Lesson # 4

            You ever try to tell a child how to do something, like make Jell-O?  You’ll tell them the first step and after they’ve completed it the first thing they’ll ask is “then what”.  And again after the second step, “then what”.  Well, after you get saved chapter six is the “then what”.  What do you do after you get saved?  Is that all there is to it?  No, and that is the point of this section, to tell us “then what”.  You could divide the first eight chapters into two parts if you wanted to.  In fact we’ve already talked about it, standing verses state.  The reason we needed to get saved in the first place was because of our standing with God.  In the opening chapters of Romans Paul tells us that if we stand before God based solely on what we’ve done in our lives, we will be found guilty.  But then the chapters we just got finished with told us that if we’ll stand “in Christ” we’ll be “justified”, or found not guilty.  Not because of anything we did but because of what He did for us.  And once you are saved your standing before God can never change.  But that is not the end of the story.  After salvation we don’t just automatically go to Heaven, we still have to live out the rest of our lives.  That is where the second half comes in, because while we are saved and sin no longer bears eternal consequences, we are still expected to live lives pleasing unto God, which is our “state”.  If you’re saved you have a relationship with God and “state” refers to the health of that relationship.

            So, while our standing with God won’t change, our state can.  It is like being mad at a family member.  Just because they did something to you that angered you doesn’t change the fact that they are still family, after and an apology is made a state of contentment is restored.  It is like that in a relationship with God.  If you are a “born again” “child of God” you’ll always be a member of the family of God but it is possible, if you let it, for sin to temporally affect your relationship, that is an example of our “state” with God.  God is responsible for the justification part but we are responsible for the sanctification part, having a right relationship with God.  And that is what sanctification means.  It is living a life that pleases God and the only way to do that is to be Christ-like.  That is a process that takes a lifetime because we are so far from being perfect.  So, sanctification is the process of becoming Christ-like.  These next three chapters teach us that we are saved from sin, we are not saved to sin.  That is important because God isn’t going to bless you any other way.  Also, the last section told us the blood of Jesus was shed for what we did but this section tells us the cross was for what we are.

            The ultimate question posed here and you see it in the opening verses is, does justification really exist apart from sanctification?  Remember, justification has to do with your standing before God, if you’re in Christ you have a permanent standing of acceptance with Him.  Sanctification has to do with your state in the here and now with God, not in eternity; remember just because you are mad at your brother doesn’t mean you are not still related.  Justification relates to eternity, being placed securely in Christ and sanctification relates to right now, living a Christ-like life.  So, is it possible to be justified but not sanctified?  No, as this section goes on to explain, if you are really saved eternally, then the duration of your life here on earth after you’ve been saved is going to show it.  Look at it like this, a person recovering from substance abuse isn’t really recovering if they haven’t quit what they were abusing in the first place.  Justification and sanctification go together.  If a person claims to be saved but years from now is still living the same kind of life they were living before this supposed salvation took place, they are not saved.  In the last section we spoke of salvation in terms of a transaction.  Our salvation is “reckoned” to us like the credit on a credit card.  The funds on a credit card are not yours, you didn’t work for them, a bank has lent you that credit to use and pay back.  Salvation is the same way, only there is no need to pay it back because we couldn’t even if we tried.  Salvation is credit we do not and cannot earn.  That is the justification part but salvation is not only a transaction, it is a transformation.  That is the sanctification part.  See, at this point in Romans Paul isn’t discussing the need for salvation anymore, rather he is discussing the kind of life someone who has been saved should be living.  In the bigger picture justification has more of a legal meaning, one day you are going to be able to stand before God because you are justified and because the question of your guilt has been settled.  Justification is for us but sanctification is in us, you feel it, it is the transforming power of God in your life.

Sanctification                        6:1-8:27

A.  The infirmity of your flesh            6:1-23

1a.)      Sin has been amputated  v. 1-14

            Behind the scenes Paul is showing us that salvation, like God’s righteousness, is twofold:  the first part is justification or God ruling that you are now righteous based on your acceptance of the work of the Lord Jesus on your behalf, the second part is sanctification or being separated from the rest of a lost world sense you are now declared righteous and living like it.  The “living like it” part is Paul’s focus for this entire section.  The word in the center of the first verse sets the stage, it is the word “continue”.  It refers to doing something on purpose, willfully, it’s an established pattern of behavior.  In an effort to unite a people that have gotten bogged down in religion he asks “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound”?  Paul wants to know, what is the value of being forgiven for our sins only to “continue” living in them?  Remember, God saved us from sin, He did not save us to sin.  I know one of his motivations for addressing this is he knew there would be those that would try to take his own words out of context and use them against him.  One of the last things he said in the previous chapter was “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound”; he knew there would be enemies of the cross that would distort the message of grace.  They would try and say things like, if grace increases as sin increases than sinning more actually brings glory to God.  They would also accuse him, in not so many words, of encouraging ungodliness by breaking OT law.  A topic he has already dealt with but now that he is focusing on sanctification merits mentioning again.  He is not teaching that grace gives anyone a license to sin without remorse.  He is just teaching the Gospel, which says that if you’ll believe in the Lord Jesus, His grace has already gotten you all the forgiveness you will ever need.

            In the next verse you get an idea of Paul’s anguish over these accusations, he says “God forbid”.  It carries a sense of outrage.  You ever see John McEnroe pitch a fit on the tennis court?  Apart from the bleeps one thing you would always hear him say was “You can not be serious!”  Paul is saying that same thing to those that would falsely accuse him of heresy.  I know he felt it on a personal level that one, people would accuse him of perverting God’s Word and two, how could you think that sin would ever glorify God.  Paul was outraged that anyone for a moment could even think these things were true.  Then he asks a question that is so deep that even with all our highbrow education, philosophy and psychology Man can’t really answer, “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”  Notice the transition, we went from being dead in our sin to being “dead to sin”.  That means, not that we are incapable of sin after we get saved, if that were the case Romans would have ended at chapter five, we still sin but because God reckoned His righteousness to us; He doesn’t reckon sin to us eternally anymore because of Christ.

            Perhaps the best place to start to try and get an understanding of this is with the word “dead”.  At its root it means to be separated from.  We have literally been separated from sin.  When a part of the body loses circulation what happens to it?  It dies.  What is the only thing they can do to a part of the body that has died?  Amputate it, sever it, separate it from the rest of the body.  Why?  If they leave it the death in that part of the body will spread.  That is exactly what Jesus did for us, He amputated, cut off the part of us that was dead.  Sin leads to death and that is exactly where our sin natures were taking us.  When you get saved that sin nature is effectively amputated.  Paul is talking about being free from sin, verses seven, eighteen and twenty-two make it abundantly clear, we have been “made free from sin”.  At this point the question of how we can “live any longer therein” is only rhetorical but in the next chapter he answers the question, why do we still sin?  But for now he just wants you to know that your “old man” is dead.  You are a “new creature” in Christ.  Sanctification is living like that “new creature”.  We just need to learn how a “new creature” lives and stop living like the “old man” we once were.  That part of us is dead, “newness of life” means that for the first time sin is not in control, you don’t have to live a sin filled life.

            Paul’s intention for the remainder of these verses is for us to understand what being “dead to sin” really means.  He uses our own personal baptism as an illustration.  However, he is not speaking of a water baptism, these verses deal exclusively with our spiritual baptism.  To fully understand this we need to focus on the word “baptized”.  As used in the Greek this word is not limited to the idea of baptism by immersion, rather it points to a change that has been made to something.  An old theologian defines it like this; “the introduction or placing of a person or thing into a new environment or into union with something else as to alter its condition or previous environment”.  When we were saved, “baptized into Jesus Christ”, we were put in a new environment; an environment where sin doesn’t have control, because we are dead to it.  Back in verse two the word “dead” means separated, we have been separated from living a sinful life, that part of us is dead and what do you do to a dead body part?  You amputate it, cut it off because it has no function in it, it serves no purpose.  We believe in eternal salvation but when it comes down to it our problem is we don’t really believe that sin has been completely amputated from us.  Let me give you an illustration.  Ever heard of hot-wire?  It is just metal wire wrapped around posts that enclose an area.  Now, this wire has an electrical current running through it and if the livestock they are trying to keep penned up get too close to it they get shocked.  After they get shocked a few times would you imagine they would stay away from it?  Now, what if you turn it off, would the animals know any difference?  No, because they think they’ll just get shocked again if they go near it.  But is there an environment beyond their pen?  Yes but they’ll never get to it because they are trapped by that hot-wire and even when it is turned off their own fear and disbelief keep them from freedom.  Like those animals we too were trapped, we were trapped by the hot-wire of sin.  But Jesus turned it off, there is an environment out there free from “the burden of sin”, we don’t have to live our same old sinful lives, we been justified and sanctified, set apart to live in newness of life, in a new environment, right now.  That is what being “baptized into his death” really means.  It is just that Satan has tricked us into believing that the hot-wire of sin is still on, that we still live in an environment dominated by sin.  And he has done it so well that we just accept sin as part of our lives.  Paul says not that sin is dead but that we are dead to sin.  He means that we are out of sin’s reach; that is true eternally and if you’ll live a sanctified life it can be true temporally.

            It is also the reason he asks, “Know ye not”?  You knew you were free from the penalty of sin but you didn’t know you were free from the power of sin?  How is that possible?  Feel good preaching and teaching make it possible; so many churches are teaching on things that make the flesh feel good that the people never hear about this.  They never hear what they really need.  Ignorance is what Paul foresaw, he asks that question three times in this section.  Satan wants to keep us ignorant, he doesn’t want us to know that we don’t have to live our lives subject to him.  So, as long as these feel good churches keep popping up and fundamental churches keeping trading in Bible for more “contemporary” services Christians are going to be in the dark and miss the whole point of why they were sanctified in the first place.  We were sanctified to live in a new environment.

            Next it says there “we are buried”, what has to happen for us to be buried?  We have to die.  That is exactly what Paul means by our “baptism into death”.  Our old sin natures were “buried with him”, “by baptism”.  Remember, the baptism he is talking about here is spiritual baptism, not the literal physical act.  Even though none of us were there being physically crucified with Him that day, the price has been paid just as assuredly as if we had been.  Look at verse six.  He says “Knowing this”, it should be common knowledge that Jesus paid it all and that we are powerless to undo sin.  Things like the Catholic practice of “Hail Mary” recitation and other mindless mantras or acts are indefensible.  Paul says that Jesus went to the cross “that the body of sin might be destroyed”.  The “body of sin” actually refers to “our old man”, our sin natures.  In fact the Greek word that gives us the word “body” is the word soma.  It is still used in biology and anatomy classes today.  It refers to a general structure.  When Christ went to the cross He literally took the “body of sin” that was in each and every believer with Him.  II Corinthians 5:21  It would have been impossible even paradoxical for everyone that was ever going believe to have been literally “crucified” and “buried” that day with Him so, God “made him to be sin for us”, that is how we “were baptized into his death”.  He says “we have been planted together in the likeness of his death”.  When something is “planted” it means it wasn’t there to begin with, He “who knew no sin” became whatever our sin is on the cross, in return God “reckoned” His righteousness to all those that would ever believe.

            Paul wants us to rest assured “knowing” “that our old man is crucified with him”.  The word “old” here refers to something that is worn out, useless, fit for the heap.  What is always the result of being “crucified”?  Death!  What do you do to a dead body part?  You amputate it.  Jesus took “our old man” to the cross with Him so, “that the body of sin might be destroyed”.  The part of us that used to have no choice but to be controlled by sin is dead.  The Greek word for “destroyed” means that the power has been cut off, sin no longer has power over us.  His sacrifice meant that “henceforth we should not serve sin” because “he that is dead is free from sin”.  Our problem is we don’t completely believe we’re free, that the power has been cut off to the hot-wire of sin.  Part of us even enjoys living in that disbelief.  We like to pretend our old man is only half-dead.  We are like the Israelites of old, in Canaan but always looking back to Egypt, saved but not satisfied.  Let’s not make the same mistake they did, they were brought into a new environment but they didn’t live like it.

            The reason God “raised up from the dead” His Son was for us to live in a new environment.  Paul calls it walking “in newness of life”, living a life that is pleasing to God, not one that is filled with sin.  We are in control now, our old man isn’t anymore.  That is only one of the things “his resurrection” did for us.  It means that we can “walk in newness of life”.  The word “newness” here contrasts with the word “old”; our “old” lives were characterized by sin but our “new” ones are meant to be “in the likeness of his resurrection”.  According to both New and Old Testaments upon salvation we’re a new creation and being “a new creature” means we have “a new heart”, we have “a new spirit”, we have “a new name” in heaven, we are a “new man”.  See, Christ’s death was our death, His burial was our burial, because He not only died for me, He died as me but His resurrection was also our resurrection.  Think of it like this, if it wasn’t for the life of your parents you wouldn’t have life; well, on a spiritual plane if it wasn’t for the resurrected life of the Savior sin would have been paid for but there’d be no life after that.  His life is what gives us “eternal life”.

            Paul, having explained every believer’s death in Christ, now begins to speak of the life we have in Christ.  He says that if you believe we are “dead with Christ” then it should be no problem to “believe that we shall also live with him”.  As we have already talked about, none of us literally physically died there with Him that day, God just reckons it that way or credits our spiritual debt as being fully paid.  And He’ll do that for anyone who’ll believe in the Lord Jesus.  Now, the same way that God reckons us into His death, He reckons us into His life.  Just as Jesus died for your sins and for mine so, was He resurrected, for you and for me.  When we physically die we are going to be resurrected too; “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him”.  His resurrection is the reason why death no longer has power over Him.  Paul starts out by saying “we shall also live with him” but the meaning here isn’t simply in the future.  Staying in tune with what he has already told us about being free from the power of sin, he is saying that right now as we live, we live in righteousness.  It is not just one day in glory; at the moment we got saved our “old man” died, at that same moment we started living “with him” in righteousness or at least we are supposed to.

            What empowers us to do so?  The Holy Spirit, it is because of the work and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives that we are “sealed unto the day of redemption”.  He allows us to live our lives everyday “unto God”.  In chapter eight this subject comes to the forefront.  But for now Paul finishes his talk about death by saying that Jesus “died unto sin once”.  In doing so He died unto the penalty of sin; meaning that the legal demand of death for sin had been met.  He also died to the power of sin, while He was here on this earth in the flesh He was subject to its power but He never yielded to it.  Well, in the flesh He died and when you’re dead sin no longer has a pull on you, a truth we’ll come back to in a minute.  Notice how many times it says He died, “once”.  Why is that one word so important?  Look at Hebrews 9:12 and 10:10 with me.  Only this spotless Lamb of God could have “obtained eternal redemption for us.”  And He did it “once for all.”  He did it “for all” that would ever believe and that “once” is “all” it would ever take.  Because that once transfers over to us through faith and acceptance.  Through faith and acceptance our “old man” is dead.  If part of you is dead does it function anymore?  No, when we “were baptized into his death” the hell bound you died.  Can dead people feel, can they lust, can they sin?  No, we are “dead to sin” but he did not say “sin is dead to us”.  Sin is still in the world and while our souls are out of its reach the flesh isn’t.  It still feels sin’s pull.  So, if that part of us that used to be controlled by sin is dead, remember he just said “death hath no more dominion”, well, if it is dead what are we doing when we do sin?  Basically we are just digging up that dead “body of sin” and lugging it around with us.  Can you imagine someone carrying around a dead body as if it were alive, picture that for me.  In the eyes of God how ridiculous and repulsive that must look.  In the concentration camps they used to actually do that, shackle one person to another.  And if the person they were chained to died they would make them drag that dead person around anyway.  What do you think happened to the live person?  They would eventually get sick and die.  The Bible says the same thing about a believer, if we insist on digging up our dead bodies of sin, eventually it will kill us and God is just going to make the decision to call us home early.

            That is why he goes on to say “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God”.  Being “in Christ” means what He did counts for us, that is why He only had to did it “once”; it all comes “through Jesus Christ our Lord” is what the verse goes on to say.  You are “alive” if you are believing and trusting in Him but the only way we can be of use to Him is if we are walking “in newness of life”.  That means that you cannot let sin “reign in your mortal body”.  The whole point of salvation on this side of Heaven chapter five told us is for us to “reign in life”.  We can’t do that if we are always digging up a dead man to see what he wants to do.  Sin is not in control anymore, we are but we can hand control back over at times when we choose to “obey” the “lusts” of the flesh.  I Corinthians 9:24-27  Paul compares our spiritual lives to the life of an athlete.  He says an athlete “striveth for the mastery” he works out, watches his diet to keep in shape and if he ever stops he experiences reversibility or he looses everything he worked for.  As long as he puts forth the effort he is the one that is in control but if he ever stops, control goes back to the old him, who he used to be.  Spiritually it is the same way, if we don’t take control by the power of the Holy Spirit and bring our bodies “into subjection”, control goes back to the flesh, who we used to be without Christ.  Paul says, if you’re going to run, “run, that ye may obtain.”  If we are ever going to have victory over sin “in life” there is only one way, you have got to live like it.

            You like boxing?  Paul seemed to have liked the sport of competition, he uses it a number of times to illustrate God’s truths in his letters.  However, his language in verse thirteen suggests more than just competition, the word “instruments” in the Greek is a word that corresponds with weapons of war, warfare, or conflict.  Paul is saying that our “members”, or whatever part of our body it would take to commit sin, can be used as an “instrument” of war.  The first question is obviously war against what?  I Peter 2:11  It is talking about the same thing we talked about in verse twelve.  Sin wars “against the soul”, it is sin that damns a soul to hell.  Now, if you’ve given your life over to Christ you’re saved from that consequence but Paul warns there is still a battle going on in the world and even if you are saved, on your way to Heaven, it is still possible for you to use your “members” against the cause of Christ.  That is what happens when we sin.  Where does this war take place?  James 4:1  Once again just like it is telling us in Romans this battle occurs in our “members” or in our “mortal bodies” as the previous verse told us.

            See, before you got saved, whether you ever realized it or not, sin reigned “in your mortal body”.  We lived our lives behind the hot-wire of sin, it was in control.  And Paul has just finished explaining to us that Jesus came to set us free and give control back to us.  That is why Paul uses the word “yield”; when you yield to something, it is a choice you make.  But go back and notice he says, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body”; meaning we are in control but when we willingly sin we are temporarily handing control back to sin.  Earlier I asked you if you liked boxing.  Well, sin is just like a fighter that is past his prime that keeps coming back to reclaim the title that used to be his.  Going into the 1990s it seemed like Mike Tyson was unbeatable.  Then he winds up going to jail for a few years.  After he gets out he takes up fighting again and steam roles over his first few opponents, like old times.  But then came that whole ear biting mess with Evander Holyfield, a while after that he was stripped of a win for drug use, his last few fights were embarrassing when compared to when he was the reigning champion years ago.  Now, Tyson isn’t want he used to be but do you think he still has a knockout punch?  Probably, if he ever fights again a guy would have to be crazy to not try and avoid getting him by him.  Sin is just like that, it used to reign in our lives, it don’t anymore but like an old ex-champ it keeps coming back and it still has a knockout punch.  “For the wages of sin is death”, lost or saved that is still true.  That is why he says to the saved “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin”.  Its reign has been ended but it will always be a powerful force.

            In this next verse you could draw what is an ironic comparison.  In Genesis Adam and his subsequent offspring were given “dominion“ “over all the earth”.  In the beginning sin was not present in the world but then Adam and Eve took the fruit and broke God’s only command, allowing sin into the world.  The comparison here is that the child of God today has been given that same dominion back, ironic when you think about the day in which we live.  Of course the only difference between now and then is that sin is in the world.  But that’s a big difference.  It also reiterates the truth he has taught us, sin is no longer in control we are.  Then he tells us why and the way he says it is so important, he says “for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”  The Jews of his day would of course criticize this but he wasn’t in any way debunking the law.  “The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good”, it is only a reflection of God and in that it is only a reflection of His holiness it was not meant to break the penalty or power of sin over Man.  It actually did the opposite, it “entered, that the offence might abound” or it just showed us how guilty we really are.  Sin and law go together I Corinthians 15:56.  Sin is powered by the law, Paul explains how it works in Romans 7:8.  He says sin took “occasion by the commandment”, basically what happened was Satan used his inside knowledge of God to bring sin to life.  He knew the standards of God, he knew what direction God wanted to go with Man and knowing what Paul is calling “the commandment” Satan just went in the other direction.  That is how sin gets its power and that’s why he says “without the law sin was dead.”  But because of Adam’s sin the law had to be given to control the old nature, the Bible says our old natures were dead in sin but we “are alive from the dead” when we accept Christ as Savior.  So, by getting saved God switches us from law to grace and sin looses its power supply.  Under grace all is forgiven we “are dead to sin”, its eternal consequences are forever voided but we are not in eternity yet, we are still in the flesh.  And the flesh is vulnerable, it is the only thing sin still has some pull on and Satan will use that against you if you let him.  Sin is always a choice, that’s why he says “yield yourselves unto God… and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

2a.)      Sin has been forced to yield  v. 15-23

            Paul has just taken us up through salvation and the obvious question is “What then?”  Well, this is where Paul starts to bring the topic of sanctification slowly into view.  Another reason he asks this question is to head off the criticism the previous verse would draw from the Jews.  He just said that God’s intention has always been for us to be “under grace” not law.  To the Jew that was enough to clog an artery right there.  Beyond that, in their misconception of God’s Word being “under grace” and “not under the law” meant sin no longer had any consequence if God was just going to forgive it anyway so, why abstain from sin at all?  But that is not what being “under grace” means; by asking “what then” Paul was saying, if that is your conclusion you missed the whole point.  He says “God forbid” or “you cannot be serious”.  The whole point is, if you are really saved the law shouldn’t be needed.  Your love and appreciation for His grace that makes forgiveness possible should be enough to keep you living for God.  And still a deeper analysis yields further endorsement of the advantage of being “under grace” through Christ as opposed to being just “under the law”.  In fact look at that phrase again “under the law” now, according to what he goes on to say it is the law that gives sin its power, basically the law says when something is sin or the law makes sin sin.  So, when you live under just the law, unbeknownst to you, you are actually living under the power of sin.  You just don’t know it.  What makes living under grace so much better is that your sin, in its totality, has been forgiven, that promise of God has been fulfilled, another blood sacrifice need not be made.  And by grace we are no longer slaves to sin.

            Again we see him ask “Know ye not”.  Paul was trying to convince the Jews to come out of their self imposed ignorance, while at the same time encouraging present and future Christians to not hand the reigns back over to sin, no matter how temporarily.  Again we see the word “yield”.  When you yield something it is a willing choice.  He poses this question to anyone who will listen; “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are”?  Verse thirteen talked about yielding over our bodies as instruments and we get to choose, are we going to yield ourselves to God for use or do we become literal “servants” to Satan.  The word “servant” that is used is synonymous with the word slave.  When you give yourself over to someone or something, you are slave to whatever the potential purpose is.  Anyone ever ask you for money?  After you give it to them and they are on their way, it is too late to ask them what they wanted it for, if they were going to use it to buy drugs it’s too late to say you can’t use it for that.  Sin is just like, the only control we have over it is to say no but if we give in even to just a little bit of sin that control is gone and we are at its mercy.  If someone were to be able to look at your life, just at the things you do; what would they say you are primarily a slave to?  Based just on your pattern of behavior, would it be sin or obedience?  I John makes it pretty clear; “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”  He was saying you are not a saved person if sin is a constant staple in your life.  Look at what Paul says, “ye are” or you are slave to “whom ye obey”.  If you have sin in your life a majority of the time, you are its slave.

            People struggle with this idea of being servant or slave to something, we like to be in control or at least pretend that we are.  So, when it comes to “surrendering” or “giving your life over to Christ” people just naturally don’t like the sound of it.  We’ve all heard people say, probably even ourselves, that they don’t want to become a Christian because they’ll have to give things up, they’ll lose their freedom.  But in reality the unsaved have no freedom to lose.  A lost person is not free to do good or evil as they choose.  They live their lives outside of the grace of God that is found in Jesus Christ which means they live “under the law” and sense sin draws its power from the law they are actually living under the power of sin.  So, a lost person is only capable of sin, they don’t have a choice as far as that is concerned.  The only choices they have are why to sin, how to sin and to what extent to sin.  David, after handing control back to sin, shares his own experience, in Psalm 51.

            David tells us that as saved people when we yield to sin two things happen.  When we hand control back over to sin, we become slaves to it again and it will infect the rest of your life.  There is a good reason David prays “Wash me throughly”.  The next verse says “my sin is ever before me”.  That means he could see, with his eyes, everyday the painful reminder of what he had done.  After he had Uriah killed he was free to marry Bathsheba but everyday he saw her for the next nine months, that growing belly of hers reminded him of what he had done.  The sin started in his eyes but soon it had infected his mind.  Verse six talks about his “inward parts” and how “in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.”  I don’t imagine that normally David was a wife-stealing murderer but because sin got into his mind and he didn’t cast it out he began fantasizing about being with this woman, in his mind.  Then it was with his mind that he came up with a way to kill off her husband to try and cover his sin.  Verse eight says if you let sin into your life it will kill joy.  Verse ten says sin corrupts the heart.  Looking back David could see where his heart used to be, he used to be a man after God’s own heart but sin took him in the opposite direction.  Sin not only stole his ability to feel joy but in verses fourteen and fifteen sin had stolen the song right out of David’s mouth.  The things that came out of David’s mouth while he had yielded control over to sin were so out of character for him, a sinful tongue can easily get out of control.  Sin will use your whole body if you let it.  For that short time David was slave to it, then he finally repented and took control back but the damage was done.  David yielded himself a servant unto sin and it definitely led “unto death”.  Instead Paul says “yield yourselves unto God” by “obedience unto righteousness”.  We should not give our bodies over to sin but give them over to God.  I Corinthians 6:19-20 sums it up.

            Now that we are saved, while we still can use our bodies to commit sin, we have the greater privilege to use them to serve and glorify God; that is something that a person who is without Christ could never do, no matter how well intentioned they were.  Look at what Paul says about us, “ye were the servants of sin”.  He is talking about what we were before we came to know Jesus Christ as Savior.  He says we “were the servants” or slaves “of sin”.  And no amount of positive thinking or psychological counseling could have ever changed that.  But here is the reason he says “God be thanked” at the beginning of the verse.  We “were the servants of sin” but have since “obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered”.  Let me point out the significance of the words he uses here.  Start with the word “form”, in the Greek it is a word associated with the molds used to cast or shape steal.  Next look at the word “delivered”, it presents the whole process of events that lead up to the reason for why he is thanking God.  It is not just the fact that they heard the message in their previous unregenerate state but the fact that they also responded to it in true “from the heart” repentance.  “Delivered” is the whole of not only hearing but coming to belief.  Putting it together:  when we are delivered, God begins to mold us so, that we are not what we were before, a slave to sin.  And “God be thanked” for that.

            See, it is only after we are saved that we are “then made free from sin”.  It is not like we can be righteous on our own, it comes from God.  Because when compared to God our righteousness is “as filthy rags”.  That is why David has to ask God to “create” in him “a clean heart” and to “renew a right spirit within” him.  We are “made” new creatures in Christ because God has to make us into something He can use.  He can use obedience.  Through obedience He used the mouths of Moses and the prophets, through obedience He used Paul’s feet, John’s eyes, ears, and hands.  There is no saving faith in God apart from obedience to God.  Titus 2:14  He says we ought to be “zealous of good works.”  We ought to be as enthused about yielding to God as we used to be about yielding to sin.  Obedience is tied to faith it is a by-product of it.  See, it says when we got saved we stop being slaves to sin and “became the servants of righteousness.

            Next Paul explains why he uses the whole master/slave analogy to begin with by saying, “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh”.  You ever try and have a spiritual conversation with a lost person?  If you are going to avoid an argument and have any chance of them getting the point you are trying to make you’ve got be like Paul and speak in a “manner” they can understand.  The majority of Christians Paul would have been speaking to in Rome would have been literal slaves, in that day.  So, by putting the spiritual issue of sin in terms of slavery he was framing the subject in a way that it would make sense to them.  See, “the infirmity of your flesh” or the problems of the flesh are layer upon layer.  One is, the flesh enjoys sin; another is, it can’t see where it is wrong, that is why “the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness”.  They don’t and most times refuse to see where sin is wrong.  So, Paul is explaining a spiritual issue in physical human terms.

            Then he compares and contrasts being the servant of sin versus being the servant of righteousness.  He starts out by saying you are a servant of sin, if you “have yielded your members servants to uncleanness”.  The word “uncleanness” refers to your physical life, God can tell “to whom ye yield yourselves servants to” based on your actions.  Then he says that those actions are only going to lead from “iniquity unto iniquity”.  How many fully grasp that the longer you stay involved in something you have no business being involved in, only digs you in deeper?  That is what Paul is saying.  He uses the word “unto” or towards:  the unsaved go from iniquity towards even more iniquity the longer they live without Christ.  The prodigal son is a good example of that, how a life of sin leads you deeper into slavery.  His rebellion started when he wanted to go his own way:  he thought that was what freedom was; the right to fulfill all your desires.  But because of his flesh he was actually slave to those desires and those desires squandered his inheritance.  Not only was he a slave spiritually but in order to survive he had to become a slave physically, by tending the pigs, an insult to a Jew.  It was only when he turned from his ways and yielded to his father that he had real freedom.  As hard as we try to fulfill our desires Paul says “even so” should we yield our “members servants to righteousness unto holiness.”  Once again he uses that word “unto”.  If you’ll live a physical life of righteousness the spiritual result can only be holiness.  Before salvation we were slave to sin but after salvation we are free not to sin.  And since we can now resist sin, as believers we should:  just as a life of sin leads to further sin, the life of righteousness leads to holiness.  That is sanctification.

            He says when you are “the servant of sin” you are “free from righteousness.”  That is something a lost world can’t understand.  A sinner can’t be righteous, you can play all the religious games you want to but it won’t change anything, not spiritually.  Paul, who at one time felt he was a “Hebrew of the Hebrews”, says he counted all of his religious trophies as “dung” because it was all outside of Christ.  Despite all his attempts at being religious, he was no more righteous then the most vile sinner, because without Christ’s righteousness it simply is not possible.

            Now that he has differentiated the pre-salvation us from the post-salvation us he wants to know, “What fruit had ye then”?  In other words before we came to Christ, our lives were fruitless.  Jesus plainly tells us in John 15:4-5.  It is only after salvation that we are capable of bearing spiritual fruit of a beneficial nature; prior to that we were of our “father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.”  And “the end of those things is death.”  There is no spiritual benefit of any kind apart from salvation; everything a lost person will ever do, even if it is kindhearted will always be tainted with sin.  Outside of Christ there is only one kind of fruit, the wrong kind.  He says “in those things whereof ye are now ashamed”.  You remember some of the things you used to do before you got saved?  Even now if you should slip up on occasion, as a born again Christian you’d feel “ashamed” to have it found out, because you know “the end of those things is death”, “being made free from sin” we just know better.  And those who want to think that their works are fruit enough to get them into Heaven will be “ashamed” one day.  But these verses are meant be applied to the saved life.  Just as God can’t produce fruit in a lost person, He can’t do it for a saved person that is remiss in their sin.  Notice how the fruit we try to produce while we are outside of the will of God will one day bring us shame in I Corinthians 3:9-15.  You ever been caught in a lie?  Part of the embarrassment you feel when that happens is shame, you get caught in a lie and it makes you look bad.  Can you imagine the feeling someone might have on that day when the things they tried to pass off as “for God” are tried by “fire” and are “burned” up?  All the times you were just going through the motions of service because you were so wrapped up in your sin will “be revealed” and you’ll “suffer loss”.  You’ll feel “ashamed” because those actions produced no fruit.

            Lastly, we come to what is perhaps the most quoted verse in Romans; it definitely describes the fate of a lost person but let me reiterate that this is directed at believers.  It is to believers that he feels he has to warn that “the wages of sin is death”.  Even though we’ve been freed from the power of sin, that used to control our lives, even though we’ve been freed from the eternal penalty of sin:  sin still has the physical consequence of death, it is related directly to your choice to be disobedient Paul spoke of a few verses earlier.  I Corinthians 11:23-30  This is concerning the proper observance of the “Lord’s supper”.  Notice what the Bible says to the saint that partakes of it while having sin in their life, this person “shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.”  Then notice the penalty prescribed for such casual disobedience, “many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.”  Sin is a self-destructive power and guess who chooses to do it?  You yourself do; we get a little bit closer to self-destruction every time we willingly choose to sin.  I John 5:16-17  Here he is telling us that because of the grace of God even though we sin it doesn’t have to mean that death must follow.  The “sin not unto death” is the sin we commit on an occasional basis, when we slip up and cuss, when you slack off on faithfulness, that kind of stuff.  The “sin unto death” however, is when a saved person chooses to bring sin into their life and continually lives in it.  That kind of death is earned; rather than let you hurt yourself some more and cause even further damage to the cause of Christ God will just opt to bring you home early.  That is the “saved; yet so as by fire” we read about earlier.

            While our old master paid us with wages of shame and death our new one pays us with wages of “holiness” and “everlasting life”.  You know, if you trace the word “holiness” back to its roots you find it means to warm or keep warm, to cherish with tender love, to foster with tender care.  God’s wages are love, that is what the “gift of God” is talking about.  The whole point of a gift is for it to be something new, something you didn’t have before.  Before God spoke to your heart and the Holy Spirit led you to ask that the shed Blood cover you, you didn’t have any of the benefits of a child of God.  Paul says, like a gift they can only be given.  God has given us a new liberty, we’ve been “made free from sin”.  He has given us a new loyalty, “Being then made free from sin, ye became the servant of righteousness”.  And He has given us a new longevity, “the gift of God is eternal life”.  The last thing he says is it all comes “through Jesus Christ our Lord.

B.  The motions of sins  7:1-25

1b.)      The drive of a spiritual man  v. 1-6

            On his way to ultimately showing us by what power sanctification is made possible Paul in this chapter is going to give us a glimpse into the lives of three people:  the natural man, the carnal man, and the spiritual man.  Each one of these represents a place in the spiritual lives of every human being ever born.  For instance, we all start out as the natural man.  The natural man is unsaved, ruled by his senses, and will rise no higher than his intellect and moral or volitional powers allow.  Next is the carnal man, who is saved but still struggles with sin and his old nature.  Then we have the spiritual man.  He is not only saved but like we learned about in chapter six, he is in control and living in subjection to the Holy Spirit.  Paul starts with the likeness of the spiritual man and will more fully develop him in the next chapter.  Of course writing to Christians in Rome Paul remains aware that a potential audience of Jews will be scrutinizing his every word.  Not just traditional Jews but Jews newly converted to Christ who understandably still have a great deal of misplaced faith in the law.  So, in an attempt to comfort them he goes out of his way to reach out to them, comfort them, put them at ease; especially after all the rumors the Jews had spread about him forsaking OT law.  He does this by addressing them as “brethren”, making clear they know their concerns have his attention he says “I speak to them that know the law”.  And then he begins to reason with them using the very thing they liked to hold so highly, the law.  He asks “know ye not… how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?”  Which to the Jew was an almost rhetorical question.  Now, he is going to stick with the topic of the law for a while because there are some vital misconceptions the Jews have about the law he wants to clear up.  And at the same time he is using Scriptural precedent to set the record straight it gives him opportunity to show them the cohesion of the Gospel.

            We can begin by clearing up a misconception some Christians have about these first three verses.  Paul’s intention here was not for us to put these verses in context of marriage and divorce; he is not setting any kind of mandate here.  It is just a simple analogy referencing what he has just talked about in the previous chapter.  In the last chapter he told us that we “are dead to sin”, “that our old man is crucified”, that we are “freed from sin”, that we “are not under the law” and no longer tied to it or our sin.  Well, to get that to stick in the heads of the new Jewish converts he points towards marriage and says a “woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth”.  People who are married are “bound” or obligated to one another spiritually, physically, and sexually.  Paul’s analogy assuming the part of the married woman goes on to read “if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adultress”.  Then he says, “but if her husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.”  Which means “she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.”  The point is the law stops at death.  A widow is not legally tied to her husband anymore because he is dead, she is free from her obligation of marriage to him.  It is then that she can then be “married to another”.  It is interesting he says it like that, because in the Greek the word “married” can also mean to come into existence.  A thought the end of the next verse brings to light.

            Again he calls them “brethren” and adds the “my” as if extending a Christian hand of fellowship to new Jewish converts, wanting them to feel at peace with their Christian brothers and sisters.  In the marriage analogy who do you think the “wife” represents?  She is a representation of the believer.  Who is the second husband?  He is Jesus.  See, as the natural man, in that first marriage, our relationship with God was “bound” “by the law“, which meant that prior to salvation, when we had an “in the flesh” only standing with God, every “work in our members” only served to “bring forth fruit unto death.”  But after you get saved you “become dead to the law by the body of Christ”.  The reason Jesus Christ was “raised from the dead” was so that we could “be married to another”.  Jesus fulfilled our obligation to the old marriage of law where we couldn’t.  If we’ll just have faith that what He did counts for us, God will “reckon” it so.  He’ll reckon His death on the cross as the death of our “old man” and his relationship with God in the law; leaving us free from that marriage to enter a new one with Christ.  That is why Jesus explains the true Church as the “bride of Christ”.  Those who are really saved have left the old marriage of sin and death for a new one that will “bring forth fruit unto God.

            This chapter closely parallels the previous chapter in a number of ways.  For starters, they both begin with analogies aimed at explaining salvation and our need for it.  Both say we are “dead to” something.  First Paul tells us we are “dead to sin” now he tells us we are “dead to the law”.  For the saved that translates in eternity to being cleared of all sin, as far as God is concerned we can never sin with any eternal consequence ever again.  If that is true then prosecution under the law, for a believer, is impossible.  So, if you are dead to one, you are automatically dead to the other.  That is in eternity, however, we are still “in the flesh” and as long as we are both sin and law remain.  They are of no eternal consequence anymore but temporally and physically they still carry impact, as the last verse of chapter six tells us.

            You ever heard the expression “dead in the water”?  It means you aren’t going anywhere, that the driving force that was once behind you isn’t there anymore.  When Paul says “we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held”, that is exactly what he was saying to Jewish converts, by trusting in the law to get you to Heaven you are pretty much “dead” in the water.  It ain’t going to get you there, this marriage to the law actually “held” the Jew down.  The previous verse lists the terms of this marriage contract.  Number one, if you are going to be married to the law it meant that you would have to be “in the flesh”.  Well, Paul just got finished telling us that there is no spiritual benefit of any kind “in the flesh”.  The reason for that is number two, if you are in the flesh you are dominated by “the motions of sins”.  How many times have you ever been doing whatever you were supposed to be doing, like working, and have a sinful or perverse thought, or an irrational urge run through your head?  Then you can’t get rid of it.  That’s the flesh.  It is driven by impulses and temptations and Satan will trip us up every time.  And the thing with contracts is, once you’ve entered into one, you are obligated to make good on the whole thing, otherwise you are in breech of contract and legal action can be taken.  God’s law is the same way, if you are married to the idea that the law is your ticket to Heaven you better keep every one your whole life, because “whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”  Break just one and the contract goes void and Heaven is put out of reach and every thing you do from that point on will only “bring forth fruit unto death”, because it is outside of the original contract you broke.

            Now, that is what the old marriage got us, it winds up being more of a curse, because no one could ever live up to it.  “But now we are delivered from the law”, when you are “delivered from” something you are separated from it.  “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us”.  Go to Matthew 5:17-18 and tell me how He did it.  Obviously we know that He fulfilled the prophecy part but how did He fulfill the law part?  He lived up to it, when no one else could, making Him the perfect sacrificial Lamb to suffer the “curse for us”.  So, by accepting Christ Jesus as Savior spiritually the lost you gets “buried with him” so, that the saved you “could be raised up from the dead”, “like as Christ”.  That is the second marriage he is talking about in his illustration and the deeper meaning of “married to another”.  The Greek word for “married” used here also means to come into existence.  We didn’t really come into existence until the day we were born again, prior to that we were dead in the water, dead in our sin.  He made this new marriage possible so, that we can could live and “serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”  That is another thing this chapter has in common with the last, they both speak of “newness”.  Salvation brings us “newness of life” and “newness of spirit”.  It is a reference to the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer which Paul devotes more time to beginning in the next chapter.  For now he just says we were delivered from the law, which is “in the oldness of the letter”.  II Corinthians 3:6  The old relationship we had with God was written in stone, we were under the authority of the law, and had to follow it to the “letter”.  Well, what if we messed up, can the law forgive it?  No, the law can’t redeem, it doesn’t bring life, it can only kill.  But our new relationship isn’t written in stone, it is “of the spirit”.  It is written on the heart, a more personal relationship, under the authority of the Holy Spirit that “giveth life.”  That is what a spiritual man has and knows, as we find out in greater detail in the next chapter, but a natural man still has his relationship with God set in stone.

2b.)      The drive of a natural man  v. 7-13

            In these verses Paul seems to point back to the days before his salvation.  Notice the verses of this segment of Scripture are all in the past tense.  He is remembering the days before he came into truth, that he wasn’t as well off as he thought he was, especially under the law; something he realized all the more as he walked with the Lord.  Having just said that we have been “delivered from the law” and that we are not to serve “in the oldness of the letter”, plus in not so many words in verse five telling us that law makes sin possible, the obvious question is “What shall we say then?  Is the law sin?”  He responds in as strong a fashion as he could, by saying “God forbid.”  That notion couldn’t be any further from the truth.  Well, if we are not bound by the law, what is it good for?  First and foremost, the law was meant to be “our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ”.  It wasn’t given to the Jews for them to use it to demonstrate how good they could be, it was given to them to show them how good they could not be.  Acts 15:10  The “yokewhich neither our fathers nor we were able to bear” is a reference to the law.  Here we have a Jew saying that it is impossible to keep the law.  But what the law does do is it defines God’s standards and lets me see exactly where I stand in context to it.  The law was meant to show them this and drive them to Christ.  Similarly it does that for a Christian.  The second function of the law is to convict all true believers of sin, he says “I had not known sin, but by the law; for I had not know lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.”  The law is like a magnifying glass, it lets you get a closer look at what is really going on.  The law exposes our sin.  Without it we would have no way of accurately judging how sinful we really are.  Today it is no longer politically correct to name sin so, we try and call sin by respectable names; someone is not a drunkard or a drunk, they have a disease.  Someone who intentionally over eats or does any number of health affecting acts doesn’t have a problem with sin, they are simply self-medicating.  Rarely do you hear the word adultery anymore, instead it is an affair.  Instead of calling homosexuality for what it is, gross sin, they call it an “alternative lifestyle”.  Used to, when men or women were so driven by this sin to mutilate their bodies, we’d call it a “sex-change operation”, with the intended stigma attached.  But now they call it “gender-reassignment”.  And rather than call them what they are, perverse, they’ve coined the term “transgender”.  Today people like to say “I call it like I see it” or “I tell it like it is”, when in reality that is nothing but an excuse to be rude or mean.

            The Jews had the same the same problem, they lived with sin but called it by another name, Jesus clearly points it out in Matthew 15:3-6.  It is interesting that Paul points to the sin he does.  The Jews had developed many traditions that were contradictory of the Word of God.  In this one they were basically saying if their parents needed something and they didn’t want to be out the financial burden, if they claimed the money was to go for an offering it would get them off the hook for not honoring the commandant to honor your father and mother.  Jesus says their tradition made the commandment “of none effect”.  Again with the rich young ruler, he, as was typical for all Jews of his day, was obsessed about maintaining an outer visual adherence to the law but when Jesus told him to get rid of his wealth and truly go and serve God, he couldn’t.  Wealth won’t do you any good in the kingdom of God and while he might have been able to say he made good on the other commandments, this one proved him guilty.  He put on a good show outwardly but the commandment the Lord gave him had inward application.  Paul uses the two words “lust” and “covet” interchangeably.  They mean to want the very thing that is forbidden.  It is the law that let us know it is forbidden because spiritually we are as children and need to be told.  All those other commands can be faked to varying degrees but this one requires an examination of the heart, you can’t fake that.  Deep down the rich young rule wanted the forbidden thing, the natural man always will, that is why he is bound by the law.

            It is in these next five verses that Paul finally explains the connection the flesh has with sin.  He uses a phrase here twice that begs for a closer look, notice the phrase “taking occasion by the commandment”.  That is what sin is and ultimately what Satan accomplished in the Garden of Eden.  Paraphrasing, it is taking advantage of something.  As we mentioned in the last chapter Satan was a former angel, he had inside knowledge of the things of God.  And what he did was take advantage of that knowledge.  He knew God’s plan, His uncompromiseable righteousness, the direction He was taking it all, in general “the commandment” and knowing this Satan simply went another direction.  That is all sin is, going in a different direction than God.  His “taking occasion by the commandment” led us to where we are today.  Looking even closer at this phrase we can analyze the word “occasion”.  In the Greek it has a military application.  It means starting point or base of operations, it is what II Corinthians 10:4 is talking about.  Those “strong holds” in our lives are places where Satan has been able to set up a base of operations to attack us from and drive us into going a different direction than from where “the commandment” leads, which is towards God.  This is what obviously makes a lost person lost; when a conquering power captures a territory the first thing they do is set up a base and raise their flag.  Lost people are lost because Satan’s flag flies over them, his strong hold dominates them, they are being led, in the wrong direction, by him; not so for a saved person.

            He explains further by saying Satan used sin to “wrought in me all manner of concupiscence.”  Satan will use sin to cause you to do things.  Take the speed limit, until you see a posted speed limit sign you’re content to drive at a reasonable speed but the moment you see that sign you’ll feel the need to go a little faster.  And if it’s not that for you it’ll be something else, you see a sign that says, don’t touch wet paint, what is the first thing you want to do?  Touch it and see.  You ever tell a kid not to do something, what is the first thing they do?  What you told them not to do.  I’m told when I was a kid, if I was ever told not to do something the first words out of my mouth were “I will, just watch me”.  My great grandmother used to live over by some railroad tracks when I was very young, my mother tells the story of how she would let me outside to play and she would tell me not to do something.  She says, sure enough I’d spout off and go do it.  If she told me to stay away from the tracks, I did the opposite.  Well, for one reason or another my great grandmother moved and at this new place on the corner from her lived an old Mexican lady who didn’t speak any English, her daughter and grand kids lived there too.  Two boys and a girl, they were about my age, I couldn’t have been any older than three years old.  We fought all the time and one day my mother catches me about to throw a rock at one of them.  From the porch she yells in her authoritative voice, don’t you throw that rock.  Now, what do you think I did?  I threw it, she says she saw it part that kid’s hair, that is how close I came to hitting him.  What drove me to do it?  Sin, it causes “all manner of concupiscence.”  It not only took advantage of the law, it takes advantage of the flesh.  Hopefully we are beyond the rock throwing stage but sin is what drives all of us when we disobey God.  The word “concupiscence” is just another way of referring to that forbidden thing Paul was talking about in the previous verse.  Sin drives us, even after we are saved, to want the forbidden thing; “all manner of” tells us that there are a lot of things out there that Satan uses as “strong holds” against us.

            Now, this next verse you might find kind of confusing if you aren’t looking at it as Paul speaking about himself.  He says, “I was alive without the law once”.  What does he mean by that?  As a former legalistic Jew they all felt they were “alive” or worthy of eternal life in Heaven because of the effort they put into serving the law.  But the spiritual reality is everyone is dead in their sin, for “all have sinned”.  He just thought he was “alive” or free from sin.  That is how powerful sin is.  He was living by the standards of God, which clearly no human can ever completely do but the power of sin had blinded him so, that he actually thought he was above sin.  That was one the Jew’s “strong holds”.  He says that is how sin “taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.”  It wasn’t until the “commandment came” or until the Lord revealed to him on the Damascus road that He is the only righteousness and that this Jewish legalism is actually kicking “against the pricks”.  It was doing the opposite of what God intended; instead of the law driving them to Him, it, in the form of legalism, was taking them further away.  He says “the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.”  The law can tell you how to keep life but can’t do anything for you once you lost it.  The law can reveal sin but it can’t remove it.  That is what he finally realized and that is what he means by, “when the commandment came” or when he finally understood “sin, revived, and I died.”  It was then that he realized how far from perfect he fell and that he had been controlled by sin the whole time, it is what drives the natural man.

            Where as he has just told us of the power of sin and how it actually caused the law to be perceived as a bad thing, the truth about it is “the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”  Paul could have been easily pointing to what David says in Psalm 19:7-13.  Here sites something the Jew had long forgot and it is exactly what Paul was reminding them of back in Romans.  David says the law “is perfect” and so would we be if we could keep it one hundred percent of the time but we can’t.  Knowing this David then uses some pivotal key terms to explain the function of OT law.  He starts off by saying the law is capable of “converting the soul”.  In other words, Man in his natural state is not enough and is in need of some kind of change.  Those aren’t my thoughts, or Paul’s thoughts, or even David’s; it’s “the testimony of the LORD”, Jehovah Himself and His testimony “is sure”.  Then he tells us the law is suited for “making wise the simple.”  The simple are those who sin has fooled into believing that everything is Okay, that there is no consequence in giving into every fleshly desire or lust.  The law’s function is “enlightening the eyes”.  When someone is made wise or enlightened they are taught something, that is exactly what the law does, it taught the Jew that “great reward” was unattainable by the law; in David’s words, they would have to be converted before they could ever get it and the law actually “warned” them of this.  He says that the “fear of the LORD is clean”, their failure in the law was meant to drive them to God.  So, while the law is all these things Paul has just said, he wants us to know that sin is so influential that it can cause you to perceive the exact opposite of what God has intended.

            It is because of sin that he poses the next question, “Was then that which is good made death unto me?”  An obvious no now but sin had clouded the issue so much they tied themselves to it and thus the law became a guaranteed death sentence from God.  Again Paul rebuffs as firmly as possible by saying “God forbid” or it couldn’t be further from the truth.  Earlier he said that “without the law sin was dead.”  In context the meaning here is that the law gave sin a specific target to aim at.  Sin was in the world in between the time of Adam, when the first sin was committed, and Moses, when the law was actually given, its boundaries just hadn’t been clarified.  We’ve talked about the magnifying power of the law, it makes clear what separates righteousness from sin.  The purpose of a magnifying glass is to focus light, the lenses in a pair of glasses do the same thing.  Your particular prescription determines at what angle the light will focus allowing you to see more clearly.  Now, without your glasses you can still see just not as clearly, nothing is in focus.  The law has the same purpose, sin was always out there, the law just brings it into focus so, it can be seen clearly.  That is what the phrase “sin revived” means in the broader context, it came into focus.  He says here that God gave the law so that sin “might appear sin”.

            Paul, in reflection, diagnoses his own problem and that of the Jewish people; he says of himself, and the same was true for all that served the law, that sin was “working death in me by that which is good”.  When he says “that which is good” he is talking about the law.  Now, how was it “working death in” them?  Sin had “deceived” the Jews into thinking that the law, that was “good”, was their ticket to Heaven.  But that was never what God intended, He knew Man could never keep it but He gave it for two reasons.  Number one, it shows us how far from righteousness we are.  He says that God gave us the law so “that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.”  The law brings into focus how unlike God we really are, it shows us how “sinful” sin is.  The second thing it does is show us how much we need the mercy of God; that is what David was talking about back in Psalms and that is what the last leg of this chapter is all about.

3b.)      The drive of a carnal man  v. 14-25

            Lastly, Paul devotes a full half of this chapter to the drive of the carnal man.  As we’ve said before, this is a glimpse of a saved man who is coming to grips with everything Paul has said in the last two chapters.  It is in this last leg of the chapter that Paul finally explains the connection the flesh has with sin.  It’s Paul’s own account of his struggle with sin.  But there is some debate about that and their arguments are substantiated.  So, let’s look at the arguments and then we’ll decide from what angle we are going to approach the final leg of chapter seven.  The question at hand is whether these verses describe an unbeliever still ruled by sin or do they describe a believer, who is aware of the power of sin?  Those who claim that these verses are about a lost person still trapped in their sin compare chapter six to chapter seven and ask how could Paul be talking about the same person.  Notice the description chapter seven gives.  Verse 14 says this person is “carnal” and “sold under sin”.  Verse eighteen says nothing good dwells in them.  In verse twenty-four the person is said to be “wretched” and in a body of death.  How could that possibly be the same person described to us in the previous chapter?  It told us that someone who is saved is “dead to sin”, that their “old man is crucified”, that he was “destroyed”, that he has been “freed from sin”.  Their argument is that those two descriptions don’t exactly match up.  Those who argue Paul is referring back to the believer argue his continued use of personal pronouns are obviously references to himself, who is of course at this time saved.  On top of that, where as he was talking of his former lost self in the past tense, verses seven through thirteen, he is now speaking in the present tense, verses fourteen through twenty-five.  Also in the pervious verses sin was shown as deceiving and slaying but in this set of verses the relationship with sin has changed, this person now has a conscious determined battle going on with sin.  Plus, according to verses fifteen, nineteen, and twenty-one, this person hates evil and has an obvious desire to serve God.  Their argument is only a believer could recognize the difference.  And they feel the greater issue here is that sin is always present, even after you get saved and if you’re a mature Christian you’ll see that and if you’re not a mature Christian you’ll be partaking in it.  I feel it is obvious that Paul is speaking of his own experience.

            Primarily what Paul is talking about here is the relationship between the law and the flesh.  In order to really get this we need to pay close attention to what he does and does not say.  He opens by saying that “we know that the law is spiritual:  but I am carnal”.  By “spiritual” he is making reference to the Holy Spirit of God, which at this point, in not so many words, becomes more of a topic, as we’ll see in the next few verses.  But the word “carnal” is what takes center stage.  What does he mean by “carnal”, how come he just didn’t use the word flesh as he does later on?  The reason is because carnal describes a condition.  See, the flesh is actually neutral, neither good nor evil.  We’ve talked about Adam and Eve before, originally they were created innocent.  It is important to understand exactly what that means.  They weren’t perfect or righteous, just innocent, faultless, blameless.  And being neutral in the flesh meant they were at some point going to be inclined toward God or sin.  By using the word “carnal” Paul is letting us know what direction Man left his neutrality for.  Carnal refers to the nature that decision brought to the flesh and as a result all flesh has the same nature since our origins go back to Adam and Eve.  This is a truth that took Paul a while to learn, you read about it over in Philippians 3:6.  Here he equates himself with Adam and Eve prior to the fall.  Now, despite his best efforts to live by the law was he ever really “blameless”?  No, sin had only deceived him into thinking that.  He was just as carnal as the Gentile he liked to point the finger at but he couldn’t see it, none of the Jews could.  That is a testimony to the power of sin.

            All throughout Scripture sin is described as a disease that is one hundred percent hereditary.  My grandmother was diagnosed with stage four cancer, for the vast majority of people that are death is the only treatment at that point because life is unsalvageable.  The flesh, which was created spiritually neutral, but is now infected with this sin nature sense birth is so infected that it too is unsalvageable.  That is why we need that second birth, the first one, which is physical, is guaranteed to bring death because of its carnality but the second birth is a spiritual birth and is free from carnality.  If you are saved right now spiritually your sin nature is dead, not yet physically because we still have to live out our physical lives in the literal flesh we are in and the flesh is carnal but it will die one day, freeing us to be “present with the Lord”.  The last part of the verse says the carnal flesh is “sold under sin.”  He is referring back to the previous chapter where he told us that before we got saved we were slaves to sin, that is why we had to be “bought with a price”.

            After laying down the facts in the previous verse he makes the most genuinely true statement by saying “that which I do I allow not”.  The deeper meaning lies in the original Greek word for “allow”.  It relates to an intentional understanding of something, the same word was often used to describe a husband “knowing” his wife in a sexual sense.  But here Paul says “I allow not” or in other words, “that which I do” I don’t understand.  In the last chapter the question, “Why do we still sin?” was posed.  Paul refrained from answering that until now.  Before he could answer that question he had to show us that through Christ Jesus we are first saved from the penalty of sin and then set free from the power of sin.  Perhaps the best description of sanctification is that it is the process of coming to the realization that through Christ you are free from the power of sin.  It doesn’t have control of you anymore, you don’t have to live the same old sin filled life because when Jesus died He took the old you, who was “sold under sin” with Him.  Spiritually that leaves a believer free to live righteously which wasn’t a choice before.  But what he does not understand is why “what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.”  He is talking about sin.  He can’t understand why after all this time, after all the things he has seen, after knowing what he knows; why is sin still a part of his life?  We can draw a parallel here with something we talked about in the previous chapter.  In chapter six he told us that part of us that was sin addicted and hell bound was dead but here he is telling us it still feels like it is alive, he didn’t understand how that could be.  When we were studying those particular verses we compared them to an amputee.  Who is an amputee?  An amputee is someone who has had an appendage cut off.  The more important question here however, is why?  The reason you amputate a part of the body is because it is dead.  And if you don’t amputate that part of the body the death will spread.  What Jesus did was amputate us of our sin nature.  But amputees sometimes continue to feel a limb even after it has been removed, they call it “phantom pain”.  Doctors can’t understand how a person can feel something that is no longer there but most amputees claim to have felt real sensations, usually painful, as if whatever they had lost were still attached.  With all Paul has told us, that is a fitting description of sin.  As we talked about earlier, God first created the flesh “neither having done any good or evil” but all that changed when Satan got them to bite in the Garden.  It was then that sin was brought into the world and all flesh born after that has a sin nature.  Accepting Christ as Savior gives you a new nature.  The next few verses explain how all that comes together and how we all have the same problem Paul did.

            Something else that people today don’t seem to understand is the truth of this next verse.  He says when “I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.”  What the world fails to understand is that everything you do has a spiritual impact.  God’s law says if you sin, you’re guilty, you deserve to go to hell.  Furthermore our own actions prove it.  When you see on the news that someone beat a baby to death, what is the first thing you think?  I hope they do something to them.  When someone like that is prosecuted it is clear that the law “is good”, it works.  But in God’s book all sin will be prosecuted even those ones we like to try and excuse.  The homosexual says, it is how I was born, this is who I am so, it must be Okay.  Those people that like to pollute their bodies, those people that like to pollute their minds simply because they like it are every bit as guilty as a murder.  We try and excuse those things but the harder we try the more we “consent unto the law that it is good”, it is right about me.  And from Paul’s standpoint, if you are saved, in your heart you know that thing you’re trying to excuse is wrong; that is why he says “I”.

            Then he makes a statement that is notoriously taken out of context.  The world has taken the grace filled words “it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me” and turned them into the mantra, “the devil made me do it”.  That is not what Paul is saying.  We commit sin willingly; rather he is referring to that “phantom pain” of sin.  Remember, “there shall no flesh be justified in his sight”.  Earlier we talked about how the flesh, just like someone who is eaten up with cancer, is unsalvageable.  Once cancer gets to stage four or five that person can’t be saved.  No matter how hard you try you could never get rid of the cancer.  Sin in the flesh is the same way, we were all infected at birth and there is no cure.  That is why you must be born again.  We still dwell in these bodies after salvation until the Lord decides otherwise but so does the sin we were saved from.  It is a cancer that can’t be removed.  Paul wasn’t saying when he sinned that the devil made him do it, he was just reminding us that we are dead to sin eternally through Christ but the flesh is still diseased and when we sin we are just giving into those “phantom pains”.  That part of us is dead and has been amputated but the flesh still remembers how those things used to feel and that is all temptation is.

            This segment of Romans tends to be misunderstood.  In previous chapters Paul has explained that we are linked to God through Jesus but here he explains that we are linked to sin through the flesh.  When God saved us, He made us a new creature, gave us a new nature; something he makes clear when he says “I know that in me (that is in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing”.  But we need to be careful not to confuse which pronoun refers to what.  As he expresses here the “me” is a reference to the flesh and his old nature; his “I”s on the other hand are referring to the creature with a new nature he has become.  The differentiation can be made because every time he says “I” he is using himself as an example of a mature Christian.  Before salvation he wouldn’t have recognized the fact that even while he was trying to live according to the law he was still carnal, the law can’t change that, only true salvation could.  Someone who is lost isn’t going to be able to see the spiritual pull the flesh has on them.  Back in verse eight we talked about the word “occasion” and how in the Greek it has a military-like kind of application to it.  Those places where Satan gets a foothold or “stronghold”, as the Bible calls them, in your life from which to operate and manipulate you into going the way he wants you to go are those occasions.  He says “in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing”; he is saying that sin dwells in the flesh.  That was the issue that had been confused back in verse thirteen; the law pointed out what sin was but it didn’t cause sin.  Satan just took advantage of the law by using it to point us in a direction God said not to go.  According to verse thirteen the law isn’t what brought sin because Paul says sin was already “in me”.

            It is at this point that we begin to see some truths develop.  When he says “for to will is present with me”, that is a pretty good indication that Paul is indeed talking about the struggle that saved people have with sin.  This is a picture of a mature Christian who knows the tendencies of the flesh, this person fully understands what Galatians 5:17 is talking about.  This verse tells us that there is a constant struggle between the flesh and the Spirit, which Paul is working his way towards.  But on a more basic level there is a struggle between our old natures and our new ones.  The picture Paul presents us is of a person, that is saved, who wants to do “that which is good” or simply wants to live obediently in Christ but he can’t for two reasons.  First, the flesh keeps getting in the way.  That is what it means when it says that the Spirit and the flesh “are contrary the one to the other:  so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”  Sin is an addiction, none know that more that those who have had to come off of an addiction.  You know what it is like to not want something in your head but have your flesh ache for it.  And it is because of that flesh part that so many fail to “perform that which is good” and leave their addiction behind them.  The second reason a person can’t just live in complete obedience to Christ is because even with our new nature we are powerless.  Look more closely at what he says, “but how to perform that which is good I find not.”  Even with our new natures we are still unable to “perform” or live our lives according to His righteous standards.  But plenty of people seem to think they can; that is what the Jews thought.  Various false religions say that if you adhere to a particular diet it will resolve any spiritual law that may have been broken.  Where is their proof?  Because down here if you break the law, you can eat as much fish or whatever you want to and you’re still going to be guilty.  As a mature Christian Paul came to the realization that on his own, even after salvation, he still couldn’t come close to living the life God expected.  He says “the good that I would I do not:  but the evil which I would not, that I do.”  Sinning isn’t the problem, it’s the not sinning that’s the problem.  Our “old man”, that old nature, has home field advantage.  It is at home in this flesh; our new nature is not, it desires the things of God, even the presence of God but in this body it is at a disadvantage.  And if it wasn’t for the Holy Spirit the old nature that lives in our flesh would beat out our new nature every time.  And that really bothered Paul.

            Someone else it bothered was David; led by the Holy Spirit he penned psalm after psalm that documented for all to see how sorry he was for the sin that was in his life.  You are not a mature Christian if the sin in your life does not bother you.  It did David and that is why the Bible says he was a man after God’s own heart.  But most people today can’t say that, they can’t say that their sin really bothers them.  Sadly, Christians today either don’t care about the sin in their lives or because of the liberal churches they attend aren’t mature enough to see it.  I Corinthians 13:11  The problem with the modern-day church is most of the members are spiritually still children and incapable of grasping what it is that Paul is really saying.  Paul is saying it is time that these entertainment driven churches put away their “childish things” and mature.  Stop pretending that just because for the last two thousand years they didn’t have over head projectors plastering pointless music on a wall, or pop psychology, or rock-N-roll music in a church service that they were doing it all wrong.  Those are the “childish things” of our day and they don’t mature you at all, they just serve to make a church more worldly.  The truly sad thing is the Christians in churches like those have grown so dependent on such things that they couldn’t sit through a regular fundamental Bible preaching service without being bored.

            These next few verses set the tone for the next chapter and he starts in this verse by reiterating a truth he has already brought to light but with a slight addition.  He has just told us that the life of a saved person is filled with an always on going struggle of two natures.  The first one everyone is born with, the nature of the flesh, it is evil and sin addicted as we’ll see later.  The other nature doesn’t come by way of a physical birth, it is spiritual in nature.  Paul has been describing to us the new inner man he has become.  That results only from a decision to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life.  Once a person experiences this second birth God puts in them a new nature.  And this nature as we have seen is “contrary” to the nature of the flesh.  It doesn’t desire to sin, instead it seeks to please God.  But since they are housed in the same body there is a constant struggle for dominance going on.  You see it in the next verse when he says, “if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.”  Now, he has already told us that we have been delivered from this “body of sin” so, when we do sin, God reckons it to that “body of sin” and not the new inner you He has made.  That is why you can have a verse like I John 3:9.  That is exactly who the “I” is back in Romans.  It is that part of him that “is born of God”, that doesn’t want to “commit sin”, that has the will “to perform that which is good”, because “his seed remaineth in him:  and he can not sin”.  And that is true for every believer.

            There is a contradiction between the willing and the doing.  The new nature wants the things of God while the flesh wants the exact opposite.  And sin is stronger than that new nature because evil resides in the flesh and we are not going to overcome it on our own.  This next verse is a truth the world won’t admit because if they’d look any at all they would “find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.”  In preparation of teaching us of the role the Holy Spirit has in our lives Paul now gives us two laws that are every bit as real as the law of gravity.  What causes even further distress is the fact that not only are the laws opposing each other but the two natures housed in our bodies, who are already in contrast, each follow a different law.  According to verse twenty-five the law the flesh adheres to is the “law of sin” and the law our new nature reveres is the “law of God”.  Paul said that when he really examined himself he found what could only be described as a law, that “when I would do good, evil is present with me.”  That is something only a mature Christian can say.  The word “evil” bears some interest.  From its Greek origin it refers to a mode of thinking, feeling, and acting.  Three things through which Satan can attack.  God described it in Genesis 4:6-7.  Here Cain’s offering has been rejected because he tried to offer up the works of his own effort, where as his brother used the only sacrifice God would accept, blood.  Cain did exactly what Paul has been talking about, he tried to measure up on his own merit.  The Bible says no flesh will ever be justified in God’s sight.  Sure enough he failed, then began the process the word “evil” back in Romans is talking about.  After having his sacrifice rejected and his brother’s accepted you know he had some thoughts on his mind about his younger brother.  Obviously he is mad so, God asks him so, He could tell him this, “sin lieth at the door”.  Sin is as close as the next thought and God warned him of that.  But he continued to think hurtful thoughts of his brother, soon he began to feel hatred for him, and then he acted on it.  How you think determines how you feel, how you feel determines how you act.  Sin is so powerful God, was saying to Cain, if Satan can get you to think, he can get you to feel, and if he can get you to feel, he can get you to act.  It is a self-destructive process you fall into without even realizing.  Cain intended to do good but like so many, he tried to please God on his own terms.  You ever ask someone if they go to church and their response to you is, “I worship God in my own way”?  They have been fooled into thinking, like Cain, that God isn’t a God of standard.  And every bit of good they try to do will always have evil present in it somewhere.  The same is true for us; the “inward man”, or the new nature in us can “delight in the law of God” but sin and evil still roost in the flesh, hence the need for the Holy Spirit.

            Only a saved person can say they “delight in the law of God”.  The lost world rebels at nearly every issue and doesn’t even realize it.  I’ll give you an example; God’s law says that sex is only lawful in the confines of marriage and rightfully so, however the world and even our very flesh rejects that.  Years ago at a global AIDS Conference a controversy erupted over how to best handle the AIDS crisis in Africa.  So far, due to AIDS, twenty million are dead and thirty eight million had been infected; infections due to sexual intercourse contributed to the overwhelming majority of cases.  America, more and more the world bank, through foreign aid offers financial assistance to such problems.  President Bush’s policy back then was simple, teach them abstinence, that would take care of the problem permanently.  Amazingly, even after offering up huge sums of money, we were criticized for our stance.  One of our few supporters at the Conference was the President of Uganda.  Through abstinence programs Uganda in the last twenty years has seen its percentage of people with AIDS drop from 30% in the eighties to just 6% today.  If having promiscuous sex greatly increases your chances of contracting something that is incurable, abstinence is the only solution that makes sense.  Yet those who disagree with the choice for abstinence, and that is most of the world, say that anything short of a safe-sex program is “inhumane”.  They say, "Millions of people around the world have been persuaded by the arguments of the U.S. government and religious right.  Their actions represent a setback in bringing HIV/AIDS under control."  Do you see the backwards thinking?  The reason God gave us the law was to protect us from things like this.  But sin will drive the flesh to fight, to do the opposite, like verse eight explained.

            That is what he means when he says I saw “another law in my members”, talking about the drive behind the flesh to go against “the law of God”.  Also back in verse eight he made use of a military analogy when he used the word “occasion”, there are certain occasions or strongholds Satan has in our lives.  Well, he continues to play off of this analogy by saying that the law the flesh serves is “warring against the law of my mind”.  In verse nineteen the word “evil” referred to the mode that the flesh thought, felt, and behaved in.  Well here “mind” refers to that same thing accept it’s referring to those things in the new nature God has put in us.  So, there are two natures and one body.  Now, what has happened is basically sin has hijacked this body.  When a vehicle has been hijacked those inside, unfortunately, are only along for the ride at that point, they don’t share the same feelings and desires as their hijacker.  Think about that in context of verses 15-20, according those verses this body has been hijacked.  That is what he means when he says he has been brought “into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”  So, there is a difference in the new creature we are on the inside and this vehicle called the flesh on the outside.  II Corinthians 4:16  Here it marks a difference between our “outward man” and our “inward man”.  It says that our “outward man” is going to “perish”.  That means that our spiritual condition directly affects our physical condition.  Spiritually the longer a lost person lives the deeper into sinful depravity they get; that even affects saved people because saved or not the more you sin the easier it gets.  Although we are saved, sin has a direct impact on your physical health.  Adam and Eve could have conceivably lived forever prior to their sin because death was not in the world.  It wasn’t until after their sin that pain and death became a mainstay of life.  Without redemption Man physically and spiritually is on a downward slope.  The difference between us and the lost is the fact that our “inward man is renewed day by day”, the flesh isn’t.  It will die one day.  That word “renewed” is unmistakably tied to the power of the Holy Spirit, He sustains a child of God, despite the hijacking of our flesh by sin.  Ephesians 3:16 says “according to the riches of his glory” “the inner man” in us is “to be strengthened”, by the “Spirit”.

            But don’t mistake what Paul is saying here, the flesh has been hijacked, it is on a collision course but the decision whether or not to play along with the hijacker is ours.  He said in chapter six we can “yield” to righteousness or unrighteousness.  The phrase “bringing me into captivity” points to a process, Satan will chip away at you, weaken your resolve.  Remember he works on the thinking, feeling, and then the acting.  In the end we make the decision to willingly go out and sin.  We put ourselves into “captivity”.  Has your sin ever imprisoned you?  The key to this next chapter lies back in Galatians 5:16-18.  Part of what it is saying here is if we can ever learn to “Walk in the Spirit”, then we are not going to be “under the law.”  If we’ll really sanctify ourselves and be receptive and obedient to the direction of God’s Holy Spirit not only will we not violate the precepts of God’s Word but we’ll never incur the judgments that go with it.

            In the next verse Paul brings to a close his military analogy.  Knowing that his own flesh is working against him he cries, “O wretched man that I am!  who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”  The word “wretched” carries a meaning of exhaustion.  Like a soldier that is exhausted from battle.  Living a life as free from sin as possible is exhaustive, we do it so easily.  The word “deliver” means to rescue.  We are soldiers down here and the enemy has hijacked our flesh and our world but one day soon we will be rescued “from the body of this death”.  Which is why Paul closes by saying “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Like that song we sing he says he’ll “Press On”, that is what he means when he says, “So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with flesh the law of sin.”  Again Galatians five lists the difference, Galatians 5:19-21 & 22-23.

C.  The Spirit of adoption                     8:1-27

1c.)      The freedom of the Spirit  v. 1-4

            This chapter is a sharp contrast from the previous one.  Where the last chapter spoke of being forced against one’s will in a body that has been hijacked, this one speaks of having the power to operate freely.  That was Paul’s deepest concern in the last chapter; he wanted to know how was it going to be possible to live for God in a body that had been hijacked by sin.  The answer lies at the end of the first verse; if you’ll “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” you can live a life that is pleasing unto God.  Not because after we get saved we become perfect or can do no wrong but because we’ve been justified, that is why there is “no condemnation”.  We have been freed from the law.  Before we were saved the only relationship we had with God came through the law but once you accept Christ as Savior your relationship with God is through Him.  Paul opens this chapter by focusing on our justification because justification is what makes sanctification possible.  Some people try and reverse it but it doesn’t work that way.  Being justified means you are no longer and never will be guilty of God’s laws.  Sanctification is living like it.  Our old nature wasn’t justified because it wouldn’t live by God’s law but after we get saved the new nature He puts in us doesn’t need the law, it already desires the things of the law; as the last chapter explained and the “therefore” refers back to.  Really, “therefore” actually carries a lot of weight.  It is another way of saying, based on everything I’ve told you in the last seven chapters:  that we were formerly without excuse, in need of a justifying, sanctifying salvation, that only comes through God.  In light of all that there is “no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus”.  Now, that “no condemnation” part doesn’t mean God will simply ignore sin.  Galatians 6:7 tells us that and his use of “Brethren” in the first verse makes it crystal clear who he is talking to.  Then in Hebrews 12:6 we are told very plainly that if we willingly sin to expect chastening and scourging.

            He says the only escape of condemnation comes to those who are “in Christ”.  It is one of Paul’s favorite expressions because you see it in all of his epistles.  The OT gives us a vivid description of some of what that phrase entails when it tells us of Noah’s arch.  God’s judgment was about to be unleashed on a hopeless world when Noah was given the task to build the ark.  It was a way of escaping the condemnation of the earth.  Well, outside of Noah and his family no one would listen to the warnings of God, which is why judgment was bound to come and the arch was the only way to escape that divine wrath.  Paralleling the phrase “in Christ” is the phrase used when God sealed up the arch, it says the “LORD shut him in”.  With that came total assurance of security.  But when God first spoke to Noah He said something that undeniably ties the God of the OT to the God of the NT.  He told Noah that He wanted him to “pitch it within and without”.  Now, the Hebrew word for “atonement” is used for the word “pitch” so, that the only thing keeping them for the divine waters of wrath and judgment was the wood and pitch.  Those recognizably represent the work of the Lord Jesus on the cross and His shed blood.  Noah and his family were saved because they were in the ark, we are saved because we are “in Christ”.  God’s promise to preserve them was an unconditional one, all they had to do was get “into the ark”.  The promise of salvation is unconditional too, if you just come to Christ.  That’s the reason that sanctification can’t come first, it would be a condition to salvation.

            In the next verse Paul makes reference to the two laws he brought to light at the end of the last chapter, the “law of God” and the “law of sin”.  He has just told us that the flesh peruses the “law of sin”, while the new nature God put in us seeks to serve the “law of God”.  Well, the Holy Spirit serves the “law of God” as well.  Now get the picture here; the flesh operates under the power of the law of sin, “the law of the Spirit” is to serve under the power of the law of God, and then there we are in the middle, powerless in a body that has been hijacked.  The new nature wants to serve God but the vehicle it is in has been taken over, hijacked by sin.  But “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” was given to us to set us “free from the law of sin and death.”  That means not just the eternal penalty of sin but the controlling power of it right now, II Corinthians 3:17 makes it clear.  It is Him, the Holy Spirit, that ensures we can live life “free from the law of sin and death” and by the law of God, a life that is pleasing unto Him.

            The freedom the first two verses speak of came with the price of “God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh”.  That is a price that had to be paid and it couldn’t have been paid any other way.  “God sending his own Son” did “what the law could not do”, “through the flesh” because the flesh was too “weak”.  In order to really get this; you have to think about what it is saying.  It is not saying that the law was weak, it is saying that the hold it had when it was applied to the flesh was weak.  You like brisket?  What is the best way to cook it:  do you want to cook it on the highest temperature so it cooks fast or do want to cook it slow?  Slow, because generally the slower you cook meat the more tender it will be.  Well, if brisket is cooked right you can get it to where it falls apart because it’s so tender.  And when it’s like that it’s not like you can just stab it with a meat fork and pick it up, it is too tender, it would just fall apart.  You have to support it with something from underneath, then pick it up.  The support from underneath does what the fork alone couldn’t do.  The law works pretty much the same way with us, this flesh is too weak, too tender to adhere to the sharp points of the law.  When it is applied to us we just fall apart, spiritually we just can’t hold it together but the Holy Spirit can, He is that support, look at verse twenty-six.  It says that the Spirit “helpeth our infirmities”.  That word “infirmities” means a whole lot more than just our physical problems as the rest of the verse goes on to suggest.  The word “helpeth” in the Greek bears the meaning to take hold with another.  If you are saved the Holy Spirit supports you by taking a hold of you and because of it you are “renewed day by day”.

            It says that God sent Jesus “in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh”.  Right there are three things that according to the law were impossible “but with God all things are possible”.  Number one, it says He sent Him “in the likeness of sinful flesh”.  Well, in the previous chapter we read that no good thing comes from the flesh.  In Jesus God did the impossible.  God created the flesh, then Satan corrupted it leaving the flesh forever guilty of the law.  But then Jesus comes and lives “in the likeness of” the flesh, which means while He was still fully God, He was also fully human.  He was “touched with the feeling of our infirmities” and “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”  So, He did the impossible, He lived in the flesh and was still good or faultless, blameless, righteous.  Further more, in the saved “the righteousness of the law” is “fulfilled in us”, even though we are still in the flesh.  Jesus fulfilled it for us eternally but temporally the “righteousness of the law” is fulfilled every time we “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”  The second thing that was impossible for the law was the salvation of Man, that is what that phrase “and for sin” points to.  When the law was put to the flesh it mutilated it, it couldn’t preserve it because of sin.  So, what the law could not do for Man God did Himself, in and through Jesus.  His death on the cross broke the lock sin had on us, the law couldn’t do that.  The third thing it says is that Jesus “condemned sin in the flesh”.  The law condemns sin, says it is wrong, but only Jesus could permanently deal with it.  Three things the law couldn’t do but Jesus could; that’s what gives us the freedom of the first two verses.

2c.)      The mind of the Spirit  v. 5-13

                In chapter seven we saw Paul make a lot of references to himself, through his use of personal pronouns but in this chapter his focus is on the Holy Spirit in him strengthening him.  Also a theme emerges in these next nine verses that we talked about in the last chapter.  What drives you, what motivates you, what is your mindset?  Paul makes it pretty simple, he says “they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.”  Based on what we have learned so far here in Romans, if you are saved, you can choose to do one or the other, whereas the lost have no choice.  They are trapped in the endless pursuit of “the things of the flesh”.  As Paul has explained we are different because while we are still in the flesh and have the desires of the flesh to contend with, we have two things a lost person doesn’t:  a new nature and the Holy Spirit.  And the mindset of our new nature is the same as the Holy Spirit’s “to be spiritually minded”.  Now, the picture Paul has presented to us is of a body that has been hijacked by sin and now that we are saved we are just along for the ride.  The new nature in us no longer desires the same old ruts we used to live in, that is what motivates people to get saved in the first place.  They finally realized “to be carnally minded is death”.  It doesn’t bring “life and peace”.  The phrase “carnally minded” carries the meaning of living a life that is unbridled or unrestrained.  How many can testify that just because something feels good doesn’t mean it is good for you?  Now, we live in the flesh and the flesh constantly screams for carnality so, how are we supposed to refrain from it in a body that has been hijacked by sin?  I John 4:4  The “he” is the Holy Spirit.  If we’ll make the call “to be spiritually minded”, He’ll “overcome” the temptation of the flesh but it is a choice you must make.

            In verse six Paul tells us that being carnally mind leads to death, in the next two verses he tells us why.  The reason why a carnal mind can’t lead to “life and peace” is two-part.  The first part of the problem hinges on the fact that “the carnal mind is enmity against God:  for it is not subject to the law of God”.  He starts off by saying that the carnal mind of the flesh is at “enmity” with God.  Basically it just means conflict, there is an ongoing conflict between Man and God, because the carnal mind of the flesh “is not subject to the law of God”.  The word “subject” brings the idea of being out of control.  How many of you guys know that the flesh is out of control?  It’ll try and take you back to the holes it took you a lifetime to get out of.  Now, Paul uses these words to form a picture of how the carnal mind works.  Notice how they work together:  “subject” in the Greek has a definite military application to it, it refers to the command a leader has over his troops, in other nonmilitary uses it means to cooperate; “enmity” means a conflict that is spurred by a mutual hatred, in other uses it means to plot.  You remember we investigated the word “evil” back in the nineteenth verse of chapter seven.  Paul was using the word “evil” to refer to how the flesh thinks, feels, and acts.  In not so many words Paul is saying the carnal mind of the flesh plots against us.  Just like Satan plotted “against God” in the Garden, our flesh, often times, works in concert with Satan on how the new creature we’ve become thinks, feels, and acts.  And if they can implement their plan and manipulate how we think, then it is only a matter of time until it affects how we feel and act too.

            The reason the carnal mind is at enmity with God is because it is always plotting ways to break His law.  The flesh wants to live in anarchy, you see that in the liberal movement more and more today.  The Ten Commandments are the basis of all law and yet groups like the ACLU are trying to remove them from public and private life.  They do that by trying to Okay the contrary, like gay marriage.  Today we can blatantly go out and sin, like assault someone in a fit of road rage, and call it a “disorder”.  The liberal agenda is flesh driven and its goal is anarchy; and the sad thing is some of them don’t know it and the ones that do are doing it intentionally.  That is why only Christians are targeted, we serve a God of standard, all these other religions let you pick and choose.  Want to hate become a Muslim, want to live like a spiritual hippie, Buddha won’t care; or build your own god like the Hindu.  Natural man is hostel toward God, he doesn’t want to be subject to God’s law, that is why he can never have “life and peace”.  The end of verse seven gives us the second reason for why we can’t have “life and peace” outside of Christ.  He says the flesh is not only not willing to be “subject to the law of God” but “neither indeed can be.”  In our natural state the flesh couldn’t submit to God even if it tried.  In the Greek the last word “be” carries the idea of having a total lack of ability.  Righteousness is a resource we simply don’t have, that only comes with the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life.  That is why those that are only “in the flesh cannot please God.”  Once again they simply lack the ability, as the word “cannot” literal means.  The word “please” suggests the idea of elevation, we cannot elevate our selves in the eyes of God; because in the words of Jesus; “That which is born of the flesh is flesh” it is not only not going to change but it is incapable of change “and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”  Nature isn’t something you can just change, you can repress it like a caged animal.  But the second its restraints are loosened it’s on the prowl again, seeking out carnality, it can’t help itself, the flesh has been hijacked by sin.  Someone living a life without Christ, no matter how morally conscious they think they are, is only fooling themselves.  Besides the fact that they are still eternally guilty, their own flesh is plotting against them and without the Holy Spirit in their lives one day it will rise up and slay them.

            Today there is something called the “religious left”.  And they follow their own perverted Gospel, it is simply “we are all God’s children”.  But the Apostle Paul says the one sure way to know that you are not just “in the flesh, but in the Spirit”, that’s a genuine born again child of God, is “that the Spirit of God dwell in you.”  Now how do you know if the Spirit that was in Christ is in you?  II Corinthians 13:5  The Bible says “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.”  Don’t take some feel good preacher’s word for it, prove to yourself that the Spirit dwells in you.  It says you can know “that Jesus Christ is in you”.  The way to find that out is, do you resist sin when it presents itself to you?  Could you if you even tried?  When you are about indulge the flesh do you hear a “still small voice” say you need to stop?  Do you accept everything God’s Word says?  If you can’t honestly say yes to all of those questions, the Holy Spirit is not in your life and you are “none of his”.  Paul says “if Christ be in you, the body is dead”.  It doesn’t have control of you anymore and the way you live your life is going to prove it.  It was in chapter six that Paul told us Jesus went to the cross “because of sin” to give you that freedom, to give you true “life”.  A life free from sin is only sustained by the power of the Spirit.  It is “because of” Him that “righteousness” is made possible while we still live.

            This next verse mentions two functions of the Holy Spirit.  He starts off by telling us that it is the Holy Spirit “that raised up Jesus from the dead”.  Then he says “he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by the Spirit that dwelleth in you.”  Now that tells us two things.  First, it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that we, like Christ, will be resurrected.  We will be raised from the dead in incorruptible bodies, the literal fulfillment of His promise of “newness of life”.  Now, prior to that we have to live out our lives on this earth in these sin hijacked bodies of flesh but after you get saved you have something that you didn’t have before, the Holy Spirit, he says He “dwelleth in you”.  And that last use of the word dwell tells us where he is headed next.  In its Greek context it means to have a certain degree of influence; a perfect description of the Holy Spirit because God isn’t going to force you to do anything.  But He does want to have influence in our lives, to steer us away from the things that are going to do us more harm than good, John 6:63.  Like back in Romans the Lord says that it is the Spirit that “quickeneth”, that word just means to bring to life or make alive.  The only way to have true life in the eyes of God is when He lives in you.  Look what He says about the flesh, “it profiteth nothing”.  In its Greek context the word profit that is used here means useless, it is useless to try and please God living a life that is outside of Christ, as Paul said before “the flesh cannot please God.”

            So, the second function of the Holy Spirit is to enable us to be able to please God.  Which is now a responsibility of ours as recipients of grace, notice it says “we are debtors”.  But “not to the flesh, to live after the flesh”; your flesh ever cry “feed me”?  Mine does all the time but that is what the Holy Spirit is for, to “deliver me from the body of this death”.  Look back at II Corinthians 10:4.  It says “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal”.  What is carnal?  Carnal is everything the flesh does.  Without the Holy Spirit our efforts at trying to please God are only flesh trying to overcome flesh, its like running on a treadmill, run as fast and long as you want but you ain’t going anywhere.  How many have ever had good intentions of just going out to have a good time but it turn out to be a lot more?  All the good intentions in the world won’t overcome the “strong holds” of sin in the flesh.  Jesus did that for us eternally and the Holy Spirit will do it right now if we’ll follow His lead.  But remember the flesh is plotting against you, it will sucker you in to a bad situation.  It’ll tell you that you’re too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, or HALT as my preacher Bro. Terry down in Houston likes to say, so you better do something, “feed me”.  But you don’t owe the flesh anything, it only got you into trouble.  So, before you rationalize your sin you better HALT.

            Here is where the mind of the Spirit really comes through.  He says “if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die:  but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live”, “through the Spirit” means having the mind of the Spirit.  It is not enough to simply have the Spirit, if you are going to be Spirit minded, and have that abundant victorious life in Christ, He must have you.  That means as the previous verses have suggested it is your responsibility to not “live after the flesh”, he said “we are debtors”, try and eliminate sin in your life, because if you don’t kill it, it will kill you.  To be Spirit minded you first have got to recognize that sin is in your life.  Most other religions completely ignore that and boil life down to being a good person, Paul said “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.”  The next step to being Spirit minded is to make the things of God a priority in your life, if they are important to Him they are important to you.  To know what those things are and how the Spirit thinks you got to read His Word.  Meditate on it, what does He want you to get from it.  Also we’ve got spend time in prayer, regularly attend church.  All these things are about spending time with God.  You can’t have a relationship with someone you don’t spend time with.  You’ve heard that saying “practice makes perfect”, well the same is true about obedience, if you’d do it more it wouldn’t be so hard.  It is through Spirit led obedience that we “mortify the deeds of the body”.  What does “mortify” mean?  It means to be put to death.  What do we do when something that is attached to the body dies?  You cut it off.  To be Spirit minded is to have “the Spirit of life”, that is how Paul started out this chapter.  Even if you are saved, if you live after the flesh, “ye shall die”.  He is talking about a physical death that is a result of failure:  failure to be obedient, failure in living a Spirit filled life, failure in fellowship with God.  But if you’ll live your life “through the Spirit”, “ye shall live”.  That is victorious success, that’s the lord saying “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”.  The key to spiritual success is letting God have influence in your life.

3c.)      The adopting of the Spirit  v. 14-17

            The presence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life is proof of salvation in God’s eternal sight and through Him we are adopted as “sons of God.”  But before that he tells us how we can see in our own present time who is truly a son or daughter of God.  You can tell who is a child of God by who is being “led by the Spirit of God”.  Just like we talked about earlier “led” implies a degree of influence.  And we see this influence of the Holy Spirit in two areas, sanctification in verse fifteen and revelation in verse sixteen.  Concerning sanctification it says we “have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear”.  The phrase “again to fear” is interesting, it points back to what we were saved from.  Man has believed a lot of false theologies and none of them give you total assurance, always leaving room to fear something.  In a works salvation how do you know when you’ve accomplished enough?  You don’t so, you just keep going.  But “in Christ” there is no fear because salvation is given not earned, that means it can’t ever be lost.  We have certainty of our spiritual futures, we know our eternal standing with God, and can change our state before Him even after we mess up.  We are not in “bondage” to fear or failure anymore, there is no fear of punishment; we have been freed; because we “have received the Spirit of adoption”.  In the context it is used “adoption” points more toward Roman custom and of course is symbolic of salvation.  In Roman custom to be legally adopted you had to sever all ties to your natural born family, all debts would be taken off the record, and so that it would be indisputable there would be witnesses.  All of which parallel our “adoption” as children of God.

            It could be said that David adopted Mephibosheth.  He was part of a family that opposed David’s kingship, being crippled he was of no real use to David but still David adopted him, made a mandate that he was to eat at the King’s table with the rest of his sons.  We were adopted from those same circumstances:  directly opposed at the authority of God, not even fit to serve God.  Yet we were adopted, “whereby we cry, Abba Father.”  That last phrase simply means we can now, where we couldn’t before, cry out to God.  “Abba” is a name or way of referring to God in a parental role that is very personal and intimate.  It expresses the tender nature of the one being referred to, it articulates the dependence of the one who uses it and it use suggests no fear in calling for His divine assistance.  In Mephibosheth’s case part of his very name means shameful thing, a glimpse of all of us before God adopted us and now that we are adopted all that shame is gone.

            It is the Holy Spirit that makes sanctification possible because “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God”.  The implied meaning is the natural man, who still resides in the flesh, won’t obey God but the Holy Spirit in us makes it possible to obey Luke 1:34-35.  In this same way the Holy Spirit in all of us overshadows the natural man in our flesh to allow us to obey God because we can’t on our own even knowing what God expects.  Psalm 119:133-134  He understood that these bodies of flesh have been hijacked by sin, that before we are saved and filled with the Holy Spirit we are not in complete control.  That’s what he means by “the oppression of man”.  The Spirit breaks the hold sin has on our lives and sets us free.

            In verse sixteen Paul tells us another sphere of influence of the Holy Spirit is revelation, it says the Spirit “beareth witness with our spirit”.  The reason Paul explains our salvation and incorporation into the family of God in terms of adoption is because in legal terms you had to have witnesses of the adoption as proof.  Well, the Holy Spirit is the witness of our adoption and proves “that we are the children of God”.  But that is not the only purpose He has in our lives as the previous verses have suggested.  “The Holy Ghost is also a witness to us”.  John 14:26  Jesus says the Holy Spirit is also our teacher and I Corinthians 2:14 tells us why we need Him.  It says “the things of the Spirit”, “are foolishness” to the natural man.  The things of God don’t make any sense to the flesh.  The flesh doesn’t understand why we shouldn’t just give in to our every desire, that kind of understanding is only “spiritually discerned”.  The Holy Spirit is in our lives to teach us what the flesh won’t ever grasp, we need God because sin kills.  He witnesses in us but the verse says He witnesses with us too.  It is through the Holy Spirit that we not only live in Christ but share it with other people.

            Now if you ever wanted to see someone dance around an issue, ask a Charismatic to explain these next few verses.  They speak of two things, glory and suffering.  Charismatics love to preach about the glory that being a child of God brings because if we are children, then we are “heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ”.  Sounds good and it is but they will completely gloss over the last part that says “if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be glorified together.”  See, God is going to share the glory but to “suffer with him” is just an understood part of that.  When He said the world hated Him, He wasn’t just talking about the physical world, He was talking about the spiritual kingdom of darkness that orchestrates the events of the physical world.  The world hates us, just for the sake that we are “joint-heirs with Christ”, “and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”  Fundamentally there is no glory without the suffering, it is like saying you won the race when there was no one to beat.  He is the Head, we are the body, they are connected.  The world hated Him, it’ll hate us because of our connection to Him; if we sin we grieve the Holy Spirit, who is our connection to God and we’re chastised for it.  What affects the one affects the other.

4c.)      The new hope the Spirit reveals  v. 18-25

            With our adoption into the family of God comes a hope we never really had before and another part of the Holy Spirit’s ministry is to reveal it to us.  The first lesson He teaches us is that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  He uses the word “reckon” again which is an accounting term that points to a guaranteed mathematical conclusion.  Do you realize that if you’re saved your every affliction gives you the chance to bring glory to God and in turn back to you?  In the investment world that is like making money as you spend it, that is just good business.  And the way we make that same spiritual investment with God is when we yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  II Corinthians 4:17  He says “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”  It is like interest, the interest you’d earn on a thousand dollars in one day isn’t much, its “light”, but you spread that over fifty years and keep adding to it, that is a lot of money.  That is what he means when he says “weight of glory”; what is going to be “revealed in us” is going to weigh more or be worth more to us in eternity than our “light” afflictions of today.  Paul uses the word “sufferings” and that is just what he means, we are going to go through some things in this life that are just going to hurt.  Some of it we cause, some we don’t but if we’ll follow the direction of the Holy Spirit and really trust God, “all things” will “work together for good” then God will get the glory, we’ll share in it and “our light affliction” will have served a purpose.  Someone who never gets saved misses out on all of that, their afflictions never serve any purpose and all the times they were wronged will never be made right.

            Paul goes so far to say that the redeemed aren’t the only ones who share in this coming hope.  Up until verse twenty-two the language sounds very general until you run across the phrase “the whole creation” and it is there that you realize that since verse nineteen Paul hasn’t been talking about Man, especially sense in verse twenty-three we are addressed directly.  In these verses he is referring the universe and everything in it.  Now, we inhabit only a small part of it.  So, when he speaks of “the creature” he is talking about the world, the plants, the animals, the whole ecosystem that we are a part of.  He says that the “earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.”  In other words all those tree huggers are on to something.  They are a little askew, they think Man is the one destroying nature and we are to a certain extent but what they fail to see is that Nature’s nature is to destroy.  Genesis 3:17-18  Now, if you take that literally, weeds didn’t exist until Adam screwed up.  What do weeds do to the other plants around them?  They choke them out.  Isaiah says the Fall affected the animals too.  Isaiah 11:6-9  In the world God originally created the animals were herbivorous, they ate of the earth, they didn’t eat each other.  Man wasn’t the only one affected by the Fall, this “whole creation” or earth was; that is why it “groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.”  What does that mean?  Matthew 24:3-8  All these things Jesus was talking about are happening.  Seems like people are going crazy these days, both Iran and North Korea have nuclear programs.  North Korea has been sending off missiles despite the concern of the rest of the world while Iran threatens Israel and dares anyone to try and stop them.  Paul compares the return of the Lord to labor and says it is so close the world itself is experiencing labor pains.  Weather patterns, earthquakes all things Jesus said was going to happen are.  Something is coming and the whole earth knows it, Paul calls it the “earnest expectation of the creature”.  In the Greek it presents the image of someone standing on their toes to peer into the distance to see what’s ahead.

            What Creation itself is literally waiting for is the “manifestation of the sons of God.”  I John 3:2  The Bible says that to the world “it doth not yet appear what we shall be”.  The world doesn’t understand who we are, most Christians don’t even understand that.  We are children of the one true God, which certainly isn’t always discernible by sight but “when he shall appear, we shall be like him” then they’ll know.  But the reason it concerns Creation is found in these next two verses.  In verse twenty-one Paul tells us that when we, the children of God, are manifested for who we really are, “when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality” at that same time “the creature itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption” it shares with us.  Creation will receive “the glorious liberty of the children of God.”  Like us, it will no longer suffer the curse of Adam’s sin, it will be liberated, free from sin’s power.  He tells us in verse twenty that because of Man’s sin nature is the way it is.  He says “the creature was made subject to vanity”, meaning God did not create the world we live in today, Satan’s deception and Man’s sin did.  But remember back in the third chapter of Genesis it said God “cursed” the ground for our sakes, we aren’t experiencing the full potential of the earth.  The use of the word “vanity” in the Greek implies limited success.  Nature every spring builds a wondrous structure and every winter “not willingly” it is destroyed.  What if after Adam sinned God had not cursed the ground?  I don’t imagine it would have been like the Garden of Eden but life in general life would have been a lot easier.  It is hard to get people to turn from their sin already, could you imagine if we all had the easy life?  Virtually no one would repent and hell would be a lot fuller.  But the ground was cursed “by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope”.  His “hope” in cursing the ground was for us to see how much we really need Him.

            In verse twenty-one Paul makes clear that the world shares in the effects of our spiritual corruption.  Sin not only effects us it effects the world around us.  In previous verses Paul describes the devastating affect that Man’s invitation of sin has had on the world.  And how “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain” “waiting to be delivered from the bondage of corruption” it shares with us and because of us.  He says that “even we ourselves groan” for that day.  Now, he says it comes from “within ourselves” because within us are two things a lost world lacks:  a new nature and the Holy Spirit of God.  And it is because of those two things that we can “have the firstfruits of the Spirit”.  The word “have” implies not only to posses but to make use of.  Without the new nature God gives us upon acceptance of the Lord Jesus it would be impossible to have any fruit, much less the means to produce it.  And that is assuming that without a new nature it would even be possible to have the Holy Spirit.  We need the new nature in order for the Holy Spirit to work in and through our lives.  Without that new nature, if it were even possible to be saved, the Holy Spirit would be in constant gridlock with our fallen nature and there wouldn’t be any “firstfruits”.  We possess the Holy Spirit but we need a new nature to have those “firstfruits”.

            As it is used here “firstfruits” means pretty much what it sounds like, they are only the beginning of what “shall be revealed in us.”  An example of “firstfruits” is the reason why Paul says we “ourselves also” groan.  As saved people we have a spiritual sensitivity to the things of the world.  Lost people can’t look at worldly music, for example, and see the satanic fingerprints.  You’re spiritually sensitive when you can discern the desires of the flesh and choose not to act on them.  Those are the “firstfruits” of salvation and what the Spirit is going to produce in our lives.  The Holy Spirit Himself is only a whisper of what is to come.  II Corinthians 5:5  The word “earnest” here can be traced back to Hebrew origins, basically it is like a down payment.  And the down payment itself is a pledge that the full amount will be paid.  Then it all comes together with the word he uses at the end of the verse, “redemption”.  Back in chapter three he used that same word, in the Greek it presents the idea of a ransom being paid.  We are born with a sin debt that we are forever unable to pay, Jesus’ death on the cross paid it for us, the Bible says He was “a ransom for many”.  You know that sin is a hijacker analogy we have been using?  It ends here.  Hijackers usually want something, Paul is telling us that Jesus paid the ransom.  We’ve been legally adopted in Heaven, it’s written “in the book of life” but Paul is saying the day is coming when we won’t be “waiting for the adoption” anymore.  We are going to be physically “delivered from the bondage of corruption into… glorious liberty”.  From that day forth sin will not be able to tempt us again, we’ll be righteous on and off the record.  The Spirit is the first fruit of that in the sense that “we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness”.

            That is precisely the context these next two verses are meant to be put in.  Notice carefully what he says, “we are saved by hope”, not we are save by faith.  Which isn’t true anyway since we are only saved by Jesus Christ, as Paul made clear in chapter three.  Besides “hope” specifically has to do with the future.  If you have placed your faith in Christ Jesus you are already saved, on your way to heaven regardless of when you die.  You don’t look forward to salvation, if you are saved, you possess it right now.  So, “saved by hope” can only be a reference to our new bodies, which is exactly what he has been talking about for the last five verses.  We are already righteous in eternity but at “the manifestation of the sons of God”, when we are physically resurrected, our physical state will be just as righteous.  There will be an extra bonus for some of us because the things that cause us to “groan” will not touch us anymore, that is “the redemption of our body” he is talking about.  Now, no one knows when that is going to be “but hope that is seen is not hope:  for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?”  “But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”  It reminds me of a science experiment done a long time ago.  Researchers took two groups of mice and place them in two buckets of water.  The mice did as expected, they swam until they gave out.  However, with one bucket they would reach in momentarily and lift the mice out, then drop them back in.  The mice in the other bucket were never touched.  They eventually drown but the mice that were lifted up periodically, even though only to be immediately dropped back into the water lived.  Why?  They had hope.  The Holy Spirit produces hope in us enabling us to “wait” “for that we see not” but has been promised to be delivered.

5c.)      The intercession of the Spirit  v. 26-27

            He ends this section by telling us that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is a far reaching one.  He has told us, in recent verses, that the Spirit gives us hope and helps us to wait on God, He teaches us, reveals the things of God to us and that it is the Holy Spirit that makes sanctification possible.  Without Him this hijacked flesh would over run our new natures.  These are some of His “groanings” but He is intertwined in our lives in ways that are deeper then that.  “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities”.  The word “infirmities” refers more to our weakness in succumbing to the flesh then anything else.  He uses prayer as an example to illustrate how weak we are when it comes to the flesh.  He says “we know not what we should pray for as we ought”.  If the desires of the flesh wouldn’t get in the way, our prayer lives would be more effective.  Because of the flesh “we know not what we should pray for” a lot of the time so, we “ask amiss”.  That is why the Holy Spirit “maketh intercession for us with groanings which can not be uttered.”  And contrary to the Pentecostal and Charismatic beliefs those “groanings” of the Holy Spirit are not tongues, it says they are not “uttered”.  He is not talking about anything that is audible.  He calls it “intercession”, it literally means to meet with.  This communication is between the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ, who is our “advocate with the Father” in Heaven, they meet.  We are so helpless that we don’t even know we need help sometimes.  So, just like it says He “searcheth the hearts” and finds the real need and then makes “intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”  That is a constant endeavor, completely independent of whatever comes out of our mouths.  It says He “helpeth”.  In the Greek it presents the image of someone grabbing the other side of a load to help carry it.  We pray for what we want but He prays for what for what we need, that “is the mind of the Spirit”.  Through Jesus we have justification but down here we need sanctification, to live apart from the world.  The new nature can’t do it on its own so, the Holy Spirit takes up the other side.  That brings hope, which ties in to the first verse of the next section.