Chapter # 7 Paragraph # 1 Study # 1
Thesis: The Law only functions in the realm of the living.
Introduction: In a sense we "finished" chapter six of Romans last week. In another sense, we only "finished" a section of Paul's theology that deals fundamentally with the present reality in which there is no escape from "experience as a consequence of actions taken".
This evening we are going to press on to chapter seven. As we do, we suddenly become aware that Paul clearly did not see 6:23 as the "end" of the issue raised in 6:15. So, we are going to begin to look into a further development of Paul's understanding of how we are to function as believers in this world.
December 19, 2006
- I. The Text in Its Context.
- A. In both 6:1 and 6:15 Paul tells us rather pointedly that he is very much concerned with how we are to live in this present world.
- 1. The fact that he is writing about how we live in this present world is crucial to our grasp of his "theology".
- a. His "theology" is not about what is "experientially true" now.
- b. His "theology" is about what is "absolutely true" and how that impacts our current experience.
- 2. There are those who, desiring something other than a genuine relationship with God in this present world, have attempted to force the "absolute" into the "relative".
- a. Those who say that we ought to become less than militant about dealing with sin in our lives because God is going to graciously overcome it so that grace can be seen with greater clarity are actually attempting to provide a religious cloak for sin so that they may not be bothered with the struggle. Imagine, if you will, an impenitent husband going to his wife after committing adultery with a tart named "Liz" and saying to her: "Honey, do you not know that God says 'where sin abounds, grace super-abounds', so do not get in a tizzy about Lizzy because God will use my involvement with her to make our marriage stronger."
- b. By the same token, those who say that we ought to treat sin lightly because there are no real consequences any more -- we are not under law but under grace -- are also simply rejecting the struggle against sin so that they may impose upon others and not be "bothered" by their complaints. Imagine, if you will, a murderer going before the judge and saying, "Your Honor, you cannot sentence me to death by lethal injection because my reality is that I am not under law, but under grace. Neither can you suffer these handcuffs to restrain me any longer, nor can you allow me to be put into the slammer with those wicked perverts who want to use me as their toy. I am not under law; I am under the grace of God."
- 3. All of us realize that there is something wrong with the "theology" of these people; but many of us do not understand what it is that is wrong.
- B. In 7:1 Paul deliberately turns to what our translators say he calls "the jurisdiction of the Law" (NASB).
- 1. Since this is unquestionably a turn to the issues of "Law", it seems indisputable that Paul is not "finished" with the issue of 6:14-15.
- a. He is turning (in 7:1) to certain issues of "Law".
- b. Thus, 6:23 was merely an "end" to his argument that what we do in this world has real consequences that have significant impact upon the quality of our experiences.
- 2. Since the terminology of 7:1 involves the impact of "Law" in our current reality, we have to assume that Paul knew that we could not live effective Christian lives solely upon the basis of the two major points of chapter six.
- a. This means that, though we dare not forget what he says there, we must not think that we can live on the basis of only what he says there.
- b. The truths of chapter six are fundamental, but not comprehensive.
- II. Paul's "Thesis" in Romans Seven.
- A. The "structure" of chapter seven falls rather easily into three paragraphs.
- 1. 7:1-6 is his "thesis statement": since we have died to the Law which allowed Sin to bring forth fruit unto death, we are now free to live in true spiritual harmony with God.
- 2. 7:7-12 anticipates, and answers, a major "problem" with understanding that has to do with the claim that our "sinful passions" were "aroused by the Law" (7:5).
- a. Anything that "arouses sinful passions" would seem to be "evil".
- b. Since Paul clearly says the Law does this, the normal conclusion would be that there is something sinful about the Law.
- 3. 7:13-25 anticipates, and answers, a second major "problem" with our understanding of the Law in terms of its impact upon us.
- a. If the Law is as good as Paul says it is in his defense of it in 7:7-12, but the result of it in my life is "death", do I conclude that God's intent for the Law was to kill me?
- b. Paul's argument is that the Law's purpose is not to kill, but to unmask the killer.
- B. From this structure we conclude that Paul's "thesis" is that there is no true "life" until we understand Law so that we may be able to remain free from Sin's bondage.
- III. Paul's First Major Point.
- A. He questions the "ignorance" of those who are very experienced with "Law".
- B. He posits a very fundamental truth: the Law exercises a "lordship" over man, but only as long as he is "alive".
- 1. The "point" here is that the Law exerts pressure upon living people.
- a. The first element of this "point" is that of "exerting pressure".
- 1) The word so translated is the verb form of the word "Lord".
- 2) The verbal idea is that the Law has the ability to control, not what a person does, but what happens to him/her afterwards.
- 3) This ability to "control" what happens is what gives the Law the ability to exert pressure.
- 4) This is the reason for the first part of 6:23.
- b. The second element of this "point" is that of the restriction that exists upon the "lordship" of the Law.
- 1) The Law can only exert pressure upon those who are still within its domain.
- 2) The Law's domain is that of the "living".
- 3) But, further, the Law's domain is that of the interaction of the living.
- a) Not only does death remove a person from the dominion of the Law...
- b) ...but the death of "interaction" also removes a person from that dominion.
- i. The "husband" is out from under the law by reason of his death.
- ii. The "wife" is also out from under those laws which governed her interaction with the husband by his death.
- c) This is a key issue because of Paul's deliberate switch from the "man" to his "wife".