"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).
Any way you look at it, the problem is sin. And, any way you look at it, the only answer for sin is The Cross of Christ.
In this verse, the phrase, "when we were in the flesh," refers to the unsaved state or the believer who is attempting to overcome the powers of sin by his own efforts (the flesh). The end result is going to be the same in either case: failure.
The entirety of this chapter deals with the believer who is trying to overcome sin in the wrong way. There are only two ways that one can make this attempt: by the flesh or by the Spirit of God. If the believer does not take advantage of what Jesus did for him at Calvary – understanding that Christ not only paid the sin debt but also broke the dominion of sin – then his only other recourse is the flesh.
In other words, the believer's attempts at victory will be no more successful than those of the alcoholic who attempts to quit drinking through alcoholics anonymous or one of the myriad efforts made by men. There is victory only in Christ and only in following His prescribed path.
FIVE OFFERINGS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
It took five offerings as outlined in the Old Testament to properly exemplify the one sacrifice of Christ at Calvary:
All were offerings of clean animals – a lamb, bullock, or goat – with the exception of the thank (meat) offering, which was made of grain and baked into cakes but contained no flesh whatsoever (Leviticus 1 - 7).
Of all the offerings presented, the peace offering probably comes closest to what we are discussing here. Normally, a peace offering was offered to The Lord along with every one of the other offerings: whole burnt, sin, and trespass. Very seldom are those offerings presented without being followed by a peace offering, and often times a thank offering as well.
THE PEACE OFFERING
As we've just stated, of these five offerings, the peace offering typified the teaching given by Paul in Romans 6.It typified the believer while taking up Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-6).
The type was carried out by the worshiper partaking of the slain animal in a feast after the animal had been cooked and prepared in a special way. The one who offered the animal was even permitted to call his friends to enjoy this feast with him. The idea is that fellowship with God has been restored through the sacrifice.
This is one of the reasons that the believer should know and understand the Old Testament as well as the New Testament; it lays the foundation for all that was done by Christ in His perfect birth, perfect walk, and perfect sacrifice. It is not really possible for everyone to understand the New Testament, at least as one should, unless one has a working knowledge of the Old Testament.
THE LAW OF THE PEACE OFFERING
This law is found in Leviticus 7. Unleavened cakes were to be used, which symbolized the sinless humanity of Christ, Who had sin on Him but not in Him. Leavened bread was to be used, symbolizing the sinful humanity of the worshiper, who had sin in him and on him.
The peace offering for thanksgiving was eaten the same day that it was offered. But if the peace offering was for a vow, it was eaten the same day with the remainder eaten the next day because a vow, or a voluntary offering affects the heart more than an ordinary offering of thanksgiving.
The law taught the offerer to closely associate the death and sufferings of the slain lamb with the blessing for which he gave thanks. This thanksgiving offering was to be for every blessing, for all blessings come from God, but more primarily for that which The Lord would do at Calvary for the believer, as typified by the slain lamb. Of course, the offerer in Old Testament times would not have had full understanding of the things we are now discussing, but he definitely knew that the sacrificial offering of the clean animal represented the sacrifice of the coming Redeemer. The glass they saw through then was of necessity more veiled than it is now. Due to what Christ has already done, we have greater spiritual vision. Nevertheless, even now "...we (continue to)see through a glass, darkly..." But when He comes back, we will see face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12).
The lesson taught to the worshipers then continues to be taught today. To disassociate worship and thanksgiving from the anguish and blood shedding of The Lord Jesus is to offer to God an abomination and to bring death into the soul and into the church.
Ceremonial cleanliness was obligatory before eating the peace offering (Leviticus 7:20-21). Disobedience in this matter entailed death. To profess faith in the person and atonement of Christ and claim fellowship with Him while being secretly unclean ensures the wrath of God.
Then, and of necessity, cleansing was only ceremonial. Today it is a literal fact in that Christ makes one clean and keeps one clean, which is what the peace offering was all about.
THE FAT OF THE PEACE OFFERING
The fat of the peace offering was to be wholly given to God, because it symbolized the excellent affections and prosperity of God's dearly beloved Son. In other words, God gave heaven's very best when He gave us Jesus. The fat which was to be burned up on the altar (the only part of this particular offering which was so treated) was a sign of the prosperity of God in every capacity. It pictured the grace, glory, prosperity, beauty, health, and every other positive aspect of God's gift to man – His Son, Jesus Christ.
Actually, the fat of any animal that died, or was accidentally killed, could be used for other purposes but not eaten. Similarly was the blood precious. The whole idea of the peace offering was that a sin offering or such would be offered to God, followed by the peace offering. The peace offering signified the fact that atonement had been made by the means of the sin offering, trespass offering, or whole burnt offering, and now peace can be restored between God and man, hence the necessity of the peace offering. All of this tells us how bad that sin is, and the terrible price that had to be paid to address this monster. All of the sacrifices were symbols of the price paid to eradicate this problem of sin.
THE WAVE BREAST AND THE HEAVE SHOULDER
Some parts of slain and roasted animal were to be eaten by the offerer after it was cooked and suitably prepared. As stated, the offerer could invite as many friends as he so desired to partake of this feast, and we are speaking of the peace offering. As the offerer literally ate the flesh with the prepared cakes and bread, it symbolized, among other things, the actual partaking of Christ in His atoning work at Calvary, and, more perfectly, in His breaking the dominion of sin in the life of the believer.
This tells us that the believer is not only to accept the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary concerning the terrible sin debt, but that he is also to liken himself as to having died, and buried, and resurrected with Christ. All of that was symbolized in the peace offering (Romans 6:1-5).
Any type of sin in the life of the believer destroys that peace. It is only reinstated after proper repentance. However, this cycle – to sin and repent, sin and repent, sin and repent – is not God's way. Yet that is where many believers are, and it's the very reason that The Holy Spirit gave Paul this great solution in Romans 6, 7, and 8.
As the offerer of old partook of the peace offering, so is the believer to partake of what Christ did at Calvary and the resurrection, likening himself in the very acts which were carried out by the Son of God. This is what the peace offering represents, and it is what we are to enjoy today. This was to be the feast that typified joy, peace, prosperity, and godliness. None of these things can be had by a sinning salvation or a constant repentance, even though repentance occasionally is always needed. The Lord intends for us to have total and complete victory, which, in effect we already have and should maintain. We can do so in Christ, but only in Christ and what He has done for us at The Cross. Never forget that Christ without The Cross is another Jesus, which fosters another spirit, brought about by another gospel, which God can never accept. Never forget The Cross (2 Corinthians 11:4).
DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND
What we are teaching as it regards The Cross of Christ does not mean that if a person understands this and understands it perfectly that he will never have another temptation or problem. Such is not taught in The Word of God. Satan is going to everything within his power and attempt in every way possible to hinder and discourage the child of God.
Peter said and it bears repeating: "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy" (1 Peter 4:12-13).
As a child of God, Satan will never give up his efforts to discourage you. But the idea is that if we understand The Cross as we should, meaning what Jesus there did, then sin will not have dominion over us (Romans 6:14). It does not mean we will never be tempted again or have another problem. It does mean that sin will not have dominion over us.
THE GRACE REVOLUTION, SO CALLED
There is a totally unbiblical teaching that is making headway in the modern church. It claims that the believer should never confess any sin to The Lord or to anyone else for that matter. If we sin, they say, we are just to forget it and talk about the righteousness of God that is within us. This is not biblical.
When a believer sins – as Solomon once said, such will happen to everyone sooner or later – such a believer is to confess that sin to The Lord (1 John 1:9). After confessing it to The Lord, we should claim His mercy and grace, which will always be freely given. To not confess one's sin to The Lord means that one remains under guilt and condemnation, which is a state that no one wants to partake of.
Every believer holding this book has failed The Lord in one way or another in the past, even many times. Whenever we confess that sin to Him and ask for His mercy and grace, we experience the guilt lifting and leaving, and the peace of God flooding our souls. To be honest, every one of you would admit that.
To not confess our sin to God means that we are still carrying that sin. Sin can only be handled at The Cross, and the part we must play is to confess our sin before God.
THE ONE WAS HEAVED
This action – heaved – means that after being prepared, the shoulder of the animal was lifted up before God as an expressive of its preciousness and acceptability to Him. Christ's shoulder upholds. It also means that the believer's trust in Christ respecting His breaking the dominion of sin in our lives – His shoulder, typifying His strength – has done for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Paul said, "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6). This speaks of the person before salvation. However, the believer is also without strength when it comes to the dominion of sin, at least within himself. Our strength is in Christ typified by the "heave" offering.
Now, since Jesus has come and paid the price that we could not pay, and He did so on The Cross of Calvary, we do not have to partake of all of these things that were demanded in the Old Testament times. As stated, all of that was settled in Christ. Now if we fail The Lord, all we have to do is confess our sin to Him and Him alone (1 John 1:9).
THE ONE WAS WAVED
As a prepared shoulder of the slain animal was lifted up and waved, the prepared breast of the slain animal was also lifted up and waved before The Lord. In effect he was presenting Him to the four corners of the earth as setting forth the sufficiency of this offering to give life to the world.
Moreover, Christ's shoulder upholds and His breast consoles all those who trust in Him; Christ nourishes those who serve Him in any form of Christian ministry to others.
The reverence due to the presence and work of the Messiah was enjoined by the two laws respecting the fat and the blood – they express excellency and sufficiency. "This is my beloved Son," declared the one; and "...peace through the blood of his cross,..." proclaimed the other (Colossians 1:20).
All of the peace offering was a form of thanksgiving and typified the present believer who should thank The Lord daily that Jesus not only paid the price for his redemption, but also broke the dominion of sin within his life so that it no longer rules over him. Actually, we should thank Him constantly. Thanksgiving will always build faith, and it causes us to always remember what Christ did for us, which as an ever present and effective work within our daily walk.
THE MOTIONS OF SINS
In Romans 7:5, the phrase, "the motions of sins," denotes being under the power of sin and refers to the passions of sins.This speaks of the sin nature operating full blast, bringing about one sin after the other, which will always happen when the believer relies on the flesh instead of the Spirit. To be sure, any faith evidenced in anything other than Christ and The Cross – and I mean anything – is constituted by The Lord as flesh. This happens when such a believer attempts to obey some type of law that either he or someone else made up, or a law created by his religious denomination. His thinking is that obedience to such will bring about victory. Even though the intention may be good and the motive right, the result will be the same as it was before the believer was saved: failure. While sin is motionless in the life of one who trusts Christ, it begins to stir into activity when the believer's reliance shifts to something other than The Cross of Christ.
A PERSONAL EXAMPLE
A young man with whom my grandson Gabriel was acquainted gave his heart to The Lord and was brought out of deep sin. Not understanding The Cross of Christ, in a short time he lapsed back into his old ways and failed The Lord, and did so miserably. Then those who were acquainted with him and were to be his guardians in this process instituted that which was supposed to give him victory. Tragically what he was required to do is basically what the entire church world recommends.
He was given a regimen to do each day that included cleaning the toilet, mowing the grass around the church, and several other things. Instead of this bringing him victory over sin, it did the very opposite, which caused him to go even deeper into sin and ultimately to commit suicide.
Now please tell me, what good is cleaning a bathroom or mowing a yard going to do for anybody who is trying to overcome the powers of darkness? Yet that is what the modern church attempts to do.
I remember receiving a letter from a preacher who was quite prominent among charismatics. He had a problem that was severe.
In his letter he told me what he was doing to solve the problem. He had put himself under the care of a major church, and they had outlined a regimen for him to follow. He was to discuss his problem about an hour each day with counselors. As well, he was to spend about an hour each week with a psychologist. Each day, he had a number of odd jobs that he had to do around the church. By the way, he was not to go more than 30 miles outside of town – I don't know what that had to do with anything.
I wrote him back a kind letter telling him that what he was doing was not going to help. If I remember correctly, he wrote me back, yet even though his letter was kind, it was still to the point that this was the greatest thing that had ever happened to him, and was going to come out totally free from sin. He finished his regimen, which lasted for some six months or a year, and then was pronounced free. But he wasn't free. He fell right back into the same sin. Again, what good are those things as it regards bringing one victory?
WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE?
Paul said, "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault (a moral failure), ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted" (Galatians 6:1).
First of all, Paul is speaking here of a moral fault, a moral failure. Second, one who is spiritual is one who understands Christ and The Cross. He is to tell the brethren (or sister) why he or she has failed, which means the person was depending on the flesh instead of on Christ and The Cross. The answer to every problem and the solution to every problem is always Jesus Christ and Him crucified. When we veer from that, we go into the flesh. And, while the flesh might be very religious, it is not God's way.
We are to tell such a person why he failed, and that he must get his eyes once again on Christ and what Christ has done for us at The Cross. This will then give The Holy Spirit the latitude to work within his life. The Holy Spirit is God, and He can do anything. This is the only way that victory can be found. There is no other way because there is no need for any other way.
The reader must understand that this effort will not be free, easy, or simple. Satan is going to do everything within his power to continue the captivity of such a person.
Unfortunately, many hear us teach The Cross, and they think once they understand a little bit about it, then they will never have another temptation or problem. I am sorry but it doesn't work that way. Peter said, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you" (1 Peter 4:12).
If we do not quit, do not give up, and do not throw over The Cross, then victory will ultimately be ours.
The Cross guarantees that sin will not have dominion over the believer; it does not guarantee that there will be no more temptation, or that we will not fail again in some way. In fact, there are no perfect Christians, only a perfect Christ. Please believe me, this is God's way – The Cross – He has no other way, because no other way is needed. Get your eyes on Jesus and what He did for you at The Cross, place your faith there, and maintain it accordingly, and you will find that victory will ultimately come.
That is one of the reasons the Catholic church has their confessionals and why they are in constant operation. Catholicism is a religion of works. As such, there is no power of Christ represented. Therefore, the people are constantly sinning and constantly confessing. Catholics have a threefold problem:
To be frank, the protestant world is not that much behind the Catholics, if at all. On almost all accounts, it is a religion of works, which God can never accept and thereby can never bless. If it is not Christ and The Cross, then whatever it is, and ever how religious it might be, it is that which God will never accept. Paul said, "But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith" (Galatians 3:11).
That is one thing about Paul, he was blunt and to the point.
WHICH WERE BY THE LAW
This subheading seems to be negative on the surface as it regards the law. The effect of the law reveals sin, which it is actually designed to do, and because it does that, many think it is evil. But the answer is on the contrary: the law is holy. Others, granting that the law is good in and of itself, say it becomes evil to men because of its effects on them. The reply to this is that its moral effect is beneficent, or its action reveals to us how evil we are, which is the intention all along.
The illustration may make this plain: a piece of ground is barren. The sun rises and shines upon it, and very quickly it is covered with weeds. Using the same analogy toward the sun as many do toward the law, they think the law must be to blame.Good science rejects this, replying that the sun is good in and of itself. Some object to that, saying that the sun, which might be good in and of itself becomes evil to the ground because the weeds were made to manifest. To this science replies that the sun does not become evil to the piece of ground, but that the effect of its action is to reveal the evil that is in the ground and not in the sun.
GOD'S LAW IS GOOD
God's moral law is holy and just and good. Man's fallen nature is evil. The effect of law acting on that nature manifests not only the fact of the disease of sin one might say, but the exceeding malignity of the disease.
Sin – the principle of evil lodged in fallen man – is manifested as exceedingly sinful, which the law of God brings about and is made evident to man's own consciousness.
Let us say it again: the law was meant to show man how lacking he is and his inability to keep even the simplest commandments of The Lord. Due to the fall in the Garden of Eden, man has been made woefully unable to do what God originally designed him to do, which the law adequately portrays (Romans 8:10).
DID WORK IN OUR MEMBERS TO BRING FORTH FRUIT UNTO DEATH
God's moral law did two things:
The moral laws of God as they were originally given in what is referred to as the Law of Moses are ensconced in the Ten Commandments (minus the fourth commandment). To be frank, all civil law in the world, that is if it is halfway correct, has as its foundations the moral law of God, at least in one way or another.
While the first two of these commandments, which deal with man's obligations to God are basically ignored, the remaining eight (minus the fourth) form the groundwork and foundation of all civil law. These moral laws speak of taking God's name in vain, honoring one's father and mother, murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and covetousness.
Commandments such as "Thou shalt not bear false witness...," and "Thou shalt not steal" sound very simple, but man soon finds that he is unable to keep these laws irrespective of how hard he may try. The problem is his depraved nature, which is the result of the fall, and which he has no power at all to do that which is right.
Man cannot obey these commandments, nor does he have any way within himself, or in any capacity, to remedy the situation. His every activity can only bring forth death because man has no life within himself whatsoever.
Yet man refuses to believe that his situation is as bad as it actually is, and as a result, that he has no solution within himself. As we have stated in past commentary, deception is a terrible thing. Such is man's problem, and it is acute beyond belief. That is what Jesus was speaking of when He said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to...preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind..." (Luke 4:18).
In Luke 4:18, Jesus was not speaking of physical blindness, but spiritual blindness. In fact, unconverted man is so spiritually blind that he cannot be reached intellectually. It takes a revelation from God for this darkness to be penetrated, which can only be done by the Word of God and the moving and operation of The Holy Spirit upon that Word (John 16:7-15).
In Romans 7:5, as it is now known, the word members as Paul uses it, speaks of the physical members of our bodies – eyes, ears, tongue, feet, hands, etc. Acts of sin are carried out through these members. Irrespective of what man may do regarding education, intellectualism, various philosophies, money, and religion it can only "bring forth fruit unto death." The only answer for humanity is Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.
What does Paul mean by death? He is speaking of the wages of sin, which is death, which is produced by unregenerate man, and without fail. As we have repeatedly stated, there is no way that man can ameliorate or change this direction, at least within himself. Man's problem is sin, which is actually a spiritual problem, and cannot be addressed from an economic, social, philosophical, religious, intellectual, or psychological standpoint. The only answer is Jesus! Death as mentioned in Romans 7:5, is spiritual death, which means separation from God, Who alone is the life source.
BUT NOW WE ARE DELIVERED FROM THE LAW
"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" (Romans 7:6).
If we say it enough, some will begin to hear: the only answer is Christ and The Cross. When we speak of The Cross, we are not speaking of the wooden beam on which Jesus died, but rather what he there accomplished.
"But now we are delivered from the law" means that the demands of the law were met in Christ. Jesus lived a perfect life for 33 ½ years, never sinning once in thought, word, or deed, and He did it as our representative man. When we accept Him, we are transferred from the position of law breaker to law keeper.
However, He then had to address the broken law, which every human had broken, and He did so by giving Himself as a perfect sacrifice on The Cross of Calvary and satisfying the demands of the broken law. Simple faith in Christ and what He did for us at The Cross gives us freedom from the law – we are no longer guilty. This is called justification by faith, which means faith in Christ and His atoning work at Calvary. In as much as we were in Christ (baptism into Christ) when He died on Calvary, in Christ when He was buried, and in Christ when He was raised from the dead, so our faith in Him means that the demands of the law were met in us as well. In other words, the law of God (law of Moses) demanded and demands that all of it be obeyed by all. Law is not law unless it demands obedience, and all law has a penalty attached for failure.
MAN WITHIN HIMSELF
The problem was and is that man within himself could not and cannot keep the law; consequently, it hangs over his head like the sword of Damocles. As well, there was no way out. The law made its demands, and man could not meet them, yet he must do so or else spend eternity in a lake of fire. But when Jesus came, He kept the moral law in every single respect, and He did it for all of us.
He then satisfied the curse of the law by offering up Himself as a sin offering at Calvary. In reality, man was delivered in a two-fold way.
THAT BEING DEAD WHEREIN WE WERE HELD
Some have said that this part of Romans 7:6 would have been better translated, "having died to that in which we were constantly being held down."
Held by what? That in which the believer was constantly held before he was saved – the evil nature. In the Greek text, the manner in which Paul used the term portrays that the sin nature had an absolute control over the unsaved person, meaning that everything he did was constituted by God as sin.
Some claim that Paul was speaking here of the law being dead, but that is not so due to the fact that he says the very opposite in Romans 7:4; the law does not die, but the believer dies to the law. In fact, every unbeliever in the world is living under the law of God. We may not know it or believe it, but it is so. The only way of escaping its curse is by accepting The Lord Jesus Christ.
Due to what Christ did at The Cross, the believer has now been delivered from the power of the sin nature. In effect, the sin nature has no more control over him, that is if he keeps his faith conclusively in Christ and what Christ did at The Cross.
Anyone who places himself under law, which means his faith is not in Christ and The Cross, will find infractions and iniquities being carried out. This is failure, even as the law is designed to show, whether it's the law of Moses or laws we make up ourselves. As long as we keep functioning in law, we will live a life of spiritual failure, with the situation becoming worse and worse, no matter how hard we try. Please understand, faith in anythingother than Christ and The Cross is constituted by God as law.
In other words, we can have all nine gifts of The Spirit, speak in tongues every hour of every day, and have a powerful prayer life, but if our faith is in anything except Christ and The Cross – and that exclusively – then failure will be our lot. God's way is The Cross, and it is the only way because no other way is needed.
THAT WE SHOULD SERVE IN NEWNESS OF SPIRIT
This refers to The Holy Spirit and not man's spirit. While the spirit of the believer is renewed at regeneration, still, even the renewed spirit does not have the power to effect the work that is here unnoted and needed. That takes The Holy Spirit, which Paul graphically outlines later on. The distinction here is made between The Holy Spirit as the new method of divine healing, and the law which was God's old method but is now replaced by Christ.
Paul's thought here is not that the believer serves only in a new spirit, that is, in a new attitude and with new motives, which definitely does happen. Paul is meaning that the believer serves now in the power of The Holy Spirit under a new energy and control rather than in an attempt to obey an objective law.
As one poet expressed so well: Do this and live, the law demands, but give me neither feet nor hands. A better word the Gospel brings, it bids me fly and gives me wings.
Since The Cross, The Holy Spirit takes on a brand new perspective. Before The Cross, due to the fact that the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins, The Holy Spirit was very limited as to what He could do for believers. He could come into the hearts and lives of certain believers, such as prophets, to help them carry out their tasks. But when the task ended, He would leave.
As it regards regular believers (if we are allowed to use that term), while He was not in them, He was with them (John 14:17). All of this was because the sin debt remained unable to be eradicated by animal blood.
THE CROSS SATISFIED EVERY DEMAND
When Jesus went to The Cross, He there satisfied every demand of the law. This means that whenever a believing sinner comes to Christ, every sin he's ever committed is washed away and no longer held against him. Now The Holy Spirit can come into the heart and life of the believing sinner, which He does at conversion, there to abide forever (John 14:16-18).
Now we as believers are to place our faith exclusively in Christ and The Cross, which gives The Holy Spirit the means to work within our hearts and lives. The Holy Spirit works legally and entirely by and through The Cross. He does not demand much of us, but He does demand one thing: that our faith be exclusively in Christ and The Cross. I realize that I am being very repetitious as it regards the statement just made, but I do it for a reason. Man is so prone to go the other way, which means that he is doomed to failure. As Romans 7:6 states, we are meant to "serve in newness of spirit," which refers to The Holy Spirit, who alone can carry out the tasks in our hearts and lives that need to be carried out.
AND NOT IN THE OLDNESS OF THE LETTER
In Romans 7:6, the phrase, "oldness of the letter," refers to the law of Moses. The word letter in the Greek is tramma, and it means "a bond, a document, a letter one writes." Here it refers to the written law of God as found in the Old, Testament.
Earlier in the same verse, the word newness in the Greek is kainos, and it means that which is "new as to quality set over against that which has seen service, the out-worn, that which is marred through age." The Gospel is looked at here as new, as in respect to its replacing the law which is old and worn out.
The word oldness in the Greek is palaios, and it means, "that which is old in point of use, worn out, useless."
The law of Moses fulfilled by Christ, which was abrogated at The Cross, is looked up on as outworn or useless, so it has been set aside. Now, The Spirit (The Holy Spirit) and law are contrasted. In fact, the law was never meant to be eternal; it was designed by God to be temporary – only until the substance would come, which would replace the shadow.
In Romans 7:6, service in the letter means seeking salvation by works, i.e., in union with the first husband. Service in the Spirit means enjoyment of salvation in union with the second husband. Thus, the believer learns that association with Christ in His death liberates him from death as king; from sin as a master, and from law as a husband.
In Romans 5, we see sin on a person: condemnation.
In Romans 6, we see sin over a person: dominion.
In Romans 7, we see sin in a person: desperation.
So, we have here condemnation, domination, and desperation, which describe a believer ruled by the sin nature. The only power that can deliver from these is not law but grace, of which the latter is made possible strictly by Christ and The Cross.
In a sense, death, sin, and law triumphed over Christ at Calvary, but only momentarily because He allowed it. However, their dominion over Him ended directly when He was dead, which is what God planned, and which paid the sin debt and broke the grip of sin upon humanity.
THE LAW ALWAYS POINTED TO JESUS
In the death of Jesus, the believer also died; consequently, the authority of death, sin, and law ended there for the believer – the believer is no longer in their dominion. Risen with Christ – united to Him, the new husband – a life of liberty and sanctification is enjoyed in the life and energy of The Holy Spirit, all made possible by The Cross.
In these passages from Romans, as well as scores of others, the believer should easily see how the law pointed to Jesus. When He came, He fulfilled all of its demands,with it no longerbeing held over the heads of God's people, at least those who would truly follow Christ. In all of this it may seem as if Paul is degrading the law, but as he will show in Romans 7:7, is not doing so at all. He is only pointing out its true purpose, which is carried out very well. However, in that it fulfilled its task, even as designed by The Lord and is now replaced by The Lord Jesus Christ, surely the believer would not want to go back under the "oldness of the letter." Sadly, that is what we actually do so many times, and we always reap bitter results – the very opposite of what we intend.
IT'S EITHER CHRIST OR THE LAW
It was intended by The Lord and designed by The Lord that man would quickly see he was unable to keep the law, even though he tried very hard to do so, and would thereby resort to the sacrifices, or rather what they represented – the coming Redeemer – and then throw himself on the mercy and grace of God. That was God's design, and some few did that, but sadly most did not.
Let us say it again: if it is not Christ and The Cross and our faith maintained in that finished work, then whatever direction it takes, it is law. The terrible thing about law is that besides bringing on failure for the believer, it always ends in self righteousness.
WHAT SHALL WE SAY THEN?
"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).
The sad fact is that virtually the entirety of the modern church – and we speak of those who truly love The Lord – is regrettably living under the law. Most do not think of themselves as such because what is being done is mostly being done in ignorance.
The question Paul asks, "What shall we say then?" now addresses the question of law (the law of Moses), as to its purpose and effect. In Romans 7:1-6, Paul shows that the believer is no longer under law; at least he is not supposed to be. However, if the believer rejects or ignores The Cross, or is ignorant of The Cross respecting sanctification, then law is the only other recourse. It is either law or grace, and again, anything other than The Cross of Christ – and I mean anything – is law.
The believer who fails to avail himself of the resources of Grace, which are made possible only by The Cross, is a defeated Christian (Galatians 2:21).
Paul teaches that if a Christian is under law, sin will accelerate. However, the law is not responsible for that sin; the believer himself is. Actually, it is the evil nature in the believer's heart and life.
In Romans Chapter 7, Paul gives his own experience as a Christian before he came into the knowledge of The Cross of Christ as it regards sanctification (1 Corinthians 2:2). Consequently, he opens himself that all may see.
Paul was saved on the road to Damascus, and three days later baptized with The Holy Spirit. Beginning to preach the Gospel and noting the tremendous change within his life, he thought surely he could live the type of life that he wanted to live and, in fact, must live. However, to his dismay, he found himself failing and failing repeatedly. His willpower was being overridden by the powers of darkness, which left him confused as to what was really happening. That is when he cried, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:24).
It was then that The Lord gave him the great truth of the double cure, which he gives to us in the book of Romans.
Let the reader get it out of his or her mind that the experiences of Paul we'll note in this chapter were his experiences before conversion. The fact is, they were after his conversion. Unfortunately, many in the modern church have been told this error, and they have believed it. Therefore, they pay little attention to what is said here, which is a tragedy. No, Paul is speaking of his experience after being saved, after being baptized with The Holy Spirit, after starting to preach the Gospel, and after knowing that he was an apostle.
Paul learned that Jesus not only paid the sin debt at Calvary, but also broke the dominion of sin in the believer's life. In fact, he learned many things.
THE SIN NATURE
Jesus Christ was and is the New Covenant. The Cross of Christ is the meaning of the New Covenant, the meaning of which was given to the apostle Paul.
In all of this, Paul learned that even though a believer is a new creation in Jesus Christ, still the sin nature remains alive in the believer. It can spring to life very quickly, which Paul had ingloriously experienced. In answer to that, he learned that the believer actually died in Christ, was buried in Christ, and was resurrected in Christ. When the believer understands this, and has faith in that which Jesus has done (realizing that it was done for the sinner), he then learns that the power of the sin nature is broken, with him able to walk in victory as an overcomer.
In other words, before Paul learned this, he was constantly trying to gain the victory and trying to be an overcomer. Actually attempting to fight battles all over again that Jesus had already fought and won – something that we have all done. In fact, he was frustrating the grace of God.
Paul learned that the believer is victorious and is, in fact, an overcomer the moment that he accepts Christ as his Savior. It is not something he strives to do or strives to be, but already is through what Jesus Christ did, which makes it all possible. But if he doesn't know and understand that, there will be no victory, and there will be no overcoming power.
Before these great truths were shown to him by The Holy Spirit (the truths he gave to us), Paul found himself attempting to keep the law (the moral law) within his own power and strength, which he was unable to do. This is what frustrated him so very much. Surely, he thought, in as much as I am saved and baptized with The Holy Spirit, I can do these things, which I know must be done. Even though a believer, Paul found he could not keep these moral laws, and neither can anyone else – at least in his own strength. And then he found out, as The Holy Spirit portrayed to him, how these moral laws can be kept and kept very easily. Consequently, what The Holy Spirit related to Paul, he relates to us.
THE MODERN CHURCH
As I dictate these words, I wonder in my spirit: considering today's modern church, just how much of it would accept Paul's words if they were being written now? Self righteousness is so rampant at the present time, and I say that with a grieving heart, that I am not sure Paul would have been given any credence at all. After all, Paul is openly admitting that he had failure in his Christian experience before he learned and understood these great truths. If Paul were writing these words today, I suspect many would think that he would hardly be entrusted by The Holy Spirit to write a third of the New Testament, and be given the New Covenant of grace. But he was!
In truth, his words, even in his day and his time, were met by skepticism and sarcasm. I think the questions he asked bear that out. Nevertheless, that which he was given was of God, and is, in fact, the greatest truths found in the entirety of The Word of God, and thereby the most important in the history of mankind. That is exactly how significant it actually was and still is.
That is the reason the believer must judge everything according to the Word of God and never according to so called popular opinion. Above all he must not allow others to do his thinking for him. The Bible must be the criteria at all times and the only criteria. The tragedy is that most in Christendom blindly follow their denominational heads, irrespective of what they say or do. That is a tragedy, and has led untold millions to die eternally lost.
When all of us stand before God, we will be judged according to that which was written in the book called the Bible, and not according to what our denominations said, taught, or believed. Whatever policy they have or had is one thing. What the Bible says is something else altogether.
Regrettably, far too many believers take the position that these are things for church leaders to work out and do not really involve them. But right and wrong involves everyone! Consequently, the moment that denominational policy, or the policy of anyone for that matter, strays from the Word of God, the believer had better follow the Bible, irrespective as to where it leads.
IS THE LAW SIN?
Paul asked this question because of the manner in which he had repeatedly addressed the law.
In effect, he is posing the question, "What shall we say then to the fact that the desires or impulses in the evil nature in me were stirred into activity by the law? Is the law sinful or evil which does that?"
In Romans 7:7, the two words, "God forbid," presents his answer. In the Greek, these two words are me genoito, and they mean, "may it not become; let not such a thing be thought of; away with the thought." This condition of man is not caused by the law of God, but rather exposed by it. In other words, the law brought out what was already in man's heart, exposed it to the light of day, and showed what man really was.
NO, I HAD NOT KNOWN SIN, BUT BY THE LAW
The law defined what sin actually is. The law did not originate sin or institute sin. In fact, it had nothing to do with the fact of sin, except to expose it. This is what it was designed to do, and this it did very well.
I heard a Jewish journalist being interviewed, and he was asked the question, "Why is there such animosity against the Jews?" This man's answer was somewhat revealing. He said, "God gave to the Jews the Ten Commandments, which informs as to what is right and wrong, and the world has never forgiven us for that."
Many believe, erroneously, that the law of Moses was meant only for the Jews. In one sense it was, but in another sense, it was meant for the entirety of the world.
Even though the ritualistic and ceremonial parts of the law were definitely for the Jews, and for a particular purpose, the moral law was for all of us because the moral law cannot change. What was morally wrong for the Jews was and is morally wrong for all.
Please forgive our repetition, but due to the complexity of some of these issues – and the law is definitely one of those issues – some things have to be repeated more than once, and other things several times.
When Jesus came, He fulfilled all of the ceremonial parts of the law, so it was no longer needed. What do we want with the shadow when we have the substance? He also kept completely and met the demands of the moral law. But due to these commandments being moral, they are still incumbent upon humanity. Nevertheless, man is no more capable of obeying these commandments now than before, at least within his own strength. But they are obeyed by the believer totally in Jesus, with His obedience becoming our obedience. If our faith is in Christ and The Cross, and maintained in Christ and The Cross, then The Holy Spirit will keep the moral law for us.
By Jesus giving us power and strength, along with our understanding of what He has done for us, and our part in what He did, at least according to identification, we now keep these moral laws as well. However, it is only through, by, of, and with The Lord Jesus Christ and what He did for us at The Cross where victory can be found.
So the law of Moses very clearly and plainly portrayed the reality of sin, which was already present, and succinctly defined it.
FOR I HAD NOT KNOWN LUST, EXCEPT THE LAW HAD SAID, YOU SHALL NOT COVET
Romans 7:7 tells us that the desire for what is forbidden is the first conscious form of sin. Paul is saying that the consciousness of sin awoke in him – in the shape of a conflict with a prohibitive law. In other words, the law defined the covetous passion in Paul's heart. He wanted or lusted for something which belonged to someone else, or something which was not right, with the law telling him – and all others for that matter – what type of sin that he was now committing. The law portrayed the presence of sin and its definition; "Thou shalt not covet..." is the tenth commandment (Exodus 20:17).
In the misty days of yore
Jesus' precious blood had power
Even the thief upon The Cross to save;
Like a bird His Spirit flies
To its home in Paradise,
Through the power of Calvary's crimson wave.
I was lost and stepped in guilt,
By the blood for sinners spilt
Washed away my sins and set me free;
Now and ever more the same,
Praise, Oh praise His Holy Name!
Will the cleansing stream availing be.
God in mercy asks you why,
Brother sinner will you die
When such redemption He provides?
You have but to look and live,
Life eternal will He give,
For the power of Calvary still abides.
Bring your burdens, come today,
Turn from all your sins away,
He can fully save and sanctify;
From the wrath to come now flee,
Let your name recorded be,
With the blood-washed,
And redeemed on high.
What I Hate, That Do I
Motions of Sins