There are times when we are allowed to receive clarity on a matter that we have been somewhat uncertain about for many years. Just recently, I was granted this mercy and like the woman who found the one lost coin, I suddenly felt like calling my friends together to rejoice with me.
I have been teaching on the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus vs the law of sin and death. Naturally this topic leads us to Paul’s letter to the Romans. Although I believe that I have had a basic understanding of Paul’s thought, the last verse of chapter 7 has always left me slightly perplexed as to its meaning.
Here are chapter 7, verses 24 and 25 in context – “What a wretched man I am, who will deliver me out of this body of death. I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then, I myself, on the one hand serve the law of God with my mind; but on the other hand with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”
How was I to understand that last statement? – “on the one hand, I serve the law of God with my mind, but on the other hand, in my flesh I serve the law of sin.” Was Paul saying that we will live in this divided state the rest of our lives, serving sin in our flesh and God’s law in our in mind? Some of you may be saying yes, and others no. This is where I believe that I received mercy and I want to share my joy with you.
What unlocked the mystery for me was revelation regarding “I myself”. Paul’s statement can be translated this way – “This being so (all he had just discussed in chapter 7) I myself serve the law of God with my mind and the law of sin with my flesh.” Paul used I myself following the Greek particle "apa" which is a retrospective tool that ties what was previously discussed with a summary that arises out of it.
The Greek particle "apa" ties what Paul had described in detail in chapter 7 with the summary conclusion of verse 25. The summary statement was that Paul, himself, apart from Christ, was a slave to the law of sin even though he agreed that the law was good and sought to serve God with all his heart, soul, and mind. BY HIMSELF, Paul could go no further than agreement with God’s law. The summary statement is what he discovered, that even though he agreed with the law of God, the law of SIN in his members produced all kinds of evil desires, and forced him into slavery under its power.
This is what so blessed me, that what is true for Paul is true for ALL! No man, by himself, apart from Christ can do any more than agree with the law of God in his mind. Left to ourselves, we are all wretched slaves of the law of sin in our members. Only Christ can deliver us from sin’s dominion and bring us into the liberty found IN HIM! That is why Paul’s NEXT statement, before chapter and verses blurred the continuity was “This being so, now there is no condemnation for those who are IN Christ Jesus…. for the law of the spirit of life IN Christ Jesus has set ME from the law of sin and death.” Outside of Christ we serve sin in our flesh. IN Him the law of the spirit of life sets us free from being wretched men sold under bondage to SIN.
The law of sin and death can only be overcome by the GREATER law of the spirit of life IN Christ Jesus. Under sin’s dominion, Satan’s Independent Nature – SIN produces all manner of unrighteousness. IN Christ Jesus the law of the spirit of life imparts HIS DIVINE NATURE and overcomes the lesser law. The law of gravity must be overcome by the law of aerodynamics. The law of the spirit of life IN Christ is the grace of His own DIVINE NATURE that super abounds beyond where SIN had abounded.
SIN at work in men made everyone transgressors, but we are no longer under SIN, but IN Christ – and UNDER GRACE and partakers of the DIVINE NATURE. Before, by ourselves, apart from Christ, we had no power to overcome the law of SIN in our members; but, thanks be to God, now GOD through Christ Himself is at work IN us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
IN Christ – there is no condemnation. We are no longer “wretched men”! IN Christ, we are no longer under law – but under GRACE and His grace is sufficient for His POWER is made perfect in our weakness. Partaking of His DIVINE NATURE we escape the corruption that is in the world through lusts. His nature overpowers the lesser nature of the law of SIN in our members. The law of Sin does not cease to exist, rather it is overcome by the Power afforded to those IN Christ Jesus. I knew this truth in my spirit: I have lived in the freedom IN Christ, but seeing it with greater clarity in what Paul wrote was a special mercy to me. I am not the old wretched man being torn between serving the law of God in my mind and in my flesh the law of SIN. I was baptized INTO Christ death to SIN, my old man was crucified with Him so that the body of SIN might be rendered inoperative, and I set free from being under SIN's dominion.
The Law of Aerodynamics does not annihilate the law of gravity, it simply overcomes it - and quite successfully everyday. Millions of people travel safely by jet despite the existence of gravity. Although this is not a "new" thought to me, I saw it in a greater clarity that captured my heart again. I just wanted to call my friends to rejoice with me.
Alan and Dina Martin