New Moon Meeting: October 2004, 3:13 EST
Romans: Chapters 1 – 8
Qinael: Alright, I think we are ready to begin...
Zahakiel: All right. Would you like to start us with a prayer, then?
Father, we come before you humbly this day asking your blessing upon us and our fellowship... We ask that your presence be with us, and that we all be in the spirit of the New Moon, meekness, humility, and self searching. We pray that our hearts and minds be open to receive all that you have for us, and that it be a blessing to all that take part. In Yahshua’s name, amen.
Zahakiel: Amen :)
Pastor “Chick”: Amen.
Zahakiel: All right, thank you for the prayer. Now, before we begin the actual study, pastor would like to share a burden he has told me about just before we started. Go ahead, pastor.
Pastor “Chick”: Greetings to all...
I have noticed from time to time that some have taken what could be considered a “common” view of the “New Moon Festival”...
I was shown early in this movement that the New Moon doctrine is critical to our growth into the “full stature of Christ.” It is not unlike that season of refreshing that the early disciples (the 120 in the upper room) experienced when they received the “early rain.” It is important to remember that the New Moon will be observed, that is kept, in the New Earth, and during the 1000 years prior... So, for all CSDAs and for all seeking membership in the ranks of the Remnant, this Festival carries much weight and should not be lightly regarded.
Thank you for hearing my burden. :)
Pastor “Chick”: Oh, one more thing... We are in the “time of the latter rain” now... and this is the time when the “fruit” is “ripened” for the final harvest. The New Moon experience is what assists in that “latter rain” process. :)
Zahakiel: Right :) Thank you; I will add it to the official transcript of the meeting, because I believe it’s an important thing to keep in mind.
Pastor “Chick”: That’s all for now, and if any would like Bro. David to give us a study on this, he can do so.
All right, so let’s get started with the study for this meeting:
At the feast, I was asked if I could go over Romans 7, to look at what Paul was really saying in that very-familiar passage of Scripture. With so many things going on I never really got the chance, so I thought it would be a good idea if we went through it for our New Moon meeting this month.
I’ve already written a couple of articles that deal with that chapter, specifically the one or two verses that are often used to cast doubt on the Victory message, and so I will draw a little from those. At the same time, what I want to do is run through the main ideas in all of the book of Romans, so we will see beyond a shadow of a doubt the common thread that runs through all of Paul’s epistle.
Essentially, then, this will be a summary and discussion of the book of Romans, at least up to chapter 8, with special attention being paid to the last three chapters. You will see, by looking at the Book as a whole, exactly how the thoughts flow together.
I had planned also to share with you some of my recent readings about the contents of 1 John, which has also been discussed recently, since it deals with the same topic. But as Romans is such an important study, and so is 1 John, I may do with that Book next month what I am doing with Romans now, and that way we may understand everything as fully as we can.
Zahakiel: Everybody okay with this?
Zahakiel: Okay. So then here are the highlights of Romans 1 – 8, and feel free to follow along in any Bibles you have handy, because I won’t simply read the Book through, and will skip some verses. But if, at any time, there are questions that are relevant to what we’re looking at, please ask. If there are any questions not very related, please hold unto them and we can deal with them after the formal meeting.
So let’s begin.
Zahakiel: Paul starts the letter by introducing himself, and saying that he is writing about the Gospel of Yahweh. Specifically, “Concerning His Son Yahshua the Messiah, our Lord, which was made of the Seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of Yah with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” (Romans 1:3, 4)
He then begins, almost immediately, speaking about the power of the Gospel itself, the Good News that was revealed from Heaven through the Son. He explains that the Gospel is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)
The phrase “to the Greek” is important, and Paul has begun by saying that the message is for “all nations” up in verse 5. Romans speaks to the universality of the Gospel, that it is for everyone, as we will see in the chapters coming up. It talks about the sacrifice of Christ being for all men, and Paul stresses this in the rest of Chapter 1.
He explains that Yah has revealed Himself in visible ways to everyone, not just the Jews, and so those who turn to idolatry have no excuse, and he describes in some detail the results of turning from the worship of the One True God to “corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.” (verse 23)
The results of this, as he describes them, include all manner of unrighteousness, homosexuality, covetousness, murder, disobedience to parents... Yes, this one is listed right alongside “haters of God” and betrayers. It is not a small matter to the Father that humans respect their parents and elders.
Zahakiel: But as bad as these things are in those who have never heard the Good News, Paul turns in chapter 2 to speak of those who should know better. He writes, “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.” (Romans 2:1)
Essentially, if we judge the things listed in chapter 1 to be unrighteous, yet do them, we stand under our own condemnation – and it is as Christ said, “by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matthew 12:37), and “He that believeth on [Christ] is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)
So Paul writes, “And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?” (Romans 2:3) Now, he is speaking of willful sin.
Zahakiel: Now yes, Paul is writing to those who are attending a Church; the question then is... are these to whom this specifically applies actually converted yet? That is answered as we read further...
Paul goes on, and I will repeat verse 3 for the full thought, “And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” (Romans 2:3-5)
Zahakiel: Now, there is a great difference between those who read the Bible, and those who believe in the victory over sin reading the Bible. Through the promises of Christ, we see it plainly... Paul is writing to say that those who are committing willful sin have not yet found repentance (they are “impenitent”). They are in fact harboring up wrath in the judgment, unless they allow the “goodness of God” to lead them to the place where their hearts will change.
The chapter goes on to declare that this same principle applies to both Jew and Gentile, just as the Gospel – which is the cure for this condition – applies to both.
Zahakiel: Everyone understanding so far?
Zahakiel: Let me sum it up: Here we see the intentions of Paul’s letter coming through, he is setting a contrast between those who deliberately commit acts of unrighteousness, and those who have received the Gospel in faith. And it doesn’t matter if the individual is Jewish or Gentile according to the flesh.
The promises given to Abraham, Paul concludes in Chapter 2, belong to anyone who follows the faith of Abraham, “For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” (Rom 2:28, 29)
Chapter 3 continues this theme for a time, and it begins to focus on the fallen state of man who has not yet found the truth. Paul writes, “As it is written, ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.’” (Rom 3:10 – 12) “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (verse 20)
And now, after Paul has set the stage by talking about the depravity of man, he proceeds on to one of his most quoted (and misquoted) verses. He gives us the good news – “But now the righteousness of Yah without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of Yah which is by faith of Yahshua the Messiah unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Yahshua.” (verses 21 – 24)
Zahakiel: That most-misquoted verse is 23, which reads, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Often, very often, we come upon people who read that as, “for all sin and come short of the glory of God.” It may be true that “none ... seeketh after God” of his own power, yes... but immediately afterwards Paul provides the solution, that “apart from the law” Christ manifested to us the love of the Father.
Now, this doesn’t mean that the love He showed does away with the law, although some have used it that way. It means that according to the law, we should all be destroyed, but “apart from the law” or beyond what the letter of the law would allow, Yahweh allowed us repentance, salvation through the sacrifice of Another. Again, this is necessary to ALL, both Jew and Gentile, and Paul has been setting the stage for this since chapter 1, because “all have sinned.”
We, having inherited the sinful nature of Adam, were born with a tendency toward evil and not good. This is the reason why none seek Yah on their own. Some believe that nothing changed in our spirits, in the nature of man, when our First father sinned, but that is contradicted by the fact that God’s own creation can no longer seek Him without divine assistance. This was not the “very good” plan that was intended.
So here Paul says, “all have sinned,” thus all need a Savior. It does not say all continue to sin, certainly not willfully, because Paul just spent almost an entire chapter explaining that those who continue in willful sin after hearing the truth have set themselves up for wrath. These people need to repent and be converted, not “work on it” until they get their lives up to some imaginary standard they set for themselves. Yahweh’s standard is perfection, and He has given us the Perfect Gift by which we may lay claim to it. There is no other way than to accept it, claim it and then live it.
Zahakiel: Because of this, and specifically because of this, Paul concludes chapter 3 saying that we cannot boast of our own works or achievements. No matter how much we may improve or get better outwardly, we cannot be justified by what we do, whether we have heard the Gospel or not. “Where is boasting then? It is excluded [left out]. By what law? Of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” (Rom 3:27, 28, 31)
Now, those who teach that the 10 Commandments are passed away have a real problem here. See what Paul is explaining. When we become converted, when we accept Christ into our lives, we actually acknowledge that the law is binding. It is only because the law is the standard of righteousness vs. sin that there IS “sin” from which we need to be saved. If the Cross had made the Law void, conversion itself would have no effect, because conversion establishes that the law cannot be changed, and that we are guilty of transgressing that very law. And about what “law” is Paul talking here? As we will see shortly in chapter 7, it is the very law expressed in the Decalogue.
Zahakiel: Are there any questions so far? I want to make sure everyone understands that point... because it can be subtle.
Qinael: I am following.
Zahakiel: When we are converted, we are actually admitting that the law is valid, because that is what makes us “guilty.”
Pastor “Chick”: Yes.
Rachel: David, who did he write this letter to?
Zahakiel: He wrote it to the members of the Church in Rome.
Zahakiel: To summarize what we’ve looked at so far, we are in Chapter 3. Paul begins by speaking about the Gospel, and explaining that by God’s Spirit in the world, men are without excuse for sin. And this goes especially for those who know better, who know the law and understand what God’s principles of right and wrong are. He discusses the fact that “all have sinned,” and so all need a Savior, and he continues in this way through chapter 3, preparing readers for what he discusses next, the fallen nature of man.
We concluded chapter 3 by showing that Paul’s statement “we establish the law” points out that those who are converted are actually assenting to the law as binding. This is because it is by the “law” that men are shown to be guilty, and it is the law that defines sin vs. righteousness. But there is more to be said on that, as we look at chapter 4.
Chapter 4 makes the point that although the law makes us guilty, it is not obedience to the law that saves us. Solomon tells us, “That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.” (Ecclesiastes 1:15)
Understand this clearly, once someone transgresses the law, he becomes guilty of the law. If I kill someone and then I decide it was a bad idea, and promise never to kill anyone else again, I have still committed a crime, and I cannot avoid the punishment simply because I decide to obey after that point. Those who try to be righteous before the Father without fully accepting the Son are trying to do just that.
In Chapter 4 Paul points out that Abraham was justified by faith, not by works such as circumcision, which was a physical sign of his covenant with the Almighty. Abraham went through a great trial, and displayed great faith, “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to the Almighty; And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Yahshua our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” (Romans 4:20 – 25)
Now here is where the faith of Abraham is similar to the faith of Yahshua by which we live. Abraham made the promises of Yahweh his “reality.” He could not see how his son would give him descendants, because he was about to sacrifice him. Yet, even though he did not see how it could happen, he believed anyway, because God promised.
Paul is showing great skill here in the way he writes... drawing from examples and then flowing forward to his point. Many who hear the victory message turn away, because they cannot “see” how they will be able to obey the rest of their lives. Yet if Yahweh was able to resurrect His Son, and if necessary to resurrect Isaac, what do we have to fear, or what reason have we to doubt, if we choose to become dead to self? What our Father has promised, He is able to perform. If we believe that, then just like Abraham it will be imputed (or accounted) to us for righteousness. Abraham is held up in this chapter as an example for Christians.
Zahakiel: Chapter 5, a beautiful chapter, then goes into the blessings of accepting the Gospel, the benefits of having true faith. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with Yahweh through our Lord Yahshua the Messiah.” (Rom 5:1)
And not just peace, we have also joy in the glory of Yah (verse 2), glory even in trials (verse 3), experience and hope (verse 4), confidence and love in our hearts. (verse 5) He goes on to say that these gifts are completely underserved, “But Yah commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
And here is the great “Equation of Salvation,” “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,” (Rom 5:12) and “if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one Man, Yahshua the Christ, hath abounded unto many.” (verse 15) He says it again two verses later to make sure we don’t miss it: “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Yahshua the Christ.” (verse 17)
Zahakiel: Is everyone understanding this? Here is corporate accountability.
I am, yes.
Israfel: :-) Yes, I am.
Zahakiel: Is anyone not understanding this?
Barbara: Still reading.
Dumah: It says, “in that all have sinned”...
Mark C.: Yes, I understand.
Dumah: So the corporate aspect is via the influence of the sinful actions; and salvation comes through the influence of Yahshua’s righteous actions. Does that sound corporate?
Rachel: David, you lost me when you said “here is corporate accountability.”
Zahakiel: Okay, I will explain that term next.
Rachel: Thank you.
Mark C.: What is “Yahshua’s?”
Zahakiel: “Yahshua” is Jesus. So Yahshua’s righteousness is His righteousness :)
Mark C.: In what language?
Zahakiel: Aramaic, Hebrew, and English :) It is a name.
Qinael: “Jesus” is a Romanized Greek form of the name of the Son of God... The actual name being “Yahshua” in the language of the time.
Zahakiel: Now... here is “corporate accountability”:
Adam was our spiritual head, and therefore although only one man sinned, all who were under his authority became guilty, and suffered consequences. Through one man’s disobedience, death reigned over many, so we are corporately accountable.
Now, Christ is called the “last Adam,” by the same author in his letter to the Corinthians (1Cor 15:45), and so we see that humanity may have a new “head” under which the willing can gather. Paul talks about this in Ephesians, when he says, “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church: and He is the Saviour of the body.” (Eph 5:23)
Again, through the disobedience of one, death was appointed to many. So, by the obedience of One, life may be appointed to many. That is what the term means.
Zahakiel: I can give a brief example here for clarity. In Acts 2, only the “heads” of the Jewish nation crucified Christ. Yet we find Peter speaking to them all, saying they had become guilty of the act. Thus, they needed baptism, and repentance, although they did not individually commit the sin. It is not merely “death,” but guilt – the guilt that leads to death – that comes from following a fallen head, in spiritual things. You do not repent of death, you repent of sin :)
Rachel: What if they didn’t know?
Zahakiel: The Jews? They didn’t know. But when they were told, they knew.
Dumah: If we don’t protest sin and leadership who sin we become guilty of their sins.
Rachel: Like a lot of SDAs today, a lot of them may not know their leaders have fallen.
Zahakiel: Right. So that’s why we’re telling them, Rachel :) If it didn’t matter, there would be no need for “Protestants.”
Zahakiel: Okay, now... Chapter 5 talks about the way salvation works, as we have been seeing. Through Adam, all have come to need a Savior, and through Christ, the “Last Adam,” all have obtained the grace of the Father, and may be resored to the image of Yahweh. Chapter 5 ends with the thought, “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Yahshua the Messiah, our Lord.” (Rom 5:21)
Now we see that life comes to us through “grace,” that undeserved gift that most of us saw illustrated during the recent study at the Camp Meeting. But now Paul takes this idea of grace and runs with it into the next chapter. He begins with an important statement: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? Yah forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1, 2)
Paul then gives the reason why sin cannot be present in a believer He writes that “[as] many of us as were baptized into Yahshua the Messiah were baptized into His death,” (verse 3) and the significance of this is that, “our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin: for he that is dead is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:6, 7)
Those who accept grace take part in Christ’s “death” so that we can take part in His resurrection. But by taking part in His death, the part of us that “dies” with Him is the “old man” that sins, the tendency we inherited in Adam to walk after the flesh and not the Spirit. Again, this speaks to mankind’s spiritual nature, not merely a biological condition of being susceptible to death. Paul goes into that in more detail with Chapter 8, so we won’t touch on it too heavily here.
But basically, what he lays out in Chapter 6 is the divine principle that frees us from sin. The wages of sin is death, as he writes in the last verse of this chapter, and so we must die. The beauty of salvation is that we may receive the life of Christ in exchange for the life of sin.
Chapter 6 is a teaching on this principle, and some other key verses are: “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto Yah through Yahshua the Christ, our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” (verses 11, 12) And, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” (verses 14, 15)
Zahakiel: Paul is laying out the plan of salvation carefully, gradually. First (beginning with Ch. 1) he takes away the excuse for sin everywhere in the world, then he takes it away especially for those who have already heard the Gospel. Next, he presents the benefits of the truth, showing that it leads to peace, joy, glory, and eventually eternal life. He then explains how it works, that by entering into the hope of the resurrection, you also enter into the death of Christ, and by doing so you become “dead to sin.” Being so dead, according to the gift of grace, we are no longer in our “old man” that follows after the flesh.
This is the confidence with which Paul then speaks to those whom he would have enter into this death: “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” (Rom 6:19-22)
Zahakiel: Now, some take passages like this, and say, “Paul is writing to converted Christians, and he says they have yielded to sin, so therefore converted Christians may occasionally sin.” But now that we’ve been looking at Romans as a whole, and seen the progress of Paul’s thoughts we can see the flaw in that argument.
I do not write letters to pastor Chick saying, “Give your life to Christ.” No, he has already done that, and therefore if I write a letter to him it isn’t just to waste ink (or electrons). The fact that Paul needed to lay out the Gospel from its very foundations to the Romans indicates that he is trying to instruct those who are ignorant of the facts. The Book is included in the Bible to testify of Christ, and His power in our lives, and the instruction Paul is writing is for those who have “erred from the faith” (as in 1 Timothy 6:21) that the Apostles taught, either because they never heard the full story, or misunderstood something.
Not everyone in the early Church came in understanding all the teachings. In fact, some like Apollos had not understood many things, and some had not even heard of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 19:2) Aside from that, we see that the members who accepted the admonitions had these yieldings placed strictly in the past, and they are “now ashamed” of their previous actions. Basically, we cannot take instructional letters to congregations and claim that those being instructed are the models for our own understanding in the last days. No, rather we must take the instruction itself and say, “This is the way it is to be.” And in Christ, this is the way it is.
Zahakiel: And now we turn to Romans 7, that greatly controversial chapter. With the foundation of Chapters 1 – 6, and the promise of Chapter 8 and beyond to come, we need only continue the flow of Paul’s thought, and we can be assured we will see things in their true light. Romans 7 begins with an often-ignored Time Factor, and we’ll go line by line if necessary so we can be sure we have a full understanding.
Paul writes, “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.” (Romans 7:1-3)
Zahakiel: Let me know when you’re finished reading that.
Pastor “Chick”: OK.
Zahakiel: Okay. Paul lays out a principle, which will become the foundation for his argument in the rest of the chapter. The principle is this, that according to the law, if a woman enters into union with a man while she already has a husband, she is an adulteress. But, if her first husband has died, she may marry another and be innocent. Now, he takes that and applies it to sin and Christ. He says, “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” (verse 4)
So Christ is like a “second husband,” who longs to have us, but as long as we live by the law of sin and death, we are not free to be joined to Him. As long as we seek to justify ourselves, we are under the authority of the law. As long as we commit known sins, we are under the penalty of the law. Either of these means we are “alive to the law” and joined to it by the nature of our humanity, and we cannot lawfully marry another.
Zahakiel: And now, having both laid the principle and showed how he applies it to sin and Christ, he sets the stage: “For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” (verses 5, 6)
Zahakiel: This is the time factor. There are two “times” being referenced Romans 7:
1) When we were in the flesh, and
2) When we are delivered from the Law.
Tiffany: Can you explain a little more?
Zahakiel: All right. Verses 5 and 6 point out that there are two “times” about to be discussed. There was a time when we “were in the flesh,” and our sins, which are pointed out as sins by the law “work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.” See that? And in the following verse he points out the second “time,” “but now we are delivered from the law.” And by being delivered we are dead to it, as if a first marriage was ended. Then, as the principle he uses follows, we are free to marry Christ.
Zahakiel: Now, I’ll quote verse 7, and you will see which of these two times are being expounded in the rest of the chapter: “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, ‘Thou shalt not covet.’” (Romans 7:7)
This is Paul coming to know the nature of “lust.” Paul, as you know, had some very violent tendencies when dealing with the Church before his conversion, but a statement made by Christ Himself to the author reveals that more was going on than was revealed at face value. We read this of Saul’s conversion – after he was knocked off his horse by the light from Heaven, “he said, ‘Who art thou, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Yahshua whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.’” (Acts 9:5)
That expression, “kick against the pricks,” was a saying that meant to offer useless resistance. Paul’s course of action had been one of resistance against the Gospel, and we read of a very real struggle that was going on in Romans 7 until he was delivered from the “old man,” or as he terms it there in a later verse, the “body of death.”
Mark C.: Paul was in the “flesh” time period.
Zahakiel: Right, exactly. And we see that expressed even more clearly in the verses that follow. When he accepts the conviction, we read in the following verses: “But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” (Rom 7:8 – 12)
Crystle: What is “concupiscence?”
Zahakiel: It means like a strong desire, a craving.
Now, do you remember what I said before about conversion a little while ago? At conversion we are actually agreeing that the law is binding, because we are admitting that we are guilty of the transgression of the law (sin) and thus need to accept the Savior in order to live. We read in these verses of Paul going through exactly that process. He then says, “Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” (verse 13)
This is important, because some might simply say, “Well, if we are convicted of sin by the law, the easiest thing to do is simply get rid of the law, then we won’t be guilty.” That may be true of some human laws, but Yah’s laws frame the entire creation... if you exist in this universe, those laws apply; and there’s no changing them. The law is “good” because it points out sin, and in fact it reveals sin in its true light, an offense to a loving God, and a rebellion against His Kingdom.
By the way, Paul’s reference to the law saying “thou shalt not covet” reveals that he is speaking of the 10 Commandments, not the “law of love” that some say replaced the 10. The Law of Love in the New Testament is the foundation for the Decalogue (Mat 22:40), and sums it up (Romans 13:9), but it does not replace anything. The law has always existed to show us what sin (expressed in transgression) is, and thus its opposite: love (expressed in righteousness).
“Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in Him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. (1 John 2:7, 8) The commandment to love is not new, but old... though John explains it as “new” to us, because the darkness is past, and we are able to receive it in a “new light,” so to speak. Thus, it is both “new” and “old,” but it is the same as it always was, and we can only truly define “love” in the godly sense by the Commandments through which they are expressed.
Zahakiel: But now here is where the “trouble” may begin in Romans. The next verse reads, “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.” (Romans 7:14)
The question we must now ask ourselves is this: There are two timeframes: 1) When we were in the flesh, and 2) When we are delivered from the Law. To which of these is Paul referring?
Actually, you can get it right from the statement itself. Paul speaks of the unconverted as being “in the flesh,” and those who are converted being “not” in the flesh, as we’ll shortly see. But here he says, “I am carnal,” which means exactly: “I am of the flesh.”
Mark C.: Paul is speaking of the flesh.
Zahakiel: Right. It can’t be any other. Yes, he is now speaking using present tense verbs, but this is often the case in the New Testament... so the only way we can be sure is to look at the timeframe being referenced. It should be obvious to us that Paul’s statement, “but I am carnal, sold under sin” lets us know without controversy when this takes place. Those who are converted, as he said in verse 6:7, are “freed from sin.” Again, remember that he wrote of those who accepted the Gospel, “Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” (Rom 6:18)
Now, here is where context solves the problem. One who is converted is not “sold under sin.” And as I mentioned, Paul says to converts, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit,” in the next chapter (Rom 8:9). I gave an example like this to Luke once when we were discussing this chapter: “Yesterday, I got out of bed and went outside. As I open the door, I see that it is a bright day, so I take a walk around the block and go back inside.”
Mark C.: There is a term for this sort of narrative using present tense. This form of story telling was common in the Greek language.
Zahakiel: Right. And I just gave an example in English above. The tense does not establish the “when” of those incidents, but rather the fact that you already know I am speaking about “yesterday.”
Mark C.: Sounds pretty good.
Zahakiel: The same thing takes place in Romans 7 – Paul has begun to describe “when we were in the flesh, [and] the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.” And he lets us know exactly when he switches back into present tense... but it hasn’t happened yet. He has been speaking all along of the “fruit unto death” as we shall see climaxed way down in verse 25, but at the moment he is just building up to it.
“For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (Rom 7:15 – 19)
Zahakiel: Let me know when you’ve read this.
Pastor “Chick”: Finished.
Mark C.: Ok.
Zahakiel: Okay. Now, here is the matter: If we do not begin with the foundation laid all the way from Chapter 1, through Chapter 6 to get here, these verses cancel out all the promises that Christ left us. Paul here is saying, “I have no control, I can’t do a thing right, and in fact I don’t even know how.” But Paul, the very Paul who authored this says that one of the fruits of the spirit is “temperance,” or self-control.
Peter tells us that a believer must be “sober” and “watchful.” In every book, Christians are exhorted to do good, to perform righteousness; not because this will save them, but because it is our nature in Christ both to do righteousness, and to encourage others to do righteousness. There is verily a change in the nature of man, and we’ll talk about that shortly. Hebrews tells us, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Heb 10:24, 25)
In my article “The Two Pauls,” I make a table of the things Paul says about himself in Romans 7, and the things he says about himself in Romans 8 and other places, where he is talking about life after conversion (and he says so, as we will shortly see). I will include the table with the transcript of this study that I post online, and the differences between Romans 7 Paul and Paul the Convert are glaring.
(Romans 6, 8, etc.)
Dead in sin (Rom 7:9)
Alive in Christ (Rom 6:10, 8:2, Gal 2:20)
Carnal (Rom 7:14)
Spiritual (Rom 8:4,12; 1Cor 14:37)
Bound to sin (Rom 7:5,23)
Walking after the Spirit (Rom 6:7,18; 8:1, Gal 5:25)
Not in control of himself (Rom 7:16-20)
In control of his actions (Rom 6:12, 1Cor 9:27, Gal 5:23)
Condemned by the Law (Rom 7:7-9)
In harmony with the Law/under Grace (Rom 6:14,8:1; 1Tim 1:8)
In pain of spirit (Rom 7:24)
At peace (Rom 8:6, Phil 4:11)
Feeling guilt/hatred for his actions (Rom 7:15)
With clear conscience (Rom 8:16,9:1; Acts 23:1)
Member of the Body of Sin (Rom 7:24)
Member of the Body of Christ (Rom 6:23, 1Cor 12:27)
Nothing good dwelling in him! (Rom 7:18)
Christ dwelling in him! (Rom 8:9, 2Cor 1:10, Col 1:27, Gal 2:20)
Zahakiel: In Romans 7, Paul is writing of a miserable state. He has seen that the law convicts him of sin, and the one about covetousness appears to have wounded him most deeply, and he writes, “Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” (Rom 7:19 – 23)
Dumah: :) “The evil which I would not, that I do” would conflict with “be not deceived he who does unrighteousness is unrighteous,” if Paul were speaking literally of his current status.
Zahakiel: Right. <nods.> And also the concept of self-control and freedom. So when we read these, again we have to ask ourselves if Paul, who claims that one who has died with Christ is “freed from sin,” is now turning around and saying, “But I’m still a captive, because of the law of sin in my body.”
Now yes, it is possible to take the concept of “freedom” too far, and many have. We’ll talk about those very briefly. There are those who, like the ones John had to correct in his letters, had come to believe that in the freedom from sin, they were somehow made holy of themselves.
The results of this doctrine took shape in two different ways. First, some came to believe that whatsoever they did was made holy because they were holy. Nothing would corrupt their spirits, because they were “once-saved-always-saved,” in an absolute sense, and it was to these John wrote, “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as [God] is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:7, 8) This is the verse Kimberly mentioned.
Conversion changes our hearts, and destroys the “works of the devil,” both in the world as a whole, and in the lives of the believers. Those who claim to have the faith of Yahshua, yet do the “works of the devil,” have been deceived and are deceiving themselves.
Zahakiel: The second way an extreme view of the teaching of this freedom shows itself is similar, but subtly different. Some believe they are elevated to a place spiritually where they cannot be tempted with evil. Thus, whatever they desire to do, they are free to do. The first view makes all things that are evil “good” to the believer; this second view states that only good things come to the believer as opportunities, even if it appears to be evil on the outside. “If I want to do something, it means it must be good.”
Dumah: Is there an example of the latter deception in the scriptures?
Zahakiel: There is an example of teachings against it :) This second view is rebutted by the words of the apostles in such places as this: “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” (1 Peter 4:7) And here in Paul’s words: “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1 Corinthians 9:26, 27)
Now in 1 Corinthians this is clearly not a “pre-conversion Paul” talking, because the chapter is speaking of his ministry as an apostle – nevertheless, we find that sin still dwells “in the flesh” of a convert; thus the flesh is not made holy until the resurrection/translation, when this Scripture is fulfilled: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:52)
Dumah: Oh, I thought of a verse against it: “everyone is tempted” when he is led away by his own lusts... of course a Christian’s seed will remain in him. [cf. James 1:14, 1 John 3:9]
Zahakiel: <nods.> Right. And we see from the verse in 1 Corinthians that he must, even in his converted state, “bring [his body] under subjection.” There is no “holy flesh” until the resurrection or translation.
Dumah: :) Good thing or all who are honest about being tempted would feel lost.
Now returning to Romans 7, where we see Paul struggling with conviction and sin... we next read what appears to be the climax of the narrative: “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom 7:24) Those who come to the Cross all have this cry, in one way or another. But, and we must understand this, they do not go away from the cross still crying this.
Pastor “Chick”: Amen.
Zahakiel: We read the parable of the two men in the Gospels: “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are: extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner.’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:10 – 14)
Dumah: He was self deceived and absorbed in his own righteousness.
Zahakiel: The first man, yes. But many, reading this parable, seem to have the second man, the publican, going back to his house still beating his breast – yet Christ says the man was “justified.” If we believe that “Yah is no respecter of persons,” then we believe that we also became justified when we fell before the Cross and confessed that yes, the law makes us guilty, and yes, the law cannot be changed... therefore yes, I need Christ to save me from this body of death.
If we have accepted Christ, if we have truly humbled ourselves before Him, we need not continue to cry, “Who shall save me?” No, we begin to rejoice that we have found One who has saved us, who has borne the penalty for our sins.
Pastor “Chick”: Hallelu-YAH!
Zahakiel: <smiles.> And this is exactly what Paul does :) He immediately answers his own desperate question. He asks, “Who shall deliver me from this body of death,” and immediately he answers: “I thank Yah through Yahshua the Christ, our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Romans 7:25)
Zahakiel: Two major teachings are found in this verse:
1) Christ is the One who saves men from the state Paul describes in Romans 7, about that there should now be no question, for we have examined the time in his life of which he has been speaking – a time when he found himself guilty by the law. Conviction had set in most sharply, and he sought in vain to find a way to be made right, for he knew he was condemned. Remember this, because it’s important.
2) The principle I mentioned above is expressed even here, that we are not given “new flesh,” but a new “mind,” or as other verses say, a clean heart and right spirit. (Psalm 51:10) Conversion is a change in the heart and the spirit... from what we once were, to what we become in Christ.
The Messiah, who had a perfect spirit and heart, was “in all points tempted like as we are,” (Hebrews 4:15) and the reason why should be obvious from Romans 7. It is spelled out in the next chapter. Yahweh sent His Son “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” (Romans 8:3) and we read that even for a convert, the flesh is subject to the law of sin.
But now it becomes important to understand what it means to say, “with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” Does this mean that we continue to commit acts of sin, if with the flesh we serve the law of sin? Again, Paul immediately answers the question – but in order to obtain the answer, we must realize something about the Books of the Bible :)
The concept of the chapters and verses in the Scriptures did not occur until relatively recently. In 1227 the Books were placed in chapters for ease of study, and the verses were not added until the sixteenth century. The first publication of a Bible with both chapters and verses in the Old and New Testaments was 1555. It is interesting, and fortunate, that the Jewish scholars submitted to this “Christian” innovation, because it makes it a lot easier for there to be a standard set of divisions now, among all groups that use the Bible. But now, this is relevant because we must understand that Paul did not intend for his readers, or hearers, to take a pause at Romans 7:25 – he wouldn’t even know what “7:25” meant. We must keep reading.
Paul writes, “I thank Yah through Yahshua the Christ, our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Yahshua, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Yahshua hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 7:25; 8:1, 2)
Now, that makes quite a difference. Paul does not leave us with the thought that man, through his flesh, serves the law of sin without qualifying it very carefully. Yes, man’s flesh remains sinful until the coming of Christ, but there is no condemnation in spite of this fact... and why? Because, though the flesh exists, and continues to be subject to sin and temptation, we do not “walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” In other words, we who are converted do not follow the promptings of the flesh, but “walk after” or “conduct ourselves,” as the word means, according to the leadings of the Spirit.
Zahakiel: This is possible, verse 2 says, because Christ has made us free. No, we are not slaves to what the flesh prompts us to do. It is there, and we acknowledge it is there; this is the reason we must be “sober and watch,” but at the same time we are confident in the way the Spirit leads us. Notice also that Paul begins chapter 8 with a time factor – “now.” There is therefore “now” no condemnation. He has said what he intended about his struggle, he has shown his crying-out for the Savior, and the Savior’s answer.
Remember, in Romans 7 he was convicted by the Spirit, and was condemned by the “body of death.” But now, he directs us to the result... to the life after Romans 7. He changes the timescale again, to speak about what is currently happening in the life of a redeemed human being.
Zahakiel: Are there any questions before we look at this last chapter we are studying today?
Barbara: None here.
Mark C.: Nope.
Dumah: I’ve heard people say that Rom. 7:25 means you can serve the law of the God with your mind while your body is serving the law of the flesh, but connecting it to Rom 8:1,2 makes that impossible.
Zahakiel: People say all sorts of things about Romans 7 :) But right; this is why I said what I did about their being no chapters when Paul wrote the letter.
Zahakiel: He did not intend for us to stop at 7:25 and see that as the full idea. In fact, remember that these letters were read out to the congregation in voice. One person stood up and read the scroll from beginning to end... they couldn’t help but take it all in at once. And as they had a better diet back then, probably... they could handle it all at once :)
Zahakiel: Okay, so we have seen Chapter 8:1, 2 speaking of the freedom that is ours when we do accept Christ, and receive a way of escape from condemnation. The “freedom” of which he speaks is that, although we may be in bodies of sinful flesh, in Christ we walk not after that flesh, but after the Holy Spirit by which the Son lives in us. Here the author underscores it: “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned 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.” (verses 3,4) Here is the end of Paul’s struggle.
Recall that obedience to the law does not reverse disobedience. What “the law could not do” was make Paul righteous in the sight of the Father, even if he felt guilty, and convicted, and decided to try to obey “through the flesh.” The law cannot fix what is broken, it can only point out what is whole, and what is corrupt.
Qinael: It sounds something like what we use doctors for... to diagnose, but never to cure.
Zahakiel: Ah, that’s a good parallel :)
Qinael: An x-ray can’t fix your broken bones... but it can show you what needs to be fixed.
Zahakiel: Actually, it’s a very good parallel. I can’t think of the last time doctors really “cured” something. They prescribe treatments that “work on it.” But with the laws of health, and prayer, we can get to the cause... and actually cure it.
Now, regarding the law... We understand that obedience can’t fix what has already been broken. And I quoted Solomon earlier saying that what is crooked cannot be made straight. But our Father, knowing this, and loving us anyway, sent His Son to pay the penalty and fix what was broken. He is the “end of the law for righteousness.” (Rom 10:4)
Probably the most quoted verse of the Bible lets us know, “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Zahakiel: What the law could not do the Son did, and He condemned sin “in the flesh” by overcoming it through the Spirit. And now, what Paul has been pointing out John says this way: “He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.” (1 John 2:6) Paul’s next few verses point out the importance of understanding this freedom in Christ, freedom from the law of sin in the flesh. It is not “optional” for those who are professing Christianity, for if we do not understand it and accept it, we are not “free” to marry Christ.
Paul writes, “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:5 – 8) Here, Paul seems to almost adopt the style of his fellow apostle John, and he repeats himself several times, in different ways, because this is a particularly important point, and one that non-victorious Christians have overlooked or diluted.
Those who are in the flesh do the “works of the flesh.” Those who are in the Spirit have the “fruit of the Spirit.” Christ said, “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” (Mat 7:18) And a short while later He presents us this very choice: “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.” (Mat 12:33)
After telling us the truth about this, that those who follow the promptings of the flesh cannot please the Father, Paul says something very significant: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” (Romans 8:9) Although Paul just spent some time explaining that Christians still have a sinful flesh, he now says, “but ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit.” This isn’t a contradiction :) The answer was found back in Romans 6, where Paul says, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Yahshua the Messiah, our Lord.” (Rom 6:11)
In the same way, the principle is used when Paul writes, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) You remember the example of Abraham in Romans 4? Abraham could not “see” how Yah’s promise would be fulfilled... but he believed the promise anyway. In the same way, we may “see” that we are in the flesh, but nevertheless we walk after the Spirit. “The just shall live by faith.” (Rom 1:17b, Gal 3:11b) The place where that passage appears in 2 Corinthians is very important, by the way, because in that same chapter he writes, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor 5:17)
Can you see how there is one consistent thought here, throughout Romans and into his other letters?
Pastor “Chick”: The doctrine is “Rock solid”.
Zahakiel: <nods.> It appears in some form or another in just about every epistle.
Mark C.: Well, it seems pretty good from what I’ve seen so far.
Zahakiel: <nods.> And we can establish it still further in Romans 8. This idea of faith vs. sight has wide applications to the victory and beyond. We are not “in the flesh,” although to our sight it is obvious. Where our true life and being is, is in the Son, and we live according to His Spirit and not the flesh. This is the same argument Paul used before the philosophers in Athens, saying, “That they should seek Yahweh, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us: For in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’” (Acts 17:27, 28) The focus was different but the idea is the same – through Christ we live, no matter who we are; but in the convert specifically, this life is poured out most abundantly and transforms us by His Spirit into His image.
Continuing, we read, “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Yahshua from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (verses 10, 11)
Again, if we have entered into His death, and like Him have considered the body dead, we die to sin, and perform it no more. Then, when this operation of grace is accomplished, we have the assurance that the same loving Father who raised Christ from the dead so raises us, and thus we have everlasting life. “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (verses 12 – 15)
Here is a hard saying to many these days, and it points out that the way is indeed strait and narrow. The world of Christianity is full of people who say, “But the flesh overcomes me from time to time,” or “We all fall short.” Paul tells us that those who are led by the Spirit of God are His sons – and not anyone else. While the argument might be attempted that a Christian can be led by the Spirit sometimes, and the flesh other times, what did Christ say? “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” (Mat 7:18) There is a choice all men must make: Will they be a good tree or a corrupt tree? Will they continue as they were, in the oldness of the man of sin, or will they die (through the grace of Christ) and be reborn as those who walk after the Spirit?
There is a death between the two – so how can one resurrect the “man of sin” every now and then?
Pastor “Chick”: The “wise man” who built his house “on the Rock” always does the will of the Father.
Zahakiel: Right :)
Dumah: Yahshua will not be joined to a harlot. If we are still alive to the law we are not married to Yahshua.
Zahakiel: Right, not to a harlot... or to a “zombie.” Adventists and some others understand that the “dead know not anything,” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) therefore it is impossible to say that we are alive sometimes and dead sometimes... no, conversion is a more powerful thing than that. “Old things are passed away [dead]; behold, all things are become new.”
Dumah: When I say “alive to the law,” I mean that we are under it’s penalty if we sin.
Zahakiel: Right. Or even just trying to justify ourselves by obedience to the law. These are two ways to be “alive to the law.”
We are almost finished... but there are a few things that are key remaining in Romans 8. The next few verses continue to draw a sharp contrast between the Romans 7 mindset and the freedom found after Christ delivers us from the body of death. We see a widening chasm between the pre– and post– conversion Paul. He writes, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” (verse 15) And again, “Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (verse 21)
Zahakiel: Now, don’t let the “shall be delivered” trip you up either :) Paul is not saying we must wait to be delivered from the commission of sins. The next verse says, “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” (verse 22) What the apostle is talking about here is the pain that comes from the consequences of sin. Though we walk in the Spirit now (as the first half of the chapter says repeatedly) we must still wait to “see” the ultimate deliverance, when the sinful flesh is shed, and we are fitted for Heaven.
The proof of this comes in the next verse: “And not only they [the elements of all creation], but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” (verse 23)
Now we can be assured our understanding is correct. Our lives are ordered after the spirit now. We are set free from sin now. We are the Sons of Yahweh now, and we do not commit known transgressions. But yes, we are still awaiting something, we are still groaning for something – “the redemption of our body.” This is the “blessed hope” of the Christian, and while we claim it in faith, we look for it with an “earnest expectation” when Christ shall return according to His precious promises. “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” (verse 24)
Zahakiel: But while we wait, the rest of Chapter 8 is quick to encourage. We may desire a better thing in the resurrection, but this does not mean we are not content now. Paul writes, “But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit Itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of Yah. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love Yahweh, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:25 – 28)
Zahakiel: Let me know when you have read this.
Pastor “Chick”: OK.
Zahakiel: All right, let me briefly summarize what it says, because it can be difficult. Yes, we are awaiting something, but we are not left alone in our hope. We have the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, which gives us all we need, even if we do not rightly know what to ask for. (This is not a teaching on unknown tongues, we just need to look at the flow of thought in Romans). You see, we have this confidence that even though there must be a delay, even though there must be trials in the meanwhile, all things work for us, and not against us, because we love the Father who permits these trials, and we are called according to His purpose, which we learn from Jeremiah 29:11 is “an expected end,” or “the ending you are hoping for.”
The next passage in Romans 8, and that continues into Romans 9 and 10, is the subject of “predestination” which is a study all of its own :) We won’t get into that now... but the basics of it as it relates to this topic is that we who have accepted Christ are the “very elect,” the chosen ones of the Almighty. Some say that humans have no real choice in the matter, and that those who were “predestined” for life from the beginning are saved no matter what they do, and those who are “predestined” for death are doomed even if they seem to accept the Gospel.
We can discuss that in another study if anyone would like, perhaps, but it is sufficient for now to point out that Peter says, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” (2 Peter 1:10) Yah is no respecter of persons, and desires that all should be saved. Therefore, His “predestination” is not arbitrary... He doesn’t just pick a random sample of humans, but He calls them His “elect” based upon their faith, if they are foreknown (Rom 8:29) to accept the gift He offers them by grace.
Now it is true, He does select “nations,” such as those represented by Jacob and Esau, due to no actions of their own. This is what connects to Paul’s earlier statements about Jews and Gentiles... And this is what Paul discusses in Romans 9 and 10, yet some apply that to individuals, which the author never intended should be done – and that is how they run into problems with verses like Romans 9:13.
But for the elect individuals, now, it is their responsibility (again through faith) to make their “election sure.” We are not destined for Heaven regardless of what we do – that is to say, if we commit wicked acts, it shows we are not destined for heaven. Rather we who are destined for Heaven walk after the Spirit, and by doing so we will never fall or even fear failure. Remember, we are given a spirit of “adoption” or acceptance, and not a spirit of fear.
And finally I will conclude with Paul’s own words, for the last few verses of chapter 8 could not be stated in a better way by anything I may think to comment, then we will briefly review before we close:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, ‘For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of Yahweh, which is in Christ Yahshua our Lord.” (Romans 8:35 – 39)
Zahakiel: Let me know when you’ve read it.
Pastor “Chick”: Finished.
Zahakiel: All right:) So to review briefly as we close, Paul begins in Chapter 1 by speaking of the Gospel, and that Yah’s influence in humanity has existed among all people by His Spirit, therefore those who fall into sin are without excuse. In the next chapter, he stresses that those who have had the advantages of hearing the Gospel are in a worse state than even the heathen being discussed, for they know what the Almighty considers “good” and “evil,” thus they enter into great condemnation if they agree with the principles but do not keep them. In this, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile.
Chapter 3 speaks to the hopelessness of the “natural man,” but begins to introduce the topic of faith, through which even fallen humans may be made right. Then Chapter 4 goes into more detail, pointing out the superiority of faith over works, using Abraham as an example. At the very end, he speaks of Christ, who according to the symbol of Isaac, “was raised again for our justification.” (Rom 4:29) Chapter 5 continues to speak of Christ (and I am just now beginning to appreciate how smoothly the topics in Romans flow), explaining that though all are guilty of sin in one man (Adam), so all may be made free in the obedience of One (Christ). We go from guilt under the law, to redemption in Christ, and then onward in victory.
Chapter 6 speaks of this victory, saying that in grace we do not continue in the sins that characterized our time under the guilt of the law, and in fact “God forbid” that we should sin, for “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (6:2) By the death of Christ, Chapter 6 tells us, we also enter into His death so that we may enter into His eternal life; and that entrance into His death renders us free from the works of the flesh, from the commission of sin.
Chapter 7, where we spent some time, shows the dramatic difference between one under the condemnation of the law, and one free from Christ through faith. The table I include with the transcript shows just how different these two times and experiences are. Paul’s experiences in Romans 7 are entirely incompatible with his experience as a convert and an apostle, and he gives us without room for controversy the setting of which he speaks: “For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.” (Romans 7:5)
But now we are “delivered” as 7:6 points out, and after tracing through the process of conversion for us, he goes on to Chapter 8, where there is no condemnation. Though we may have sinful flesh until the return of Christ, we consider it dead already by faith, and walk after the Spirit, letting It be our guide and the way by which we order our lives. Those who do this are the “Sons of God” and have a share in that final, everlasting inheritance. We may have confidence in our election, Paul writes in Romans 8, for we were not chosen randomly, but because we have a calling to endure to the end, and our boast is not in our own merits but in the promises of Christ, from whom nothing – not tribulation, or trial, or famine, hunger, thirst or the sword – nothing can separate us from His love.
And finally: because our Father loves us, we are indeed “more than conquerors.” If we believe this, and if we speak this in faith, we will all be a part of the Redeemed on that day when the faith becomes sight, and the last expectation is met; when our bodies also are reclaimed and we are fully restored to the image of our Creator from which we fell so very tragically, so very long ago.
Zahakiel: Are there any questions on any of these things before we close?
Dumah: Thank you, brother David, for sharing.
Pastor “Chick”: Thank you for the study.
Israfel: No, and thank you for the study.
Zahakiel: All right, I will close, then :)
Almighty and loving Father in Heaven, we thank you for the light of your glory and grace. We thank you that you have provided for us all things that pertain to life and godliness through your Son, who came and shed His blood that we may be spared. We thank you for true peace, and true freedom, not as the world gives it, but as it exists in truth.
Even in chains, even in bondage to our circumstances, we are free. Even in war, even in famine and want, we are at peace. We thank you that we walk by faith and not by sight, and that by that very faith we reckon our flesh already dead, and we walk as in an atmosphere of your Heavenly Kingdom.
We ask you for continuing grace, that we may both stand before you on that day unashamed, and bring with us a flock of many friends... that they may share with us in that great joy you have provided for those with whom you are well pleased. Dismiss us from this study with your love, and with your Spirit, for it is in Yahshua’s holy and precious name we pray. Amen.
Pastor “Chick”: Amen.
Dumah: Amen, amen.