This Week’s Reading Schedule
Monday, May 7: Romans Overview
Tuesday, May 8: Romans 1-3
Wednesday, May 9: Romans 4-6
Thursday, May 10: Romans 7-8
Friday, May 11: Romans 9-11
Next week we will return to the Hebrew Scriptures to begin the histories with 1 and 2 Samuel.
The overall year’s plan is here.
There’s just one point to Romans 7. You can give us any law, the Law of Moses or the Code of Hammurabi or the IRS tax code, and we’re not going to keep it. The Law of Moses is a perfect Law because it came from God, but it doesn’t matter. We’re deficient, so the Law is not going to make us righteous or give us life.
It’s a bad situation, and Paul cries out, "Oh, wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death!" (v. 24).
The answer is that we will be delivered "through Jesus Christ our Lord" (v. 25).
I’ve heard it argued and discussed whether Christians suffer from the problem in Romans 7. I’ve even heard it argued that Paul was speaking of himself, and that he was still doing "the very thing I hate" (v. 15).
Obviously, Christians still suffer from the problem, the law of sin and death, described in Romans 7. On a practical basis, if you have any experience with Christians at all, you know that Christians struggle with what is described in Romans 7. That cannot be denied.
But that is not the normal Christian life, and it is not the life lived by the apostle Paul!
Paul disciplined his body daily and brought it under subjection (1 Cor. 9:27). Poul lived in good conscience before God and men (Acts 23:1; 24:16).
We can, too.
We saw in Romans 6 that this takes some choices from us. We have to know that we’ve died to Christ, been raised with him so that he can live through us, and we need to set our eyes on him and walk in the Spirit.
It’s important. Jesus died for this (Tit. 2:11-14; 2 Cor. 5:14-15).
Paul gives some specific advice we should look at in Romans 8 because it’s life changing.
First, let’s make it clear that Paul does not leave us wondering whether he was living in Romans 7 or whether we should be trapped in Romans 7.
Romans 8 starts by telling us that there is no condemnation for those of us that are in Christ Jesus.
There’s a reason for this! Those of us in Christ Jesus "have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (Gal. 5:24). The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has delivered us from the law of sin and death (v. 2).
In verse 3, Paul says, "What the Law could not do, God did."
We are not stuck in Romans 7, and Paul was not either. We don’t have to continue to cry, "Who will deliver us from this body of death?" Jesus will, and if we have believed into him, then we already are.
"Reckon yourselves," Paul said (Rom. 6:11) to be dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus. We need to believe, to mark it down in our minds, that we are not the same. We don’t live by the same old life. We are new creatures, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.
Paul goes on in Romans 8 to explain that this is exactly the route to righteousness and holiness, and its end, eternal life.
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace … and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (vv. 5,6,8, NASB)
Our power is in a mind set on the Spirit. Unbelievably, the difference between a godly Christian and one who is being destroyed by the world and by the flesh is simply where his or her mind is set.
Perhaps that shouldn’t be a surprise. Paul made a point of saying that Abraham’s faith was marked by the ability to avoid considering his own body or Sarah’s, too old to have a child, and instead to dwell on the promise of God in faith.
Romans 8 is not the only place Paul says this:
If you are risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things of the earth. For you are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Col. 3:1-3)
Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith … Consider him who endured such opposition of sinners against himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your minds. (Heb. 12:1b,2a,3)
There is a meditating and pursuing of God that we CANNOT live without. You CANNOT dodge this. You CANNOT get around it.
God thinks Jesus is worth it. When you stand before him, you are not going to be able to convince him that you had more important things to do which prevented you from meditating on his Word and setting your mind on Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
So, then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh to live according to the flesh, for if you live according to the flesh you will die. If, however, you put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit, then you will live. (vv. 12-13)
Romans 8, Part II
That last section was Paul’s advice on being delivered from the law of sin and death by the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.
Right after v. 13 (quoted just above), Paul gives us what I consider a transition verse. The transition verse is:
Those who are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. (v. 14)
It is those who are led by the Spirit of God who are the sons of God, but now we’re moving from the qualifications—walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh—to the rewards, and the rewards are incredible.
Above everything else is that we get to be sons of God! The entire creation is awaiting the revelation of these sons of God!
This, by the way, explains why Jesus said you must be worthy and overcome (Rev. 3:4-5). We are the trophies of the grace of God. He is going to put us on display for all eternity as the proof of the riches of grace (Eph. 2:7).
But if we walk in the Spirit (and suffer with him, v. 17), then the sufferings of this time won’t even compare to the glory that will be revealed in us (v. 18).
Not only that, but God is with us! We are in right standing with God. As we live every day in grace through faith, God will not impute sin to us. He will not accept the charges of men or angels against us. We are his elect, and no one can lay anything against us. We "overwhelmingly conquer" (v. 37, NASB) through him who loves us.
He makes all things work together for good, and he will carry us through from justification to glorification.