"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Sunday, August 6, 2023


A Study in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans – “On the Road of Righteousness” Chapter SEVEN:

Chapter Seven: An ‘Illegal’ Bride

In medieval tribunals, sometimes exhumed corpses would be tried in court with the intent of convicting them of crimes post-mortem. If the practice wasn’t such a travesty, it would almost be comical! However, here in ROMANS 7:1, we read how the Law has no dominion over the dead; life is over, the appointment with judgment is fixed (HEB 9:27):

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 lives?

At such a point, the Law no longer enlightens the dead, for the remedial influence of the Law is no longer valid; likewise Paul uses the analogy of marriage to demonstrate this point:

ROMANS 7:2-3
For the woman which hath a husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he lives; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, 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.

Just as it’s perfectly acceptable and proper for a woman to have another husband, if her first husband is dead, so likewise it’s properly acceptable that once we are married to the LORD Jesus Christ (2 COR 11:2; EPH 5:31-32) as His bride (REV 21:9), we are dead to the Law.

Husband and wife become one flesh through the marriage covenant; likewise those baptized into the body of Christ are joined to the LORD in spirit; for the two become one (1 COR 6:16-17).

The body of Christ is the bride of Christ, no longer bound under the Law, no longer helplessly restrained by the flesh and its sinful tendencies; and for all eternity, joined to the LORD Jesus, and keeping our relationship with Him pure and incorruptible (2 COR 11:3-4; GAL 1:6-9).

Marriage is an institution established since the Garden of Eden, but the law makes a poor means of marital relationship. Sadly, some Christians caught up in legalism have a cold, business-like relationship with the LORD! He desires a love relationship with yearning and devotion, commitment, and adoration in a mutual bond of true holiness, purity, commitment, and agape love – not the letter of the Law; therefore we are in a sense, with tongue in cheek – an ‘illegal’ bride, one that is not according to the Law but according to grace.

The LORD rebukes the church of Ephesus for leaving her first love (REV 2:4-5); but it’s interesting what the name “Ephesus” means:

First, Best Love. Christian tradition indicates that “Ephesus” meant “darling or chosen”. Ephesus was a major religious center and the home of the first and largest Christian church in Asia. For that reason, we will go with the traditional meaning of ‘darling’.”

So while Ephesus lost her first love, she is still considered the LORD’s darling, this speaks of the LORD Jesus’ everlasting, unconditional love, and devotion; however, Ephesus or any church isn’t beyond being chastened, for the LORD chastens those whom He loves (HEB 12:6).

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.

But being “married to another” that is, Christ – we are not adulterers because we are dead to the Law “through the body of Christ”, the church (EPH 5:24; COL 1:18)

A Cheating Wife HOWEVER: Today more than ever, spiritual adultery is rampant in the church, which is intended to remain a “chaste virgin” (2 COR 11:2)! Christians are involved in practices that are actually occultic – everything from yoga to contemplative prayer, to Eastern meditative practices (which is what contemplative prayer really is), to spiritual ‘gifts’ that are not of the Spirit of God, but satanic in origin.

Christians dabble with horoscopes, tarot card readings, astrology, psychic readings, etc. but “just for fun” when such practices are expressly forbidden in Scripture! Today’s emergent apostasy is a hodge-podge of do-it-yourself-religion that harks back to the existential philosophy of “if it feels good, do it.” – regardless of what Scriptures says!

Renouncing Heavenly Citizenship? Aside from this, the love for the things of this world and ‘going native’ rather than remaining “pilgrims and strangers, abstaining from the things of the flesh that war against the soul” (1 PET 2:11), Christians have adopted the world’s customs of sensuality. They’ve been lured by the enchantment of materialism, ease, and comfort, seldom engaged in any spiritual interaction with the LORD in prayer and personal Bible reading (See also: 2 COR 6:14-18; 1 JOHN 2:15-17; REV 2:20-23).

How it pains our LORD’s heart, Who only seeks out the love and devoted fellowship with His bride but sees corruption burdening His bride. May we be encouraged to repent of any such things, and return to our First and Best love, our Redeemer, and Lover of our souls!

Just as a marriage will bring about children, that is the fruit of the womb, so too will our marriage to Christ Jesus, our Bridegroom bring forth the fruit of the Spirit (GAL 5:22-23); the Spirit of grace brings eternal life, but the law of sin can only bring condemnation and death (ROM 8:2). But so many Christians put themselves back under the Law when it can’t produce any fruit to the glory of God!

ROMANS 7:5-7
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. 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.

“Motions of sin” or “the impulses of sin”. “Motions” can mean “suffering, pain, something to be endured; to undergo some influence, whether good or bad” (the same word used in HEB 2:9 for “suffering of death [re: Christ’s crucifixion”). Here is another example of contrast: the oldness of the letter of the Law and the newness of the Spirit, which brings life:
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life
. (ROM 2:29 elaborates on this)
“‘The letter’ is a Paulinism for the law, as ‘spirit’ in these passages is his word for the relationships and powers of new life in Christ Jesus. In 2 COR 3 a series is presented of contrast of law with ‘spirit,’ of the old covenant and the new. The contrast is between two methods of divine dealing: one through the law, the other through the Holy Spirit.”

There are some who, in a sense disdain the Law, declaring that “we are under grace now” as if there was something wrong with the Law which declares “You shall not kill (murder)” and “you shall not steal” – who would have a problem with these, except murderers and thieves?

Those who would obey the Law in form, by external observation and hypocrisy, not in obedience from a loving heart (an impossibility for sinners like us) are invalid as far as righteousness goes. That’s why the LORD Jesus slammed the religious leadership at every turn (consider MATT 23 for instance).

Such legalists and devotees of religion are following the “oldness of the letter” that only “kills.” These kind can’t experience the vibrant, joyous life in Christ, which is “newness in spirit” that “gives life (abundantly)” and born not of the will of man, but of God (JOHN 1:13). Just as God breathed into lifeless dust and created a living soul in Adam, so too, He breathes His Spirit into dead, barren spirits and raises them to potent life brimming over eternally!

But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.

What Are You Hungry For? Two words to examine:

Occasion (aphorme in the Greek): “a base of operations in war; it is used of the Law providing sin a base of operations for its attack upon the soul (ROM 7:8,11). Christian freedom is not to provide (“provision”) a base of operations for the flesh (GAL 5:13).”

Concupiscence (epithumia in the Greek): “a longing, especially for that which is forbidden; an irrational ‘unbridled lust’ for evil (ROM 7:8; COL 3:5; 1 THESS 4:5).

In ROMANS 6:12 letting sin reign in our mortal body to obey the ‘lust’ thereof, refers to those evil desire which are ready to express themselves in bodily activity (ROM 13:14; GAL 5:16,24; EPH 2:3; 2 PET 2:18; 1 JOHN 2:16) a phrase that describes the emotions of the soul, and the natural tendency towards evil.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
*Note that there is blatant “sin” but also “weight[s]” that slow us down, preventing our running in the race of our Christian life and ministry with greater effectiveness. Such weights and things that are not perhaps sinful in themselves but become sinful in that they inhibit God’s will in our lives.

For example, I love reading novels, and would voraciously devour them from some of my favorite authors. Yet when the LORD was calling me to greater study of the Word, and in committing more time towards the TTUF ministry, it required more research in non-fiction books as well as online time on various sites. So, is reading novels a sin? No, not necessarily, but for me, these ‘weights’ were preventing me from accomplishing what the LORD would have me do, so I laid down these things so that I might ‘run the race’ better.

ROMANS 7:9-11
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.

“The passage (vs 7-25) is autobiographical. Paul's religious experience was in three strongly marked phases:

“(1) He was a godly Jew under the law: "blameless" (PHIL 3:6). He had "lived in all good conscience" ACTS 23:1.

“(2) With his conversion came new light upon the law itself. He perceived it as "spiritual" (ROM 7:14). He was condemned by it: the commandment "came" and he "died" (ROM 7:9). “[This] is the experience of a renewed man, under the law, and still ignorant of the delivering power of the Holy Spirit, ROM 8:2.

“(3) With revelations in Galatians and Romans, the apostle's experience entered its third phase. He now knew himself to be "dead to the law by the body of Christ," and, in the power of the indwelling Spirit, "free from the law of sin and death" (ROM 8:2) while "the righteousness of the law" was wrought in him (but not by him) while he walked after the Spirit (ROM 8:4; ROM 7) is the record of past conflicts and defeats experienced as a renewed man under law.”

ROMANS 7:12-14
Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. 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. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

Caught in Carnality And therein lies our problem! This death which plagues us in every aspect of this diminishing life and works its ruin because of our sinfulness. This deplorable condition is the result of the Law which is “holy, and just and good” and (by contrast) shows us our sinful nature for what it is: a carnal (unspiritual) nature “sold under sin” being “delivered as slaves into sin” (ROM 5:20-21; GAL 3:21). Paul allows us an ‘inside look’ into the inner turmoil we all struggle with: this war of the Spirit and the flesh (GAL 5:17).

The Christian need not live a life of defeat by sin but even the victorious Christian (such as Paul himself!) is never without this struggle! We will always have this war on our hands until the redemption of our bodies (ROM 8:23) where we shall inherit glorified, incorruptible, sinless bodies (PHIL 3:21).

That Miserable Mutt! This is why Paul stated elsewhere:

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

This isn’t the practice of monastic orders, literally beating and torturing the body, thinking that this would somehow mortify the flesh and produce holy results; rather, when speaking of his “body” he is referring to the fallen sinful nature. Paul brings such into subjection, certainly not by his own power, but in faith by the Spirit of God.

Our sinful flesh is like a wild, vicious, voracious dog that wants its own way, regardless of what damage it creates to our spiritual life (or even that of others). Paul states he keeps this wild dog on its leash, subjected and kept under control (of the Spirit!).

Now sometimes you and I let this dog off its leash, and it has a hay day of partaking of sin, and this is why too many Christians suffer defeat, because once loosed, they don’t know how to get this savage beast back under control. The answer is found abundantly throughout Scripture, and here in this chapter, in verse 4,6, and 25.

ROMANS 7:15-20
15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 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. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.

Paul distinguishes between the “I” (vs 17) and “sin” – sinful nature of the flesh (vs. 18) that commits such acts, the things that the “I” of Paul, hates. This is the battle between the new man and the old, that which is born of God’s nature and that which is born of Adam’s nature.
1 JOHN 3:9
Whoever is born of God does not commit sin; for his seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
That which is born of God, does not “commit” sin, that is, does not tarry upon, dwell in, practice in a continual sense of committing sin because the new nature – in this life and, or in the next – overcomes the old nature. The new nature itself born of God cannot sin (though the old nature certainly can and does). This is why those who are born of God and have acquired the new nature will manifest (the fruit of) righteousness (1 JOHN 3:4-10 in context).

One would think that the self-esteem gospel would have died in its infancy because Paul himself declares that in himself – his flesh, or carnal nature – there dwells “NO GOOD THING”. In his own nature, there was nothing to esteem of value, to venerate as noble and good and admirable (ROM 7:18). Paul was stating the same thing as our LORD did in the Beatitudes:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Christ Esteem, Not Self Esteem We are those who are spiritually bankrupt, poverty stricken, entirely deficient of any spiritual value whatsoever! What then is there to esteem??

Let’s focus upon the LORD Jesus and consider His esteem, value, His veneration and holy nobility, goodness and admirable qualities, and the truth: that He willingly died for us out of the goodness of His own heart of love, compassion, and tender mercies! I find it of far greater potency and much deeper satisfaction to know the love of Christ for me, rather than any ‘love’ for myself! ROMANS 7:18–20 should be ample enough evidence to prove that there is nothing in us worthy of any esteem whatsoever.

Verse 19 speaks of the spiritual bondage to sin that Paul laments over (also PROV 5:22; JOHN 8:34; ROM 6:16; 2 TIM 2:26; 2 PET 2:19). The only liberation is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the new life He imparts.

ROMANS 7:21-23
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.

Two laws are in operation here: the law of sin which is in our members (bodies) and the law of God which operates in the mind or inward man. The inward man is no match by itself to combat the law of sin which brings us into captivity. We need the Life-generating power of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ’s atonement and propitiation and resurrection power to defeat this law of sin, and we can and will and do, by faith acquire this victory!

After reading Andrew Murray's small but potent book, Absolute Surrender, I created this acronym: A.V.R.A.S. or Absolute Victory (in life) Requires Absolute Surrender (to Christ). Such victory is proportional to the degree of surrender, so that the more one is surrendered (or yielded; ROM 6:13–19) to the LORD, the greater the victory in life that will be experienced.

Spiritual Warfare’ has the significant aspect of holiness and integrity, which the enemy will endeavor to compromise at any cost in order to see the saint fallen from this state, and back into bondage to sin. This is why a walk of holiness, a life of obedience and keeping our hearts and minds steadfastly upon Christ (2 COR 10:4) is crucial for such victory – always by the power of Christ Jesus.

ROMANS 7:24-25
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

When we stumble and fall into sin – and we will (1 JOHN 1:8), let us recognize the flesh for what it is, confess and repent of such, but not spend any time living in the ‘condo’s’ (condemnation) and allow the enemy to beat and bludgeon us further with overmuch guilt and discouragement to the point that we walk away from the LORD. Let us remember to keep short accounts with God: “He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 JOHN 1:9).

The flesh will never know holiness while we remain on this earth; the new man will never know separation from God in relationship (we are His children, He, our Father) but separated in fellowship if we live with unconfessed sin in our lives. The law of sin will always operate in our flesh, just as the law of God will affect our spiritual lives. Identifying with Jesus Christ and His cross, by faith is the only remedy to diminish the influence (“motions”) of sin in our lives (GAL 2:20 once again!).

In the next study, Paul will wrap up the doctrinal truths regarding the second aspect of salvation (sanctification) in Chapter Eight and begin to address some of the aspects of the third part of salvation (glorification).

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