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Scripture… As We Live It #262

Posted by on May 26, 2013 in as we live it, scripture | 10 comments

Scripture… As We Live It #262

This is the 262nd passage in “Scripture… As We Live It.”

For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. But, of course, I’m not talking about myself, even though I used the pronoun “I” so many times in this passage. As an apostle of Jesus Christ, I certainly always do good and never evil. (Romans 7:19 re-mix)

(Please read the first post for an explanation of this series.)


10 Comments

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  1. 5-26-2013

    I contend that Paul was not talking about himself. He was simply putting himself in the place of a Jew under the law for the purpose of making his point in chapter 8 that we are free and are no longer in the place (condemnation)of not being able to keep the law.
    There has to come a place where we actually believe that we are new creatures in Christ, then we will turn loose of all excuses to be anything less.

  2. 5-26-2013

    Alan,

    Excellent! It’s not easy for a believer to admit that they are exactly like Paul, born again to new life in Christ, yet in a lifetime, and daily process of being changed into His image, being completed at death.

    I’m reminded of Paul’s words to the Corinthian believers,”So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away,our inner nature is being renewed day by day.”

    Paul’s testimony is an encouragement to those who struggle, and, simply proves that the word metamorphosis that he speaks of in Romans 12 is not instantaneous.

    At my age I can thank God that it is so!

  3. 5-27-2013

    Aussiejohn I don’t understand how you can interpret outer man in 2 Cor 4:16 to be outer nature. I can’t find anything in scripture that indicates that anyone is dualistic in nature.
    I do agree with you concerning transformation (you used the word metamorphosis), but nature is altogether another subject.

  4. 5-27-2013

    Matt,

    We’re currently studying through Romans. I’ve heard the interpretation that you’ve presented before, and I’ve read Romans looking for any indication that Paul was not talking about himself. I don’t see it. In fact, in that part of Romans 7 especially, Paul emphatically talks about himself without ever suggesting that he is “putting himself in the place of a Jew under the law.” In fact, he had just said that neither he nor his readers were under the law. Can you show me where Paul shifted to “putting himself in the place of a Jew,” and tell me what in the text leads you to see that shift?

    -Alan

  5. 5-28-2013

    In Romans Chapter 7, the apostle Paul dramatically uses “the first person” to emphasize the anguish and futility of trying to keep God’s Law before you were born again and you still had a sinful nature that was hostile toward God. When reading Chapter 7, it is important to remember that Paul wrote this epistle in the Greek language, a precise and expressive language which often strategically uses the present tense to dramatically describe a past action and experience. Therefore, in Chapter 7, Paul made effective use of this historical present tense, as it is called in the Greek language, to vividly describe the futility and misery of a person who wants to serve God but finds himself continually frustrated and sabotaged by his rebellious sinful nature. In writing this chapter, Paul drew from his own past personal experience as a devout Pharisee before he became a born again Christian.

    Many Christians mistakenly think Romans Chapter 7 highlights the conflict of the two opposing spiritual natures (the old and new) that they believe co-exist within every Christian. However, this is not Biblically correct. In Romans Chapter 6, Paul taught that God crucified our sinful nature and removed it from us when He spiritually immersed us in Christ’s death (Romans 6:3-6; see also Colossians 2:11). The reason why we may keep sinning is not because we still have a sinful nature; it is because our mind still needs to be renewed and our soul transformed by the divine truth of what Jesus Christ accomplished for us on the cross (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Ephesians 4:23). The normal Christian experience should be that we sin less and less as we apply this essential truth to our life more and more. God’s purpose and provision through Christ’s death is that sin would no longer have dominion over us (Romans 6:7 & 14). However, many Christians do not know (believe and act on) the truth that they have died with Christ and that their old sinful nature is dead and gone; therefore, they are habitually overcome by entangling sins and still personally identify with the experience of the “wretched man” in Romans Chapter 7:24. Since they are continually beset by sin, they mistakenly and tragically conclude that they still have a sinful nature. However, the truth is that God never intended for His people to be overcome by sin; that is why He removed our sinful nature when we were saved.

  6. 5-28-2013

    Peter,

    Yes, the historic present is very common in Greek – in narrative. It is much, much less common in didactive writing such as Romans. When the historic present is used, it is almost always accompanied with time indicators to show that the author is talking about past events. The “present” then makes those past events more vivid to the reader/listener. I don’t see any of those clues in that passage.

    Instead, it seems to me that Paul is talking himself in the present (when he’s writing). As he said in Romans 6, he had been released from slavery to sin by Jesus Christ, but he still occasionally presents his body (flesh) to sin as its slave (even though the bond of slavery itself is broken). If this is impossible for Paul and his readers, then it’s unnecessary for Paul to instruct/command them, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” (Romans 6:12-13 ESV)

    Like I asked Matt above, can you show me in Romans where Paul makes the shift that you see in Romans 7?

    -Alan

  7. 5-28-2013

    He shifts into this mode in vs 9. Then he prematurely shifts out in the 1st half of vs 25 and then shifts back at the end of the verse to complete his point.
    One key to understanding this is to read chapters 6-8 all in one discourse.
    Keep in mind that in ch 6 he says that sin shall not have dominion over you. In ch 7 sin (or the law of sin and death)has dominion and there was nothing he could do about it. Then grasp that in 8:1 “condemnation” is not just a bad feeling. It is a legal term such as one being sentenced to death. Until Paul (and the whole human race for that matter)was born again, all of his best efforts to keep the law were still sin because they were flowing from his own efforts which whether he liked it or not were coming from the law (or nature) of sin and death (all of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags). This is what he is talking about in ch 14 when he states that whatsoever is not of (or from) faith is sin.
    When we understand what Paul is saying here, it does away with all excuses and boldly proclaims that Jesus actually IS Lord.
    Another thing that helped me tremendously in understanding this is to picture the man in ch7 every time you see the word “flesh” in ch8. Then Paul boldly proclaims that you are not in the flesh but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.

    Forgive my lack of scholarship in trying to present this clearly. Perhaps Peter can elaborate further to help the presentation.

  8. 5-28-2013

    Matt,

    I agree with almost everything that you said, especially the part about reading Romans 7 along with Romans 6-8. Actually, I’d suggest we start back in chapter 1 where Paul begins stating over and over that all are sinners. Because of sin, the wrath of God is being revealed against some. But, for others, because of the gospel, the righteousness of God is being revealed. He doesn’t say that they do not sin anymore though. This is key.

    Then in Romans 6, Paul tells his readers 2 important things: 1) They are no longer enslaved to sin. And yet, 2) he commands them not to present themselves to sin as if they were still slaves. That’s the difference. The past act (no longer enslaved to sin), results in the ability not to sin in the present. But, there’s also the ability to sin (which does not remove the fact that we are not enslaved to sin), because we sometimes return to our former master, even though he is no longer our master.

    This is exactly what Paul is describing in his own life in Romans 7. I don’t see the transition in vs. 9 where Paul is no longer talking about himself. He’s talking about his past vs. his present, and his salvation in Christ vs. his continuing to struggle against the flesh. Paul (like all Christians) has been released from slavery to sin, but he still finds himself sinning, because he is not perfectly obedient. Sometimes, he lives in the flesh instead of in the Spirit.

    -Alan

  9. 5-28-2013

    What I’m trying to address here (probably poorly) is not whether we sin or not, but rather whether the sin “nature” still exists in the believer.
    Ezekiel prophesied that there would be a day when God would write His law on our heart (or nature). With that in mind, substitute the word nature every time you see law in chapters 7 & 8.

  10. 5-28-2013

    Matt,

    If you agree that you continue to sin even though the Spirit dwells within you, then we’re on the same page. I don’t care whether or not you call it a “nature” or not. The question for me is whether (at any moment) you are yielding to the Spirit or to the flesh. Of course, anyone can yield to the flesh, but only those who are in Christ can yield to the Spirit.

    -Alan