A. AN ILLUSTRATION FROM MARRIAGE (7:1-6)
This principle of being dead to sin and alive for Christ can be illustrated by marriage. A married woman is by law bound to her husband for a long as he lives and should she marry another man during that period, she will be guilty of adultery. However the moment her husband dies, that bondage over her is broken and she is free to marry someone else. In this illustration death brings freedom. Likewise having legally died to the law by the death of Christ, the law loses control over you and sets you free in order that you may belong to Christ. You are now joined to Christ whom you serve, not by fear of judgement but in the freedom of the Holy Spirit that enables you to walk in this new way.
B. STRUGGLING WITH SIN (7:7-25)
To what conclusion should we then come? If the law has the effect of enticing man to break it, causing him to sin, is not the Law then a sinful instrument? Certainly not! How would I have known the will of God had it not been for His Law commanding me not to covet?
So the Law serves a very good purpose. The problem lies not with the Law but with the sinful nature of man. Sin is rebellious in its nature and hates any kind of authority, so the moment when it is told not to covet, it rises up in anger and covets any desirable thing it can lay its eyes on. Therefore when the Law was given to mankind, sin inside of him immediately sprang to life and started breaking it. It is like a ferocious dog which lies peacefully in its cage sleeping, but the moment when somebody walks by or approaches the cage, its nature causes it to jump up, tearing at the walls of the cage in an attempt to get to this person and bite and kill him. The problem is not with the person, but with the dog.
When there is absolutely no law, it is impossible even for a sinful nature to sin, because there is nothing to sin against, there is no rule or law that can be broken. So if there is no law, a person with a sinful nature will go on living happily, he will not be judged and die because he has not sinned. However the moment God’s Law comes to him, even when it is God’s Law working through his conscience, his nature rises up against the symbol of authority which he hates and causes him to tear it apart. By sinning against God’s Law, it brings upon him God’s judgement and God’s judgement leads to his death, even his eternal death. So the Law of God which is the shining forth of His holiness, which is good, brings death to man’s sinful nature thereby proving its sinfulness.
The law is holy, righteous and good but the fact that this good instrument brought death to me so much more shows up sin, exposes it for the vile thing it is.
We can also look at it this way: the Law of God is spiritual and is carried forth by his Holy Spirit but in my natural state I am the exact opposite, I am unspiritual, I am a slave to sin and am bound to do the will of my master whose name is sin. That is why, even when I get saved and am legally reckoned by God to be dead to sin and alive unto God, I still find this old nature rising up within me, causing me to do that which I no longer want to do. It causes me to do that which I now hate, that which my new nature which has arisen with Christ hates. I know look at the Law of God and see how good and holy it is and I completely agree with God that it is good and it is the right thing to do, yet I find that I do not always do it. I therefore do not understand myself for though I have the desire to do what is good, I cannot carry it out for what I do, is not that the good I want to do, no it is the evil which I do not want to do; this is what I keep on doing.
But here is the answer to my dilemma: if I do that which I do not want to do, it is no longer I, it is no longer the real me which is my new spiritual being that rose and was resurrected with Christ that is sinning, but it is the old nature that still lives within me which is causing me to sin. So I find this law that is working within me: when I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being, in my new person, I delight in God’s Law; I see that it is wonderful to love my neighbour as myself but then at the same time, I see that there is also another law that is working in my body and in my spirit and it is waging war against my new self, trying to make me a prisoner of the sin that lives within me.
Oh what a wretched man I am! And who will rescue me from this death which is like a body, like a physical body, that is living within me? I thank God that this deliverance comes through Christ Jesus my Lord. So then, in my mind, in my new resurrected spirit, I am a slave to the law of God, I am totally committed to the Law of God, but my old sinful nature is still a slave to sin. This brings about that I continually have to make a choice as to whom am I going to serve: my sinful nature which is going to take me back into slavery to sin? I might then even become an alcoholic, a harlot, a thief if I continually yield to my old nature.
But the good news of Christ’s deliverance is that I have a choice. I can freely exercise my will to chose to be a slave of this new life, doing the holy will of God and in doing so, the old nature will get weaker and weaker and will die away gradually because it will not be receiving food to keep it strong. The new nature, on the other hand, which is sustained by the Word of God, by prayer and by my continual choice to let it have its way, will become stronger and I will become more and more free to do the holy will of God.
C. LIFE BY THE HOLY SPIRIT (8:1-17)
This pericope addresses the same truths that have already been dealt with, but from a different perspective to enable us to understand them so much better, but it also reveals new facets to us.
Paul uses two new words for concepts with which we are already familiar. He uses the word “flesh” to describe our old sinful nature and the word “Spirit (Holy Spirit)” as the keyword in denoting our new life in Christ; in fact, the word “Spirit” appears 12 times in this pericope which shows what an important role the Holy Spirit plays in our new lives.
AS REGARDS THE FLESH, IT IS STATED THAT:
• Because of its weakness, the Law of God was unable to keep man walking within His will.
• Those that are still living according to the flesh have their minds set upon what the flesh desires.
• The mind that is controlled by the flesh leads to death.
• The mind of the flesh is hostile to God, it is an enemy of God.
• The mind of the flesh is totally unable to submit itself to the will of God.
• Those that are controlled by the mind of the flesh, are totally unable to please God.
• Those that live according to the flesh are now spiritually dead and will eventually find themselves in eternal death.
• Jesus, by coming to earth in a human body exactly like that of sinful man, yet living a perfectly holy life, demonstrated that man had no excuse for his sinfulness and stood condemned before God.
AS REGARDS THE SPIRIT AND LIFE IN THE SPIRIT, IT IS STATED THAT:
• There is no condemnation (judgement) for those that have entered into the life of the Spirit.
• Those that are in the life of the Spirit have been set free from the law of sin and death by a greater law which is the law of the Spirit.
• The law’s righteous requirements of man to abide by it, still apply and by the new life in the Spirit, man can now, by the power of God’s indwelling Holy Spirit, comply with God’s law.
• The mind controlled by the Spirit, experiences life and peace.
• The moment when the Holy Spirit enters into a person, he is no longer controlled by his flesh (sinful nature) but by the Spirit.
• If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ living within him, he does not belong to Christ.
• If Christ dwells within a person by his Spirit, his body is still subjected to death, but his spirit is alive because of the righteousness imparted to him by the Spirit.
• Such a person’s mortal body will, at the end of this age, also be raised to life just as Christ was raised from the dead.
• The person that has entered into this new life has made a final decision to be completely controlled by the Spirit and is therefore obliged to abide by his commitment.
• A person who does not do so, but habitually and carelessly or even wilfully again submits to the desires of the flesh, will eventually lose his new life in Christ and fall back into present and eternal death, just like those that had never entered into this new life in the Spirit.
• You are therefore to put to death the deeds of the flesh by the power of the Spirit that dwells within you.
• Those that are thus led by the Spirit of God, are sons of God (8:9).
• Such a person has nothing to fear for his spirit has been re-created into the likeness of God Whom he may now address as “Father,” as “Daddy”.
• The Spirit Who lives within us will in fact speak to us, communicate to us in such a way that we will be able to clearly hear what He says, namely that we are God’s children (8:16).
The Spirit himself bearsh witness with our spirit, that we are children of God:
• Being children of God just like Christ is the Son of God, means that we too now are heirs of God just as Christ is an heir of his Father; we are co-heirs with Christ.
• We will be co-heirs of his suffering, in order that in heaven, we may be co-heirs of His glory.
D. FUTURE GLORY (8:18-27)
In this pericope the suffering and incompleteness of the present life is compared to the glory that is expected in the life to come.
THE PRESENT AND FUTURE STATE OF CREATION:
• As a result of the fall of Adam, God decreed that all of creation would be subject to decay and death. This is a frustration to creation for it was created to live and flourish and not to die.
• Creation is now groaning like a woman that is in childbirth.
• Creation is living in eager expectation of the day when the sons of God will inherit the promises of their Father by receiving their new resurrected bodies, for it is then that all of creation will also be restored to the glory which God had all along intended for it.
THE PRESENT AND FUTURE STATE OF THE SONS OF GOD:
• The present sufferings of God’s sons are so insignificant in comparison to the glory in which they will share in the age that is to come, that it is not even worth while trying to compare the one to the other.
• The first fruits of the Spirit which the sons of God are even now experiencing and enjoying, cause them to groan inwardly as they eagerly look forward to the full glory that is to come.
• Of course the glory that is hoped for, lies in the future and is not yet seen and experienced; we are patiently waiting for it.
• In this state of weakness in which the sons of God are at present, the Spirit comes to our aid and pleads with the Father for our welfare with groans so deep and profound that it cannot be described in human words.
• The Father answers these prayers because He searches the depths of our hearts, understands our deepest needs and is in complete agreement with the pleadings of the Spirit, because those are in line with His will for us.
E. MORE THAN CONQUERORS (8:28-39)
The conclusion to all that has been said up till now, is that those that have entered into the new life in Christ will not only conquer the challenges of this present life but will emerge in glorious victory because God is on their side:
• In everything that happens to them, God will see to it that some good will come from it; He will use it for their benefit.
• This is what He planned even before creation took place, because even then He knew in advance those that would be born and that would choose to submit themselves to Him and those he predestined to be changed into the likeness of his Son who would be the firstborn of this new brotherhood of sons of God; and these predestined ones he also called to himself at the right time, and those He so called and that had responded, He also justified which means that He declared them to be in right standing with Himself because of their faith in Him and those that He thus justified He also glorified.
• From this care which God takes of those that belong to Him, we can now draw the following conclusions:
- If God is for us, Who can be against us (8:31,32)?
- If he did not spare his own Son but gave Him up to be crucified for all of us, how much more will His grace not give as all other things that we need?
- Who will still be able to bring in any charges against those that God has chosen and declared to be in right standing with Him?
- Who will condemn these people? Did not Christ die for them and was raised and is now at the right hand of the Father interceding for them?
- Who or what will separate us from the love of Christ: trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword, though it is true that for His sake we face death all day long and in this world are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
- No, in all these things we are more than conquerors because He loves us.
- Neither death, nor life, nor angels nor demons, neither present nor future things nor any powers nor any height or depth or anything else in all creation will be able to come in between and separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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