In the last two days I have heard two men on Christian radio talking about Romans 7 and 8. They both talked as though Romans 7 is the destiny of all believers rather than the way one must go in order to get to chapter 8. My question is does Romans 8 apply to us now or is it in some way relegated to another time or dimension?
For those not familiar with this let me see if I can help you. In Romans 7 Paul gives us an illustration about a woman and her husband. First she is depicted as being married to the law (Independent-self). The Law (husband) demands perfection and rightly so. God’s law on marriage is that unless the husband dies the wife cannot marry another man or she commits adultery. The man is so demanding, but the wife cannot live up to his standard. She is now miserable and wants out of the marriage, but her stubborn husband simply will not die. If he won’t die she is trapped unless… she died. This is of course what Paul is getting at all along.
In Romans 6 we read that when Christ was crucified we were crucified too. If we were joined with Christ in his death we were also joined with him in his burial and subsequent resurrection. We have been crucified with Christ therefore we, being the wife, have been freed from the marriage law. We have been severed from our old marriage and are now joined to our new husband which is Christ.
I have said all of this to get to my point. The latter half of Romans 7 is Paul’s way of walking us through what it is like to attempt to live under the law. He has already stated we are no longer under the law and yet he finds himself in the Romans 7 spin. “The thing I don’t want to do I keep doing and the very thing I want to do I don’t do.” This is what life is like when you don’t know, or aren’t living as though, you have died to the law. If we continue to live our lives as though we are under the law, and we are trying to keep all the “should and shouldn’ts,” then we most assuredly will spend the remainder of our days in the Romans 7 spin. On the other hand if we will just truly believe Paul’s conclusion on this we will be set free.
The last two verses of Romans 7 reveal the secret to us. Paul cries out “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” after agonizing over his inability to keep the law. It is just here that things come to a head. Paul finally shouts “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.” Here we see that if we continue to live in the “flesh”, (the deceptive idea that we are independent), we will continue to suffer the same fate of frustration, condemnation and failure. On the other hand if we simply live trusting in the Spirit of the living God to carry out his own commands in and through us we will be free.
Immediately after Romans 7 we continue straight into Romans 8. We read, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Here we are introduced to a new law. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” The old man lived under the old law which demanded things of us that we had absolutely no ability to carry out. The old man operated only in the flesh and had nothing in himself to enable him to please God. So, it didn’t matter how well or poorly we did in the flesh it was always going to be displeasing to him. Thank God now we have received his Spirit, and we are able to live in a manner that is pleasing to God.
I’ll end where I began. I for one strongly believe Paul wrote Romans 8 because life in the Spirit is what God had in mind for his family all along. I don’t think he wants us in sin or living under law but instead he wants us to live a life of freedom in the Spirit. Not for one minute do I think Jesus Christ gave his life for me so I could live a life of endless trying, failing and condemnation. I think he paid enough for me to live an enjoyable and productive life. Yes there is a battle raging, but I think God has provided a way for us to live in peace even in the midst of the battle rather than a constant state of “O wretched man that I am.”
Written by Louie