Sunday, January 22, 2017
Daily reading assignment: Romans 7-8
Today’s Scripture reading paints a vivid picture of the spiritual dilemma sin has introduced into the hearts and souls of men.
Writing to Jewish believers living in Rome (Romans 7:1), Paul reasoned that the law (whether it is God’s law or man’s law) has dominion and authority only as long as a man is alive. Using the perpetual bond of marriage between a husband and wife to illustrate his point, Paul argues that, in the same way a wife is not free to marry another until her marriage is dissolved by the death of her husband (Romans 7:2-3), only death frees a sinner from the curse and dominion of sin and the law. To state it another way, you cannot prosecute a dead man under the law, regardless of how guilty he was of breaking the law when he was alive!
The law of God has power to condemn a man to death (Romans 6:23a), but only the grace of God through Jesus Christ can deliver him from the penalty of sin (Romans 6:23b). In the same way a wife is not free from her marriage under the law until her husband is dead, a man is not free from the burden and curse of God’s Law until he accepts that Jesus Christ bore the penalty of his sin and death by his substitutionary sacrifice and death on the Cross (Romans 7:4).
We can identify an application of those spiritual truths in two phrases, “in the flesh” (7:5) and “in newness of Spirit” (7:6). “In the flesh” describes a universal truth that the natural man is born a sinner, spiritually dead, living under the power of sin and dominion of the law that ends in death (Romans 7:5). “In newness of spirit” describes a man freed from the curse of sin and the condemnation of the Law, believing Christ died in his place, bearing the penalty of his sin (Galatians 3:13).
The Law and Commandments of God, serving as God’s spiritual schoolmaster (Galatians 3:24-25), not only teaches sinners the gravity of sin (Romans 7:7-11) and inability to merit God’s forgiveness and favor (Romans 7:12-18), but also points them to Jesus Christ the perfect sacrifice for sin.
The apostle Paul’s honest confession of the spiritual tug of war in his own soul (Romans 7:19-25) is a comfort to every believer who wrestles with what one songwriter described in these words, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love”. The law of God is His perfect standard and in the light of its illumination mature Christians are convicted of how far short of its mark we fall (Romans 7:14-18). In Paul’s words, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” (7:18a).
Conscious of God’s Law, desiring to please and serve Him, but also realizing our inability to keep the Law, what are we to do with the guilt that burdens our heart and soul?
Paul assures those whose faith is in Christ that, regardless of their sin, failures, and shortcomings, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). Our sins are forgiven, our debt marked paid in full, and our Redeemer is Christ alone!
2 Corinthians 5:21 – “For He [God the Father] hath made Him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin [Christ being sinless]; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him [Christ].”
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith