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So what do you all think (and why do you think it)?
In Romans 7:7-25 is Paul describing himself from his current Christian perspective or his past experience or something else?
Originally, based on what I've been taught and through my experience, I've always assumed it was his Christian experience. But in light of some recent study / teaching I seem to be having trouble maintaining that in light of 7:14 (since Paul just said in chapter 6 that we are free from sin) and it doesn't seem like a non-believer could say that the Law is good (verse 16).
What do you all think?
Forgive me I'm having trouble following you, in what sense is Paul still "sold under sin" (7:14) in your understanding since he has said in 6:18,22 that he is clearly free from it.
What I hear you saying is that Paul is saying in Romans 6 that we are freed from our sinful nature, but not really, because he is still struggling with it in 7. Is this right? I guess my question would be, whats the experiential difference between Paul prior to Romans 6 (speaking in terms of his salvation) and Romans 7?
Paul is here in Romans 6 thru 7 speaking of his experience after his regeneration which he, like us, received from our Redeemer Christ the Lord.
The history of these verses is interesting: the older greek Anti-Nicene Fathers believed Paul to be speaking from his unregenerate former position; Augustine believed the same until the Pelegius controversy opened his eyes that Paul was regenerated; Semi-Pelagianism and early Roman Catholics followed the older greek Anti-Nicene Fathers (thinking that they were Catholic; but the Anti-Nicene Fathers use "catholic" specifically in reference to the universal church of all believers, not peculiar to Catholic [ which didn't start until centuries later ]; the Reformers followed Augustine view and expounded upon it; the Pietiest also followed older greek Anti-Nicene Fathers and prepared this way of thinking for the moralizing rationalist; the descendants of the rationalists also followed older greek Anti-Nicene Fathers; later 19th century commentators followed the view that Paul was regenerated and saved. More recent scholarship may in fact return to the older greek Anti-Nicene Fathers that believed Paul to be speaking from his unregenerate former position. I would avoid modern scholarship that hold such views.
The Scriptures also indicate that the sin nature is still left in us after regeneration. See I John 3:9, 5:18, John 1:8.
karl kleinpaste said:
matthew said:Anti-Nicene Fathers
[nitpick] Prettyprettyplease, that's the Ante-Nicene Fathers. "Ante," the Latin prefix meaning "before," i.e. the church fathers before Nicea. [/nitpick]
Just one of those deeply grating errors. We now return you to...
Look at the tense. The whole passage is present tense. He is speaking of himself, in the state that he is in as he is writing. Not some past state.
Ch 5, “where sin did abound, grace did much more abound…”
Ch 6 “what shall we do then, shall we continue in sin that grace may abound, GOD FORBID!”
Ch 6 we are (positionally) crucified with Christ and raised with Him, so that we are no longer the property of sin, but of Christ
Ch 7 yet while we are still in these bodies, we continue to be tempted by the things of the flesh that these mortal bodies are drawn to…
Ch 7 “Who will save me from this body of death?” CHRIST!
Ch 8 “There is, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (remember that we are in Him, because we are crucified with Him, we are dead to the things He is dead to, and we are raised to the things He is raised to, all from Ch 6).
Sorry I don’t have time to unpack it more. Gotta go to a meeting.
May I suggest something very practical that helps to understand the purpose of Romans 7. In Romans 6 we are told that sin shall not have dominion over us. However our experience often seems to prove otherwise. We all wonder why it is that certain sins "beset" us and we can't seem to shake them. We are functionally prisoners to those sins. And thereby are not free as 6:14 says we are. Why is that?
Perhaps the strongest grip sin has on our life comes from the guilt and shame we experience because of the sin that holds us prisoner. When we understand what we feel in a theological sense it is condemnation. We are weakened in our ability to resist sin to the degree that we FEEL condemned. To the degree we accept by faith the forgiveness in the gospel for our "besetting" sin we experience freedom from it. It is the transforming of our mind that we find in Rom 12:2. When must convince ourselves (by faith) that no matter how guilty we feel, we are not guilty any longer. And when we do that the power of a particular sin will be broken. Romans 6:14 becomes not only our new spiritual state but also our experience as well.
Brothers and sisters, the ability to break the hold sin has on you is found in the simple statement "There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus". Freedom is yours as promised and it comes by faith in the truth of Romans 7 & 8. No more addiction, compulsions, feelings of failure and worthlessness. Free to enjoy the life of freedom in the gospel and reflect the glory of God and the power of the gospel.
Is Roms 7 for the regenerate? Absolutely. Just as is Roms 6 & 8. What shall we say then, may we continue in sin....? Absolutely not. By faith become free from all those sinful things that weigh you down. You are FORGIVEN. You'll still sin but don't ever let yourself feel guilty. Acknowledge the failure to God and remind yourself and thank Him that ALL your guilt has been removed in the precious blood of the Lamb. Amen and Amen.
18 and being made free from sin, ye became servants of righteousness.
In Romans 6, Paul is not talking about sinless perfection. As Christians, we are free from sin in a certain sense of the word "free."
ANALOGY----As an analogy think of the southern black man. In the antibellium south, he was not free but was in bondage to his master. Then came the civil war and emancipation. The black man was free, but was his old master dead? Not necessarily so. The black man could still go back and serve the old master as a share cropper. So then, the black man was free to serve a new master, or go back to the old master. I would read the word free in verse 18 (ελευθερωθεντες) as a legal forensic freedom, and not a sinless perfection. The sin nature is still alive in verse 18, but the christian is legally loosed, or is free from the bondage of slavery to that sin nature. This is regeneration. We are freed.
So then in 7:14 when it says....
14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
Paul is not saying that he is in bondage and sold under sin without any conditions. The context provides the conditions. In chapter 7 he says...
9 And I was alive apart from the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died;
Paul is speaking of the coming of the law into the Christian life. He speaks of having spiritual life in verse 9 apart from that law, but by verse 14 he is speaking of being sold under sin. When Paul was saved, he was released from the obligations of the law (see 7:4-6). However, once a Christian, when he used the law for sanctification and once again placed himself under the law, the law simply empowered the old master, the flesh. Sin finds its oppertunity to kill the spiritual life through the law. So then, in verse 14 when Paul seeks sanctification by means of the law, he is returning to serve his old plantation master as a share cropper and he serves sin. Verse 14 simply contrasts the perfect spirituality of the law, and its opposite, the empowerment of the flesh where sin resides. In his flesh is no good thing!
8 but sin, finding occasion, wrought in me through the commandment all manner of coveting: for apart from the law sin is dead.
Apart from the Law, there is no bondage to the sin nature. Verse 14 assumes that the Christian is attempting sanctification by the law.
Romans 7:22 seems to me to express the results of a regenerate man.
22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
I conclude several things.
1--- If both Roman 6 and Romans 7 are read as a part of the Christian life there is no contradiction between Romans 6:18 and Romans 7:14.
2--- The Christian is under no legal bondage to his sin nature, but this does not mean the sin nature is irradiated. The sin nature is still alive. The death found in Romans 6:6 (death of the old man) is not the death of the sin nature, but the death of our legal bondage to the sin nature. It is the death of the christians legal slavery to the flesh. But since the sin nature is still alive, we can be "sharecroppers" to the sin nature. But Paul clearly says in Romans 612 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey the lusts thereof: Serving the sin nature should not be the Christian life.
3--- One of the great dangers to a successful Christian life is viewing Rules or laws as a means of sanctification. These laws can be righteous and good, but they make the flesh come alive. For the Christian to use the law as a means of sanctification will result in bondage to the flesh where sin lives. Fleshly spiritual lives mean spiritual failure.
I know this is a very brief synopsis of how Romans 6 and Romans 7 work together. It is really too brief, but I still hope someone gets what I am saying.
The law of sin (Rom 7:23) is traditionally called 'concupiscence'. It is the inclination to misuse our free will in sinfull ways. Believers wrestle with this inner force, but Paul insists that the Spirit can give us victory over it's urges (Rom 8:2) (Rom 8:13). Concupiscence remains in the believer, but it doesn't have to rule us like a tyrant.