My reason for writing about Romans 7.
Over the time span that I have been a Christian I had come to Romans 7 quite a bit trying to reconcile the text with the most commonly held interpretation. Being that I expressed that I came to this text a few times most likely exposes that I could not come away from the text with a clear conscience about how I was hearing people interpret the passages of Romans 7.
Finally some clarity.
After some time it seemed to me that God began to open my understanding about what I was reading in that I began to connect some dots that started to make it clear to me. So without thinking that I could cover every angle and answer every question in advance, I am going to just walk through the text and hopefully start some good discussion on this topic. Lastly before getting to the text let me briefly explain why I see this as such an important issue.
Why I see this as such an important issue.
Consistency pretty much sums it up. However let me explain further, the contention I have is with those that claim that these passages describe the Christian life. The contention is that by taking such a position there is a multitude of passages that get rejected if the position is followed out to its logical end. One example for now is that Paul expresses in v. 23 that he is being made captive, if this is the Christian life then it raises contention with John 8:34-36 in that if the Son has made you free then you are free and no longer in bandage to sin.
Lowering the bar.
This position is ultimately very bad because rather than exhorting Christians to a life of liberty and holiness, people are lead to believe that when they sin it is just a normal thing in the life of a Christian and it lowers the bar of diligence and of what is attainable as a Christian. To show this, I would say that I am pretty sure that you have heard someone or even yourself express that bad conduct or sin is the result of your flesh or old self getting the better of them in such conduct. This is problematic because the flesh is supposed to be dead for the Christian per Romans 6:6 , Galatians 5:24.
Let’s look at some of the text in Romans 7 closely.
First thing I will point out is in verse 5. Take notice of the past tense wording, we were living in the flesh… bearing fruit unto death. Verse 6 gives the contrast. Now being dead we are freed from that which we were captive, so that we would serve in newness of the Spirit. So Paul is expressing that we were in one place and we have moved away from that place to another place, from being captive to being freed. Secondly, I would like to point out that in v.7 Paul poses some questions to his audience upon which he will build an argument for conforming the readers perspective regarding the law on through v.12 in which he states his conclusion.
The Law is good, Paul’s point.
From his conclusion in v.12 that the law and commandments are good, Paul poses another question in v.13 upon which he will build another argument. I hold the position that this argument Paul is laying out extends through v.25 which is the end of chapter 7. In Chapter 8 Paul begins the contrast of his conclusion in v.25 of what deals with or set us free from the place of his conclusion he stated in v.25.
Let’s take a closer look at the position I propose.
The position is that Paul is simply building an argument even in his usage of first person verbiage. What he is doing is teaching on a foundational truth that every human being connects with by putting himself in that place as he also was once there. Let us look a bit closer and consider what he is saying. In v.14 he states that he is sold under sin, is the christian sold under sin? If you say yes then, that would raise the question of why Paul was expressing about being made free. I would say no, that the christian was once sold under sin but has now been set free.
Even the unregenerate delight in the law of God.
Moving on to v.15, he states “For that which I do I allow not…”, I ask you to consider, does an unregenerate person do what they do not allow? yes they do. In this the unregenerate person will tell lies and yet tell others not to lie unto them. They would what they do not, and they hate what they do (all in the context of telling lies). Think about this, all people are image bears of God, God has made his attributes known unto everyone. Yet they find not in themselves how to do that which is good. We can see this same context through to the end of the chapter for the sake of simplicity.
Fitting for the unregenerate and the regenerate alike, what is the difference.
However, v.22 may be another point that people would ask how does the unregenerate delight on the law of God. What I have pointed out about lies I think answers even this question. Yet to press the point a bit further, think about this every person claims morals, love, justice, and righteousness. Even though these things are grasped at by even the unregenerate they find not in themselves how to properly express such things, like love and how it often gets exchanged for lust by the unregenerate.
Delight in the law but find not how to do that which is good.
This shows how they delight in what they know not how to do. The last two things I will point out, in v.23 he expresses bringing me into captivity. To which I would ask again, is Paul saying that the christian life is about being brought into captivity or being made free? I would say being made free. Lastly, in v.25 Paul makes his final conclusion on the unregenerate side of whole narrative which he spans from where a christian came from unto crossing of the threshold and coming into the faith in Christ Jesus.
Wanting to bless the saints of God.
Hopefully you have been given some food for thought about this topic. In the future will come more content on expanding further the importance of changing the perspective of those interpreting Romans 7 in a manner that makes Christianity nothing more than a spiritual claim and think that makes such people different than those of the world. As if the spiritual has no bearing upon the physical. This I mind you will be another part of this important topic and also an issue that the apostle John combated in his epistles. That will be for another time in the future if it be the will of God. May His peace, mercy, and grace be with you all, God bless you!
For reference Romans 7
Romans 7:1-25 ESV – biblegateway.com