LETTER TO THE ROMANS. Pieter Scholtz
LETTER TO THE ROMANS. Pieter Scholtz
St. Paul (‘the small one’). From Corinth, 58 A.D. at the end of his three month stay in Corinth (Act.20:1-6).
PURPOSE OF WRITING:
As the Gospel was being preached, not only Jews but many converts from the heathen nations as well became believers. Consequently very important questions arose concerning the truth of justification by faith and the mutual relationships between different cultures and peoples which needed explanation and clarification. For instance – What kind of connection did the Law of Moses have with the Gospel, and was it essential also to keep the law in order to acquire justification, or was it by faith alone in the all sufficient work of Christ? What meaning and influence did the Covenant which God made with Abraham, the ancestor of the Jews have for the Gentile believers re their inclusion or exclusion thereby?
The crucial question was about the relation between and the roll of the Law in supplementing the Gospel of faith and grace in connection with the implementation of justification and sanctification in the life of a believer. Would the absence of the enforcement of ‘law and works’ as a means unto salvation not strengthen the impression that God has become more lenient to sin, which will encourage transgression of the law?
The one man who was fully equipped to answer these pressing questions with authority was St.Paul, because of his own background experience, spiritual standing in grace and his deep spiritual insight and knowledge in religious matters. The letter to the Romans is the most comprehensive, fundamental and deep spiritual document of the New Testament! St. Paul was God’s instrument – fully equipped, inspired and taught by the Holy Spirit. He succeeded with incomparable concentration and consecration, and with clear and irrefutable dogma and sound logic to expose, compare and clarify the force of the unity and harmony of the seven main and vital truths of the Bible, namely: SIN, JUDGEMENT, JUSTIFICATION, DELIVERANCE FROM SIN, SANCTIFICATION, THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD and SERVICE.
Martin Luther said: The Letter to the Romans is the chief Book of the Bible and also the purest Gospel which should be read and memorized word for word by every Christian! John Calvin: The Letter to the Romans is the key to all the treasures of Scripture! Coleridge: The Letter to the Romans is the best book ever written! Godet: The Letter to the Romans is the Cathedral of the Christian faith! The Church Father, Chrysostom, read through the letter to the Romans week by week!
DIVISION, MESSAGE AND EMPHASIS
Introduction: “The Gospel of Jesus Christ” (1:1-17)
MAIN THEME: THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD – acquitted from guilt – consisting of:
1. RIGHTEOUSNESS DEMANDED – but sinners are transgressors, lost and doomed (1:16-3:20)
2. RIGHTEOUSNESS DECLARED – (imputed) sinners accounted righteous by faith in Jesus (3:21- 5:11).
3. RIGHTEOUSNESS DELIVERED – (imparted) believers acquire practical holiness (5:12-8:39).
4. RIGHTEOUSNESS DEMOLISHED – History of Israel: Past – Ch.9; Present Ch.10; Future Ch.11.
5. RIGHTEOUSNESS DEMONSTRATED – in life and service (12- 15:7)
CLOSING ADMONISIONS AND GREETINGS (15:8-16:27)
INTRODUCTION: THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST
“The Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation for every one who believe” (1:16,17). This is the central theme of the message of the letter to the Romans. The key word is ‘believe’. It appears 4 times in these two verses and the emphasis is on Jesus Christ from whom, to whom and for who all things are. The Apostle Paul was the messenger to carry this wonderful message to the Heathen. It was: ….
1. THE FULFILLMENT OF THE PROMISE: God’s provision of a Redeemer for all – Jew and Gentile.
1.1CHRIST HATH APPEARED in accordance to the promises made by God through the prophets (1:1-3). At the right time for the godless (v.5-6); for the right people (for the weak …the godless … sinners … enemies (v.5,6,8,10) … with the right Gospel (the joyful message) of God (v.1) … the same as of Christ (1:16).
1.2CHRIST IS EXALTED as He came from the house of David. He was born as a King and as King He conquered man’s greatest enemy, the devil. He was also exalted as King at the right hand of God and now is bestowed on Him might, majesty, authority and honour. To His called out ones He could give ‘grace’ and ‘apostleship’. To St. Paul He gave the special calling and ministry as Apostle to the heathen (v.3b,4,5).
1.3CHRIST IS RAISED FROM THE DEAD and for that accomplishment He was declared by the Holy Spirit, as the Son of God with power through the resurrection from the dead! These good tidings proved that Jesus Christ was in very truth, in Himself, the Son of God. He was God Himself!
2. THE PROVISION OF A MESSENGER – St. Paul’s letters of accreditation
2.1St. PAUL WAS A SERVANT OF GOD: He was God’s ‘bondslave’ (Gr.‘doulos’ servant Ex.21). Someone who’s whole life, service, time and future belonged to his Master. St. Paul was indeed ‘sold out’ to Christ. (Please read Rom.1:1; Ex.21:1-6; Ps.40:7 and Heb.10:7 carefully).
2.2St. PAUL WAS ALSO A SEPARATED APOSTLE: An Apostle means an eye witness; a sent one with a message … called and commissioned to witness to the truth and trustworthiness of the character, word and works of the One who sent him. V.6 tells of that Person – no one but Christ WHO calls us as His witnesses.
2.3 St. PAUL WAS A SANCTIFIED MESSENGER (v.15): In contrast to his method in other letters, St. Paul does not mention any other co-worker, for he alone is the separated, sanctified and called messenger to the heathen to whom he declares himself their debtor in connection with the Gospel (v.14)! He has a great desire to visit them, to see and serve them (v.11,15). He is confident that it would still be possible. (v.16).
3. THE FRUIT OF HIS MESSAGE: It is the…
3.1POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION (v.16). God’s own dunamis power for every one that believe. This power is unto salvation. The word salvation implies deliverance from an evil power, influence or danger. It is not a power to mere reformation, outward change or self-realization, but it is the dunamis of Almighty God; His highest inherent power that He puts to our disposal for salvation!
3.2QUALIFICATION UNTO RIGHTEOUSNESS (17); Here the power of faith unto salvation for all that have already believed unto righteousness, extending to that kind of faith that produces life and abundance of life! Faith unto salvation and deliverance from evil and sin is not a process of growth in your own strength, or a process of works whereby you may deserve to be saved. The timing of the verb (believe) in the Greek Aorist Tense denotes a definite CRISES experience which is, at a moment of time, once and for all done and completed! LIFE is the fruit of salvation by faith, but then that life must grow and develop into full maturity and abundance of life. Saving faith (v.16) is the major requisite and qualification for the quickening of such spiritual LIFE!
Out of this foundation flows FORGIVENESS of sins (3:22-24) and DELIVERANCE from the sin (the evil principle … Romans 6)! Also DELIVERANCE from BONDAGE to the Law (Romans 7) and from SINFUL FLESH (Romans 8) to satisfy the requirements of the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD!
1.RIGHTEOUSNESSDEMANDED, BUT LOST (1:18-3:20) HOW MAN IS UNITED TO SIN:
Under this heading the UNRIGHTEOUSNESS of man is described, represented by four classes of sinners. Nowhere else do we find a more realistic and truer description of the sad lot and tragic condition of the lost sinner without God, of his abhorring uncleanness and utter depravity as a result of sin! The purpose of this description in detail is that it will be such a revelation to man of his UNRIGHTEOUNESS and helplessness in the sight of a holy and RIGHTEOUS God, that it may move and drive him to seek a Deliverer or Saviour!
- THE UNRIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE HEATHEN DESCRIBED (1:18-32)
THE SINNER’S MISTAKEN CONCEPTION resulting from his changing the truth into a lie that suits him well! (v.18-29). They arewithout excuse … because that which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God hath showed it unto them (v.19). They are also without excuse because the eternal power and Godhead was clearly seen and understood by all men in Hisvisible creation. The result of their changing the truth of God into a lie is that God gave them up unto vile and inordinate affections, to do the most unnatural things and He gave them over to a reprobate mind to do inconvenient things (v.26-32). The detailed description of a sinner in this portion of Scripture is a vivid picture of man’s worst, hopeless and lost condition in sin! His shameless indulgence in the vilest of sins and his defiance of the authority and holiness of God, renders and makes him the very worst of transgressors! By his rejection of the salvation through Christ Jesus, he deserves God’s righteous judgement and punishment!
- THE UNRIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE MORAL SINNER PROVED: (2:1-16)
- IN WHAT HE FEELS (2:1,2): He feels himself superior to other people and in a position to look down upon them and to judge them, even unto condemnation! Human judgement can be very wrong when it is done on the grounds of incomplete information, faulty observation and wrong conceptions. It is also very dangerous when we judge others, especially when it is unto condemnation, because God’s warning is very clear that, when we judge others, we must remember that we ourselves are already judged! Depraved human nature seems ever ready to see the splint in another man’s eye while in his own there is a beam! Very often a very censorious, hard and critical attitude towards others only reveals the rottenness and insecure condition of one’s own inner life! The Apostle states in the first verse of chapter two that such an attitude is totally inexcusable!
- IN WHAT HE FINDS (2:1,3): It is a very sobering experience to discover that, in condemning others, you yourself are guilty of the same! It is even worse to learn from these verses that you receive the same judgement and even in a much more severe manner when God will add His judgement and hold you accountable for your boastful attitude in judging others!
- IN WHAT HE FORGETS (2:4): The Greek word ‘chrestotes’ here for ‘goodness’ speaks of deep and sincere empathy like that of Jesus which He often revealed when dealing with the sick, the accused and the helpless. Forbearance (‘anoché’) points to a cease-fire agreement, but of a limited duration. It is as if the Apostle warns these outwardly moral sinners to make haste to speak to God about a truce while there is time! Longsuffering (‘makrothumia’) has to do with our attitude to other people. For instance – you are in a perfect position to take revenge on someone who injured or shamefully entreated and used you, but you wilfully choose to refrain from revenge and choose to heartily forgive and forget their transgressions!
- IN GOD’S JUGEMENT ON THE MORAL SINNER: When it is:
- According to his works (2:5-6):
- According to his worth (2:7-11):
- According to God’s Law (2:12-14)
- According to the facts of reality (2:13,16):
- THE UNRIGHTEOUNESS OF THE JEW REVEALED (2:17-3:18)
- HIS TESTIMONY TESTED (2:17-3:18):
- According to his privilege of knowing the truth (2:17-24):
- According to his choice of obedience to believe (2:21-24):
1.3.2 HIS CIRCUMSICION TESTED (2:25-29): The circumcision of the heart, not of the flesh
1.3.3HIS OBJECTIONS TESTED (3:1-8) in his:
a. Excuse for his unbelief (v.3):
b. Excuse for his unrighteousness (v.5-8)
1.4 THE UNRIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE WHOLE WORLD PROVED (3:9-14)
The darkness deepens as the Holy Spirit reveals the very source of sin and the unrighteousness of the whole human race, as well as its far-reaching fruit and consequences. These are vividly described in these verses!
1.4.1 THE FAR-REACHING EFFECTS OF SIN (v.9-12). It affects ALL, for ‘all have sinned’.
All are unsaved (v.10) because no man is ‘righteous’ before God (therefore unrighteous). ‘As it is written: There is NONE righteous, no, not ONE! There is none that understandeth (unwise). There is none that seeketh after God (independent). They are all gone out of the way (as lost sheep). They are together become unprofitable (‘akhrioo’ for unprofitable – to make useless)! There is none that doeth good, no not ONE! (Unrepentant). What a dark, hopeless, but true picture of man in sin apart from God and His salvation!
1.4.2 THE UNFAIRNESS OF SIN(v.13-18) – in relation to God and other people.
Their words: Out of their throats which are likened to an open, abhorrent sepulchre proceed dangerous, deceitful and poisonous words. They contaminate others and cause death, bitterness and desolation!
Their works: ‘Their feet are swift to shed blood (v.16). Destruction and misery are in their ways (v.17). And the way of peace have they not known (v.18). There is no fear of God before their eyes’.
1.4.3 THE UTTER HELPLESNESS OF THE SINNER TO SAVE HIMSELF (v.19,20).
Not by man’s own efforts or even by ‘the deeds of the Law’ can any man be justified. The Law was given to reveal sin, but it has no power to deliver from sin or to quicken to life that which is DEAD IN SIN!
HOW GOD JUSTIFIES THE REPENTANT SINNER AND SAVES FROM SIN
2.RIGHTEOUSNESS DECLARED: (3:21-5:11) THE THREEFOLD ASPECT OF JUSTIFICATION
In relation to sins forgiven by free grace in God’s great work of Redemption. The judicial aspect (3:21-31)
In relation to trust and personal, saving faith in the promises of God – the faith aspect (Chapter 4)
In relation to the merits of Jesus as applied on our behalf, to our justification– the love aspect (5:1-10).
2.1 FORGIVENESS AND DELIVERANCE: (The judicial aspect 3:21-5:11)
2.1.1.a It is realistic because it is Scriptural in its application (3:21): The Law was intended to declare and set a moral standard (10 commandments) with the purpose to ‘reveal’ sin. It was also of a ceremonial kind (offerings and feasts) and intended to ‘cover’ sins until the appearance of Jesus.
2.1.1.b It is realistic andalsounique in its presentation(v.22,23) because forgiveness of sins can only be acquired though faith and not by works of any kind whatsoever! Here we have the very heart of the Gospel message. There is only ONE way of salvation unto life – for the Jew with his religion, for the Greek with his knowledge and for the heathen in darknes – and that is by faith in the merits of Jesus Christ and His cross! All the other religions depend on works which they themselves have devised and subscribed for themselves and for all their followers, works which can never save them.
When the Holy Spirit says – allhave sinned in v.23 – with the verb in the Greek aorist tense, it most probably points to that moment of time of the Fall, when IN ADAM the first Head of the human race, the whole human race partook of inherited sin and depravation. But likewise, IN CHRIST, the second Head of the redeemed human race, all them that believe, may partake in His redemption!
2.1.2.a It is just because it contains a classical announcement of grace without any merit (v.24) and of saving faith without works (v.22,26,27,28). The cost of grace was the precious blood of Christ and the privilege of pardon by faith alone is exactly the same – the precious BLOOD of Christ where He carried our sins in His own Body on the Tree and where he effectively dealt with SIN! Romans 3:24 is one of the greatest and most important verses in all Holy Scriptures!
2.1.2.b It is just, alsobecause it contains a Royal invitation(v.25b and 26). It offers the repentant sinner amnesty and forgiveness, even to the uttermost!
2.1.3.a It is reasonable because it excludes any merits by works: ‘Where is boasting then …?’ Boasting is the evidence of pride that ever seeks another way of justification apart from the way of grace. People will try to substitute the way of the Cross for something more acceptable for themselves and their friends like good works, a good appearance before men, to be considered as a respectable, generous, hardworking, pious and religious person. The way of faith in Christ crucified for our sins is the only way, but too humiliating for sinful flesh; for the proud, the mighty, the wise and the prudent! It is possible to boast in all these things, but never in grace! It is by FAITH in the merits of the CROSS that God forgives and declares the sinner judicially righteous before God … so much so that He can look on a justified sinner as if he/she has never sinned! (3:24-27).
2.1.3.b It is reasonable, alsobecause it excludes any separation (v.28-30): God is no respecter of persons or races like Jews and Gentiles, nor of the circumcised or the uncircumsised. All are alike in their need of a Saviour and all must enter God’s kingdom through the way of repenting of their sins and faith in Christ.
N.B. A very concise definition of justification may be as follows: Justification is a judicial deed of God, censured and approved by the highest court of heaven by which He as the Judge counts (or reckons)and declares the guilty and condemned but repentant sinner who believe in the merits of the Cross of Jesus Christ and on his behalf, as righteous. That means that God reckons (or translates) the unrighteousness and guilt of the sinner to the account of his Substitute on the Cross whereby Christ as Substitute takes and bears the punishment of the sinner on Himself. At the same time God reckons the righteousness of Jesus to the account of the sinner so completely that He now looks on him in Christ as if he had never sinned! From the side of the guilty one –he counts on the promises of God in faith (Rom.3:24; 8:15,16; 2) that his account has been fully settled and the divine witness of the Holy Spirit in his heart (Cor.1:21,22) is his seal of acceptance and assurance! From God’s side it is a divine, positive, double act of ‘reckoning’ – ‘… it was counted unto him for righteousness’ (3:3)and ‘blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute sin’ (3:8).
2. 2 FORGIVENESS AND DELIVERANCE(continued – the faith aspect – Ch.4)
As Hebrews 11 is the greatest chapter on faith in the Bible, likewise is Romans 4 the greatest on justification by faith alone without any merits by men – of their ‘good’ works, or of their best efforts of keeping the Law! In order to prove to the Jewish reader how unscriptural his concept of salvation by works is, St. Paul carefully selects two examples – one of their great forefather, Abraham, and the other of their great King, David.
2.2.1.a ‘Abraham, our father (‘pater’) as pertaining to the flesh’. The Jews liked to call themselves the ‘seed’ of Abraham (Joh.8:39), thereby boasting that they are the spiritual offspring of Abraham to whom alone the blessings (especially the spiritual) of all the circumcised like Abraham belong. On the contrary Paul here proves to them the fact that Abraham was justified by faith without works before he was circumcised (Gen.15:6). Romans 4:1-6 and 9-13 3,11 are vitally important in proving that ‘not by works neither by birth and offspring, nor by circumcision, but by faith alone both Jews and Gentles are being justified by God!’The fact is that Abraham never boasted of works as a proof that he was justified (v.2). He was justified by faith unto righteousness as is proved by verses 3-5! The Jews therefore can never boast or be certain that because they are the offspring of Abraham, they have automatically become the children of God! Please note that St. James also uses Abraham as an example of justification, but this time justification by works (James 2:21), referring to his works of obedience in offering Isaac 40 years after he was justified by faith in Gen.15:6! This refers to justification by works merely as a proof/fruit of having been justified by faith!
2.2.1.b Abraham, our example to follow: The word, ‘reckon’ or ‘account to’ which we find 10 or 11 times in the chapter, is a bank- or accountant term and very important for our understanding the full meaning of justification in all its three aspects of judicial justification, by faith and through God’s love. In its spiritual application it illustrates the payment and balancing of God’s account with man to the full. As St. Paul states it in Colossians 2:14: ‘having forgivenyou all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing itto his cross’. Although the faith of Abraham was in essence an attitude of his mind and manner of life, it was clearly also a deliberate act of will and a moral choice and commitment of faith at a definite point of time (Gen.15:6). Neither the Jew who was born after the flesh as a descendant of Abraham, nor the Heathen that boasts of his good and moral way of life is the true child of God, but only those who will personally, purposely and actively BELIEVE in God’s redemptive salvation!
2.2.2.a David, found guilty by the Law: Because Abraham lived 430 years before the time of the Law instituted by Moses, and because he could not be found guilty by that Law, his example of justification by faith was not sufficient. Now St. Paul selects David who committed at least three of the most deadly sins – fornication, murder and hypocrisy in trying to cover it up – to prove that he was saved, not by works but by calling for mercy and how he found GRACE when he repented and trusted God in FAITH for forgiveness!
2.2.2.b David, the sinner, saved by grace: (4:7,8). St. Paul now quotes Ps.32 which was written after the revelation of David’s ‘secret’ transgression with Bathsheba. Ps.51 is his prayer of repentance where he pleads for mercy! All the Jews knew how God answered his penitent prayer and how he was acquitted.
There are three very important words which describe SIN from three different angles in Ps.32, following David’s prayer in Ps.51. They reveal to us the deeper meaning of the essence, the presence and the working of SIN in us humans. It is essential to get a grasp of this and the meaning of sin in order to fully understand St. Paul’s dissertation of Romans 5-8 where he specifically deals with deliverance from (the) SIN. In 4:6-8 David describes the blessednessof‘the man to whom God imputeth righteousness without works’.
David pleaded guilty and received the assurance that God heard his prayer for mercy. In 4:7 he says: ‘Blessed are they whose (1a)iniquities (‘anomee’ah’ –wickedness and rebellion amounting to a wilful refusal to accept or to submit to God’s control) are (1b)forgiven …’ (‘aphiëmi’ – remit, lay aside, send away in the figure of the scapegoat Lev.16). It implies more than mere forgiveness. It means to take and carry it away to where it shall never more be found. ‘… and whose (2a) sins …’ (‘hamartia’ – to miss the mark and to do it even on purpose!) ‘… are (2b) covered’ (‘epeekalupto’ – conceal as with the mercy seat (covering of the Ark, sprinkled by blood).
In 4:8 David says: blessed is the man to whom God will not impute (count, reckon) (3a)sin (‘hamartia’ here in the collective singular mode, pointing to the sinful, evil nature which man inherited from Adam). (Turning to Ps.32:5, it is interesting to find that David uses a unique word to describe the nature of this sin – the word, the ‘iniquity(Hebrew-‘awvon’ – derived from ‘awvah’) of my sin’. HHHere it means to turn away and to do it on purpose! The word ‘iniquity’ in Ps.32:5 also mean perversity, moral evil and mischief. David says of the same thing in Romans 4:8, blessed is the man to whom God will not (3b)impute (count, reckon) sin! If, and when THE SIN (singular) here indicates original sin, God deals with it in a different way – the verb not impute (count, reckon) is used, for God will not hold a newly saved person as yet responsible for original sin – N.B. – until He reveals to him/her His provision for deliverance and cleansing through the experience of sanctification. This principal or tendency of perversity, moral evil and mischief may still be present with those who have truly and sincerely repented and have received forgiveness, but who as yet have not received full deliverance from the presence and the rule of THE SIN principle – i.e. – the iniquityof my sin’.
As we continue to study the FAITH ASPECT of justification in 4:9-16, the Apostle deals with the problem that many of the saved Jews of his day still held to the belief that justification is not complete without the application also of the rite of circumcision (Acts.15:1-19; Gal.2:1-14). They demanded that all believers from Heathen Nations must first become ‘Jews’ and be forced to be circumcised as a completion and proof of their salvation. But St. Paul’s irrefutable argument here is that God justified Abraham when he believed God (Gen.15:6) and his circumcision only followed 14 years later as a seal or conformation of his salvation (Gen.17:7-14). All who therefore likewise follow in the footsteps of FAITH like Abraham can be called the spiritual ‘children’ of Abraham. It was not a question of the Heathen to become a Jew first, but the ‘Jew’ who first have to become a ‘Heathen’, lost like Abraham before he was saved by faith and later circumcised.
As we study Romans Chapter four from verse 13 until the end of the chapter we may notice, to our amazement, how the faith of Abraham stood the most severe tests because he trusted God’s promises without wavering! Without the surety of God’s promises there could be no faith! The quality of Abraham’s triumphant, daring and enduring faith in the face of seeming insurmountable impossibilities and obstacles consisted in the fact that he knew and believed in the character of the ONE who promised. Please consider carefully Abraham’s attitude to the value of God’s promises that were ‘written’(v.17) and ‘spoken’ (v.18) and that – ‘what He had promised, He was able also to perform’ (v.21).
2.3 FORGIVENESS AND DELIVERANCE: (continued – the love aspect – 5:1-10)
2.3.1 How God has made us partakers of His practical blessings. For those that believe it gives – justification by faith … peace with God … access by faith into this grace in which we stand … rejoicing in hope and glory in tribulation and … patient endurance in experience which leads to hope that will never be ashamed! (v.1-4).
Justification, as we have seen, is a judicial term and here it refers to a judicial deed performed by God in which He declares the sinner justified on the ground of the substitutional death of Christ.
Peace with God was restored when the sinner knelt at the Cross of Christ and trusted God to forgive his waywardness, his obstinacy and rebellion, and to make him a friend of God! ‘For He is our peace who hath made both one and hath broken down the middle wall of partition that was between us! (Eph.2:14).
Access by faith into this grace in which we standindicates the stability and durability, by God’s grace, of our standing experience in faith! There ought to be no weak spot or occasion to fall in the experience of sanctification which follows our justification! ‘Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free!’ (Gal.5:1).
Rejoicing in hope and glory in tribulation is the joyful experience of the saint who’s ultimate and only lasting joy is to please God when he accepts and holds that God reigns, controls and rules his whole life in order to make him a partaker and witness of Christ’s sufferings – the only way by which His glorious resurrection power can also be revealed through us!
Patient endurance in tribulation which leads to hope that will not be ashamed. Somebody has said that, if you want the grace of endurance you must also be willing to take the tribulation! In addition to the benefit of endurance, the fires of tribulation also contributes to the strengthening and purification of the Christian’s practical experience and his faithful standing in faith that leads to hope that maketh not ashamed! (5:3,4,5)
2.3.2 How God has made us sharers of His precious love (v.6,8,10: Note the three-foldunfolding of love.
2.3.2a Purposed love (v.6). In due time Christ died for the ungodly andfor those who are without strength! The devil did not take God by chance or by sudden surprise! Long before sin entered the human race, God had already perfectly planned, perfected and executed His plan of salvation, so that when Christ died in due course, His almighty sovereign reign was revealed as well as His tender compassion for the weak, the helpless and the ungodly! Wonderful exhibition of divine love!
2.3.2b Proved love (v.8,9). ‘While we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly’! He died for us, not because we were such sweet and decent sons and daughters of a far-away ‘Creator-God’ who only chooses, counts and collects the valuables, the moral and the godly, but also those of the most disgusting, hardened and rebellious sinners! We were all part of the ungodly! The highest example of human love between friends we find in John 15:13, but here in v.8, we find the highest exhibition of divine love for sinners!
2.3.2c Pure love (v.10). Sin has not only polluted us and played havoc with us; it has changed us sinners into terrible enemies of God our Creator, our Saviour and Lover! The love of God passed this most severe test with flying colours when Christ did not only die for good people, but for His enemies! Oswald Chambers says that ‘the bedrock of our Christian faith is the unmerited, fathomless marvel of God’s love exhibited on the Cross of Calvary!’ This is the kind of love that not only reaches and melts hardened hearts, it fills them too with God’s LOVE! May that kind of irresistible love take possession all God’s people who may happen to read these words!
2.3.3 How God has made us receivers of His promised liberty (v.5,9,10).
2.3.3a (v.5) God did it by giving us the Holy Spirit to indwell, possess and fill us with God’s own ‘agapé love! ‘The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us’. Our motivation in worship and service has now been altered, changed and inspired by an inward fire of devotion that springs from a burning heart, filled with that same quality of love as that of the divine Creator! No longer that tiring, monotonous, laborious, joyless and strenuous kind of service in the bondage of slavery that only produces and generates fear!
2.3.3b (v.9,10) God did it by giving us Jesus who laid down His life for us, thereby gaining eternal, resurrection life which He now gives to us to share with Him, and in Him! His life for us to reconcile us to God. His life in us to make us partakers and sharers of His glorious resurrection life! The fathomless quantity and deep quality of this love that is shed abroad in us, is underlined by God’s ‘much more’ which now appear repeatedly in these verses! HALLELUJA!
3.RIGHTEOUSNESS DELIVERED – THE TRUTH OF SANCTIFICATION – (Romans 6-8)
3.1 DELIVERANCE FROM SIN – THE REDEMPTION SIDE (Romans 6)
3.2 DELIVERANCE FROM THE LAW – THE PROBLEM SIDE – (Romans 7)
3.3 DELIVERANCE FROM THE FLESH – THE PRACTICAL SIDE – (Romans 8)
3.1 DELIVERANCE FROM SIN (Romans 6)
The main theme of ‘righteousness imparted’ – in Chapter six – is deliverance/emancipation from ‘SIN’ through identification with Christ in His death on the Cross and in sharing His resurrection from the grave.
IMPUTED righteousness has to do with our justification … our state in Christ as God judicially looks upon us. IMPARTED righteousness has to do with our sanctification … our spiritual standing and development in grace by faith, obedience and discipline in our practical attainment in conforming to the image of Christ. A crucial question is whether IMPUTED righteousness manifests itself in the visible, practical holiness of life of IMPARTED righteousness. That and that alone is the only real proof of imputed righteousness!
The Chapter begins with the important question: ‘Shall we continue in (the) SIN (literal Translation and the Afrikaans version) that grace may abound?’
The letter to the Romans is unique and unlike any other portion of Scripture in clearly defining certain very important words and truths. Thus far in the Letter (except as in 4:8) we have often read of the deeds of sin in its plural form resulting from the depraved nature inherited by the human race. But from 5:12 the emphasis is on SIN in its singular form. The Greek language adds a special force to the shift of emphasis of God’s intention to deal, not only with the consequences (the multiple deeds and fruit of sin) but with the ROOT of the problem – the very ORIGEN of SIN. The preposition ‘the’ (in Greek) seeks to focus our attention – like a side post along the wayside or as a finger pointing to a new direction – to the definite article, to SIN in particular, in the singular mode. When we compare verse 15 where the same question is asked – shall we SIN – it is with this difference that there SIN is also presented with the same word, with the same basic meaning of missing the mark, but now as a verb without the preposition of ‘the’ preceding SIN. Thus, in v.l5, it denotes a single deed of transgression, whereas in 6:1 it rather speaks of the sin principle as a noun – the sin – in relation to the question whether a Christian who is already justified, may continue IN sin (continue with ‘the sinning business’ without being delivered).
In verses 3 and 4, the figure of being baptisedinto His death is used and in verse 4 the figure of being plantedor grafted into Him, in the likeness of His death. (Please note that the concept of death – the identification with Christ in His death – is contained in each of verses two to eleven!). The first figure of being baptized into His death, illustrates our identification with Christ in His death – the only way that leads to deliverance and new life. The fact that the Cross spells death to the SINNER in sin (v.3,4) is good news indeed because God does not patch up or reform the SINNER, but by regeneration creates a new creature in Christ! It results in a positive sharing with Him in ‘newness of life’ because identification with Christ in His death always leads to inevitable sharing with Him His resurrected life! The second figure of identification with Christ in His death is in the figure of ‘planting’ or ‘grafting’ into Him, also in the likeness of His death (v.5). The positive result is also sharing His resurrection life with Him!
- However, the real climax of identification with Christ in His death is highlighted in verse six. Romans 6:6 is indeed the most concise and concentrated truth on deliverance from sin through the death of the Cross in the whole Bible. St. John mostly wrote to Jewish believers who understood terms that belonged to the Temple service like cleanse, purify, consecrate and sanctify. But St. Paul addresses the heathen believers with terms well-known to all who were acquainted with slavery, subjected to the reign of Roman rule, like righteousness, reign, dominion over, enslaved, lord over, reckon, yield andmade free – to present the same truth, only from a different angle. In verse six he uses figures of speech and coherent phrases like ‘our old man’ and ‘the body of sin’. These are linked together and interact in making men the slaves of SIN. This need sound interpretation and only the Holy Spirit can reveal the real depth and blessed truth of this verse! It is therefore essential first to get some clear definitions of ‘our old man’ and of ‘the body of sin’ before we enter into further discussion, explaining the meaning in context of important verbs like crucify and destroy.
- Definition of ‘our old man’: ‘Our old man’ is not a real person and an extremely old gentleman with a beard leaning on a walking stick for his support! The term relates to mankind in its absolute lost, depraved, perverted, wicked, corrupt, unclean, damnable and arrogant condition as a result of the Fall! The share of each individual in ‘our old man’ is the sinful nature inherited from the first Adam. But when a sinner is saved by grace and receives the indwelling Holy Spirit, only then his/her spiritual eyes are opened to discover, discern and behold with abhorrence and disdain the real devilish nature of the remainder of indwelling sin (7:17,20) still lingering in his bosom! Such a person may then try his utmost, pray in all earnest and yearn to be made clean and free indeed, only to discover and admit that nothing else and no human effort can deliver him from this malady. He finds that his personal, inherited ‘old man’ or sinful nature does not suddenly disappear after justification and the new birth; neither is the ‘sinful self’ willing to yield its sovereignty and claim to the right to himself, unconditionally to Christ.
- Our personal, inherited ‘old man’ shuns death and by all means not the shameful, public, painful and certain death of the Cross! (Illustration of king Ahab and Samuel). It resolutely clings to its own ‘reign’ of imagined independence whilst still a slave to the hard taskmaster of the devil and SIN (5:21; 6;14-17). ‘Our old man’ is not so easily uprooted and it is not disturbed, not even by our best resolutions and stickest discipline; nor by our own pathetic efforts of suppression or rehabilitation! Too much light on its true nature may cause it to take on a more respectable appearance or to go ‘underground’ and seemingly disappear out of sight, just to rear its ugly head of an evil temper, selfishness, hardness of heart and lustful indulgence at the most unexpected and inconvenient moment! But thank God – Romans 6:6 declare God’s way of being made free! The only way of slaying the evil intruder is that of being crucified with Christ. Christ has done it because the fact remains that no man can crucify himself, for who will drive in the last nail? Whenever the seeker after deliverance is as it were terminally ‘sick’ and full of remorse, to the stage of welcoming death – even the death of the Cross – he/she will have no problem to cast his/her ‘old man’ in faith on the Cross where Christ has already taken hold of it and effectively dealt with it more than 2,000 years ago! Today is very good news – your battle against ‘our old man’ may cease, even NOW! Cast ‘him’ out in faith to where ‘he’ belongs and let ‘him’ die the certain death of the Cross!
- Definition of ‘the body of sin’: Oswald Chambers defines ‘the body of sin’ as a mystical body like the mystical body … the Church. This ‘body of Christ’ includes all believers. Some theologians wrongfully apply and limit this spiritual ‘body’ (soma)to the natural, physical human body. But whenever sin is placed and located in man’s frail and imperfect human body with all its limitations and weaknesses; there will be no hope of ever being effectively delivered from sin in this life as long as we are ‘in the body’!
- We quote Oswald Chambers: "The body of sin is this tremendous possibility of solid atheism underlying humanity. The share of individual men and women in that body is "the old man". Every time a man or a woman enters into the experimental knowledge that this "old man" is crucified with Christ, the ultimate defeat and destruction of the body of sin becomes clearer. The body of sin is not in a man; what is in a man is the old man, the carnal mind, which connects him with the body of sin. Paul's argument, that the purpose of the old man being crucified with Christ, is that the body of sin might be destroyed i.e. that the connection with the body of sin might be severed." It is not the mystical body of sin which is crucified with Christ, but our old man which connects and unites us to this ‘body of sin’ with all its tentacles of defilements, allurements, snares and temptations which are still in the world, and will be until Jesus comes!
Now let us state three most important words (verbs) that will assist us to get a grip on the supreme purpose and intention of God to purify, deliver and sanctify His child – involving the whole man – mind, heart and will. The need of a seeker seeking deliverance – according to Romans 6 – is firstly to ‘KNOW’ the truth and appropriate it as God’s truth with the mind (v.1-10) Thensecondly after being fully informed – to be ready, willing and desperate to accept God’s command to ‘RECKON’ on the facts, fully trusting God’s character with the heart (v.11). Then thirdly to ‘YIELD’ to God in a once-for-all act of full surrender and consecration with his will (v.13b)– himself and all his members to God for His purpose, glory and service.
1.KNOW: The first fact to know is that there IS deliverance! The verbs ‘freed’ from sin (6:7) and ‘being made free’ from sin (6:16,22) prove that God does not intend us to suppress sin. He will not deceive us into a make-belief that all will be well, in spite of the fact that we continue in sin! But most Christians do not know that God not only forgives the sinner, but that He also cleanses our hearts and delivers us from SIN! That is why Chapter six opens with the exhortation, amounting to a rebuke – know ye not …? In both cases in 6:3 as well as in 6:16, (following 6;2 and 6:15), St. Paul’s response to the question whether we should continue in SIN is refuted with the strongest possible negative in Greek: ‘God forbid!’ NEB – No! no! Young’s – let it not be! Phillips – what a ghastly thought! Living Bible – of course not! Amp. Bible – certainly not! Wuest – away with the thought … may such a thing never occur! This clearly proves that, as God in His holiness can never allow sin in any form to enter into His holy heaven, likewise also God in His righteousness cannot countenance SIN in the lives of His saints on earth; neither can He, in His sense of justice, excuse it! Therefore He made ample provision to set us free!
The second fact to be known is the difference between SIN and SINS. Please note how St. Paul, in these chapters and verses, emphasizes the very important difference between (the)sin as hard taskmaster in its reign of terror and as the source and origin of the enslaving and contaminating evil principle (v.12,14,20,22). SIN is also presented as a foreign, evil and unwelcome indwelling tenant (v.7:17,20). This is contrary to its multiple fruits – sins (3:25; 4:7), iniquities (4:7) and offenses (4:25). What these Christians in Rome did NOT know is that the Bible teaches that God forgives the sinner his multiple SINS, but that God cannot forgive their SIN… from that He must redeem the sinner and set the captive free!
The letter to the Romans teaches that both forgiveness and deliverance from SIN is by death. Christ died the historical ‘death of the Cross’for us, on our behalf, in order to forgive us sinners our SINS; but He also died the ‘death of the Cross’as us, to deal the death blow to the ‘sinner’ or the share of ‘our old man’ in us! And His will is that it should become an accomplished act of grace in us … NOW … present tense! The historical event of 2000 years ago becomes actual and real in us the moment we become desperate enough and willing to part with ‘our old man’ of sin and become willing to sign its death warrant … by faith reckoning it as having died with Christ when He died! As a Christian I get deliverance the moment I appropriate the fact that my ‘old man’ with all its hateful pride, unbelief, wickedness and depravity was crucified with Christ when He died. I get real deliverance the moment I cast my share of it on the Cross – there to be executed by Christ and removed by His death on the Cross! The death of the Cross is the only kind of death that identifies us with Christ, and Romans 6:7,8 declare that, because ‘we died with Christ’ it is now a fact that we are ‘freed from SIN’!
It is of great importance to understand the meaning of the verb employed to describe this great deed of God’s grace by which our old man is crucified so that (consequently) the body of sin might be destroyed. The meaning of the verb ‘destroyed’ (Greek ‘katargeo’) in verse six may – according to the analyses and comment of some of the most trusted and able language experts and theologians is – to nullify, to make of none effect, to be done away, to ban, to cease to exist, to put out of action andto destroy. Note that the tense is Greek Aorist – denoting an act fully completed in that moment of time when Christ was crucified (2014 years ago) and the fact that our old man was then already, from God’s perspective, crucified with Him, that we who died with Christ (when we personally believed in Him as Saviour) might indeed be freed from sin!
The third fact to be known is that in Chapter six – God’s blueprint on Sanctification – the Holy Spirit, in the first ten verses, employs the Indicative mood for all actions to describe His way of deliverance from sin. This means that all the merits and accomplishments of Christ which on our behalf are being presented to us, are made known as already proven and accomplished facts of history, initially without any command in the Imperative mood. God’s purpose is that these facts should to be known by all, and every Christian seeking holiness should become acquainted with these basic truths and their meaning! (Please read v.1-10 and carefully note how the first mention of a verb as a command (Imperative mood) is only in verse 11.
The forth fact to be known – in addition to noting the difference of use between the Indicative and Imperative moods – is that the student’s attention must also be focused on the correct understanding and use of the tenses of the verbs, especially of those in Chapter six. Carefully consider the use of the tenses … how verbs may be used in the past, present and future tenses. However, it is very significant when the Greek language (in addition to all the other tenses) also employs the Aorist Tense. The Greek Aorist Tense is unique in this respect that it denotes an act that has happened or happens, to be considered as a perfectly accomplished fact and fully completed in a moment of time! The benefit of the New Testament being written in Greek – the only language in which the Aorist Tense appears – is that we may more fully understand and know by what means, when and how adequately God dealt with the origin of this foreign entity of – the sin –how God declares our deliverance from it, and in what manner He applies it to our experience. When we realize our need and His provision, when we know that He is willing and able to deliver us just now, we may trust Him in faith to make His promises real and effective in our experience, He deals with this – our greatest problem of indwelling sin – in a moment of time!
Examples of these striking deeds/facts of God’s grace relating to the deliverance of His people in Chapter six – in both the facts of the Indicative mood and the finality and certainty of the verbs in the Aorist tense – are as follows: ‘died to sin’ (6:2 – lit. Translation); ‘baptized into Christ’ (6:3); ‘raised up’ (6:4); ‘our old man is crucified with Himthat the body of sinmight be destroyed’ (6:6); ‘made free from sin ye became the servants of righteousness’ (6:18); ‘being made free from sin’ (6:22).
2.RECKON: Whereas the first important word in Chapter six is to ‘KNOW’ (v.1-10) the second one is to ‘RECKON’ or count (v.11). In verse eleven we find the very first command – for us to obey – appearing in the Imperative mood and Present tense. With our justification by faith – as we have already explained – God ‘reckoned’ or credited the righteousness of Jesus to our account. Here the facts that were made known (Indicative mood) for our deliverance in the first ten verses must now in faith (present tense and grounded on the trustworthy facts of God’s word, and not on feelings) be ‘reckoned’ (accounted and claimed v.11) by us, thus becoming our present inheritance. The command is in the Imperative mood and present tense, which means that the time to obey has arrived and we must NOW by faith claim what God has promised, as already accounted to our credit – for us to just to take hold of – JUST NOW! Any enlightened Christian who does not obey this command, is without any excuse!
3, YIELD: In sequence to the admonition, to ‘know’ and the command, to ‘reckon’, the third most important word is ‘YIELD’ – also a command. All the verbs in the Imperative mood (commanding mood) in verses 11,12 and 13a, are in the Present Tense, but the one (Imperative) in v.13b – ‘but yield yourselves and your members unto God’ is not Present Tense but Aorist Tense. It proves that the act of honest and full consecration by the Christian in yielding himself and all his members to God happens when, in a once and for all and deliberate act of yielding, he surrenders his ALL, including HIMSELF … the very ‘right to himself’ unconditionally and for ever to God Who takes it and makes him His slave, but with this difference, he becomes the LOVE SLAVE of Jesus Christ! (6:17 – ‘ye have obeyed from the heart’ Read Leviticus.21).
Full surrender in consecrationis man’s part in this crowning stage of the crises act of his sanctification by faith, equal to an everlasting covenant with God, making his experience secure and real! The desperate seeker has counted the cost and yielded his ALL and himself to the saving and keeping power of the faithful and loving God who will never take advantage of his life, or make a ‘mess’ of it! Meditate on this!
The answer and solution to your need – if you are a seeker, is quite clear – seek it in the logic of the truth, the tenses of the verbs and the facts disclosed in the Indicative mood of the first ten verses. Follow the meaning of identification with Christ in His death and resurrection in verses 3-5, with the climax in verse six. Note the three verses where God has promised and declaredto make us free from SIN (6:7,18,22). Admit that it is useless to try to ‘consecrate’ your life to God if He has not yet delivered you from the tyranny of the inward foe! Follow the commands in the Imperative mood from verse eleven onwards and know that when you obey, God is faithful to apply what He has already accomplished on you behalf through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our ultimate concept of sanctification will depend upon the correct interpretation of nouns and phrases, and the way the Holy Spirit uses these to apply it to our understanding, but especially to our hearts, because God primarily talks to the seeker the language of his heart! You need not be ‘clever’ to appropriate God’s blessing of deliverance and cleansing by the Blood of Christ – only honest!
3.2 DELIVERANCE FROM THE LAW – THE PROBLEM SIDE – (Romans 7)
The Key to interpretation of the most important truths which are emphasized in chapters 6-8 of Romans are found on the ‘front door’ of each chapter, in the first verse – ‘Grace’ … ‘Law’ … and ‘Spirit’. Chapter seven is considered by many as a very complicated and contradictory chapter, but in our opinion a very necessary link between chapters six and eight. Its focus is to lead the soul who has tasted of God’s goodness in deliverance from sin in six, and who now yearns for more light and assurance on the fullness of the Spirit in eight safely through dangerous minefields of fruitless works and strenuous self-effort, to the glorious liberty in Christ. The lesson is that under Law I am bound to gain God’s favour and receive His blessings by works … whilst under grace I receive by faith God’s blessings already gained for me by the merits of Jesus Christ who died for me.
The bondage of legalism by which a man vainly seeks to become ‘more holy’ and acceptable in God’s sight by works is a snare of Satan by which many well-meaning Christians are misled. The result is that they are ever clouded with uncertainty, timidity and doubt … leaving them weak in faith and lacking in freshness. A person who is legalistically inclined can be known, usually by being extremely moral, disciplined, well dressed and well-behaved outwardly, but at the same time – in his heart of hearts – very critical, censorious, hard and severe in his judgement and condemnation of others. Such a Christian can never be what God intended – that loving, joyful, unselfish, genuinely interested and easily accessible haven of hope for God where Christians in need and even sinners in despair always feel welcome to go for council and help.
Now note that besides the ‘know ye not’ of deliverance from sin in 6:1, there is still another ‘know ye not’ of deliverance from legalism in 7:1. In chapter seven we have to distinguish between different laws – the ‘law of the husband’ (7:2); the ‘other law in my members’ (v.23); ‘the law of my mind’ (v.23) and ‘the law of sin’ (v.23,26) and how they act and interact. Different and apart from these is God’s unchangeable and spiritual Law which is holy, just and good (v.12,14). Although it is holy and just and good, it cannot save from sin. Romans 8:3 says about the law, ‘it was weak through the flesh’. It is unable to save and deliver the carnal soul, bound by sin. The purpose of God’s Lawis to faithfully reveal SIN and judge the sinner, even the deeply hidden sin, like that of – lust – because it says ‘thou shalt not covet’ (v.7). Sin has to be known and hated as an adverse, wrong and rebellious attitude of life towards others and towards God Himself. It causes sinners to miss the mark of God’s standard of righteousness and so arrogant that it even to do so on purpose!
Note that the Holy Spirit now begins to employ and reveal an altogether new term to the Christian who has already discovered the impact of God’s commands like ‘know … reckon … yield’ in chapter six. There is still another aspect of his humanity, to be reckoned with and to be dealt with, but in a different way than with sin, namely ‘flesh’ (6:19; 7:18,25) or ‘the flesh’ (7:5) and in 7:14 termed – carnality. It appears that the flesh or carnality, in its extreme negative connotation of sinful flesh (8:3) often thrives in that Christian atmosphere where rigid legalism with strict rules and regulations are compulsory, where severe judgement is applied on any transgressor and heartless criticism passed on the behaviour of others. How severely hurtful such an attitude of hardness of heart must be to God’s heart of tenderness and love! A religion relying on the merits of works to gain salvation and achieve success is bound to end in misery and failure! It is Jesus who, by His death condemned sin in the flesh that the righteousness of God might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (8:3,4).
Romans chapter seven also refers to (the)sin no less than 12 times. Other synonyms of THE SIN in this chapter are – the passions of sin (v.5 LITV); lust (v.7 ‘die begeerlikheid’ Afrikaans); all manner of concupiscence … selfish desires (v.8) and the sindwelling in me (v.17,20 LITV, AMP. Bible and GNB).
Let us look at THREE of the MOST COMMON WAYS OF INTERPRETATION OF CHAPTER SEVEN:
- IT IS THE EXPERIENCE OF THE RELIGEOUS, BUT UNSAVED PERSON who yearns after a better and more religious and consecrated life. The ‘I’ or ‘ME’ starting at verse 14 speaks of a Jew who is still under the law, like Saul in his awakened but still unsaved state after witnessing the martyr’s death of Stephen. Such an experience must then be that of an earnestly honest but still seeking moralist. Those who hold this view say that no born again person can be ‘sold under sin’ (v.14) and that even an unsaved person can also say – I delight in the law of God after the inward man (v.22) – because they admire those who keep the law and they themselves would also desire to do likewise.
- IT IS THE NORMAL EXPERIENCE OF ALL WHO ARE BORN AGAIN: According to this view the whole sad, wretched and miserable experience as described in verses 14-24 can and must be applied to be the inevitable fate of all … even that of St. Paul when he wrote this letter! Those who hold this view can obviously not recognise the sharp contrast of their dogma with the message of glorious deliverance and life in the Spirit contained in the adjacent chapters 6 and 8! Apparently they do not or will not distinguish between sins as deeds of transgressionand the sin which as a living, inherited entity ‘dwelleth’ in a person’s bosom and makes him a sinner! They read this chapter out of its context and they confine and limit St. Paul’s experience against their own conviction to equal that of the ‘wretched man’ of verse 24, despite his joyful outcry of being a ‘more than conqueror’ in 8:37. How then will those who cling to this view be able to explain verses like Romans 6:14,22 and 8:2,4, especially in the light of their dismal belief that a life of failure and defeat is forever the fate of all Christians?
Rev. J. Fletcher explains the use of ‘I’ or ‘ME’ in chapter seven: ‘St. Paul does not in any way declare himself a carnal or fleshly person in verse 14, just as he does not declare himself to be a liar in Rom.3:7, neither does St. James declare himself a curser in James 3:9. The purpose of such use of ‘I’ or ‘ME’ in the art of writing – of the use of the first person in the present tense – is to lend more strength to the narrative’.
We concede that Romans 7 could have been St. Paul’s experience since the time when the Holy Spirit convicted him of his lost condition after witnessing the stoning of Stephen until the Holy Spirit filled him three days after his conversion on the road to Damascus. But Romans 7 was by all means not his experience thereafter, because then it would have proved that the new life and liberty which he had found and experienced in Christ, have now plunged him in even greater misery than when he laboured so fervently for ‘the law! Romans Chapter 7 and especially from verse 14 to verse 24 is by all means not meant to be the normal experience of any born again Christian! It may however be the temporal experience of the defeated Christian until he arrives at the revelation of verse 25!
3. ROMANS 7 PRESENT US WITH DIFFERENT PHASES OF SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE: After careful study and consideration we have come to the conclusion that in truth Romans 7 presents us with all three main stages of spiritual experience. Clear distinction may be observed between the spiritual man (1 Cor.3:1) who is delivered from law by being identified with the death of Jesus Christ (7:1-6) … the natural man (1 Cor.2:14) who is judged and convicted by the law (7:7-13) … and the carnal man (1 Cor.1:3) who is conquered by sin that is activated by the law (7:14-24). When presented in such a way no man need be led to despair, but rather to complete and glorious emancipation (7:24,25).
3.2.1THE SPIRITUAL MAN (1 Cor.3:1) – EMANCIPATED FROM THE LAW (7:1-6)
a) Dead to the Law – Where chapter six reveals our emancipation from SIN by using the figure of a slave that is freed from a cruel slave master, chapter seven reveals our emancipation from the Law in a most illuminating figure of a woman (the Christian) under the jurisdiction and bondage to one man (the Law) and then liberated and belonging to another man (Jesus Christ). The one to whom this ‘woman’ is united (the Law) is a good husband but very demanding, exacting, sophisticated and very strict. He demands from her a standard of perfection which she can by no means attain to on account of her own weakness and impotence, but he himself does nothing in the way of assisting and strengthening her. He has a right to all his demands, but unfortunately he has the wrong wife and she is in great distress! Her hopeless position while she is bound for life by the law of the husband … to the first man is aggravated becauseshe realises that only death can separate them. ‘He’ is immune to death, and it is no use attempting a divorce, because he will always still be about watching and mingling in with her business!
Then this desperate ‘woman’ gets acquainted with another (Jesus Christ) and falls in love with Him because, while she realises that His standard is the same and even higher, she knows that if she can be legally fully united to Him, He will be willing and able to assist and enable her to attain to His standard. But the problem is how to be legally separated from the first husband to whom she is bound for life by ‘the law of the husband’? Then she makes a wonderful discovery! If her first husband (the Law) refuses to die, she can die with Christ and thus be legally released from the law of the husband! But the only way to attain to a new life in Him is by being united with Christ and indentified with Him (as it were in a marriage relationship) not only in His death, but also in His resurrection! To this she gladly consented (7:4) and therewith gained freedom from the Law (7:6), fruitfulness to bear fruit to the honour of God (7:4) and fullness of service in newness of the Spirit (7:6)!
3.2.2 THE NATURAL MAN (1 Cor.2:14) – JUDGED AND CONVICTED BY THE LAW (7:7-13)
To remove any misconception that the Law might be unnecessarily sinful (v.7) or unfair (v.13), each verse is followed by the strong negation – God forbid! The Law plays a crucial role in man’s salvation.
(a) It reveals to the sinner his sins and his sinfulness (v.7). ‘I had not known sin but by the Law’. Thank God that the Law reveals to the sinner the true nature of his sin. St. Paul mentions the one sin of lust or coveting that can be hidden deep in one’s heart and covered up whilst outwardly keeping all the other nine commandments! Thus the Law convicts and uncovers sin, even that of a moral person like the rich young ruler when he is weighed in the balances of the law and found wanting.
(b) It activates and sparks off the sin that seems to be loitering and slumbering in the sinner’s bosom to make him/her aware of its presence (v.8,9). Without this consciousness the sinner will ever be eluded into a make-belief of life whilst all the while spiritually dead in sin! Without this function of the law the sinner will never become aware of his/her need of a Saviour!
(c) In its righteousness it judges the sinner with the sentence of death, revealing the deceiving nature of sin and its exceeding sinfulness in taking occasion by the commandment (v.8) and using that which is good (the law v.13) to declare a sentence of death on the sinner and send him/her to hell! Praise God that the Law is holy and just and good, that sinners are shaken wide awake by His holy Law, for there is the hope of salvation only for the awakened and convicted sinner who kneels in contrition at the Cross!
3.2.3 THE CARNAL MAN (1 Cor.1:3) – CONQUERED BY SIN … SLAIN BY THE LAW (7:14-24).
This is the part in Romans 7 where something like a civil war is endlessly raging in the heart of the believer. The real battle is in the inner man (v.22) where this ‘owner’ is in agreement with the Law of God (v.14,16,22,26) with the law of his mind (v.23) … with the desires of his heart (v.19,20) … and with the delights of his emotions (v.22). All this can certainly be said of a truly born again Christian, yet not only the new life through the Spirit is manifested, but also the intruding presence of the opposing principle of – the sin dwelling (that dwelleth) in me – like an persistent, untidy, unwelcome tenant whose evil presence and destructive power causes frustration and despair to the rightful owner!
This ‘owner’ is in a real predicament … for to will is present with me, but to do good I find not … but then he discovers that … it is no more I that do it, but SIN that dwelleth in me’. (v.18-20) and in vers14 he confesses that … I am carnal, sold under sin!’ This ‘owner’s problem is that he/she is still struggling in his/her own strength for deliverance. He/she is yet to discover that neither the commandment of the Law, nor his/her own inner desire, his/her choice of will for the good or all the merits of his own good works can assist, or save and deliver him/her from the SIN that dwelleth in me!
A careful reading of these verses reveal the pathetic predicament of this kind of carnal Christian, because on the top of all his vain efforts, he discovers that there is yet something else besides the law of SIN that causes/forces him to sinagainst his will (v.21) – there is yet another law in his members (v.22) that wars against the law of his mind, bringing him into captivity to the law of sin which is in his members! This ‘other law’ in his members is the new term of ‘flesh’ (v.18,25) or carnality (v.14) that St. Paul now starts to employ, referring to that human or natural part of our humanity which was so degraded by sin that, in its rut of wrong thinking and with the assistance all the evil habits which were established by a sinful life, ‘our members’ became the tools and channels of sin in us … the real allies of inbred SIN!
This ‘owner’ has at last come to the place where he/she can be delivered from this terrible bondage! He/she has discovered – through persistent honest and earnest seeking and praying – that his/her real problem was located in the heredity nature of his/her SIN … that he/she can do nothing to save himself/herself … that nothing or no one else can save him/her. At last his/her desperate cry resounds as a prayer to God in verse 24: O! wretched man that I am! WHO (not ‘what’) shall save me from the body of this death? The Holy Spirit immediately answers this kind of prayer and the light brakes through! Then follows the glorious, triumphant cry of deliverance in verse 25: I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord! HALLELUJA! What a glorious victory!
For Christ has not only freed us from the bondage of the Law on the merits of His holy life; He has also removed the curse and penalty of the broken law by His death on the Cross! ‘There is therefore no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus …’ (8:1). HALLELUJA! What a welcome relief!
When we believe Him and accept deliverance from Him, He establishes another, higher Law in our hearts – the Law of LOVE – and henceforth we gladly and most heartily fulfil the Law of God’s commandments … no longer driven by fear, but motivated by love! HALLELUJA! What a Saviour!
3.3 DELIVERANCE FROM THE FLESH (Chapter 8)
From Romans 5:12-7:6 we have studied the judicial aspect of imparted righteousness but now, in Romans 7:7-8:39, we may study the practical aspect of imparted righteousness. In this latter part we learn more how SIN may still seek to be active in the life of a believer through two of its allies or channels namely, the law and the weak, sinful flesh. This will be true of those who have not yet, through the knowledge of Rom.6:6 and the reckoning and yielding of Rom.6:11,13 discovered and experienced real and practical deliverance from ‘the sin’ in their lives. Romans 8 is the Christian’s declaration of deliverance from condemnation (8:1,2); from defeat (8:5-17); from discouragement (8:18-30); and from fear (8:31-39).
Romans 6-8 does not get stuck only with the justification of the sinner and forgiveness for all his sins and transgressions, but it also deals with his deliverance from the reign, the power and the contamination of ‘the sin’ through the crises of sanctification in the Christian’s life. During the process of sanctification which follows the crises of sanctification and which is described in more detail in chapter eight, the Christian experiences the fruit, the victory and the healthy and sound spiritual growth in the power and fullness of the Holy Spirit during the process of being conformed to the image of Christ (v.29).
Out of the dark and solemn background of the latter part of Romans chapter seven – of civil war and defeat – chapter eight abruptly appears and announces one of the greatest and most glorious VICTORIES in the Holy Scriptures! It is a complete departure, away from the ‘self life’ of defeat, failure and despair to a Spirit-filled and Spirit-controlled life of fruit, power and victory! Now the despairing cry of the ‘wretched man’ of 7:24 becomes the victorious outcry of the ‘more than conqueror’ of the humble Christian (8:37)!
In the previous chapter the issue was about the oft repeated ‘I’ and ‘ME’, and the Holy Spirit is scarcely mentioned but now 19 times – as the ‘Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus’ (v.2) … the ‘mind of the Spirit’ (v.6,27) … the ‘Spirit of God’ (v.9,14) … the ‘Spirit of Christ’ (v.9) … the ‘Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead’ (v.11) … the ‘Spirit of Adoption’ (v.15) … the ‘Spirit Himself witnesses’ (v.16) … the ‘Spirit helpeth our infirmities’ (v.26) … the ‘Spirit itself maketh intercession for us’ (v.26).
3.3.1 THE NEW REIGN – the new ‘law of the Spirit of life through Christ Jesus hath made me FREE from the law of sin and death’ (v.2). The stronger law of the Spirit of life through Christ Jesus takes over the reign, like the rocket that breaks away from the earth with a force stronger than that of gravitation! The result is:-
YOU ARE FREE – No more condemnation by the law, with deliverance from the sense of guilt to those who are IN CHRIST JESUS, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (v.1).
YOU ARE FREE – No more subjection to the law of sin and death! (v.2). When the law of sin and death which was so deeply entrenched in the flesh, rendering us weak and helpless so that none could, in our own strength, achieve the standard required by the law … Christ … in the likeness of sinful flesh, came to condemn SIN in the FLESH, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (v.3).
CHRISTIAN! You should by now be FREE INDEED!!! No more walkingafter the flesh, but after the Spirit (v.3,4)! This walk after the Spirit has the promise (according to Galatians 5:16) that then we need never fulfil the lust of the flesh! It seems impossible for a Spirit filled Christian to continue to walk after the flesh as well as after the Spirit at the same time and still believe that it is possible and that such a ‘walk’ may please God!
3.3.2 THE NEW RULER – THE HOLY SPIRIT (v.5-13)
No other portion of Scripture can be compared with the clear and authoritive teaching concerning the Holy Spirit as it was presented by Jesus, especially in the Gospel of St. John. In addition and next to that, Romans 8 present us with more concentrated teaching on the practical functions of the Holy Spirit as an indwelling Person, powerfully active on our behalf to save and redeem us to the uttermost! His presence and rule affects our whole being – mind, motives andmanners. He demands to be Ruler over all … or no Ruler at all!
When He controls the mind(v.5-7): The meaning of ‘mind’ in these three verses is not restricted to mere careless thinking about some things and ways in a casual way. It rather conveys the idea of affectionately caring for and deliberately chasing and following after certain things and ways of living which we choose to have the pre-eminence in our lives. That is why the terms, ‘after the flesh’ and ‘after the Spirit’ is being used to distinguish between a fleshly minded and spiritually minded person.
In verse five the distinct difference is drawn between those that ‘mind’ and seek (lust after) the things that are after the flesh and those who ‘mind’ (and choose) the things that are after the Spirit. In verse six the danger of those who are carnally ‘minded’ (when their choices have become their lifestyle) is death! On the other hand the blessing of those who are spiritually ‘minded’ (when their choices have become their lifestyle) is life and peace! However the most startling verse is verse seven! The end product or ultimate dagger of ‘the carnal mind’ (when a fixed lifestyle has taken on an unmovable pattern) is enmity with God!!! That means a direct and deliberate stab of rebellion against God!!!
When He controls the motives(v.8,9): Whatever man can ‘mind’ will either please or displease God, but the words in verse eight of ‘they that are IN the flesh’ speaks of something much more serious than mere wrong thinking. It points to an utterly wrong condition and disposition with a wrong ruler in control. This wrong way of thinking, desiring and planning can, according to St. Mark 7:21-23, be traced to its very source – an unclean heart! The good news of verse nine is that the Spirit of God may dwell or abide in the heart cleansed by the blood of Christ. The distinct characteristic of such a person is that the Spirit of Christ has taken over the complete rule of his whole life (v.9).
Henceforth God’s will and kingdom is this man’s main concern and passion!
When He controls the manners(v.10-13): St. Paul considers the fact that we prove the reality and power of the inner law of the new life in Christ, by outwardly demonstrating it in practical deeds through our human bodies, which are the Temples of the abiding Holy Spirit.
There are three aspects of application for the human body to become a disciplined servant, controlled by the Holy Spirit, conforming us to the image of Christ.
The first is in verse ten – ‘if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of (dead to) sin, but the Spirit is life because of (alive unto)righteousness’. The second is in verse eleven – ‘if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken you mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you’. The third, in verse 13, speaks of our continual choice of either living after the flesh – issuing in death, or mortifying the deeds of the body through the Spirit in order to attain unto life! ‘Deeds of the body’ means bad and evil habits have to be identified and changed (by discipline and by the help of the Spirit). Oswald Chambers says bad habits need not praying, they need kicking! These habits have to be mortified and replaced by good habits that will be controlled, beautified and sustained by the Holy Spirit. This is a process that may take time to accomplish, but it will reward the love slave of Jesus Christ with the most precious and beautiful characteristics of his Master.
3.3.3 THE NEW RICHES IN CHRIST (V.14-39)
a. Focus on adoption as sons of God (v.14-16) through the ‘Spirit of adoption’ (v.14,15. Compare also Gal.4:5 and Eph.1:5) whereby the saved ones are called the ‘sons’ (Gr. Uihos – mature sons who inherit and take their inheritance by faith) of God that have the status of a mature child or son with all the rights of an heir, ready and able to inherit and share all the riches of his Father! The privilege of calling God our ‘Abba Father’ means that this ‘son’ has reached a state of maturity in confidence, intimacy and trust in his/her Father that gives him/her the boldness to claim and take the promised inheritance, sharing all its benefits and treasures as joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. Gone now is the ‘spirit of bondage’ … of merit by works that held him/her captive under the law. The ‘Spirit of adoption’ has liberated and translated him/her into another relationship and the Spirit witnesses with his/her spirit that he/she is a childof God (v.16). This maturity in faith has nothing to do with the timing of our new birth, but with the quality of an intimate relationship of a loving child towards his/her generous and loving Heavenly Father, trusting that He will never withhold any of His necessary blessings from the child of His heart!
b. Focus on adaption as sons of God (v.17-27) in possessing our possessions. The mighty and glorious deliverance and transformation that takes place when sinners become the sons of God has brought hope and expectation that the groaning creation in its totality will eventually also be liberated from its bondage of corruption and transformed into the glorious liberty of the children of God (v.21. Compare also Heb.2:10,11).
Note the ‘groaning’ of the whole creation in pain (verse 22). God has ordained that the revelation of His glory to all that He has created can only be achieved in and through redeemed humanity (‘so that now to the rulers and powers in the heavenlies might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God’ Eph.3:10). The whole creation is groaning in pain while it awaits that glorious day when God will restore, cleanse and heal all that which the devil has marred and polluted by sin. May the day soon dawn when the whole creation will be liberated and healed from every footprint and scar of sin and restored to God’s original plan and purpose!
Note also the ‘groaning’of ourselves within ourselves, waiting for the adoption to wit the redemption of our body. The groaning within ourselves is for the liberation of our earthly tabernacle with all its limitations and infirmities, subjected to pain and mortality. But we hope for the appearance of Christ in glory, ‘who shall change our body of humiliation so that it may be fashioned like His glorious body, according to the working of His power, even to subdue all things to Himself’ (Phi.3:21).
Lastly the ‘groanings’(Gr. Stenagmos a very strong emotion, equal to a pain stricken sigh from the heart v.26; Compare Acts 7:34) of the Spirit, is in helping our infirmities as He makes intercession for us according to the will of God. What a glorious truth that the Holy Spirit intercedes for the saints with groanings which cannot be uttered in human words, but with the full knowledge of their need and according to God’s good and perfect will for all His saints!
c. Focus on the awards for the sons of God (v.28-39) in:
Their destination unto glory(v.28-39):
In these verses we have the eternal purposeof God in absolute control of all things, to work together for good in the lives of His saints (v.28), the perfect patternof God in conforming His saints into the image of Christ (v.29) and the ultimate pleasureof God in calling, justifying and perfecting His saints in glory (v.30).
Their determination to attain unto glory(v.31-39): Thus:
In verses 31-32 we have the foundation of hope– if God is for us – who can be against us?
In verses 33-34 we have the fullness of hope – our Redeemer has died for us; He has risen from the grave and has been exalted at the right hand of God; He now makes intercession for us! Therefore no one has the right, any longer to condemn us or to lay a charge against us! God’s saints are indeed safe and secure!
In verses 35-39 we have the finality of hope – by being made more than conquerorsby Him Who first loved us. The One whose love will never diminish or fail, whatever the risks, dangers, trials or temptations which will beset us or the enemies that will rise up against us!
This latter portion of Romans chapter eight – from verse 28 to the end – should be studied by every saint of God and learnt off by heart! It should often be repeated and quoted! It is the language and creed of the liberated and victorious saint, empowered and sustained by the Holy Spirit not to be a loser, but a more than conqueror for God’s honour in the resurrection power of Christ Jesus our Lord! HALLELUJA!
4. RIGHTEOUSNESS DEMOLISHED (Romans 9-11)
4.1 ISRAEL’S HISTORICAL ELECTION (Chapter 9)
4.2 ISRAEL’S PRESENT REJECTION (Chapter 10)
4.3 ISRAEL’S FUTURE EXPECTATION (Chapter 11)
As we deal here with the election of a nation, it becomes clear that God had a very special purpose with a certain nation – with Israel – to the extent of Israel being the nation by which God intended to bless all other nations. It was ever God’s purpose that the Messiah should sprout from the seed of the woman (Gen.3:15). Then halfway through from the time of Eve until the appearance of Christ, the call of God came to Abraham, and as he believed and obeyed he became the forefather of the Jews, or the nation of ‘Israel’. He believed in God and it was counted unto him for righteousness (Gen.15:6). ‘With him was established the covenant of grace, so that the blessing of Abraham might be tothe nations in Jesus Christ, and that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith … And to Abraham and to his Seed the promises were spoken. It does not say, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, "And to your Seed," which is Christ’(Gal.3:14,16).
It becomes clear that St. Paul, the hated and persecuted Apostle to the Heathen, is much burdened with his kinsmen after the flesh – the Jews – and he assures them of his care and love for them and his sincere passion that they should believe in Jesus and accept Him as their Messiah. St. Paul emphasizes his deep concern for them in lieu of their relationship to God. He does it so strongly – to the extent of his willingness of himself being made a castaway – if only they could thereby be saved! St. Paul’s heart bleeds for his people! In presenting this study, he defends God’s character in stressing His faithfulness and grace bestowed on them in the past. He mentions God’s sovereign wisdom in electing them as a nation (chapter 9); His righteous dealings in making and holding them responsible (chapter 10) and His eternal and divine purpose, that in due time His grace might be extended to all nations through the Messiah (chapter 11).
We would like to add a note here on the teaching in connection with the election/predestination of the individual for this reason only, that here the names of certain individuals are mentioned, but only in context of the main theme in these chapters – of Israel’s election with the purpose of becoming a means of blessing to all nations. The teaching here is that God’s purpose in the election of certain individuals was mostly in connection with their calling to announce, prepare the way or becoming part of the execution of God’s plan for the coming of the Lord Jesus, the Messiah for the Jews and the Christ for all Nations.
(Whenever the Bible speaks of the election/predestination of the individual for heaven there is only ONE who qualified unconditionally and that is Jesus Christ, the Son of God who became the Son of man according to God’s eternal plan of redemption. ‘And all those dwelling in the earth will worship it, those of whom the names had not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb having been slain from the foundation of the world’.(Rev.13:8 Literal Translation). There is no proof that God has never intended to elect and foreordain certain individuals for eternal salvation and certain others for eternal doom! The only place in which any individual can be certain of his/her election is ever ‘in Christ’ and the only way is to be saved by God’s grace through faith in the merits of the blood of Jesus Christ. (Rom.3:24)‘… being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus’).
In connection with the election of many – God has ordained that all the saints (‘the called-out ones’) as a group, together with Jesus – all those who are‘in Christ’ – belong to and form part of the company of His beloved church, His body, His holy temple and His heavenly bride. ‘According as He chose usin Himbefore the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love’ The main purpose in election is ever – that we should beholy andwithout blame before Him in love (Eph.1:4).
4.1 ISRAEL’S HISTORICAL ELECTION(Chapter 9)
Romans 9 is one of the great chapters on God’s election of a nation, with a special purpose.
4.1.1Israel received God’s special blessings (v.4,5). No less than eight of these benefits are mentioned to remind them of God’s care which He had graciously bestowed upon them. These are – ‘They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption (as God’s children), the glory(the cloud, the fire, the deliverance from Egypt and the miracles in the wilderness),the covenants (with the patriarchs and the prophets – Jer.31:33), the giving of the law (by Moses), the worship (the Tabernacle and the Temple)and the promises (concerning the coming of Messiah); to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever’. Israel did not realize the extent of their privileges and responsibility. Because of their unbelief they rejected their Messiah!
4.1.2Israel is also reminded of God’s unique wisdom (v.6-13). Here we meet with a very important truth in connection with God’s purpose in electing to bless a nation and through them, other nations. Verse six stresses the fact that ‘not all Israel are of Israel’… only a small minority. This was ever the case in connection with Israel. God’s election never included all the multitudes of Israel, but only to ‘The Israel of God’ (Gal.6:16) or to that small minority, or ‘remnant’ (more than 50 times repeated in the O.T. Is.1:9; 10:21,22; Rom.9:27; 11:5) consisting of the devoted, believing and obedient company of people in Israel! St. Paul argues that never ever was all Israel God’s elected people, but only that small ‘remnant’ of the faithful, believing ones within the visible nation. To prove his statement he chooses the examples of some of their first ancestors.
184.108.40.206 Not both the sons of Abraham were counted heirs of the ‘promise’ … not the first born, Ishmael after the flesh, but Isaac the youngest who was born after the Spirit. He was elected heir of the promise. He became the second main ancestor of the Jewish nation after Abraham.
220.127.116.11 But the Jew could argue that God elected Isaac because Ishmael was born of the slave woman and Isaac of Sarah, Abraham’s legitimate wife. To answer this objection St. Paul takes another example, namely of one woman only – Rebecca – wife of Isaac. Her sons were moreover twins and again God selects only one … and against all tradition, again not the first born as was the custom but Jacob, the second son, so that in this case also no merit of works or of descent could count (v.11). Jacob became the third main ancestor of the Jewish nation after Abraham and Isaac.
4.1.3 Israel has no reason to accuse God of being unrighteous (v.14-29). ‘What shall we say then? Is there not unrighteousness with God? Let it not be!’ (v.14). St. Paul now continues to respond with a stunning argument – God is sovereign … He can do whatever pleases Him and no human can fully understand or ever know the riches of His grace, wisdom, majesty, purpose and power!
The majestic wonder is that God’s election of a nation does not exclude His free salvation or withhold His saving grace from any individual. Even Ismael (Gen.17:20) and Esau (Gen.27:39) were blessed of God. Esau was blessed with temporal prosperity (Gen.33:9) and he even forgave his brother Jacob. But both these elder sons, in this context, missed the opportunity and privilege to become heirs of the ‘promise’ and ancestors of the Jewish nation.
4.1.4 Israel dare not retain God’s favour only for themselves (v.25-29). In verses 25 and 26 St. Paul stresses the fact that the Heathen, in like manner as the Jews, could be candidates to be incorporated into God’s plan and purpose of blessing all the nations of the earth. He quotes the very appropriate and parallel passages in Hosea 1:10 and 2:22. The Jews called the Heathen dogs but Jesus, although He uses the same term as He addresses a heathen woman in Mark.7:24-30, also extends His grace to her! Both the Heathen and the Jew become united by faith in one bodyin Christ, jointly becoming His Church, exalted by Him to a position and status far above anything that the nation of Israel could ever attain to!
In verse 30 St. Paul states the fact that the nations who did not follow after righteousness (seek it by works), have acquired the righteousness that is by faith, whereas – Israel – who have sought it by the works of the law, did not receive it. To them Christ became a Stumbling block and a Rock of offence (v.31-33). The Chapter ends with this glorious statement: ‘every one believing on Him shall not be put to shame’.
4.2 ISRAEL’S PRESENT REJECTION (Chapter 10)
4.2.1 Reasons for rejection (10:1-7)
a. Their defective understanding (v.2): Since Israel’s restoration from exile they were permanently cured from idolatry, but then they took hold of the outward ‘letter’ of the law to follow it with so much zeal that they added many more rules and regulations of their own making to it. They were blinded and ignorant of God’s way of righteousness by faith in Christ Jesus and chose to depend on keeping the law of works in trying to attain to their own concept of righteousness.
b. Their defective submission (v.3): ‘For being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to the righteousness of God’. Their pride in trusting in the merits of their own works left them ignorant and prevented them to submit to God and accept God’s grace as His free gift to undeserving servants who come to Him empty handed, trusting in Him alone for their salvation.
c. Their defective surrender (v.4): Jesus Christ ALONE is the ‘fulfilling’ and end of the law! By NOT receiving Him their so-called surrender would always be half-hearted, defective, incomplete and uncertain, for the law will always find them guilty and constantly burden them with a sense of guilt.
d. Their defective discernment (v.5-7): Until this very day the nation of Israel still question the incarnation and Christ’s resurrection from the dead. In vain they continue to seek more signs and more proofs to bolster their unbelief. As in the wilderness they continue to ask: ‘Can God …?’
4.2.2 Restoration from rejection (10:9-14)
a. The Word of Faith (v.8-10): This Word of Faith is near every man, in his mouth and in his heart; therefore there is no excuse. The condition is to confess the Lord Jesus with your mouth, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, and the promise is – you shall be saved!
b. The Wonder of Grace(v.11-13): Everyonewho believe on Him and whoever shall call on His Name will be saved for there is no differencebetween Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call on Him. For everyone – whoever shall call on the name of the Lord will be saved. It is therefore not our labour of works, but the NAME on which we call that saves.
4.2.3 Results of rejection (v.11-24)
a. The Gospel is preached to all (v.14-15): ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things’!(Is.52:7; Nahum 1:15). The message of the messenger who brought the message that God will judge Nineveh was ‘glad tidings’ to the Jews. Likewise the message that everyone and whoever hears and believes the Gospel will be saved, is glad tidings to all nations.
b. The Gospel was rejected (v.16-18): Israel rejected God’s ‘glad tidings’ – the Gospel. They refused to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their Messiah, and God rejected them! Israel sought a Lion on the Throne to deliver them from their political oppressors, but God gave them a Lamb on the Cross to deliver them from something much worse – from their SIN. Him they rejected!
c. The Gospel was taken away from them (v.19-20): Moses and Isaiah prophesied about the folly of Israel’s rejection and how God then revealed His grace to heathen nations with the purpose of provoking the nation of Israel to jealousy, but it was all in vain except for the positive response of the remnant in Israel when Jesus did appear.
d. The Gospel is available to all (v.21): This rebuke of Godto Israel when He says, "All day long I have stretched forth My hands to a disobeying and gainsaying people" reveals God’s mournful, broken and waiting heart for Israel until they repent and be saved. Who can say how long those ‘hands’ will still beckon them to come? There is still hope for them, as we shall see in the following chapter.
4.3 ISRAEL’S FUTURE EXPECTATION(Chapter 11)
In this chapter St. Paul calls upon five witnesses to confirm that God still has a purpose with Israel.
a. The Apostle himself (v.1): The greater part of the first bulk of believers were Jews, like St.Paul himself. In prophesies like Zachariah 12:10, Acts 1:11; 3:19 and Rev.1:7 there is an indication that God will still bestow His mercy upon Israel as the nation who first rejected and crucified Him. It is however certain that there is no other way for any man to be saved – even for the Jews – but by believing in Jesus!
b. The reminder of Elijah (v.2-10): Read verses 2-6 carefully. Again it is the sifted remnant or that minority within the nation (v.4,5) that were saved because they believed! Those who did not accept God’s way of salvation became hardened of heart (v.7), morally unresponsive (v.8,9) and spiritually blinded (v.10).
c. The other nations (v.11-15): His prayer is that God’s favour and blessing to the gentiles will provoke the Jews to jealousy so that they too may turn again and be reconciled to God. The argument is that if by Israel’s ‘slipping away’ salvation, riches and blessing came to the nations, how much more will their possible restoration result in abundant life and blessing to the whole world – like life from the dead!
d. Their Ancestors (v.16-24): If the firstfruit (their forefathers) of the lump (the nation of Israel) is holy and likewise – if the root (their forefathers) be holy, then also the branches (the nation) must be holy. But now – what happened was that some of the branches of the olive tree (Israel)were broken off so that the branches of the wild olive tree (gentiles) might be grafted in on the olive tree. It makes no difference whether the ‘branches’ consist of Jews or Gentiles or all combined – all are by faith grafted into the ‘root’ which is holy! And IF the root be Christ – all the branches or saved ones are holy! Please note the two very significant ‘Ifs’ in verses 22 and 23! Each signifies the condition on which – the Heathen – when they accept salvation by faith and receive it by grace, and IF they continue in the kindness of God. Likewise the Jews – IF they do not continue in unbelief – they will again be grafted in. These verses reveal the reality and solemnity of human responsibility, either to accept or reject God’s offer of grace to believe in His Son, Jesus Christ.
e. The Almighty, unchanging God (v.25-26): God with His perfect timing (v.25); His promise (v.26); His covenant (v.26,27) of grace (v.30-32) and His omnipotence (v.33-36) keeps an open door for everyone and whoever who would come – even to Israel as a nation – IF they be willing to comply to the condition of looking to Jesus Christ and acknowledge Him as their Messiah!
These three wonderful chapters inspires, activates and secures great expectation in the hearts of God’s people – also for His nation Israel – so much so that they end with a jubilant song of praise!
5. RIGHTEOUSNESS DEMONSTRATED(Romans 12-15:7)
Thus far St. Paul has firmly established fundamental principles which must now be more extensively expanded to cover the outworking thereof in the practical issues of life and service. For the ‘new man in Christ’ to be a ‘more than conqueror’ must now be proved in practice in:-
5.1 THE SACRIFICE OF THE HUMAN BODY (Romans 12:1,2)
The believer in Christ has not suddenly become a superhuman being without a mission or a calling, sticking his head in the clouds while walking on earth. Though not FROM the world, he is still IN the world, and his human body is the frontier by which he exhibits the virtues of his newfound abundance of divine life. Through the channels of his bodily members this new treasure of life in the Spirit must in detail be outwardly manifested in all his actions and reactions – even unto his very fingertips, customs and attitudes. His body is the exhibition mirror by which the power, the glory and the beauty of the new life must be reflected. As a emancipated, well disciplined and submissive servant, the body must continue to be readily available for the use of its master. That means the liberated saint is under the control of the Holy Spirit.
The body is also the ‘battle-ground’ where the conflict between ‘the flesh’ and ‘the Spirit’ can still be raging. By yielding his body as a vessel or instrument of righteousness to God, the saint has deliberately chosen that his body should henceforth be the dwelling place and the workshop of the Holy Spirit. With the Spirit in control, the lawful fulfilling of all our natural God-given appetites and desires will be to God’s glory and contribute to our welfare and happiness. But evil desires and the sinful lusts of ‘sinful flesh’ must surely and efficiently be mortified – for God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh(8:3). By the divine power of the indwelling Holy Spirit and by the free choice, determination and discipline of the saint, the outcome of the battle will be decided! Under divine control the glory of the risen Christ will fill, transform and adorn this vessel of clay which is your body, until a strong resemblance with Jesus, the Son of God will be clearly manifested and noticed by the onlooker.
This call of the Apostle – in the imperative mood, is an urgent appeal that by the mercies of God (how kind of Him!) the believer present/yield (Aorist tense – a once and for all act) his body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable (or well-pleasing) unto God which is to be his reasonable service (the least that can be expected)! This act of presenting or yielding is equal to the sacrifice by the priest at the holy altar – a very solemn and fearful, but meaningful ceremony! The reason why St. Paul repeats the same command here as in 6:13 (although here it is not a severe command but rather a tender call or an urgent appeal), is that it must be clear how important it is that also the human body must be considered/included in the total yielding of a life in consecration unto God. This emphasis is because the human body is the outward and visible replica of the inward glory and image of Christ to the world. Whilst the yielding is a once and for all and perfectly accomplished act, consecration is the necessary, daily ongoing process. By faith and obedience the blessing of God’s presence and power is maintained – not by signs and wonders, nor by feelings or emotion!
In spite of the fact that the human body has been misused, marred and weakened under the dominion of that hard taskmaster – THE SIN – it is still God’s unique purpose and pleasure to revitalize it into something pure and beautiful under new control, under the jurisdiction of the indwelling Holy Spirit. If the mark of the Creator is still so amazingly obvious in the original construction of this body of our humiliation, then how much more glorious will He reconstruct it to be fit and ready for His permanent abode! We should honour and adore Him for such a marvellous gift, take good care of it and gladly yield it into His safe keeping and control, for Him to ‘help Himself to it’ at any time and way, for His glory! When in Hebrews 10:5-7 Christ said, ‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but You have prepared a body for Me’ – He also said, ‘Lo, I come to do Your will, O God’ – to yield His body as a sacrifice to God. That kind of sacrifice is ever the way of the corn of wheat – to fall into the ground, die and bring forth much fruit!
5.2 THE SERVICE OF THE MYSTICAL BODY (12:2-21)
In verses 2 and 3 St. Paul admonishes the believer not to beconformed to this world! He advises the believer to attend to a totalrenewal of his mind by which he will be able to prove and discern that good and pleasing and perfect will of God. With an attitude of humility he must set his mind to be right-minded because histhinking pattern will influence his whole life. ‘As a man thinks, so is he’!
The marvellous construction of the human body … the amazing unity, mutual dependence, support and interaction of all its members – and the smooth co-ordination of all under the one head, is often used by the Apostle as an illustration of the Church with all its members and with Christ as the Head. ‘so we the many are one body in Christ, and each one members of one another’.
The function of this mystical ‘Body’ with Christ as Head, is to follow the footsteps of Jesus in serving others and to carry the good news of the Gospel of God’s love and saving grace to those who have to hear! Seven special gifts is provided by the Spirit of God (v.6-8) to empower the saints and enable them to serve God and humanity with integrity, love, passion, patience, hospitality and prayer (v.9-21).
Amongst all the commands how to act and ‘do’ all things, there are several significant warnings or ‘do nots’ which we must heed … ‘without hypocrisy … not slothful … do not curse … not minding high things … Repay no one evil for evil … not avenging yourselves … do not be overcome by evil’.
The main emphasis in these practical prescriptions which reminds us of the lessons we find in the Sermon of the Mount is that LOVE must be supreme, that LOVE must conquer, that LOVE must reign and overflow, and that LOVE must endure … under all circumstances, until the end!
5.3 THE SOUND BASIC PRINCIPLES (13-16)
When we come to study these last practical chapters we become aware of the high standard of a life of holiness, integrity and overflowing love which is required from each member of the ‘Body’ of Christ. The main emphasis and focus is still on LOVE as the most outstanding virtue, as the essential equipment and as the one mighty conquering power for the saint whose one desire is to please the Master, and serve others.
a. Subjection to the higher authorities (13:1) with the condition that they do not require the Christian to deny the Lord and forsake His principles, is the duty of every Christian as a means of testimony to the world.
b. Fulfilling the Law: ‘Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves another has fulfilled the Law. Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not bear false witness; do not lust; and if any other commandment, it is summed up in this word, You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ (13:8). ‘Love works no ill to its neighbor, therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law’ (13:10).
c. Put on: ‘Put onthe armor of light … put on the Lord Jesus Christ’ (v.12,14). The safest armourment!
d. Consider the weak brother: Special care must be taken not to cause the weak brother to stumble, but rather to encourage, help and strengthen his faith. Take care not to judge those who may differ on secondary issues, for in primary issues unity will always be possible. ‘Thenlet us not judge one another any more, for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit’(14:1,17).
When we arrive at the closing chapters we notice with pleasure how many precious promises are presented and repeated by the writer. St. Paul adds his own testimony to confirm and verify the truth and strength of any such promise. Of special value is the three-fold description of the tender and faithful side of the character of God in St. Paul’s greetings to his fellow-workers and in his prayers for all the saints:
‘And may the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like minded toward one another according to Christ Jesus’(15:5).‘And may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit’ (15:13). ‘And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you’(16:20). Amen.