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Insights into Fullness of Life in Christ

 

 

10….The Enigma of Romans 7

The Misunderstanding that Blocks Life in the Spirit

 

Having now concluded the series of studies in various aspects of adversity and how the Lord uses it in our Christian lives, He has now directed my attention to another issue, which I have said in some earlier studies I would address at some time.   This is that time.    This study too is a vital aspect of living in fullness of Life with our Lord, as a prerequisite of abiding in Him and of offering our lives in full service in His name.

As we all know, if we do not interpret scripture in the right way, by interpreting scripture with scripture, other aspects such as context, timing and other aspects of hermeneutics, then will we not get the true guidance we need.   Romans 7:14-25 is one portion of scripture that is too infrequently interpreted and practiced correctly in our time.  Yet older saints have written of it in entirely different ways to modern day understanding and practice.  I never understood it until some time in 2003, that understanding coming only after months of study and with help from saints around the world who really knew what it was really about.  Later, the Lord, by revelation, had me know its truth and its connections with living the Christian life, sufficient to write three articles which are still on my web site.  However, this latest study is more focused and insightful, honing in on the deeper elements, that reveal God’s provisions that come out of the death and resurrection of Christ. 

This issue is so profound that it affects the whole of the Christian life as it is presented in the N.T.   Paul not only wrote Romans 7 (in A.D 57) but he was the first person in all of history to really understand the mystery of the gospel which he says is “Christ in you” and “Christ our life”.   Unit one in this series fully dealt with that mystery.   Paul was God’s chosen man to receive the revelation of this mystery.  It is simple, but yet the most profound mystery of the N.T.  It reveals that God intended that we live in Oneness with Him, the God of this universe.   How profound is that!  This means being in total unity with Him by virtue of the Life of Christ and Holy Spirit being within us.   That means us as ordinary human beings being in a perfect unity with the God of the universe.   Jesus explained this oneness in John 17.   This oneness is achieved by recognizing this and having the Lord apply the cross to our lives and not allowing any other scripture to discount that in any way.  We find out that we are dead to sin, understand the context of Romans 7 and know that it is the Spirit of God’s task to defeat fleshly tendency in our lives.   A misinterpretation or misuse of Romans 7:14-25 erects a barrier that prevents us from living in that unity that Jesus spoke about and that the Father had always planned.  Moreover, the true nature of the meaning of this scripture dovetails with what John says in 1 John 2 about the three stages of the Christian life and almost every other letter that Paul wrote.   (if you print off this study, it is better in colour as some details are colour coded)

So focus in as we move into the study.   As always, the Spirit of God is your teacher.

 

No

 

Thematic Point

 

Developmental Point

 

 

Illustrations and linkages

 

1

 

Introduce

 

Romans

 

7:14-25

 

In Romans 7, Paul speaks of not being able to do what he should and doing what he shouldn’t do, as though he had no control over his life as a believer.  It is even more astounding, that given Paul’s wonderful record as an Apostle, that he wrote these words 20 years after his conversion on the Damascus Road and after living the way that the Holy Spirit taught him for at least the previous 14 years.  Those 12 verses are a real enigma if viewed on their own, without reference to other parts of scripture.  (An enigma is something that is mysterious or puzzling)

 

This enigma is because of what Paul says in some of those verses, they being totally contrary to how the rest of the N.T record said that he lived.   The two simply do not appear to fit!   However, we know that there is no part of the Bible that does not fit with all other parts, so there must be a way of reconciling these two things.   It is further complicated by the fact that the Christian church seems to accept the authority of Paul’s writing and that he was God’s man to explain the gospel to us and that he lived as fully as any true saint of God could have lived, yet they also seem to accept that he said his behaviour was right out of control. 

 

So can you can perhaps see why we need to examine all the aspects of the issue so that the truth is revealed.  This truth will set you free as it has done for many others.

 

Accepting Paul’s words in Romans 7 on face value alone and not referencing it to other parts of scripture, in my opinion has done more to destroy faith in God and in the practice of the gospel, than almost any other misinterpretation of scripture in the whole Bible.    You will see why as I proceed to reveal the details.

 

And yet that is what much of the Christian church has done in their ignorance of this truth.

 

We are going to find out in this study that these statements of Paul’s were true for his experience at a particular time in his life and have deep theological reasoning underpinning them. 

 

We shall also find that  a similar experience is relevant for believers who God is going to bring into the fullness  of His abiding life.

 

Before we get into looking at this enigma, we need to look at some parts of Paul’s background.   We know quite a bit about his background. 

 

2

 

Paul’s background as a Jew living under the Mosaic law.

 

He said in Galations 3 that he was:

 

circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.”   Also in Acts 22 he says, “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today.

 

So Paul (as Saul) was the perfect Jew being born right and living right.  As he said, zealous, righteous, blameless, being taught by the best in the land.”  In a very real sense Paul, as a Jew had it easy.  But his life changed forever when he met Christ and he was then unable to control his life as he had done before.  

 

 

So why did Paul have so much trouble living the Christian life?  Surely it should have been easier!  Why was this not so?  For some of the same reasons that apply to today! 

 

What went wrong for him was actually what God wanted for him.

 

3

 

Study of some of Paul’s chronological life.

 

The actual dates used here are from The Reese Chronological Bible – which provides verses in sequence of events, and provided dates, rather then the sequencing normally provided in Bibles.

 

A.D 37.  Paul converted in AD 37 - then to Damascus.  Saw Ananias.  He preached Christ in Synagogues there.  The Jews plotted to kill him and he had to escape Jews via basket.  (Acts 9)

 

A.D. 38-40.  Paul went to Arabia.)   There is no record of what he did

 

there for 2-3 years.  

 

(see later comments) At the end of that time he went to Damascus again.  (Galations 1:17)

 

A.D. 40 he went to Jerusalem for 15 days in and saw Peter and James. (Galations 2:18)  A little later Barnabas introduced Paul to some other disciples.  (Acts 9:27)  When he spoke about Jesus to the Jews he left Jerusalem and went to Caesarea and then home to Tarsus in A.D 40   (Paul also went to Cilicia and Syria – timing is unknown. Syria would have been on his way home to Tarsus, Tarsus being a part of Cilicia in Turkey.

 

 

A.D. 41-43 Paul stayed at Tarsus.  Nothing is recorded of what he did

 

there for 2-3 years.   (see later comments)

 

 

A.D. 43.  Barnabas took Paul to Antioch.   (Acts 11:26)

 

 

A.D 43-44.  Paul taught in Antioch (Acts 11:25) Prophets came from

Jerusalem to hear him.

 

 

A.D. 45.Paul’s formal ministry with Barnabas began in AD 45 (Acts

 

13:1-3)

.

A.D. 46.  Soon after, Luke reports Paul as being filled with the Spirit.

 

(Acts 13:52)  (this is a particularly important statement by Luke –

 

see later comments)

 

A.D. 50, In Jerusalem Paul was received into fellowship by James,

 

Peter and John.  Later that year Paul disputed with Peter in Antioch.

(Gal 2:11)

 

AD 57-58 Paul went to Jerusalem again with Barnabas and Titus.  (Galations 2:1)

 

AD 58  The Lord told Paul he would witness for Him in Rome. He was arrested by Jews – rescued by Romans – taken to Caesarea, eventually to Rome, where legend suggests he suffered a martyr’s death.

 

 

Notice Paul’s apparent lack of initial success in preaching to the Jews – they tried on more than one occasion to kill him

 

Notice also Paul’s times where we are not told what he did - Firstly in Arabia for 3 years, then in Tarsus for 3 years.

 

These were all before his ministry really started – but when he started properly, Luke said Paul ministered in the power of the Spirit and with joy.

 

There are reasons for this which we will discuss later.

 

One he started his ministry there were no faults reported in it at all by Luke, only praise, who wrote the book of Acts in his meticulous fashion.

 

Notice how this differs from Paul’s apparent hopeless state as he describes it in Roman 7:14-25.

 

Why this apparent discrepancy? 

 

We will soon see!

 

4

 

Summary and timing of Paul’s ministry

Paul had an incredible life as a believer.

 

So, Paul the Apostle - this is your life!

 

 

Paul  filled with the Holy Spirit and with joy.    Acts 13:52       AD 46

 

Paul healed. (through power of God)  Acts 14:9-1      AD 46

 

Paul endured many tribulations.         Acts 14:22           AD 47

 

Paul preached truth.                         Acts 16:14           AD 50

 

Paul exorcised evil spirits.(through God’s power)  Acts 16:18 AD 50

 

Paul praised God in difficult circumstances.      Acts 16:25         AD 51

Paul’s life was a witness.                           Acts 16:25          AD 51

 

 

Paul was in control of every situation he faced. Acts 16:31  AD 51-52

 

 

(Jesus was in control living Paul’s life for him and  in control at all

 

times)

 

Paul taught effectively.                   Acts 17:11           AD 52

 

 

Paul had personal guidance from the Lord Acts 18:9-10,23:11 in

                                                                                                  AD 52

 

 

Paul performed miracles. (through power of God)  Acts 19:11  AD 54

 

 

Paul’s wordsconvicted people of their sins.         Acts 19:18-19 AD 54

 

Paul brought people back to life. ( power of God) Acts 20:10   AD 57

 

Paul received words of knowledge from the Lord. Acts 20:23    

 

AD 57-58

 

Paul sacrificed his life for the Gospel.Acts 20:24, 21:13 in

 

AD 57-58

 

Paul suffered for the Gospel.  Acts 21:30, 21:13 in        AD 57-58

 

 

Paul told by Lord to leave Jerusalem. Act22:17-18    AD 58

 

 

Paul received personal guidance from the Lord  Acts 23:11   AD 58

 

(from the Lord) 

                         

Paul was protected by God.      Acts 28:5AD 60

 

Paul experienced sufferingsuffering and persecuti 2 Cor 6:4-10 as

 

one example of many over his life.

 

 

 

 

First, notice the wide range of ministry gifts that Paul displayed throughout the book of Acts. Let me highlight some.

 

Notice the starting date of AD 46 for Luke’s glowing report and that this ministry continued from there.

 

Notice that he was in control of every situation – which is quite contrary to what he says in Romans 7:14-23.

 

Notice his suffering and how this relates to his loss of all things in order to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.

 

Notice the personal guidance from the Spirit and other ministry gifts of word of knowledge, healing, dealing with evil spirits and convicting people and miracles.

 

Notice how all these activities were a witness to all who came into contact with him.

 

4

 

Assessment of Paul’s life and theology

 

 

 

We asked before what went wrong in Paul’s life after becoming a believer in Jesus Christ. Nothing actually went wrong at all.  All that happened was in perfect accord with God’s plan to make Paul one of His Apostles and prolific teacher and writer of NT theology.  We just need to examine exactly what happened to him and when these things happened to him in relation to each other.  The timing and sequence is very important. 

 

In summary, this whole issue gets at the centre of the Christian faith and why Jesus came and what He did.  Paul was in the process of learning the outcomes of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in terms of the provisions of God in having us able to live in resurrection life and power as God always intended that we would.

 

In one sense it is complicated stuff and has been argued about for centuries.  But there is an answer to all this.  Although I have written about these things three times before, the Lord has drawn me into a consideration of this subject again, out of the adversities and revelations in my own life, in order to show me His way and taking me further into Him and further away from self effort and legalism.

 

The Romans 7 materials written 6 years ago are as follows.

 

 

Searching for the Promised Fullness of God.

 

Romans 7 – Another Look

 

The Phantom of Romans 7

 

Do a search for these links after you have read all of this one.

 

However, this new study has much more detail and is far more revealing as to the interactions between all the relevant scriptures.

 

 

5

 

We have to use scripture to interpret scripture…….

 

to find out what was really going on with Paul here.

 

 

 

When we read the Bible and try to see what a particular narrative means, we nearly always have to use other parts of the Bible to help us understand that segment.

 

Moreover, when one part seems to disagree with another we need to find how to reconcile the two parts which seem to say something different, as ultimately, there will never be any disagreement between different parts of scripture.  Where we have apparent disagreement, there is always some factor we have not understood properly.   Parts of Romans 7 are a case in point, where there are many views on what Paul means.  In this study we are going to examine and compare several parts of the Bible to get the true meanings intended.

 

I have heard preaching and read books and even Bible commentaries that I believe miss the real truth of what Paul was saying, simply because they have not looked at other parts of the Bible that impinge on this aspect of Paul’s life. 

 

However, I believe that all such thought not fully expressing the truth is often simply a stage in the development of the believer, where full understanding is in  a process  of maturation and development.

 

After all, we are all learners. The Lord has made a number of major corrections of doctrine in my life.

 

The Lord is so patient and we really have no excuse.  We must seek out the views of others who may have more truth with them than is immediately obvious.

 

Praise God for real fellowship, with others personally and online.

 

 

6

 

Errors of interpretation

 

The range of views on this section of scripture are amazing

 

 

 

They include:

 

●    I have viewed interpretations that view Paul’s comments as a battle between two natures, when the word nature is not even mentioned nor implied.  All this discussion is within the bounds of Paul’s newly acquired divine nature. 

 

●   Some say that indwelling sin continues on in the regenerate Christian.  (In actual fact it cannot. However, a lack of knowledge might allow that idea to persist) This sometimes includes the point that living with the divine nature as we are, we are also stuck with the old nature as a competitor for our entire lives, as though the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was of no effect.   Many commentaries allow the conflict and contradiction to remain, leaving many believers in a constant war. On this point, Professor Daniel Steel - Professor of Greek at Boston University in Chapter 8 of Half-Hours with St. Paul says that:

"Romans 7 cannot be seen to make the gospel as great a failure as the law in its reconstruction of the human character.” He said, “ that no understanding of Romans 7 that leaves a contradiction between it and the rest of scripture can be a true interpretation. Also, that nowhere else in scripture does he intimate that sin dwells in him." (Steel pp 71-72)

 

●   Some even say that Paul was referring to his life before his conversion.

 

●   William R. Newell – in his book, Romans Verse by Verse,, describes the matter with the benefit of the revelation light of God.



He says that
"we must remember that this struggle that Paul writes about is not a description of an experience he was having, but the experience he had as a regenerate man before he knows either about indwelling sin, or that he died to sin and to the Law, which gives sin its power; and who also does not yet know the Holy Spirit, as an indwelling presence and power against sin. God let Paul have that experience, so that we may read and not only know the facts of our salvation, the guilt of sin, but also the moral hideousness of our old selves and our powerlessness, though regenerate, to deliver ourselves from the law of sin in our members." (Newell pp 273)

In addition, Newell added:


"Furthermore, Paul spent three years alone in Arabia soon after his conversion, probably  struggling in vain to compel the flesh to obey the Law, to have revealed to his weary soul that he had died with Christ - to sin and to Law which sin had used as its power." (Newell pp 260)

 

 

 

 

So from that time on, after realizing all this from the Spirit of God, Paul would have been free from conflict relating to sin and law, for the last 14-16 years before he wrote Romans 7.

 

 

So these have been some of the clues to expose the issue and that we will use to unravel it to get to the real truth.

 

But first, we are going to look at Paul’s very own immediate answer to the issue .

 

7

 

7.1

 

Paul supplies some of the explanation himself.

 

 

Deliverance from Romans 7:24-25

 

 

In a very clear sense the answer to Paul’s dilemma is told to us in verses 24 and 25.  After emphasising his practicing of what he hates in verses 14-17, his inability to overcome the sin thought to be in him, he then laments about his failure to do the desired good, to do right.  He then tells us in verse 22-23 that he loves the law but finds opposition to it in his own being.    But then he exclaims in verse 24, “Oh what a wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?

 

Then he answers his own question (because he knew the answer all along - in fact since as early as A.D.  40 but certainly by A.D. 45, when sent out to minister with Barnabas)  He is writing these words in Romans in A.D 57 about 14 to 16 years after he knew these truths and actually used them in life)

 

His answer was, “I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  So when he said those words, he realized his deliverance from sin was already there.  He had been living in freedom from sin for all those years.   Problem resolved!  The exchange of lives had taken place at his conversion, but the Spirit had to teach him the reality of freedom in Christ – in the resurrected life.  But somehow, many of us either do not know or teach this at all, or we are overcome by the negative ourselves and then miss the fullness of life answer which is continued in Rom 8.

 

So when we read his comments in verses 14-23 we should then take his answer to his deliverance and from Whom it came, in verse 25. Jesus Christ!  And that, in a very real sense removes the dilemma altogether.  He has been delivered from it and had been in his daily life for all those years.  So in a very real sense Christians who want to point to Paul as a sinner and no hoper in life, either want to excuse their own sin, which some may do, or they do not understand the doctrine being taught here.   The doctrine is based on what Paul taught in Romans 6:6 and 6:11 that our old man was crucified with Christ and can consider ourselves dead to sin – and then he adds the positive of being alive to God through Christ Jesus.  Resurrection life! How wonderful!   That is the gospel in a nutshell.   We died with Him.  He gave us His life for us to live out His life from within us.

 

You know, there are many believers who know those Romans 6 verses, yet it is merely an intellectual knowing, and has not been put to any practical use.  What is needed is to put that knowledge into practice in our lives, standing in faith when what we do wrong seems to be us doing it.  It is just our lack of knowledge and experience of living daily from His death into His resurrection life – within us. The clue is this.  We need to know that because of what Jesus has done on the cross, that this apparent evil self is NOT our real selves – and we have to act in faith, believing that through the moment by moment deliverance of Jesus Christ, we can find freedom from the sin that we are tempted to activate within us.

 

This freedom from sin was because we died on the cross with Christ and received the resurrection life of Christ. 

 

That happened at our regeneration, but the Lord had to wait until we fell on our face so often that we despaired, just as Paul himself did.   We have to know who we are in Christ so that we may live that life.

 

Before that happens we have to realize the hopelessness of our own lives without Him.

 

So, in other words, Paul has supplied us both with the problem and the solution.  However it is a solution that is not easily found and cannot be found when believers accept the wrong interpretation of these verses that Paul’s dilemma of uncontrolled sin was his normal Christian life that continued forever. 

 

And on the basis of that error, they then believe that they are in the same position as Paul seemed to be. 

 

And that is one of the reasons why the Christian faith does not flourish as it otherwise could.

 

7.2

 

Paul’s consideration of the law.

 

Paul was initially caught by the Law.

 

His new found freedom was the problem

 

Paul was initially caught by the Law, in particular by coveting, but came to eliminate that as the cause of his problems.   This is how he did that.

Earlier in Romans 7, Paul also describes the affect of the Law of God on the way we live our lives. He says that if we are trying to live by the Law of God, or are unable to live and walk in the Spirit (as he commands in many places), the reason may be that we are being trapped by the demands of the Law and therefore not able to live in the fullness of what the New Testament describes as the standard. That was Paul's problem too - initially.   As he said:

"And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death." (Rom 7:10)


The law did make for difficulty, because the law prescribed a holy walk but gave him no power to walk that way.  Paul was used to keeping the letter of the law and at this stage was still trying to do that, which was impossible.

 

Paul was not used to the freedom that his new relationship in Christ brought him.  He was not used to having to make choices, but just to follow the letter of the law.  By analogy, he was used to cruising in a chariot according to the road sign which said 20 mph, but when the road sign changed to,” travel at a safe speed” he did not know what to do, because as yet (at that time and for a period) he did not have the guidance of the Spirit.  So freedom from the law brought him problems he could not resolve in his own strength and wisdom.


But Paul found the way through the law issue by eliminating it as his big problem. He realized that the law was not the stumbling block to the overall issue, as even though the law tended to prompt him into sin, he began to perceive from what the Spirit taught him that the issue was far deeper.  So he dispensed with the law as the main issue with these words.

"But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter." (Rom 7:6)

So he was able to eliminate the law as the cause of his dilemma.

 

He was to eventually realize that the Holy Spirit was his only spiritual power and that Christ was his only righteousness, differing from the righteousness he had from the law which was no longer relevant.

 

William R. Newell in Romans, verse by verse, reminds us of the broad picture of this issue.

 

“We must constantly remember throughout this struggle that it is not a description by the Apostle Paul of an experience he was having when he wrote this epistle (A.D. 57) but an experience of a regenerate man before he knows either about indwelling sin or that he had died to sin and to the Law which gives sin its power, and who also does not know the Holy Spirit as an indwelling presence and power against sin. 

 

God allowed Paul to have this experience to find these things  (Newell pp 273)

 

7.3

 

Paul life was modelled on Jesus Christ

 

As we have said before, scripture must be compared with scripture.   Another reason why Paul’s life cannot be judged solely on what he says in Romans 7:14-23 is that he said that others should follow his example, because he followed the example of Christ.  So if Paul was a real uncontrolled sinner he would not have likened himself to Christ.

 

He said this in 1 Corinthians 11.   Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

 

Also in Philippians 4:9. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

 

So, because of Paul likening himself to Jesus Christ, and asking others to copy him, he could not have been a struggling sinner.  As is being revealed in this study, Paul was someone totally transformed by the Spirit of God.  Although not perfect he pressed on toward the level of perfection that could be attained during his life on earth.

 

He was not a weak sinner but a powerful Apostle, full of the Spirit, and his life as it is expressed in Romans 7 cannot be used as an excuse for our sin, nor to indicate his lifestyle. Rather, God has greatly honoured the man, declaring him to be an example for us to follow.

 

Also, Paul also tells us that Jesus Christ himself gave him a special ministry.

                                                                                                     It was >>>

 

Colossians 1:24-27

 

I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.

 

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

 

 

8

 

 

An assessment of Paul’s progressive learning about living as God intended.

 

 

 

 

 

Continued

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

continued

 

As the Holy Spirit taught him, Paul eventually realized, perhaps to his horror, that sin actually dwelt in him, (see qualification still to come) even though, as we know, his heart was consenting to do the will of God.   As he said in  Romans 7:17-21.

 

“But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.  I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.

We must remember that this was not the sins (plural) he might have done, but the indwelling sin (singular) of his very own being.  ( really his old man of Romans 6:6) It is also a good idea to take care with some bibles and the words uses.  >>

 

He could use his will against it as he had done before, but no matter how hard he tried he could not overcome it.  And this was what God wanted him to find out, so that he would then be open to finding out how real freedom in life is obtained.

 

……….and this point is now leading to the big revelation that set Paul in the freedom he talks about in Romans 8, after introducing it at the end of Romans 7.  This is the key point in this whole study and is the thing that will set any believer free from all the demands, not only of law, but from the sin which appears to indwell all believers until they realize that deliverance from this apparent sin comes (or has come) from Jesus Christ. 

 

The real fact of the matter is that there is no indwelling sin at all.  That (body of) sin was brought to death on the cross, because the old man of all new believers is dead and cannot affect them any more.  We are all dead to sin and can consider ourselves as being totally dead to sin.  As he says in Roman 8:1, Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death.   Sin does not have dominion over us any more.

 

Although it appears that Paul is tied up in sin and cannot escape it, he well knows he has been freed from it.  In the previous chapter to this one (in Romans 6), he has just explained this new state which came out of the death of Christ and our participation in it.   So why you might ask, did he tell the story this way and confuse many?

 

I believe he told the story this way because he wanted us to learn of the process, or the theology if you like, that sets us free.  He wanted us to learn these things in the normal course of life experience, hoping that we would focus on the Spirit of God, and have us relate our adversities to what God was trying to do in us.  He wanted to demonstrate that the realization of this freedom does not come straight away – at least for him and perhaps not for us, although intellectual knowing what scripture says would help.  Likewise for most of us, because we either do not know these facts or we have not applied them to our life.  In essence, it is like having a million dollars in the bank, but not knowing it, and not knowing we can draw on it.   Paul, at his conversion and for several years following, did not know what freedom in Christ was, because the Holy Spirit had not yet revealed to him, that to learn these things from the Spirit, he had to find out that human strength is useless in living the Christ life – only Christ could live it for him, or us. 

 

So, whilst Paul seems to put himself into a problem by his description he has already supplied the answer in Romans 6, at the end of Romans 7 and then again in Chapter 8.

 

We should also note that it is wrong to assume that this struggle  (that Paul describes in Romans 7) had been in Paul’s heart all along, prior to his conversion.  What brought on the apparent struggle for understanding and freedom, was his regeneration followed by his inability to keep the law and the realization that no one else could provide his deliverance but Jesus Christ Himself – and that only by Paul’s faith in Him to do so.

 

Newell sums up Paul’s great discoveries.

 

1   Though he delighted in God’s law sin dwelt in him.

 

2.  Paul’s will was powerless against it.

 

3.  That his sinful self was not his real self.

 

4. There was deliverance through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Newell pp

 

280)

 

Each of these except number 3 have been explained.  

 

That his sinful “self” was not his real “self”, is easily explained by the fact that his sinful “self” (his old man) died on the cross and his real “self” is now the one that Paul says in other places is a new creation.

 

Remember Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17

 

17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

 

Caution is suggested here as many bibles use the word self as having died to sin in Romans 6:6.

 

The word self has all sorts of connotations and it should always be remembered, no matter which Bible is used, it is the old man.  The KJV and NKJV have it right – the NIV uses self.

 

 

Paul had to find out and experience his own powerlessness and finally despair of delivering himself.  The help he needed had to come from outside, beyond himself. 

 

As he exclaimed in desperation (to make the point for us) “who will set me free from the body of this death?  And then his answer, “thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord”   What a relief!  He did not have to do anything, but rely on Christ.

It had all been done for him. Not only did Jesus pay the penalty for our sins through His shed blood but that His body death had also provided our sanctification and freedom from sin. 

 

Sin was no longer an issue.  Not only that, but he then realized that because of his partaking in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the power of Christ in his being enabled that life of Christ to overcome all sin for him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

 

Review of Paul’s life A.D. 37 to A.D. A.D. 60 in relation to all these things.

 

A historical summary in terms of spiritual things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

continued


Let us do a historical diversion. In Chapter 1 of Galations Paul tells us that after his conversion he went to Arabia and after that returned to Damascus. There was a 3 year period which he spent in either Arabia or Damascus or both. 

 

Most commentators say he was in Arabia for 3 years, although the text does not quite say that - it matters little - the important thing was that he had a 3 year break after his conversion before going to Jerusalem to see some of the Apostles. During the three years in Arabia from A.D. 38 to A.D. 40 he appears to have been alone.  Most of the 17 years that followed were filled with successful ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. Everywhere, he was led by the Spirit of God.

 

The confusion about the relevance of Romans 7:14-24 comes about because many people think that these verses were his current (A.D. 57) experience, but the Biblical evidence suggests otherwise. But he was not writing about his current experience in Romans 7 but reporting on his struggle of getting into the fullness of the Spirit that he then described in Romans 8.

The lesson that Paul had to learn was that he had to obtain fullness of the Spirit of God by faith alone and not by striving, because striving by human effort brought him up against the power of the law, sinful behaviour and certain failure. He discovered this by reference to the sin of coveting - commandment number 10 in the Mosaic law.

Romans 7:7 "What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”

Notice the issue as it relates to the law.

Romans 7:5 "For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death..”

Initially, not being aware that he had been released from the law he strove against it - coveting in particular - thus guaranteeing failure. His own striving for perfection brought him against the law.

 

Presumably, the Holy Spirit had to stand by and let Paul make these mistakes, as the Spirit also strove with Paul to teach him that control of all these things only came through the power that He (the Holy Spirit) alone could provide - and that Holy Spirit power only came to him through faith.   He had been released from the law.

So Paul had to learn that he did not have to strive against sin or the law. He was already dead to both! All he had to do - and it was a big and important "all", was to believe that the Holy Spirit could work through the presence of Christ in him – “the Christ who is our life” - Paul's “Christ in you”, as per the following scriptures.

 

 

Colossians 3:4. “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”

 

Colossians 1:27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

 

So Paul was taught by the Holy Spirit about the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Most people do not realize that he did not write about that experience in Arabia/Damascus until he wrote Romans in A.D. 57, some 17 years later.



The life of Christ in Paul, because it was indeed the power of the Holy Spirit was Paul's actual new life. He did not have to strive, only believe by faith that this life was there within him. Quite a contrast from striving against sin all the time!

 

Romans 7:6. “But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.’

 

 

10

 

Paul’s experience actually is an example of the second stage of the Christian life

 

When I first wrote on Romans 7, six years ago, I did not then realize that it had a distinct connection with John’s three stages of the Christian life in 1 John 2 – Children, Young Men and Fathers.    This was the subject of study number 6 – The Three Stages of the Christian Life.

 

This Romans 7 experience of Paul’s, I believe is analogous to the second stage of the Christian life that John talks about, that of young men.   They have passed through the child stage and are now beginning to meet with strange opposition to living out this life in full, in order to reach the conditioned status of fathers in Christ.  (by the way, Paul talks about being a spiritual father to many)

 

To be more explicit, to learn to experience the promised rest (fathers), this does not come without difficulty (of learning faith) Likewise to learn the experience of the indwelling life of Christ within us – our unity with Him, our resurrection, is not initiated by us but by the Spirit as He sees fit. 

 

In this stage, although we are more mature than we were, we still do not suffer perfectly without some complaint.   But if we persevere, the Spirit completes this process in us. When we begin to notice some of the characteristics of stage 3 occurring in our life, we will look back in wonder at the difficulties of stage two that the Lord brought us through. 

 

  

This is how it must be for every believer intent on being all that God intended through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  

 

 

 

And that is exactly what happened to Paul in his time. 

 

Stages of the Christian Life was the subject of unit 6 in this series. 

 

11

 

Are two natures involved here?

 

One of the difficulties in looking at this issue is that all too frequently, two natures are said to be operating at the same time.   But this is not so and never can be so.  In the N.T. if you closely examine the word nature, you will find that there are only two natures mentioned.   The nature of wrath is the one that describes unbelievers before their regeneration and the other is the divine nature of which believers partake after regeneration.

 

Within Paul’s apparent struggle in Romans 7 there is only one nature involved, through his partaking of the divine nature.  Paul was regenerate during this experience and as we have seen, the struggle was about learning his own helplessness without a full realization of his deliverance through Jesus Christ.  God had to bring him down to nothing, to the end of himself and to realize there was nothing within him that could have him live according to the requirements of the law, except through the freedom and power that the Holy Spirit would provide.

 

Unit 5, The Nature of Man goes into that matter fully and may be read or listened from my web site – see listings below.

 

The matter of a possible two natures is one of some confusion.

 

E.g. One of my bibles has a heading at the top of Romans 7:14-25 which says “The Conflict of the Two Natures”.

 

No wonder the world of believers can get confused.

 

It heads believers into confusion, rather than the freedom that Paul intended.

 

 

12

 

The most

significant point in the whole study

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

continued

 

So, having discussed this matter quite fully, what can we say about the effect of trying to live the Christian life based on any one of the other interpretations of Romans 7:14-25?    It seems to leave the believer in a diabolical state that negates the essential truth of some aspects of the gospel, especially the parts of it that we need in daily life and in relationship to God and each other.   Here are some of those effects.

 

1     In Romans 6:6 and 6:11, Paul says we are dead to sin and then in Romans 7:24 asks who will free him from the body of death (under the law of sin) he has just described in the earlier verses of Romans 7 – and then immediately supplies the answer in the very next verse – Jesus Christ!   Here is the significant point of the whole study.   Believers who read Paul’s assessment of himself where he cannot control his behaviour, because he says, of indwelling sin, apparently miss the point that this indwelling (body of) sin is the very sin to which he says he is dead in Romans 6.  This has already been explained over the whole study.  

 

At the time Paul wrote Romans in A.D. 57, he was referring back to his own experiences of the powerlessness of his life – probably in Arabia, 2-4 years after his conversion.  This is what a wrong use of Romans 7 does.  If we do accept that Paul was writing about his actual behaviour at the time of writing Romans 7 – that his behaviour was not controlled (by the Spirit), then in effect we are actually forgetting or even denying the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and what it actually achieved. Imagine that!  

 

For clarification, let it be said that the (body of) indwelling sin that Paul referred to here, was really our old man (Romans 6:6) who is now dead! The believer has died with Christ at the cross to this indwelling sin, and to the law of sin and to God’s law, which gave sin its power.   Believers are now able to present themselves to God as alive from the dead.  So when you next read Romans 7, make sure you see the answer to Paul’s problem in verse 25 and look at the basis of it in Romans 6:6 and 6:11.

 

2.  In consequence of what I have just said, a wrong understanding of these scriptures and a lack of application of them in our lives, means that our faith walk and our spirit walk cannot develop.   If we allow our lives to be punctuated with thoughts that there is a conflict going on in us that is acceptable (because it seemed to be in Paul) then there cannot be either any stability of life attitude, or any improvement in our faith, because we allow apparent sin to interrupt our life and get into a continuous regime of confession of sin, when we are simply standing on an incorrect scriptural basis for life.

 

And what would the Spirit of God think about this situation?  Here He is, wanting to guide us in life, but because we do not know the basis of true life in the Spirit, He cannot move us as He otherwise could, into the depths of life in God.  So it would seem He has to settle for trying to get to us in some way, to guide us into all truth – and in this case the truth is about understanding basic doctrine.  

 

How disappointed He must be! What can we do about this out of kilter situation?  If you realize and accept that what has been said here is true, then the next thing to do is always to confess wrong belief and understanding, repent of it and start to learn to do things the right way.  Amen!

 

Newell comments on the outcomes of correct believing. If we have seen that we have died with Christ; and are properly instructed, we shall upon such awakening:Know that there is deliverance in Christ for us.

 

  1. Be willing to have God show us of any indulgence in the flesh.
  2. Agree to the sentence of death on our old man.
  3. Reckon ourselves dead to sin, as God commands all His saints who have died with Christ.
  4. Struggle within ourselves if we are proud and not humble.

6. Be willing and not embittered, with our hearts persuaded of the goodness of God.

 

It brings to no effect the very act of Christ submitting Himself to the cross, to not only pay the penalty for the sins of mankind, but even more important that by His body death, all sin in our beings (taking affect after our conversion) was brought to death. 

 

As Paul says, when He died, we died.  Was the crucifixion of Christ of no effect?   Of course not!  

 

It is just that many of us do not really know these things at the depth they need to be known.  Perhaps you are saying that you still sin – so where does it come from? 

 

See study on the flesh soon.

  1. Know of our own utter powerlessness of deliverance from our sin and “self”, except through our Lord Jesus Christ.
  2. See that unless we go through the exercise of chapters 6 and 7, we shall not know the blessed walk in the Spirit of Chapter 8.   (Newell 283-284)

On this issue Newell says, “If we refuse to learn the lesson Paul would teach us here – of the great facts of our deliverance in Christ from ‘the power of sin which is the law (1 Cor 15:56)

 

we shall not only fail of personal deliverance from sin’s power, but shall soon be tranducing all the glorious doctrines of Paul and be sinking to the doctrine that we must expect to go on sinning and getting forgiveness,”till we die” –

 

which is of course putting our own death in the place of Christ’s death : for God says we died with Him and are now free in Him Risen. 

 

(Newell 262)

 

 

13

 

Effect of wrong interpretation of Romans 7

 

There are some other serious effects of a wrong understanding and living out of Romans 7 alone.   But first, be reminded that there is no doubt that Paul's experience of his fully developed Christian life was that life was given to him through the Spirit that dwelt in him - as per Romans 8:11.

 

"But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." (Rom 8:11)

This fullness is a far cry from the struggles and difficulties inherent in the present day church, in its acceptance that there is a continuing struggle in behaviour as per Romans 7 – which we now know is not true.  It is a falsity (perhaps partly through the deception of Satan) for the believer to think that some life exists in the old nature, which scripture tells us is dead. The old “self” cannot be modified or changed as some teachers and churches suggest. For a Christian, the old “self“ (old man) is dead. So how can something dead be so much trouble? It is only trouble if we don't treat it as dead and begin to activate our lives out of our newly created state.


Here are some more effects of living with a wrong understanding of Romans 7.


Some of these are:

  • The frustration of living without full manifestation of the fullness promised in scripture and not knowing why.
  • By believing we can be (or are) in and out of the Spirit and that a somehow a battle rages continually.
  • Not knowing we can live principally in fullness (Canaan) and not divide our time with sin (Egypt), only occasionally sinning (and going into Egypt for short times), but then going back into fullness (Canaan) by confession of sin.
  • Following many dying-to-self prescriptions in books dealing with how to stop the effects of the flesh. (one of the dangers of using the word “self”)

It puts sanctification into a faulty context, intent on correcting what is already dead – the old man.  Sanctification does continue in terms of overcoming flesh – see later discussion in this study.

  • Being tricked into being compelled by the flesh to obey the law and failing.
  • It gives the false impression that man is independent of the spiritual forces operating in the world. It distorts scripture that correctly says that we are always a part of something else and not something separate.   Redeemed humans, are always referred to as filled vessels, branches of the vine, members of a body, or slaves of righteousness filled by the Spirit of God but never individual independent selves. We are sons of righteousness (or sons of disobedience if unsaved).

An honest assessment of these brief points in relation to the present day church would show the types and levels of confusion mentioned. The correct interpretation of Romans 7 clearly shows that the inhibitions mentioned here, whendiscarded, leave one open to the true filling of the Spirit of God in all itsfullness.

 

 

 

14

 

The flesh.  Where does that fit into all this study of Romans 7?

Continued

continued

 

Some of may be wondering about the biblical word flesh and how that fits into the overall picture.    Issues like for example, doesn’t our flesh cause us to sin?  And, was that what Paul was talking about in Romans 7?  Also, is the flesh still an issue in the normal Christian life?    The short answers to these questions are yes, no and yes.

The first thing to say about these comparisons is that it really requires a full study of its own to explain it fully.  So this will only be a brief summary statement about the nature of flesh and how it fits with other matters discussed here.  Personally, I have considered now for some years that the flesh and the old man were different aspects of life, but were closely related as they relate to sin.  One might have expected that the flesh might not now be an issue, given the deliverance that Paul described in Romans 7 – and in a sense that is true, but it is not as simple as that.  Let us begin to examine it by looking at the biblical words involved here.

 

Flesh.   (Greek) is Sarx.  The sensual carnal animal nature of men

Old man.  (two words)       Old (Greek) is Palaios.   Old, the worse for wear       Man (Greek) is anthropos.  Humans with body and soul, with the notion of weakness, contempt, corrupt.

 

Body (Greek) is Soma.  Living or dead

Carnal.   (Greek) sarkikos. Having the nature of the flesh, governed by human nature and not by God.  As far as Paul was concerned deliverance out of carnality was possible.  So, in summary of the aspects that we need to look at:

 

1.   If we believe Roman 6:6, the old man is dead.   (the old man lived in the flesh, as we do as new creations.  However, the flesh is weak, so sin through it will reign if the Spirit is not in control)

 

2.  The verse before, Romans 6:5 says we shall be resurrected in His likeness. So from our death, we are resurrected into newness of life.

 

Consequently, unless we fully appropriate that freedom we will still have trouble with the flesh, which can only be overcome by the Spirit of God, which we will not have in His fullness, if we do not know or have not appropriated the death of Christ in our own beings.  Please think on that, as I believe it is what scripture teaches us.

Now to look at Newell.  He reminds us that the flesh is still there in Romans 8, to have us realize the great lesson that in the natural man there is no good in us.  (Newell 284)  Consequently the flesh needs to be overcome by the Spirit.  It is a matter of focus on the Spirit, as Paul explains, 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

So obviously, whilst the big issue of this study is us being dead to sin (and able not to sin - out the death of our old man and from our identification with Christ) is an important prerequisite to being able to control the flesh through the Spirit of God within us.  The indwelling Holy Spirit is the Christian’s sole power against the flesh. The Holy Spirit indwelling the believer has taken over the conflict with the flesh – and if fully present, is triumphant over it in us.    However, it is never easy, for the path of faith is the most hateful path possible for the flesh.  Faith leaves no part for man’s will and energy for self works.

 

If we do not walk in the Spirit, the flesh will be dominant in our lives, no matter how hard we try.  For though we are dead to sin legally, because of our old man having died to sin, the flesh still lurks to snare us.  So we have to know there are two ways in which we can be caught here.  Firstly, by not knowing of our legal death and having God apply it to our lives, because we are weakened by not fully having the Zoe life of the resurrection life of Christ, thus more prone to sin in the flesh.  Secondly by knowing that as we live in that proper way, the Spirit of God will do battle with the flesh – and win.  The Christian life in a nutshell!  Praise God.

 

So first, it is the deliverance by Jesus Christ that sets us free and second, we are kept free from the desires of the flesh by the Holy Spirit who dwells within, but only if we do not focus on fleshly things.   We must consider this as being in the reality of actual spiritual experience, otherwise having just an intellectual knowledge of these things will only puff us up, instead of relying entirely on Jesus Christ for his life and power.

If however, we do not understand and live in a proper understanding of Romans 7, and one’s life is disjointed in faith and spirit, living in condemnation and in apparent sin, then we will not have the benefit of being filled with the Spirit and the flesh will not be overcome.  

 

The complete gospel does not leave any grounds for a struggle out of Romans 7 (because the victory was at the cross)   We died with Christ and are now alive unto God in the risen Christ.  And because it is the task of the Holy Spirit to battle with the flesh, when we couple that with us being dead to sin and alive to Christ, Paul can then say in Romans 8 that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.

  

3.  The mention of Paul’s problems in Romans 7:14-24 is actually inconsequential (in one sense) because the Romans 6 verses overcome it, as does Romans 7:25, where Paul realized deliverance was through Jesus Christ.

 

4.  Paul then tells us in Galations 5:16 that the Spirit will overcome the flesh.I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

 

However, notice that the flesh still appears in Romans 8, the freedom chapter. Isn’t that somewhat of a surprise?   It is still there to have us understand that whilst the death of our old man, (at Christ’s crucifixion) legally freed us from sin and the sin nature, the flesh is still there to snare us. Unless we know these things and live this way, we will have the same body of death as Paul once thought he had, and then we will know we must cry out as Paul did – to Jesus Christ our Lord, who will bring deliverance.

 

If being dead to sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus is what comes out of a proper understanding of Romans 6, 7 and 8, then the “bonus” attached to that is that the ability to overcome the flesh is also provided.  Otherwise we will not have the benefit of being filled with the Spirit and the flesh will not be overcome.   We must know and understand His ways.  They have been provided by God Himself. 

 

Praise God for His ways!!!

 

 

 

Summary

 

1.   It is clear from the timing of the events of Paul’s life and Luke’s reports of Paul being filled with the Spirit and with joy that the other explanations for Paul’s words in Romans 7 must be considered.  Those words describe a one off experience for a short few years whilst the Spirit of God taught him about the nature of life in the Spirit.

 

2.   Paul himself gave the answer to the problem he presented – that Jesus Christ was his deliverer out of his total former life.

 

3.   Paul used his life as an example of him living his life as an example of the life of Christ.  His whole life is a model for us to follow.

 

4.   Our old man is dead and out of that legal provision from the crucifixion of Christ, comes the freedom of the new life, without law but with total reliance on the Spirit of God, who also overcomes our flesh if we walk in Him.  What then is left to say?  Perhaps just to conclude with the practical outcomes from this study.

 

Note 1.  Those who understand the importance of us being dead to sin as per Romans 6:6 and have appropriated that in their lives, will know that Paul’s dilemma of Romans 7:14-25 was just to teach us what happened to him and not to leave us with any impression that he had an uncontrolled life, but one lived in fullness of Spirit and of joy, with Spirit overcoming flesh.

 

Note 2.  Those who allow themselves to be caught on the negatives of Paul’s dilemma in Romans 7, have allowed themselves to believe what he says, without referencing other parts of scripture, which say his life was lived well.  They are also missing out on the great benefit of the cross – that we are dead to sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.  Moreover, their flesh is more likely to have more sway that should be in the Christian life.

 

Finally, now having completed this study I am now rather more aware that this study actually reveals the whole nature of the gospel.  (although not much is said here about the blood aspect of the cross – which also achieves much)

 

Christ came to set the captives free (Isaiah 61:1) so that we may live in fullness of life (abundance) He spoke of in John 10:10.  By the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ we are dead to sin and law notionally and by faith can receive freedom to live out the life of Christ and serve as new creations in the newness of the Spirit, having the power over our fleshly inclinations so they are controlled by the Spirit of God within us.

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

This web site has a good search engine where all points mentioned can be easily found.

 

William R. Newell,   Romans, verse by verse.  Moody Press Chicago 1938.  Newell was commissioned by Dwight Moody to devote all his time to Bible teaching in Chicago, Detroit, Toronto and St. Louis.

 

My thanks to two brothers in Christ with whom I have consulted to affirm some of the aspects of this study.

 

They are Pastor Rod Scott and John De Silva both from Melbourne Australia.

 

Also David and Karen Norris from Knoxville Tennessee USA, who supported me in prayer as this study as written.  Also to other family and friends who encourage me from time to time.

 

 

Reader please note this addition to the original study – written in May 2010.

 

All of the above was completed and placed online in April 2009.

 

The material itself seems to have stood up quite well and is one of the most downloaded files on the Fullness of Life in Christ website listed as Unit No 10 The Enigma of Romans 7 

However, it is now necessary to made provide additional material on one aspect of the study.

 

It involves a another look at the meaning of the words, flesh, sin nature and Spirit.   This has become necessary because I now see that some Bibles use the phrase sin nature instead of flesh and leave out altogether the phrase “old man”, which appears in the original KJV in Romans 6:6.   These interchanges provide wrong interpretation and misrepresentation of the original Greek and result in errors of understanding and wrong use of these scriptures in life.

 

So here is a quite short attempt to highlight these things and bring proper understanding, so that our lives may be fully based on these truths and that we may not be mislead by error.

 

 

1

 

The nature of this issue and how it was discovered.

 

I was involved in a group doing some Bible study in Galatians 5 when one of those with me read out verse 16-17 from his NIV Bible.   It reads this way.   “So I say, live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.   For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature”. 

  

Readers who have read this entire unit 10 will realize the difference.   The words sinful nature have been substituted for the word flesh which is in the original KJV and most other bibles that I could find.

 

 

2

 

Reminder of comparison of Greek words

 

You will also realize that the phrase sinful nature is an entirely different entity to the word flesh, both having different Greek words.   Here they are again, to remind you of their different natures.

 

Flesh.   (Greek) is Sarx.  The sensual carnal animal nature of men

 

Old man.  (two words)       Old (Greek) is Palaios.   Old, the worse for wear       Man (Greek) is anthropos. 

 

Humans with body and soul, with the notion of weakness, contempt, corrupt.

 

3

Reasoning

 

Readers of the previous parts of this study will immediately realize the following.

Our old man was crucified with Christ.  When He died we died, taking our old man into His death.  The old man is not longer operative, so cannot strive against the Spirit as the NIV suggests in verse 17.   Again, you will recognize that the old nature (sinful nature) has been legally and practically removed by it’s death, so that, as new creations, we now participate in the divine nature as Peter says in 2 Peter 1:4.   The old nature is dead and gone and we have this new nature.   That is what the body death of Christ achieved for us.

 

That is why in 1 John 3:9 John says that Christians does not practice sin and cannot sin.   By this he means that we cannot sin out of the old man (old nature) because it died with Christ on the cross and we inherited our partaking of His divine nature out of which sin cannot come.  (this is not to say that we do not sin at all, as 1 John 1:8-9 says.   Any such current sin when living out of the divine nature comes from the flesh not being fully controlled by the Spirit of God – not God’s fault but ours in some form.

 

What Paul was talking about in these Galatians verses is that our flesh will forever strive against the Spirit of God within us.  That is why we need to have the Spirit of God powerful enough within us to overcome our flesh in the everyday issues of life.

 

The NIV theme continues in verse 19, where the acts of the sinful nature are outlined.   In other bibles these are referred to as the deeds of the flesh.  (when the Spirit does not have control over the flesh for any reason)

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

Care must be taken when using particular English words when the words chosen, in some bibles do not reflect the original writings of scripture as outlined in the KJV and most other bibles.

 

Audio and written versions of this brief addition are availabl on site

 

 

 

This is the Tenth in a series of articles to further outline and provide resource for believers to move towards Fullness of Life in Christ.

 

Ken Walker – Webmaster of Fullness of Life in Christ 

April 2009

Availability.  This study has been used in one to one teaching or in small groups by those who know this experience for themselves, or by those open to the Spirit to learn together.  Using audio and written versions together is useful

 

Details of Greek words

4561 sarx sarx sarx

probably from the base of 4563; TDNT-7:98,1000; n f

AV-flesh 147, carnal 2, carnally minded + 5427 1, fleshly 1; 151

1) flesh (the soft substance of the living body, which covers the bones and is permeated with blood) of both man and beasts

2) the body

2a) the body of a man

2b) used of natural or physical origin, generation or relationship

2b1) born of natural generation

2c) the sensuous nature of man, "the animal nature"

2c1) without any suggestion of depravity

2c2) the animal nature with cravings which incite to sin

2c3) the physical nature of man as subject to suffering

3) a living creature (because possessed of a body of flesh) whether man or beast

4) the flesh, denotes mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God

3820 palaiov palaios pal-ah-yos'

from 3819; TDNT-5:717,769; adj

AV-old 18, old wine 1; 19

1) old, ancient

2) no longer new, worn by use, the worse for wear, old

For Synonyms see entry 5816 & 5924

444 anyrwpov anthropos anth'-ro-pos

from 435 and ops (the countenance, from 3700); man-faced, i.e. a human being; TDNT-1:364,59; n m

AV-man 552, not tr 4, misc 3; 559

1) a human being, whether male or female

1a) generically, to include all human individuals

1b) to distinguish man from beings of a different order

1b1) of animals and plants

1b2) of from God and  Christ

1b3) of the angels

1c) with the added notion of weakness, by which man is led into a mistake or prompted to sin

1d) with the adjunct notion of contempt or disdainful pity

1e) with reference to two fold nature of man, body and soul

1f) with reference to the two fold nature of man, the corrupt and the truly Christian man, conformed to the nature of God

1g) with reference to sex, a male

2) indefinitely, someone, a man, one

3) in the plural, people

4) joined with other words, merchantman

4983 swma soma so'-mah

from 4982; TDNT-7:1024,1140; n n

AV-body 144, bodily 1, slave 1; 146

1) the body both of men or animals

1a) a dead body or corpse

1b) the living body

1b1) of animals

2) the bodies of planets and of stars (heavenly bodies)

3) is used of a (large or small) number of men closely united into one society, or family as it were; a social, ethical, mystical body

3a) so in the NT of the church

4) that which casts a shadow as distinguished from the shadow itself

266 amartia hamartia ham-ar-tee'-ah

from 264; TDNT-1:267,44; n f

AV-sin 172, sinful 1, offense 1; 174

1) equivalent to 264

1a) to be without a share in

1b) to miss the mark

1c) to err, be mistaken

1d) to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honour, to do or go wrong

1e) to wander from the law of God, violate God's law, sin

2) that which is done wrong, sin, an offence, a violation of the divine law in thought or in act

3) collectively, the complex or aggregate of sins committed either by a single person or by many

For Synonyms see entry 5879

1659 eleuyerow eleutheroo el-yoo-ther-o'-o

from 1658; TDNT-2:487,224; v

AV-make free 6, deliver 1; 7

1) to make free

2) set at liberty: from the dominion of sin

4152 pneumatikov pneumatikos pnyoo-mat-ik-os'

from 4151; TDNT-6:332,876; adj

AV-spiritual 26; 26

1) relating to the human spirit, or rational soul, as part of the man which is akin to God and serves as his instrument or organ

1a) that which possesses the nature of the rational soul

2) belonging to a spirit, or a being higher than man but inferior to God

3) belonging to the Divine Spirit

3a) of God the Holy Spirit

3b) one who is filled with and governed by the Spirit of God

4) pertaining to the wind or breath; windy, exposed to the wind, blowing

4559 sarkikov sarkikos sar-kee-kos'

from 4561; TDNT-7:98,1000; adj

AV-carnal 9, fleshly 2; 11

1) fleshly, carnal

1a) having the nature of flesh, i.e. under the control of the animal appetites

1a1) governed by mere human nature not by the Spirit of God

1a2) having its seat in the animal nature or aroused by the animal nature

1a3) human: with the included idea of depravity

1b) pertaining to the flesh

1b1) to the body: related to birth,  linage, etc

For Synonyms see entry 5912

386 anastasiv anastasis an-as'-tas-is

from 450; TDNT-1:371,60; n f

AV-resurrection 39, rising again 1, that should rise 1, raised to life again + 1537 1; 42

1) a raising up, rising (e.g. from a seat)

2) a rising from the dead

2a) that of Christ

2b) that of all men at the end of this present age

2c) the resurrection of certain ones history who were restored to life (#Heb 11:35)

2222 zwh zoe dzo-ay'

from 2198; TDNT-2:832,290; n f

AV-life 133, lifetime 1; 134

1) life

1a) the state of one who is possessed of vitality or is animate

1b) every living soul

2) life

2a) of the absolute fulness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to God, and through him both to the hypostatic "logos" and to Christ in whom the "logos" put on human nature

2b) life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ, but after the resurrection to be consummated by new accessions (among them a more perfect body), and to last for ever.

For Synonyms see entry 5821

4151 pneuma pneuma pnyoo'-mah

from 4154; TDNT-6:332,876; n n

AV-Spirit 111, (Holy) Ghost 89, Spirit (of God) 13, Spirit (of the Lord) 5, (My) Spirit 3, Spirit (of truth) 3, Spirit (of Christ) 2, human (spirit) 49, (evil) spirit 47, spirit (general) 26, spirit 8, (Jesus' own) spirit 6, (Jesus' own) ghost 2, misc 21; 385

1) the third person of the triune God, the Holy Spirit, coequal, coeternal with the Father and the Son

1a) sometimes referred to in a way which emphasises his personality and character (the Holy Spirit)

1b) sometimes referred to in a way which emphasises his work and power (the Spirit of Truth)

1c) never referred to as a depersonalised force

2) the spirit, i.e. the vital principal by which the body is animated

2a) the rational spirit, the power by which the human being feels, thinks, decides

2b) the soul

3) a spirit, i.e. a simple essence, devoid of all or at least all grosser matter, and possessed of the power of knowing, desiring, deciding, and acting

3a) a life giving spirit

3b) a human soul that has left the body

3c) a spirit higher than man but lower than God, i.e. an angel

3c1) used of demons, or evil spirits, who were conceived as inhabiting the bodies of men

3c2) the spiritual nature of Christ, higher than the highest angels and equal to God, the divine nature of Christ

4) the disposition or influence which fills and governs the soul of any one

4a) the efficient source of any power, affection, emotion, desire, etc.

5) a movement of air (a gentle blast)

5a) of the wind, hence the wind itself

5b) breath of nostrils or mouth

For Synonyms see entry 5923