says here that the glory that we will one day experience will so greatly surpass our present trials that at that time our trials will seem like nothing.

It was this hope of a future glory on the others side of our suffering that kept the heroes of the faith going.  In Hebrews 11 there is a list of the heroes of the faith.  There you will find that they gave up wealth because they believed that at the other side of their sacrifice, serving, and sufferings was eternal glory.  See Hebrews 11:10,16,24-26  See also Hebrews 12:2

John Stott points out that the present life and the life to come can be summed up by these two words Paul uses in this verse: (1) the present life = sufferings; (2) the future life = glory!  We know about this present period of suffering, though we shrink from hospitals, nursing homes, and funeral homes.  Let us look now at what Paul says about the period of "glory." 

What is the glory that we will experience?  Well, we learn something about this glory in this verse.  It is going to be much greater than all than all our suffering.  No matter how greatly anyone on this earth suffers or how much the whole world suffers, the glory that is ahead for us who know the Lord is much greater! 

This verse alone, if properly understood, can change one's whole perspective on life.  There is no place for "Woe is me!" when our sufferings will be very small compared to the glory that is ahead of us.  I am heading for joy and fulfillment beyond my wildest dreams; woe is me!  It just does not fit.

"Revealed in us" tells us that we are not just going to be spectators of this glory, we are going to be active participants in this glory.

What else can we know about this "glory"?  We know that it will be glorious because at that time we will be separated finally and eternally from all sin and all the consequences of sin.

We can also know that this "glory" will occur at the time when we will finally be all that we were created to be.  "Christ in you the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27) will no longer be a hope; it will be an experienced reality!  "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion." (Philippians 1:6)  In glory the good work in us will be completed!

The greatest glory is that we will see God face to face.  "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face." (I Corinthians 13:12). 

Notice that Paul says, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us."  Martyn Lloyd-Jones has the following to say about this word that can also be translated "reckon": "Take note of this word---'reckon.'  It is important that we should give it its true meaning, for we use this word very often in a wrong way.  A man says, 'you know I reckon that so-and-so…'  He means 'I am of the opinion.'  That is not what the Apostle means by 'reckon.'  We must return to the older meaning.  The word 'reckon' means that you arrive at a conclusion, at a deduction, by a process of logical thinking and reasoning." "Taken from Romans Final Perseverance of the Saints by Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  Copyright 1975 by Zondervan Publishing House."

We are to thoughtfully realize that compared to the glory that is ahead for us, this present suffering will seem like nothing!  If we think this through, we will be better able to cope with our present sufferings.  In II Corinthians 4:17, Paul says: "For our light momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them [our sufferings] all."

Another word in this verse that is worthy of focusing in on is the word "revealed."  This glory will one-day be "revealed."  This word tells us that this glory is already there beyond the veil or the curtain..  It just has not yet been unveiled so that we can see it.  Martyn Lloyd-Jones compares it to what occurs when we sit in a theater waiting for the curtain to go up.  What is behind the curtain is real and it is present, even though we have not yet seen it.  Someday the curtain that separates us from the glory of heaven will come up and we will see that "glory"!

(2) The present pains we are going through are like the birth pains of a

mother, for they are giving birth to God's glorious children. (8:19-25)
"The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.  For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.  We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time."

Thought Question:  List ways that you can think of in which the "groaning" of creation is like the "pains" of a mother in "childbirth."

 

 

All of creation is pictured as like a woman in the pains of childbirth.  Perhaps you are a mother who has given birth to a child or you might have been present when a mother was going through the pains of childbirth.  Two very dramatic occurrences are taking place at childbirth.  There is first of all, the tremendous pain that accompanies the birth of the child.  But, there is something even more significant that is taking place right in the midst of the pain: the mother's anticipation of the birth of her child.  This little one who has been literally close to her heart for nine months is about to be revealed.  Here, the "creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed."

Creation is pictured as "subject to frustration."  In the beginning, God looked at all He had made, "and it was very good." (Genesis 1:31)  God has now subjected "creation" to "frustration."  Or, in other words, He cursed creation because of man's sin. See Genesis 3:17-29  But we are told here that the cursing of creation was done by God as part of the birthing process that would ultimately lead to the birth of a new type of people-children of God rather than children of the sinful Adam.

The creation that is now under a curse---because of the sin of man---is described in a number of ways in these verses: "frustration" (8:20), "in bondage" (8:21), "decay" (8:21), "groaning" (8:22), "pain" (8:22).  The Greek word translated "frustration" has a similar meaning to Solomon's word "meaningless" in the book of Ecclesiastes, where he says that all is "meaningless." (Ecclesiastes 1:2)  The creation, itself, is cursed and is no longer the perfect habitation that God created for His children.  Nevertheless, God is using the pain of the curse to ultimately produce His children.  Later in this chapter (8:28), Paul will say that all is working toward the good of those who love God.  God is using pain to ultimately produce good!

Not only will those who become God's children be liberated from this emptiness and curse, but Paul says that the creation itself will be liberated from the curse as well.  There are many predictions in the Bible that there will be a new heaven and earth that will replace this cursed heaven and earth.  We hear much today about protecting the environment.  But God has a better plan: a totally new earth; a completely fresh start. See Isaiah 65:17-24; Matthew 19:28; Acts 3:21; II Peter 3:13; Revelation 21-22

Man has been trying unsuccessfully to remove the curse.  We try to protect the environment.  We invent medicines, pesticides, herbicides, and yet creation continues to stay cursed.  We see the curse everywhere we look or touch.  We continue to see weeds in our lawns; we smell pollution in our air; and we see predatory insects and animals preying on weak and helpless victims.  This is all part of the groaning of creation.  This curse will continue until it has served its final purpose; and it produces the birth of God's children. See Isaiah 11:6-9

"Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."

Thought Question:  How are we groaning "inwardly"?

 

 

We also groan within our sin-cursed bodies.  We groan from the effects of the curse and we live in our dying and failing bodies; groaning that we might become what God originally intended us to be.  We have already tasted the first installment of what we will become when we became Christians and God's Spirit came to dwell within us.  God's Spirit in us causes us to be hopeful that there is something better, a fullness of God that will replace what is still lacking in us right now.  We have part of what God desires us to have now through God's Spirit.  We long for the day when we will experience our full inheritance as God's children.  And the closer we grow in our relationship with God, the more we long for our full experience as His children. See Matthew 13:43; I Corinthians 15:3954

God purchased us by the blood of His Son.  We already have the first installment-the Holy Spirit in us.  We wait eagerly for the final installment! See Ephesians 1:13-14  As John Stott states, we are "half-saved," waiting to be fully saved.  It is like a family having completed half of their house, eagerly longing for the day when the house will be fully completed.

"For in this hope we were saved.  But hope that is seen is no hope at all.  Who hopes for what he already has?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."

Thought Question:  What can you learn from these verses about our Christian hope?

 

 

How do we handle our present time of suffering?  These verses provide a solution for two extremes that are the improper way to deal with our present time of troubles.  One extreme is to become discouraged and give up. We are not seeing enough of God's salvation right now, so we become discouraged.  Paul says here that we were saved so that we might one day realize God's glorious plan for us.  But, we can become discouraged because we are not experiencing it all right now.  Paul says that it would not be our hope if we were already seeing it and experiencing it.

We who are Christians are at an in-between stage.  Behind us is our salvation from the penalty of sin through faith in Jesus Christ's death for us on the cross.  In front of us is salvation from the presence of sin as we one day will enter into the very presence of a holy God.  We are waiting in faith and hoping for what we cannot now see.  We will not become discouraged if we realize that we are in this in-between stage.  We do not have all that we were saved for yet.  See Romans 5:2  We will not be discouraged if we truly believe that one-day our hope will become a reality!

The opposite side of becoming discouraged and quitting is to become so enthusiastic that we cannot wait for God's timing.  Paul's advice is that we are to "wait patiently."  We can be so eager to experience what we hope for that we can seek to experience it right now.  Throughout the history of the church, there have been those who have become obsessed with experiencing heaven right now.  Some examples of this type of extreme are an emphasis on emotionality and mysticism.  There can be such a desire for a greater experience of God that we can seek to create it for ourselves.  Seeking after an immediate and ecstatic experience with God can replace seeking after the type of walk with God that is described in the Bible.

Another example of the extreme of not being willing to wait for heaven are those who become obsessed with prophecy.  Still another example of those who do not want to wait for heaven is those who claim total healing for their bodies right now.  But, we cannot hurry up things toward heaven when God is not choosing to hurry up.  Instead, we need to wait patiently, keeping in step with God's timing.

Before we move on to the next section of verses, we will stop and focus on what type of hope Paul is talking about in these verses.  It is not the type of hope that we speak of when we say, "I sure hope everything works out okay."  Martyn Lloyd-Jones defines biblical hope in this way:  "Hope looks forward with eager expectation to things which Christ has purchased for me…It is something which is so certain of the blessings that are believed and accepted by faith that it really lives for and is always looking forward to them."  "Taken from Romans Final Perseverance of the Saints by Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  Copyright 1975 by Zondervan Publishing House."

Right now we are hoping for that which we have never seen.  And Paul says, "we wait for it patiently."  In the Navy they had a saying that was dripping with sarcasm, "Hurry up and wait."  We do a lot of waiting in our world: we wait at red lights; we wait for the mail to arrive; we wait in various types of lines; we wait at the doctor's office (it is called the "waiting room"); and we wait for our income tax refund to come in the mail.  Waiting, for the most part, is not something that we enjoy doing.  But, there are times when we wait eagerly.  For example, children wait with great joy and expectation for Christmas to arrive.  It is this eager type of waiting that Paul is speaking about in verse 25.  See Romans 5:2; Psalm 130; Titus 3:2

Next, Paul says we all wait "patiently."  In other words, we are those who consistently persevere and endure.  People who have the true Christian hope do not give up.  Instead, they continue on in confidence and patience, rejoicing in hope.

(3) Because, we are not yet experiencing our fullness as God's children,

God's Spirit helps us in our prayer life to yearn for what he desires us to pray for. (8:26-27)
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will."

Thought Question #1:  Do you think that these verses are describing the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  How does the Spirit intercede "for us with groans that words cannot express"?

 

 

In Romans 7 Paul admitted his total inability to obey God's holy and righteous law.  In utter defeat he cried out, "What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:25)  In Romans 8, we learned that God did rescue Paul, and he will rescue each of us from our body of death.  We can't, but He can!  In these verses we learn that we are not even able to pray properly without God's help.

Even some of the most famous men in the Bible did not know how to pray properly.  Moses prayed that he could go into the Promised Land, even after the Lord told him he could not do it. See Deuteronomy 3:23-26  Many of the Psalms were David's struggles in prayer.  The book of Habakkuk begins with Habakkuk pouring out his frustration to God about what he believed was God's inconsistencies.  Paul asked to have God remove a thorn in the flesh that God did not desire to remove. See II Corinthians 12:1-10  The Bible is clear, His ways are above our ways. See Isaiah 55:8

If His ways are above our ways, how can we pray for His will to be done when we do not even know what His will is?  This is where God steps in to help us.  As a teenager, I tried to swim across a small lake with new flippers.  But, because I was using these flippers for the first time, I was using muscles I had never used in this way before.  I made it to the middle of the lake and my muscles began to cramp.  I had reached the end of my abilities.  That is when a regular at the lake appeared on his paddleboard.  His board did what I could not do; it held me above the water (probably saving my life).  God's Spirit (He is a Person) knows that we are unable to pray for what God desires to be done, so He intercedes for us.  He does what we cannot do for ourselves.

We see here how he intercedes for us: "with groans that words cannot express."  John Stott disagrees, though, with this translation: "Strictly speaking, these translations are inaccurate.  For the adjective alaletos simply means 'wordless'…The point Paul is making is not that groans cannot be put in words, but that in fact they are not [they are not words].  They are unexpressed rather than inexpressible.  In the context, these wordless groans must surely be related to the groans both of God's creation (22) and of God's children (23), namely 'agonized longings'…for final redemption and the consummation of the age."  "Taken from Romans by John Stott.  Copyright 1994 by Intervarsity Press."  God's Spirit desires within us that we would operate as God's children; even though we are not yet fully capable of acting and thinking like God's children.  For this reason the Holy Spirit is leading us, with His desires that are not expressed in words, but in wordless longings, to pray according to God's will.

God's Spirit within us desires---His "groans"---are not the same as our groans.  He desires God's will for us; we desire the end of all sufferings.  The Father answers our prayers according to the Spirit's higher goals for us and not in accordance with our lower goals for us.

Why, then, do we need God's help in prayer?  It is because we still "see but a poor reflection as in a mirror" (I Corinthians 13:12).  We do not understand clearly and fully God's wise ways to accomplish His purposes that are above our ways.  God's Spirit within us does know.  Inside of us, with wordless "groans," He yearns for God's will. 

In Ephesians 4:30 we are told that the Holy Spirit within us grieves when we are bitter toward someone.  He also groans as He sees us still in our sin, not fully united with God, and unable to understand God's ways.

Some say that these "groans that words cannot express" are prayers in the spiritual gift of tongues.  But, the gift of tongues is the God-given ability to speak words in another language.  The gift of tongues is not wordless, but it is words in a foreign language.

Then we are told in these verses how God hears and answers these groans of God's Spirit within us.  God the Father searches our hearts and He knows what God's Spirit within us desires, and He answers according to His will.

How does this work on our side?  The following example may be helpful for you.  It is a situation that faces many of us.  We desire God's will, but at the moment we do not know what God's will is in our situation.  We agonize about our perplexity before God.  What do you want me to do?  Why do I not know what to do and what to pray for?  Why do I seem to be going nowhere right now?  We groan inside for an answer.  According to these verses, at times like this, God's Spirit yearns and "groans" right along with us.  We do not know how to pray and what to pray for.  But, God's Spirit knows what we really want; we want God's will.  We want what we would want if we had God's view of things.  The Father hears our prayer as interpreted by the Holy Spirit.  He answers our Spirit-interpreted prayer according to His will.  See Isaiah 63:13-64:12 for an example of prayer that is groaning after God's will.

In Psalm 106:15 we see what occurs when we pray for what is out of God's will.  The people of Israel were not happy with God's provision of manna and they craved meat.  God gave them meat, but because of their rebellious hearts, He also judged them with a plague.  See Numbers 11  We should always seek to pray according to God's will and for His purposes, as revealed to us in the Bible.  When we are unable to find clear direction in His Word, we can ask God for wisdom; for God loves to give us His wisdom. See James 1:5  But, if we are still uncertain of His will, God's Spirit will intercede for us.  We need to be certain, though, that we truly desire His will with our whole heart, whatever it might be. See James 4:2,3

(4) God is causing all things to work together for good, for us whom He

predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son. (8:28-30)
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Thought Question:  What are some things that God used to bring you into a relationship with Him?

 

 

There is a question that is sometimes asked as a joke.  "In 15 words or less, what is the meaning of life?"  Seriously, though, what is the meaning of life?  These verses are as good an answer to this question as you will find anywhere.  God is guiding and directing everything that is taking place toward His own purpose.  What is that purpose?  He is guiding us who love Him and who are called according to His purpose toward becoming like Jesus Christ.  What is the meaning of the universe?  Jesus Christ!  Life is about loving Jesus Christ and becoming like Him.

Shakespeare had one of the characters in one of his stage plays say that life "is full of sound and fury signifying nothing."  Some philosophers have analyzed life and have come to the following conclusion: life is absurd and without any meaning.  Most of the time, we do not think much about the meaning of life.  We exist without reflecting much on what our existence is all about.  But, at the funeral of someone close to us we often think most deeply about life's meaning.  "What does all this mean?"  "What is my purpose?"

We cannot find the purpose of life without asking the Person who created life in the first place.  "God, what was Your purpose for creating this universe?" God tells us in His book that He foreknew His children before the world began.  He created this immense and complex universe, and He is directing all that is taking place in this universe so that we who are His children will become like Jesus Christ.  "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ." (Ephesians 1:3-5)

A very big question that is asked and needs to be asked is, "Father, why did you choose me?"  Paul answers this question in two ways.  We become His children because we "love him" and because we were "called according to his purpose." 

Here we have one of the biggest issues in Christianity.  Do we choose God or does God choose us?  According to Romans 8:28, what is the answer?  The answer is-both!  We love Him, so we choose Him.  We are called according to His purpose, so He chose us.

But, does not Paul Himself say earlier in Romans, there is "no one who seeks God"?  Jesus said, "no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him." (John 6:44)  The next obvious question is, "how does the Father draw us to become His children?"  The answer is also in Romans 8:28, "and we know that in all things God works for the good."  God uses all things in our lives to draw us to Himself.  He uses everything for our ultimate good.  The ultimate good is for us to come into relationship with Him and for us to grow in that relationship.  Therefore, that means that it is true that God uses everything to draw His children to Himself!  As Paul said earlier in Romans 8, the whole earth in its fallen state is being used by God as a birthing process that is producing the birth of God's children. See 8:18-22

What are some of the "everything" that God uses to produce the birth of His children?  The Bible tells us what God uses to draw us to Himself.  He uses sin and the effects of sin to draw us to Himself.  In Romans 1:18-32, the "wrath of God" is the negative and painful consequences of sin.  He uses the crushing failures in our lives.  In Acts 16:23-30, a jailer is drawn by God to seek salvation immediately after a crushing failure in his life.  The Samaritan woman's failure in marriage prepared her for the Gospel. See John 4:16-18  God uses our slavery to sin to cause us to want to be set free from sin. See John 8:34 and Romans 6:19, 7:24  Our consciences convict us of our sin. See Romans 2:14-15  The Law condemns us. See Romans 3:19-20, 5:20-21  The consequences of our sin prepares us to see  the need for another way.  Many are ready to put on the new life of Christ because they are sickened by the rottenness of their old life. See Ephesians 4:17-25 

God uses the emptiness that comes from our being separated from God to draw us to Him. See Ecclesiastes 1:2  The woman at the well hungered and thirsted to have her emptiness and inner thirst satisfied. See John 14:13-15  See also John 6:35; Isaiah 55:1-3

God uses the trials in our lives to draw us to Himself.  He uses our sicknesses to motivate us to turn to Him. See Mark 5:25-34  Many have cried out to God when a serious sickness was more than they could handle.  He uses our trials as Christians to draw us closer to Him and His ways. See James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3-5  The Israelites, as we see throughout the book of Judges, cried out to God when their sin resulted in their being conquered by a foreign nation. See Judges 3:7-10  God is using Israel's trials today and the consequences of their sin to draw the nation of Israel to Himself. See Isaiah 1:25-26; Deuteronomy 8:5  He uses even evil to draw men to Himself. See Isaiah 45:1, Lamentations 3:38; John 2:10

God draws us to Himself with His love: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness." (Jeremiah 31:2) See Romans 2:4  God uses the godly testimony of Christians to draw people to Himself. See John 13:35, 17:20-23; Acts 2:47; Philippians 2:14-15; Matthew 5:13-16; II Corinthians 2:14-16; Colossians 4:5-6.  He uses the gospel and the Bible to draw His chosen one to Himself. See Romans 1:16; Isaiah 55:11  He uses the illuminating life of Jesus to draw people to Himself. See John 1:6-9, 8:12  He uses the preaching of God's Word in the power of the Holy Spirit to draw men to Himself. See I Corinthians 2:1-5; I Timothy 2:1-7  He uses the cross of Jesus Christ to draw men to Him. See John 12:32  The Holy Spirit convicts people of sin. See John 16:8-11  The Holy Spirit opens people's hearts to God. See Acts 16:14

Those who are called according to His purpose and drawn to Him become poor in Spirit (See Matthew 5:3-4), are good soil (See Matthew 13:23), and are ripe and ready for harvest (See John 4:35-36).  Ultimately God's purpose is for our good.  "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)  The future for "those who love him and who are called according to his purpose" is described in verses 29 and 30.

"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those he predestined, he also called; those he called he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified."

Thought Question #1:  According to these verses what is God's purpose for you and for every Christian?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Is there anything in these verses that can give us a reason to be certain that this goal will be accomplished?

 

 

John Stott summarizes 8:28-39 as follows: "his great Spirit-directed mind now sweeps over the whole plan and purpose of God from a past eternity to an eternity still to come, from divine foreknowledge and predestination to the divine love from which absolutely nothing will be able to separate us." "Taken from Romans by John Stott.  Copyright 1994 by Intervarsity Press."

Before we can understand what Paul meant in these verses, we must understand the two words, "foreknew" and "predestined."  The way these two words are interpreted divides Christians into two camps: those who are called Arminians after Jacob Arminius, a Dutch professor of theology (1560-1609) and Calvinism after John Calvin, a Frenchman who became a leader of the Reformation in Geneva, Switzerland (1509-64).  Arminius was 4 years old when Calvin died.  Arminians put the emphasis on man's freedom to choose or reject God. Calvinists put the emphasis on God's sovereign election of His chosen ones.

Personally, I believe that the Bible teaches that both are true.   The Bible teaches that we make real decisions and that we are responsible for those decisions.  The Bible also clearly teaches that God is control of everything that happens and is working everything toward His goals. In Romans 8:28, Paul emphasizes both man's choice and God's choice: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him [man's choice], who have been called according to his purpose [God's choice]."

Those with Arminian leanings interpret "foreknew," as meaning that God knows beforehand who is going to choose Him.  The Calvinists interpret "foreknew" as God determining beforehand or "foreordaining" certain people to be His chosen ones.  The Calvinists believe that men are all totally dead to God and that God has elected some from this dead humanity to become His children.  They would say He chose us before the world began that we would be regenerated with His Spirit.  According to their view, it is only after we are born again or regenerated that we believe in Jesus Christ.

Their view means that the only difference between Judas and Peter, Saul and David, is that God chose one and he did not choose the other.  For example, if God had chosen Saul instead of David, Saul could have written a book like the Psalms and David would have been damned to eternity in Hell.  If God had chosen Judas instead of Peter, Judas would have become one of the leaders of the early church, and Peter may have been the one who betrayed Jesus.  The problem with this is that it says in the Bible that God chose David because He looked at his heart.  It is apparent that there was something different in David's heart from what was in Saul's heart.  "[of Saul] But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people," (I Samuel 13:14) See I Samuel 16:7

So what does "foreknew" in 8:29 mean?   Does it mean that God foreknew beforehand what we would do?  Greek scholars disagree on what is the proper translation of "foreknew."  Wuest says it means, "foreordain":  "The word is proginosko, [from which we get our word prognosticate] which in its verb and noun forms is used seven times in the New Testament, two of those times of man when it means 'previous' knowledge based on circumstances' (Acts 26;5, II Peter 3:17), and five of those times of God (Acts 2:23, Rom. 8:29, 11:2, I Pet. 1:2, 20).  In Acts 2:23 it is used in the statement 'Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.'"  "Taken from Word Studies in the Greep New Testament by Kenneth Wuest.  Copyright 1973 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."

Wuest takes "foreknew" to mean that God "foreordains" that His chosen ones will be part of His plan.  He admits, though, that a number of other Greek scholars believe this Greek word "foreknew" means knowing something before it happens-Vincent, Denny, A. T. Robertson, and Alford.

Listen to how M. R. Vincent translates the word "foreknew":  "It does not mean foreordain.  It signifies prescience, not preelection."  "Taken from Word Studies in the New Testament by M. R. Vincent.  Copyright 1972 by Associated Publishers and Authors." "Prescience" simply means knowing something before it happens.

So, one well-respected Greek scholar concludes from the word "foreknew" in Romans 8:29 that God "foreordains" who will be His children and, on the other hand, another well-respected Greek scholar concludes that "foreknew" simply means that God knows beforehand who will be His children.

How can we decide?  We can look ourselves at how the word is used the five times it is used relating to God "foreknowing" in the New Testament (one of its uses is here in Romans 8:29).  The first verse where "foreknow" is used is Acts 2:23: "This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross."  In this verse, does God "foreknow" what He will do or what men will do?  This verse says that both are true.  God foreordained that Jesus would die for our sins, and He knew that wicked men would choose to kill Him.  He knew beforehand that men would choose, on their own, to kill him.  He was not the author of their horrible sin.  He did not force them to do it.  It was their choice to kill Jesus and it was God's choice that Jesus be killed.

The next verse that used the word "foreknew" is Romans 11:2a: "God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew."  Again, did God foreknow the remnant of Israel (whom Paul is referring to in this verse) because of what He would do or because of what they would do?  Once more, the answer is both.  God clearly planned and ordained that there would be a chosen people from among the nation of Israel.  But in 11:5, we find God saying to Elijah---who thought he was the lone servant of God in Israel: "I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed their knees to Baal."  God ordained that they be His children and they chose not to bow their knee to Baal. 

The next verse is I Peter 1:2: "who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience."  Here the focus is more on God's foreknowledge of what He would do:  He knew that He would set us apart to Him through the work of His Spirit.

The final verse is I Peter 1:20a:  "He was chosen before the creation of the world."  In the context, God foreknew our need for Jesus' blood and Jesus was chosen by God to meet our need.

So, what does Paul mean in Romans 8:29?  What does Paul mean when he says, "For those whom God foreknew"?  Does he mean that God "foreknew" what He would do or what we would do?  Based on the verse before Romans 8:29, Romans 8:28, the answer is clearly both.  He chose us before the world began and He knew we would ultimately be those who would choose to love him.  We make real decisions, and He is in sovereign control of everything.  The Bible teaches both; and even if we cannot explain how both could be true at the same time, both are true.  "And we know that in all things God works for the good [God's sovereign control] of those who love him [our choice – for forced love is not love at all], who have been called according to his purpose [God's sovereign will]. 

A question that might be asked is, "How can He blame us if He is sovereign in control of everything?"  This will be answered in the next chapter. See Romans 9:19-29  Another question that will also be answered is, "How can God hold us accountable if He is completely in charge of all that takes place in our lives?"  In Romans 10 we will see that God does hold Israel, His chosen nation, accountable for their sins.

Then, a question comes from the other side, "If we make real decisions, how can God be in sovereign control of all that takes place?"  He would then not be in control of our decisions.  In Romans 11, we will see that God is in control even when Israel was choosing to reject Him.  In spite of their foul decisions, He will fulfill His plans for Israel.  Romans 11 ends with, "Oh, the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable his judgments and his paths beyond tracing out!  Who has known the mind of the Lord?"  We are making real decisions, and God is in control even if we cannot in our human wisdom understand how both can be true.  Because we cannot figure out how both can be true, we tend to make it simpler for us by leaning one way or the other.  We do not, though, have to figure it all out.  The proper approach is just to acknowledge that both are true and that both are important.  He chose us and we choose Him.

After this lengthy explanation of the word "foreknew," we come to the word "predestined."  What does Paul mean by, "he also predestined" those whom he foreknew?  The Greek word for "predestined" is proorizo which means to predetermine what is going to happen.  It is clear that God decided that we would be His children before we freely chose to be His children.

He predetermined just what it would take to get us to His final goal for us, so that we would ultimately "be conformed to the likeness of His Son."  Listen to God's words to His chosen nation Israel: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness." (Jeremiah 31:3)  "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)  God predestined Israel to be His nation.  Yet, it is clear that they have been free to make their own choices-often very bad choices. 

He did not choose Israel because of the merit in them.  "The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples." (Deuteronomy 7:7)  "You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins." (Amos 3:2)

Just as God chose Israel, He has chosen us who are part of Christ's church.  "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight." (Ephesians 1:4)  "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." (I Peter 2:9)

We have not been chosen because of any merit in us: "who saved and called us to a holy life---not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.  "This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time." (II Timothy 1:9)  ". . . . he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy." (Titus 3:5a)

God chose us and predestined---decided and determined before the world began---that we would be His holy children.  He will do all that is necessary until we become like His Son. See Philippians 3:20-21 and I John 3:2  As Paul says later in the chapter, nothing "will be able to separate us from the love of God." (Romans 8:39)

God's goal is stated next: "that he [Jesus] might be first-born of many brothers."  The NIV Study Bible note explains these words well: "The reason God foreknew, predestined, and conformed believers to Christ's likeness is that the Son might hold the position of highest honor in the great family of God."  "Taken from the NIV Study Bible notes.  Copyright 1995 by the Zondervan Corporation."  The "firstborn" was the most honored member of the family in Jesus' and Paul's time.  When God completes His goal for us who are chosen by God, we will be like Christ, a part of God's family; and Jesus will be worshiped by us as the most honored member of God's family.  For He alone is man and also God!

The next step in God's certain plan is that we are all "called."  The foreknowing and predestining took place before the beginning of time.  The calling takes place in our time.  The foreknowing and predestining was solely done by God; the calling is done by God and includes us. 

The calling is called an effectual call, for it results in our responding to the call by believing in Jesus Christ and becoming God's children.  Listen to Paul's words to the Thessalonian Christians: "But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.  He called us to this gospel that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." (II Thessalonians 2:13-14)

How were they and we called?  It was the work of God's Spirit using the gospel message.  As a result, the Thessalonians Christians and we believed the truth.  What is meant by "called"?  One is "called" when the work of the Spirit and the gospel message result in you and me believing in Jesus Christ.

Have you been foreknown and predestined by God?  You have if you have believed in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.  Listen to Jesus' own words: "All that the Father gives me [God's choice] will come to me, and whoever comes to me [our choice] I will never drive away." (John 6:37)  If you have come to Him, you are one of the chosen and predestined ones.  When we are one of the "whoever comes to me," we have also been chosen before the world began. See John 6:44, 10:27-28; Acts 13:48, 16:14

The next step in God's certain plan for us after we are "called," is that we are "justified."  Martyn Lloyd-Jones has the following to say about "justified": "Justification in its essence is a legal or forensic term, a term that belongs to the realm of the Law Court. It means 'to declare just', and 'to declare righteous.'  It is the opposite of condemnation.  The Christian has moved from a state of condemnation to one of justification . . . . It is the judge upon the bench not merely saying that the prisoner at the Bar is forgiven, but that he pronounces him to be a just and righteous person.  In justifying us God tells that He has taken our sins and their guilt and has 'imputed' them to, 'put them to the account of', the Lord Jesus Christ and punished them in Him."  "Taken from Romans Final Perseverence of the Saints by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  Copyright 1975 by Zondervan Publishing House." See II Corinthians 5:17; Romans 5:6-8, 8:1, 11:5

When we believe In Jesus' death for our sins, our legal guilt before God is erased.  Legally and before God, it is just as if you and I had never sinned.  We can now come before a holy God without guilt and condemnation.  We will learn more about our freedom from guilt in the coming verses.

The final step in God's certain plan is that we are "glorified."  In Colossians 1:27, Paul gave us our hope as Christians: "Christ in you the hope of glory."  We will be glorified when God's final goal for us is realized: when we are "conformed to the likeness of his Son." (8:29)

All of what is listed here as part of God's certain plan are in the aorist tense in the Greek language, meaning that it occurred at some time in the past.  So, Paul describes a future event as already having happened at some time in the past.  We, who have been chosen in God's plan, have already been glorified.  In other words, those God "foreknew" and "predestined" in the infinite past were at that time already "called," "justified," and "glorified."  In God's mind it was already certain that we would be glorified.  And this occurred long before we were even born!  This is eternal security.  We were glorified in the eternal past and we will certainly, therefore, experience eternal glorification in the eternal future.  As Paul said in 5:2, "we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God."

 If we focus in on the hope that we have, what will happen in our present life?  Paul answers this question in the final verses of chapter 8.

   e. Through focusing in on God's love for us (8:31-39)

Paul finishes chapter eight on a note of total triumph.  Chapter seven finished with, "what a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from the body of death?" (Romans 7:24)  What changes from Romans 7 to Romans 8?  Paul changes from focusing on himself and his hopeless attempts to measure up to God's holiness, to focusing on God's grace and love toward him.  His cry of hope and triumph is as wholehearted in Romans 8:31-39 as was his cry of hopelessness and defeat in Romans 7.  It is a cry of victory over every enemy (8:31), over all need (8:32), over guilt (8:33-35), and over fear (8:36-39).

(1) Then we will not fear any opposition. (8:31)

"What shall we say in response to this?  If God is for us, who can be against us?"

Thought Question:  How big is your God?  Put in your own words, what it means to you that God is "for you?"

 

 

Jeremiah 29:11 was quoted earlier: "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future . . . '"  This promise was made to God's chosen nation, but it is also certainly true for all of those whom God has chosen.  The most basic truth for each of us who are Christians is that God is for us!  If God is for us, then, whom exactly should we fear?  The obvious answer is---nobody!  Ray Stedman told the following story that clearly pictures what it means to have God for us: "One of the elders told us of the plight of his grandson, a thirteen year-old who strongly resembles his Chicano father.  In his school in Missouri, the boy ran into a nest of white racists who gave him torment and persecution.  He came home weeping one day after having been beaten.  His mother, not knowing what to do, wrote to us and asked us to pray for him, and we did.  A week or so later we received another letter from her.  She described how one night the biggest kid in school appeared at their door and said he was a Christian, and that he told the other kids in school that if they ever did anything to that boy again they would answer to him.  I do not know what that boy's name was, but let's call him Mike.  I can imagine the grandson going back to school, walking in Mike's shadow as all his tormenters looked on, and saying to himself, 'If Mike is for me, who can be against me?'"  "Taken from From Guilt to Glory Volume I  by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1978 by Multnomah Press."

Like Mike was for this young man, God is for us.  Listen to David's words: "The Lord is my light and my salvation---whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life---of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1)

Who is in opposition to you?  It could be a neighbor, a co-worker, and certainly it is Satan and all of his angels.  But, God is for us!  Compared to Him who is for us, our enemies are like mere row boats against a mighty modern aircraft carrier.  Even this illustration does not begin to capture who it is that is for us!  Paul was confident that he was on the winning side.  We also can be confident that with God on our side, no foe will be able to conquer us. See II Corinthians 2:14

So, with Paul, we can confidently affirm, "God is for us," therefore, "who can be against us?"  God's purpose for us---glorification---, therefore, will be accomplished.  No foe will be able to prevent from happening what He has determined for us. 

There were times when God said He was against someone. See Nahum 2:13, 3:5; Jeremiah 50:31, 51:25; Ezekiel 26:3, 28:22, 29:3, 10, 30;22  In James 4:6, James says that "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."  We can be glad that God is for us, not against us! 

(2) Then, we will not be concerned about our needs. (8:32)

"He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all---how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"

Thought Question:  What trials are you facing in your life right now?  In what ways is this verse helpful to you in your present trial?

 

 

As we each face our futures, there can be many concerns that we may have.  Will there always be enough money to meet my needs?  What if I lose my job?  What if the car breaks down?  What if the economy takes a turn for the worse?  What if one of us gets sick?  How can we face all of these concerns without fear?  John provides us with these comforting words:  "There is no fear in love.  But perfect loves drives out fear . . . ." (I John 4:18) 

How has the God who is for us---He who is all-powerful, and in charge of everything that happens---shown His love for us?  He gave us what is nearest to His heart.  He gave us His Son to die for us.  When He has already given to us what is of infinite value to Him, has His giving to us now dried up?  He gave us this Gift of all gifts when we were rebellious against Him.  Has He stopped being willing to give to us now that we have become His children? See Romans 5:8-10

What is meant by "give us all things"?  Certainly, it means He will give us all that we need. See Philippians 4:19; Matthew 6:25-34  He will give us the wisdom that we need. See James 1:5  He will give us the comfort and encouragement that we need. See II Corinthians 1:3-5, 7:6  As we seek to do things His way, He promises to provide for our basic needs.  See Philippians 4:19; Matthew 6:33  He will give us all that we need so that we will become all that He purposes us to become!

(3) Then, we will fear no condemnation. (8:33-34)

"Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  It is God who justifies.  Who is he that condemns?  Christ Jesus, who died---more than that, who was raised to life---is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us."

Thought Question:  There may be some sin in your long-distant past or a sin that you have committed recently that you cannot forgive yourself for or you do not believe that God has forgiven you for.  How do these verses help you to be free from self-accusation and the condemnation of others?

 

 

If Paul had said, "Who will bring any charge against us?"  We could then easily say, "Anyone!"  For we all have sinned, as Paul said in 3:23.  We all deserve nothing but God's judgment.  "The wages of sin is death."  (Romans 6:23)  Before an infinite and holy God, one sin deserves infinite judgment.  For each sin we ever committed, we sinned knowing that we were sinning in the face of the infinite and holy God!  And we have all gone way beyond one sin.

But, Paul goes on.   For He says, "Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?"  God has chosen us to be justified – to be legally cleansed from all guilt before Him.

Satan is called the "accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night." (Revelation 12:10)  He can accuse us, but he is unable any longer to bring a just charge against us.  Why?  Because Jesus Christ who died for our sins and "was raised to life," is the One who is now "interceding for us."  He is the One who is now on our side.

This verse is very similar to what the Apostle John said in I John 2:1-2: "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.  But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense---Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for the sins of the whole world."  When we stand before our holy God, we have the best defense attorney on our side in the universe, the Son of God who died for our sins.  Who can bring a charge against us that He cannot answer? See Zechariah 3:1-7; Isaiah 50:8,9; Luke 22:31,32  In 8:26,27 we learned that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us.  Now we learn that Jesus Christ also intercedes for us. We are not facing life alone!

There will be those who will accuse us.  We may even accuse ourselves. See I John 3:20-21; Romans 2:14-15  But, in the only court that really counts, God's court, we are not condemned.  As Romans 8 starts out – "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1) 

These verses provide us with confidence that we will never lose our salvation.  Once we have become one of God's children through faith in Jesus' blood for us, our sins are eternally paid for.  We are chosen, justified and it is certain that we will one day be glorified.  "Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them." (Hebrews 7:25)  Jesus Christ, our great High Priest and representative before the throne of God will always be for us and on our side.  That is eternal security!

Now, how does all of this work out in our everyday life?  Let us say that tomorrow you respond to some situation in a sinful way.  Now, you stand condemned before a holy God for your sin.  You have broken God's holy law.  At this point, your conscience condemns you, someone you know may condemn you, and certainly Satan's representatives are pointing out your sin and condemning you.  What can you do?  First of all, you need to admit your sin.  Many of us are very familiar with I John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."  Admit your sin and thank Him that this sin was paid for by Jesus on the cross.  Do not try to do something to pay for your sins, but trust fully in what Jesus did for you on the cross.  Though you sinned, God does not condemn you.

You may feel that you should be punished for your sin, but you can thank God that Jesus already took the full punishment for that sin on Himself on the cross.  If Jesus does not condemn you, who then can now justly condemn you?  The obvious answer is no one!

(4) Then, we will not fear that we will ever be separated from the love
of God. (8:35-39)
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution of famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written: 'For your sake we face death all day long, we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.'  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  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."

Thought Question #1:  How can we be "considered as sheep to be slaughtered" and also be "more than conquerors through him who loved us"?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Notice that Paul says, "in all these things we are more than conquerors."  What are the types of things we can be "in" and still be "conquerors"?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  Why do you believe that Romans 8 ends on such a note of triumph instead of the cry of defeat that ended Romans 7?  What is the primary difference between Romans 7 and Romans 8?

 

 

If we fully understand the love of God for us, we will not fear anything that is ahead of us.  For nothing can separate us from God and His love for us.  But, we are not so quick to give up fear.  Certainly, there must be some reason we should fear?  We see in these final verses of chapter eight that we need not fear anything that can come into our life.  We can believe and be fully convinced that nothing can separate us from God's love.  We really are totally secure in God love.

Remember, that when Paul was writing these words, Christians would soon be killed in Rome.  They would be killed publicly in the Coliseum as wild animals were turned on them.  Tradition tells us that Paul himself was ultimately killed by Nero in Rome.  Paul was aware of his upcoming death in Rome when he wrote II Timothy, the last of his letters that are preserved for us in the Bible: "For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure." (II Timothy 4:6)  But, he was also confident that his trial and his death would not separate him from the love of God: "At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me.  May it not be held against them.  But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it." (II Timothy 4:16-17a)

Life can throw a lot at us.  We can be "in" many difficult and painful types of circumstances.  We who are Christians are not shielded from tough times.  And as Christians we also face all those who oppose God, both His invisible enemies and His visible enemies.  Paul quotes David's words in Psalm 44:22: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."  Some may think that because Almighty God is now for us, we should no longer have trials and troubles.  Paul says here that we will face troubles.  But when we face these troubles, we will never be alone or separated from God's love. See Hebrews 11:35a-39

Because God is with us "we are more than conquerors."  A proper translation of these words is "we are super-conquerors or hyper-conquerors."  Notice, Paul does not say that we are the super-conquerors alone, but that we are super-conquerors "through him who loved us."  Consider what is true of us.  No matter who condemns us, we remain uncondemned.  No matter who hates us, we remain always loved.  No matter what may happen to us, we remain secure and victorious in God's sovereign care.  No matter what foe comes against us, we come out victorious.  We will be with Jesus, and we will be part of His super-victorious army.

How are we super-conquerors?  Here are some ways: Our trials produce godly changes in our lives – more humility and perseverance, for example.  As Paul says in II Corinthians 2:14-16, though our Christian lives are a stench to some, our Christian lives are an aroma of God to others to lead them to Christ.

What is there, then, that can defeat us?  Paul gives us his list of what we may face: "troubles or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword."  While I am writing these words, we are at the beginning of America's war against terrorism.  In today's paper, we learned that two Washington, D. C. postal workers died of anthrax infection.  As I am writing these words, we as a nation face a time of concern and uncertainty.  When you read these words, the threat may be over or it might be much greater.  But, whatever we face as Christians, none of it can separate us from God and His love for us.

Paul goes on to make a list that does not leave anything out: "For I am convinced that neither death nor life [all possible states of existence], neither angels nor demons [all supernatural beings], neither the present nor the future [all periods of time], neither height nor depth [all within the vertical range of existence], nor anything in all creation [all that God has created] will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Simply put, there is not anything that can separate us from God's love!

Notice that he says that he is "convinced."  He is fully persuaded.  He has reasoned himself to the place where he is certain, he has no doubts.  "No fear" has become a slogan among the young people at the time that I am writing these words.  With Paul, it was not merely a slogan.  He was persuaded that he had no reason to fear. See I John 5:4

This section begins with the question: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?"  This section and this chapter ends with "nothing can separate us from the love of Christ."  Romans 7 ended with total despair---"Who will rescue me from this body of death?"  Romans 7 ends with total hope---nothing can separate us from this God of love!

 

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. ®   NIV ®   Copyright ©  1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission.  All Rights reserved.

Studies in Romans