THE WAR WITHIN
"For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I . . . 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 . . . I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me . . . 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 7:15,18,19,21,23)
Devotion 33 of 69
AN EXPOSITION OF ROMANS 7:15-25, #21
A SHARP LINE OF DEMARCATION
The language and tone of the first part of the seventh chapter of Romans (Rom 7:5-13) is significantly different from that of verses 15-25. In the first part, experiences and assessments are all in the PAST tense: "When we WERE . . . "WERE by the Law" . . . "DID work" . . . "HAD NOT known sin" . . . WROUGHT in me" . . . "I WAS alive without the law once" . . . "the commandment came, sin revived, and I DIED" . . . ""I FOUND" . . . "For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, DECEIVED me, and by it SLEW me" . . . "WAS then." It seems to me that it requires an unusual imagination to think of such expressions as the contemporary experience of those in Christ Jesus.
THE language itself confirms it is in the PAST – a period of time to which apostolic doctrine frequently refers. "For when we WERE yet without strength . . . while we WERE yet sinners . . . when we WERE enemies . . . ye WERE the servants of sin . . . when ye WERE the servants of sin . . . when we WERE in the flesh . . . such WERE some of you . . . who WERE dead in trespasses and sins . . . Wherein IN TIME PAST ye walked according to the course of this world . . . also we all HAD our conversation IN TIMES PAST in the lusts of our flesh . . . at THAT TIME ye WERE without Christ . . . you, that WERE sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works . . . we ourselves also WERE sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another . . . who through fear of death WERE all their lifetime subject to bondage . . . Which IN TIME PAST were not a people . . . WHICH HAD NOT obtained mercy" (Rom 5:6,8,10; 6:17,20; 7:1; 1 Cor 6:11; Eph 2:1,2,3,12; Col 1:21; Tit 3:3; Heb 2:15; 1 Pet 2:10).
There is a sharp line of demarcation between our lives of alienation and our reconciliation to God. There came a point in time when we were no longer in sin but in Christ; when we were no longer enemies but were reconciled. No good purpose can be served by speaking of times of death, enmity, and alienation, as though they were still present. Such vernacular would only serve to obscure what occurs in salvation, and would further confuse believers.
Under such aberrant teaching, those experiencing a struggle within would then be led to conclude they were NOT in Christ, and that they remained dead in their sins. If the erroneous assumption that this text (Rom 7:15-25) refers to Paul's past life, inward struggle would actually a sign that we have NOT passed from death unto life. In such a case, it would be evidence of NOT being saved and reconciled to God. There is no way to view this passage other than that of a present experience! This (Rom 7:15-25) is Paul's assessment of the PRESENT – of our life in Christ, and the conflict it has produced with the flesh.
Any and every time the Spirit deals with sin in the church, it is never addressed as a state of normalcy. Also, whenever our sinful past is mentioned, the blessed change of status for those in Christ quickly follows – "BUT NOW" . . . (Rom 6:22; 7:6; Eph 2:13; 5:8; 1 Pet 2:10); "BUT YE ARE" (Rom 8:8-9; 1 Cor 6:9-10; 1 Pet 2:9); "BUT ARE NOW" (1 Pet 2:10; 2:25), etc.
Tomorrow: "AN EXPOSITION OF ROMANS 7:15-25, #22"
PRAYER POINT: Father, in the name of Jesus I thank You for the total incompatibility of "the new man" with "the old man."