Romans 7 and Romans 8, do Christians really understand those two chapters of the Bible?
Recently a number of members of Rose Creek Village went to a “Jesus Radicals” conference. As odd as it may sound, the Jesus Radicals conference was a Christian anarchy conference.
Since Christ basically means king [it means “anointed,” and refers to the anointing of the king of Israel], “Christian anarchy” is at least somewhat an oxymoron.
Be that as it may, several of our members went to such a conference in Memphis.
There were some good people there. Many of them are activists; they are devoted to the idea of changing the world.
Missing Romans 7
I’m told that for the most part these Christian anarchists know they are failing in their goals. They want to change the world; they want to do good; but they don’t know how.
Jesus once said that he could only do what he saw the Father doing (John 5:19). If Jesus could do nothing unless the Father was already doing it, how much less can we?
Romans 7 is Paul’s announcement that we will never do good in ourselves, no matter how much good will we have within us. We do have good will within us, he says, but the performing of that good will we find impossible.
It’s a crucial lesson. Like Jesus we are dependent on the Father. In fact, if it’s possible we are more dependent on the Father than Jesus was. If we want to change the world, we have to stop, see what God is doing, and join him.
He’s not going to join us.
Do you wonder why you’re failing at what you’re trying to do? If you’re human–even if you’re a Christian human–the chances are, that’s why.
Missing Romans 8
Most Christians aren’t like those Christian anarchists. They understand Romans 7. They know that the good they wish to do, they cannot do.
The problem is, they don’t seem to want to move on to Romans 8!
Romans 8 is the answer to Romans 7. Read through Romans 7, and you will see that the principle described there is quite accurately described as “the law of sin and death.”
Romans 8 is the answer to the law of sin and death.
The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death. (Rom. 8:2)
Romans 8 begins with an announcement that we don’t have to live in Romans 7. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus delivers us from Romans 7!
The very next verse says it again:
What the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did! (Rom. 8:3)
We don’t have to live in Romans 7. We can live in Romans 8!
The righteous requirement of the Law is fulfilled in us who do not walk according the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Rom. 8:4)
Romans 8 and the Atonement
In between the two sentences I just quoted is a statement that this deliverance from the law of sin and death is provided by the atoning death of Jesus Christ. Most Christians know that, but so many don’t seem to believe that it works!
If we are Christians, buried with Christ in baptism, born again to a new life in Christ, then we are supposed to be delivered from the law of sin and death.
So many Christians say that they should not be pushed to good works because they are under grace. No! They should be pushed to good works specifically because they are under grace!
Sin shall not have power over you because you are not under law but under grace. (Rom. 6:14)
Romans 7 and Romans 8
Let us be believers in both Romans 7 and Romans 8. Let us know that we can do nothing of ourselves. Let us know that in ourselves–that is, in our flesh–nothing good dwells.
But let us also know that the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus–the law described in Romans 8–has delivered us from Romans 7.
A Caveat: The Church
I have to add a final word.
Wait, no I don’t. I started to add a section on how you can’t do this alone. Unless you’re exhorted every day, says Hebrews 3:13, you’re not safe. You’re likely to be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
I highlight that because, being deceived by sin, you won’t know it. You’ll try all the above alone, and you’ll fail. You need your brothers and sisters.
However, I have so much to say on that subject, it would make us lose focus on our topic: Romans 7 and Romans 8.
So, I’ll save that for the next post.