In Romans 6:6 Paul–the supposed inveterate sinner–states concerning conversion: “KNOWING THIS, THAT THE OLD (SINNING) MAN WAS CRUCIFIED WITH CHIRST AND THAT THE BODY OF SIN WAS PUT TO DEATH.” In verses 7,8 he states that the true convert is dead to sin, freed from its pull. IF the convert is truly dead with Christ, then he will live with Him (forever).” In 2 Corinthians 5:17 this same Paul stated that: “IF any man is IN CHRIST, he is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold ALL THINGS HAVE BECOME NEW.” All things cannot become new unless all old things have been put to death. The new man is the exact opposite of the old man. There is no carry-over of sin from the old to the new–“ALL (old) things (sins)” are dead, ALL things are new–opposite of the old. In 6:17 he revisits that theme by referring to the people’s pre-conversion lives, saying: “you WERE the servants of sin (Satan), but you HAVE OBEYED from the heart (mind) the doctrine (gospel) that was given to you. Being THEN (at conversion) made FREE FROM SIN (not free to sin), you became servants of RIGHTEOUSNESS”–the opposite of sin. In verse 21 Paul asked them: “What fruit (pleasures) did you have by doing those (sinful) things THEN (pre-conversion) that you NOW (post-conversion) are ashamed of?” If God’s grace allowed them to sin after conversion, why were they ashamed of the sins they committed earlier?
Paul knew that sin separates man from God (Isa. 59:2), and that he could not sin and remain with God. Isaiah asks: “Come now, let us reason together. Can two walk (live) together unless they agree?” God NEVER agrees with sin. Therefore sinning church members do not walk with God. They cannot obey Him because they have not been converted and therefore do not have the Holy Spirit power necessary for obedience. Having been told by Satan’s false prophets that, though they are saved, they cannot obey God, they are forced to base their standing with God on something other than the Holy Bible which commands that they obey Him. Therefore, they base their standard of rightness on their own experiences and the experiences of others–all of whom fall short of God’s commanded life-style. In 2 Corinthians 10:12 Paul writes about these false Christians, saying: “We dare not be like those who compare themselves to those who commend themselves, who measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves among themselves.” This is exactly what church people do. They have developed the attitude that because they can’t obey God, no one else can. Therefore God was wrong to command them to do so. Then they hold up Paul as their example, contending that because he had to sin, then they have to sin. Therefore, if the sinning Paul was right with God, then the sinning church is right with God. And Satan laughs.
In Romans 7:7-13 Paul points out that the Law is not sin, but breaking it is sin. He states that thought “the Law is holy, just and good,” it caused spiritual death in him because he had broken it. Therefore what was good became the instrument of his death. In verses 14-23 he writes about his pre-conversion spiritual life using present tense language to describe it. Tense-changing is not unusual. For example, John used present tense language when writing the Book of Revelation. We do the same thing by telling about past events using the present tense. For example, in telling about what happened a week ago I might say, “I am (present tense) walking down the street when I hear (present tense) a voice behind me. I turn around (present tense) and see ….,” all the while talking about what happened days earlier.
Recall that Paul told the Romans that prior to their conversion they “WERE the servants of sin,” but that they “are NOW the servants of righteousness and holiness which will result in their salvation (6:17-23). Referring to himself in 7:24, he asks who could deliver him (in his pre-conversion condition) from death caused by his breaking God’s Law–sinning? In verse 25 he answers his own question. Then he reverts back to present tense language to summarize his former, pre-conversion condition.
In 8:1 he states that for all who have been converted, “There is therefore NOW no condemnation ….” This is where headline hunters stop reading. They tell themselves that that those words prove that they can now sin without being condemned by God. Truth-hungry Truth hunters will continue to read in 8:1 where they find God’s fine print: “… for them who are IN CHRIST JESUS, WHO WALK NOT AFTER THE FLESH (DO NOT SIN), BUT WALK AFTER (ARE LED BY) THE HOLY SPIRIT.” Paul tells us in 8:14 that only those who are led by the Spirit of God are His true sons. The Holy Spirit does not lead one to sin. “For they who obey the flesh (sin) seek the things of the flesh, but they who obey the Holy Spirit seek the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally (fleshly) minded leads to death, but to be spiritually minded leads to eternal life. The carnal (sinful) mind is enmity (at war) against God because it will not obey His Law. So then, those who are in the flesh (continue to sin) CANNOT PLEASE GOD” (8:5-8). “For if you live after the flesh, YOU WILL DIE (eternally), but if you obey God YOU WILL LIVE (eternally)”–vs 13.
In the next posting we will begin with 8:17 to learn what God has planned for those who reject the temptations of Satan to sin and obey the call of God to live in obedience to Him. L.J.