Is Romans 7 about Christians?

@tsbehan I respect your view on Romans 7, but my personal opinion is that it is not about Christians. Paul is clear in other passages that he is not aware of any sin in his own life - at least any known sin. He still leaves the final judgment to God. And the person in Romans 7 is sold into sins power - nothing could be further from a description of a Christian.

1 Cor 4:2-5 - Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

Galatians is also clear that the Christian no longer walks in the works of the flesh. We walk in the Spirit.

Galatians 5:19-21, 24-25 - The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. …Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Certainly God is gracious with us as we learn to walk in obedience to Him. But we are no longer slaves to sin!

Romans 7 Not About Christians

If you read Romans 6,7 and 8 - do you notice any particular actor missing from Romans 7? God’s Spirit! A believer has the Spirit - as we see in Romans 8. The person described in Romans 7 is ‘sold to sin’s power’ and incapable of keeping the law of God. But, as Romans 8 says, we live by the Spirit! It does not mean we are perfect, but we are certainly not sold to sin’s power - Christ has set us free from that!

Romans 8:5-13 - Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit , if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh , to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

Every Christian following the Lord recognizes the continuing battle with sin that will afflict us until the day of redemption (Gal. 5:16–18). We’re already saved, but we aren’t yet all we want to or need to be. We must continue confessing our sins daily, just as Jesus taught us in the Lord’s prayer (Matt. 6:12). Sin continues to bedevil us in thought, word, and deed until the day we die.

Yet that’s not what Romans 7:13–25 is talking about. Yes, we continue to struggle with sin. Yes, we fall short every day. But Romans 7:13–25 is talking about total defeat. As Paul says in verse 14, “I am of the flesh, sold under sin.” In other words, he is describing complete and total captivity to sin.

@SeanO

I hardly know what to say. I’ll have a look into it again (I’ve left my commentaries at work), but it would take a lot of convincing for me to believe that Paul reached a point where he had no sin or even believed he had no sin (even just obvious ones). Maybe this isn’t the particular thread to be discussing this, but I certainly don’t think that anyone can become completely without sin in this life. Do you???

I understand that we, as Christians, live by the Spirit and not by the flesh. But this does not mean that we are not tempted and to me certainly doesn’t mean that we become sinless. I think to suggest that this is possible would be quite a burden on those of us who struggle with sin on a daily basis in any number of aspects of our lives… and I think Paul would include himself in that.

Paul’s focus in chapter 7 is not on the Spirit, this is true, because he is still making his point about the lack of a solution to be found in the law. But a lack of mention doesn’t mean He is not present. Who but one who has God’s Spirit delights in his law? It is because he has God’s Spirit that he desires to do good… but there is still the sinful nature (desires of the flesh) in him… he is not a slave to it, but it is there trying to drag him down. He even says himself at the end of 7 that he HIMSELF is a slave to God’s law (that is, obedience to God cf 8:2 law of the Spirit), but the sinful side of him (that is, sin living in him from v20) IS still a slave to sin (but his master is God’s Spirit/Law, which has freed him from the power of that slavery). Before this he has already stated that this part of him (v20) is separate from his true self which can be found in Christ. Why would he be talking in present tense the entire time if he wasn’t talking about himself presently?

The whole beauty of this is that even with that war within himself, he is rescued by Jesus from the desires of the flesh. Not that they necessarily go away… but that they have no power anymore.

It’s late and I’m going to bed… Perhaps if this discussion is going to get longer a new thread would be an idea?

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@tsbehan I agree Paul was not sinless :slight_smile: Regarding the present tense, I’ve included comments from the Gospel Coalition article below. Feel free to start another thread if you are interested. I agree that would be a better place to discuss if that is something you would find meaningful.

Second, Paul shifts from past-tense verbs in Romans 7:7–11 to present-tense verbs in verses 14–25. Doesn’t that prove Christians are in view? Not necessarily. Scholars recognize that present tense doesn’t necessarily designate present time. The temporal nature of an action must be discerned from context, since present-tense verbs, even in the indicative, may be used with reference to the past or even the future.

The tense of the verb doesn’t emphasize time in Romans 7:7–25. Rather, the use of the present tense here fits with the state or condition of the person. Paul is emphasizing one’s captivity, subjugation, and impotence under the law. His use of the present tense doesn’t denote past time but highlights in a vivid way the slavery of life under the law.

@SeanO

Thanks for that… I agree that a particular tense may not always be accurate for timing and the context should tell us how to interpret. But in this case I still think that the context points towards Paul talking about himself as a Christian and not pre-conversion.

Let me give you a few points from other letters why I think this is and then I’ll have a look at Romans in particular (I doubt this will be short, so apologies to anyone reading… maybe grab a cup of tea or something before starting).

Firstly in regards to Paul’s opinion of his own sinful state. I think there is a difference between having a ‘clear conscience’ as Paul states a couple of times in his letters and being “not aware of any sin in his own life”, as you put it. Even after the 1 Cor 4 reference he mentions he is not innocent. Even further than this, Paul’s own description of himself in 1 Timothy, is that of the worst of sinners:

1 Tim 1:12-17 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

He speaks about what he was, but still refers to himself in the present tense as the worst of sinners. I don’t think this is a mistake by Paul or that he using a different tense for illustration… who but one saved by grace recognises the true sinfulness of their own heart.

More than this… here is his description of himself as he was pre-conversion, in Phil 3.

Phil 3:3-6 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

If you think about Paul before his conversion, I doubt it would have even crossed his mind that he was struggling with following God’s law. He would have thought of himself as righteous, based on his following of the law to the letter.

Now switching back to Romans 7 and in a section as he finally describes what it is like to (only because of God’ Spirit) finally understand the purpose and intent behind God’s law… he finds that he wants to give himself completely over to it, but is unable to because of the fleshly body that he still finds himself in. His purpose in 7 is not a focus on the “Life in the Spirit” in it’s entirety which is why he doesn’t mention the Spirit after v6… his focus is in explaining that the law itself is actually good, but sin has made it death and not life.

Looking at the flow of Romans 7:

vv 1-6 Christians have died to the law so as to be set free from the law to serve in the way of the Spirit
Question: Is the law bad then? … No
vv 7-13 Past tense The law is good and exposed sin, but sin exploited the law and deceived me (Paul). It taught me to try and follow the letter of the law to be saved, but was actually leading me to death.
Question: Has the law become death to me now? … No
vv 14-25 Present tense Here Paul sees a dichotomy within himself. If Paul was describing himself pre-conversion I don’t think such a division would exist. Yes, he describes all the negative aspects of the fleshly desires he has (because the flesh belongs to sin), but the law is spiritual and the Spirit within him drives his ‘inner being’ (cf 2 Cor 4:16, Eph 3… only other place this phrase is used, and used of believers on both occasions). He separates this from the other part of himself (which he now no longer considers as “himself” but “sin living in him”)… this is the part which is still vying for his attention and devotion.

If Paul was speaking of himself pre-conversion, we might expect chapter 7 to finish at v24, with “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”… but he doesn’t. Even post this deliverance, he still says:

v25 So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

This is a state that continues on in the life of a Christian. Far from being a discouraging thought… Paul now moves on to Chapter 8 where he says there is no condemnation as we are in Christ Jesus because of the Spirit and it is not up to us in what we do to achieve our own salvation. Our minds (note comparison 7:25 and 8:5) are not set on fleshly desires, but on God’s law (described in 8:5 as “what the Spirit desires”). We have the Spirit within us driving us towards God’s Will… but the sinful, fleshly side of ourselves is always trying to pull us away… this is the dichotomy that Paul describes at the end of chapter 7.

Ok… I’m done for now. That is, at least, how I see it… looking forward to other peoples thoughts. Sorry that it was a longer post. :slight_smile:

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@tsbehan Thank you for sharing your thoughts :slight_smile: My personal view is that the very last verse in Romans 7 was a summary statement by Paul of his entire argument in that chapter - without the saving work of Christ and power of the Spirit we are slaves to the law of sin at work in our bodies.

I think a clear reading of Romans 8 reveals that this is the case. If we follow Paul’s argument in Romans 8, he makes a point by point argument exactly to this effect:

  1. The law was weakened by our flesh and therefore powerless to save us
  2. If our mind is governed by the flesh we will die - in contrast, Christians have a mind governed by the Spirit
  3. Finally, Paul makes a very clear statement that if we obey the flesh, we will die. Full stop. But if by the Spirit we put to death the deeds of the body, we will live.

To me, the person in Romans 7 who is a sold into sin’s power is irreconcilable with the person in Romans 8 who puts to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit. The person in Romans 7 is a slave to sin. The person in Romans 8 is a conqueror through the Spirit of Christ over sin. The person in Romans 7 is a captive to sin’s power; the person in Romans 8 is a freedman by Christ’s power.

Romans 8:3 - For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.

Romans 8:6-8 - The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 8:12-13 - Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

I agree with you that the Spirit and the flesh are still at war within us (Galatians 5 makes that very explicit).

I think Paul actually makes his overarching point even more succinctly in Romans 6. Romans 6:14 would, to me, be a very compressed summary of his big idea. Our master is no longer sin - we belong to Christ now.

Romans 6:11-14 - In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

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@SeanO

I think it’s funny how people can look at exactly the same things and come to two different conclusions… I look at all the same things you do and take a different view. Thank goodness we agree on the Salvation that is through Jesus alone and can discuss these other points at our leisure. :slight_smile:

I agree with you that the verse at the end of chapter 7 is a summary statement. But I see it as a summary statement from the point of view as a believer. The split, as I mentioned before of being in Christ through God’s Spirit of the Law, but still having the fleshly body of sin to contend with.

7:25 “I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”

8:6-7 “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God”

6:22 “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God”

It’s not the actions, but the ‘governance’ of of our minds which is the driving factor that leads to life or death. I agree with you that a mind governed by the flesh leads to death, but in 7:25, Paul is quite clear that his mind is a slave to God’s law… this referencing his chapter 6 argument of being a slave to God and to righteousness.

But he acknowledges that the fleshly side is still under the slavery it had in sin… that is the part that he acknowledges, but doesn’t associate himself with, 7:20 “it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me”. His Master is found in God’s Law (the Law of the Spirit in chapter 8).

You’ve emphasized a few times the line at the start of these verses as being “sold as a slave to sin”… but I don’t see this as incompatible with being a Christian. Our flesh (which is what, I think, Paul is referencing) is what has been sold to sin… but it is the mind and it’s governance that is what saves… and this is what Paul says is God’s.

8:10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.
8:23 “Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.”

The body (flesh) is still subject to death, life is through the Spirit because of righteousness (not ours, but Christ’s). Paul says that God will give life to our mortal bodies in v24… but this will not be realised until we are raised with Christ. We await that day as something not yet seen, but hoped for.

The deeds of the body are put to death… but while we are in this body I don’t believe they disappear. I might raise this as a separate thread, but I feel like this is so important and what Paul is trying to get at. It is not ourselves by anything we do that we get to salvation. It is only by the Spirit of God that we are justified. By HIS work in us (I’ll be careful here otherwise we’ll get onto predestination)… But putting to death the deeds of the body is not that they go away, but that their power has gone to rule us and lead us to death. If we think that if we live by the Spirit we will do away with sinfulness then there is the danger that we start to think that we will be conquering our sin or getting rid of sinfulness completely. Of course we are to be conformed to the likeness of Christ over time in this life… but that will not be FULLY realised until we are raised again.

I think if I take it that sin no longer holds sway or has any power at all while I live in this mortal body, then I underestimate that sin and give it the very opportunity that Paul says it will take… it is deceiving me into thinking that has gone when it hasn’t really gone.

Paul gives us the encouragement that it doesn’t matter that our flesh fails us… because our ‘mind’ belongs to God and NOTHING can separate us from the love of God through Christ Jesus (if we can’t agree on chapter 7, I’m sure we can agree that the last half of 8 is some of the most fantastic and uplifting verses of all time?)

Anyway… Sean, as always, I appreciate the depth you put into your thoughts. In this case I hear your thinking on the subject… I just don’t come to the same conclusions.

I’ll appreciate any more thoughts you might have or anyone else who would like to get involved… the more the merrier. :slight_smile:

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@tsbehan My Grandpa always said we are free from sin’s penalty and sin’s power, but not yet sin’s presence. Would that be something we could agree on?

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Definitely. :slight_smile: Although let me add some alliteration, if I may…

Free from sin’s penalty and power, but not yet it’s presence or persuasion? How do you feel about that?

It’s probably only me being pedantic; but sometimes I feel like when people say we are free from sin’s power it means that it holds no sway over my day to day decisions or doesn’t seek to drag me away from God at every turn. It’s probably one of the reasons I’m passionate about these passages of Paul’s… sin has no power over me in that it is no longer my ruler and no longer leads me to death. But it’s power of persuasion is still present (just throwing out as many words beginning with “p” as I can now… it’s pervasive). And through the help of God’s Spirit is something we must be aware of and prepare for, in prayer for protection (alliteration gone mad).

But yes… I agree that we have been set free from the power and penalty of sin… Praise be to our Lord Jesus!!

Bless you Brother.

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I’m not trying to be difficult… honestly. :slight_smile:

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@tsbehan I believe you :slight_smile: Yes, I think that as we mature from baby Christians to young believers who, in the words of 1 John, have overcome the evil one and then on to mature believers in the faith we experience a growth in self-control and the ability to discern good from evil. Sanctification, or at least part of it, is learning to live out what we have received in Christ.

Amen to that.

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@SeanO @tsbehan
Just curious what your thoughts are on the verses in 1 John 1:5-10 are? Especially verse 8. Who is John talking about?
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

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@Kevin_Hurst

Hi Kevin. Thanks for that question.

Not sure that I’ve done any study to 1 John in any depth at any point but I’ll give you my thoughts on these verses from reading.

I take this as kind of an opening statement about the gospel which is talking about ANYONE. This is one of the first things that we have to recognise in order to believe and trust in Jesus… that we are sinful and need him as our Saviour. So I think this is a statement of the gospel saying that if you claim to be without sin, then you are not a believer (the truth of the gospel is not in us… it has not been recognised).

The flip side of this is that if we confess our sins and turn to Jesus we will be cleansed of our sin in the sight of God.

Post this salvation, Johns encouragement and challenge is to obey God’s word. I think this is right and proper. Like James, John takes a very hard line on sin and how we should walk as children of God. Sometimes I think we need to be reminded of God’s grace when we are struggling… other times the words of John or James are what we need; that is, a stern and uncompromising reminder that we are to be conforming to the likeness of Jesus who was perfect.

I’m not sure if that helps with your question, but those are just some quick thoughts.

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According to commentary, Romans was actually written by Paul to the Roman church where majority are Gentiles and the minority Jews.

The Christian Gentiles were rejecting the Christian Jews as the Jews still observe the Mosiac Law for salvation.

@Kevin_Hurst The only thing I would add to @tsbehan’s answer is a note from the NET Bible, which implies that John has in view here some argument being made by his opponents. The NET Bible suggests that these opponents are claiming that sin after conversion is not really sin - whereas John is emphasizing the need for repentance whenever we sin - we must walk in the light as Jesus is in the light if we are to be called children of God. In the broader context of the letter, I think John is reminding them that we must walk in love because God is love. If we do not love our brother who we see, then we walk in darkness and do not love God who we cannot see.

Grk “say we do not have sin.” The use of ἔχω + ἁμαρτία ( echō + hamartia ) is an expression limited to John and 1 John in the NT. On the analogy with other constructions where ἔχω governs an abstract noun (e.g., [1 John 1:3, 6, 7; 2:28; 3:3, 15, 21; 4:16, 17; 5:12-13](javascript:{})), it indicates that a state is involved, which in the case of ἁμαρτία would refer to a state of sin . The four times the expression ἔχω + ἁμαρτία occurs in the Gospel of John (9:41; 15:22, 24; 19:11) all refer to situations where a wrong action has been committed or a wrong attitude has already existed, resulting in a state of sin, and then something else happens which further emphasizes the evil of that action or attitude. Here in [1 John 1:8](javascript:{}) the sense is the same. The author is addressing people who have sinned (resulting in a state of sin), warning them that they cannot claim to be free from the guilt of that sin. The context of 1 John does not imply libertinism (where sins are flaunted as a way of demonstrating one’s “liberty”) on the part of the opponents, since the author makes no explicit charges of immoral behavior against his opponents. The worst the author explicitly says is that they have failed to love the brethren ([1 John 3:17](javascript:{})). It seems more likely that the opponents were saying that things a believer did after conversion were not significant enough to be “sins” that could challenge one’s intimate relationship with God (a relationship the author denies that the opponents have to begin with).

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@Kenny_Chen Could you explain a bit more about how the relationship between the Gentile and Jewish Christians changes one’s understanding of Romans 7?

Hi, @tsbehan and @SeanO. Thank you for this rich dialogue on Romans 7 (& 8). You two are making such similar points that I can barely differentiate them. Thank you for making me think more profoundly on the subject.

I need help clarifying some thoughts about this thread:

  1. You both make the point that sin is still present and we take an active role to put it to death. If our mind is a slave to God’s law and our flesh a slave to sin, as has been commented, does that give us an excuse to tolerate sin or allow our flesh to sin? Is the idea that sin is still present, giving us tolerance for sinning in the flesh?

  2. In Rom. 7, we see the “Law” used multiple times referring to the Mosaic law and then the law of God. Are we, as believers, living our
    lives in reference to a “law” per se, whether we call that the law of God, or do we see our lives as governed by His presence? If I’m observing laws, even if I’m calling it the law of God, do I lose sight of His presence?

As I grow in my faith and see my sin(s), I have to ask myself, what do I love more than God? I’m not trying to live up to some law because Jesus lived up to it for me so dead works are behind me. I no longer try to be righteous because I AM righteous in Christ. But that doesn’t excuse my sin when He shows me. Whatever sin I hold onto and don’t die to, it kills my relationship with God.

Thoughts? Thank you and may God continue to bless you as He reveals Himself to you.

Jessica

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@Jessica_Henkaline Great questions :slight_smile:

  1. On this one, I believe that we, as believers, are no longer slaves to sin. Paul makes this point clearly in Romans 6:14 - 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. Christ is our master and by the Spirit we can put to death the deeds of the body. Praise the Lord!

  2. Romans 8:1 talks about the law of the Spirit - “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you from the law of sin and death…” We who are in Christ no longer are bound by the written law, as Galatians makes clear. Galatians 3:23-24 - “So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.” So we do have a law, but it is not the written law, it is the law of the Spirit of Christ who dwells in us and conforms us to the image of Jesus.

Amen! Yes, we live because He loved us. It is the love of Christ shed abroad in our hearts by the Spirit that moves us to obey God and the Spirit who gives us the power to live a righteous life. May Christ fill you with His Spirit :slight_smile:

@Jessica_Henkaline Agree with @SeanO… great questions.

I also agree with his response. Our master is now the Law of the Spirit, which is God’s Spirit at work in our lives conforming us to the likeness of Jesus. So, yes, we do live according to a “law”, but it is not the written law that we are judged by, but by the Law of the Spirit, in which there is no condemnation. This also helps you with losing your sense of God’s presence… far from losing God’s presence, you have gained it through His Spirit.

And on your first question… there is no tolerance for continuing in sin from Paul. He has already covered the questions in chapter 6:1 “Shall we go on sinning so that grace might increase?” or 6:15 “Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace?”

His answer to both these questions is an emphatic, “By no means!”.

We should not feel free to go on sinning just because we have been saved. Because we live by God’s Spirit we have an obligation to live that way and not according to the flesh (8:12). I think that Paul expands on how exactly we are to do this living from chapter 12 onwards in more practical detail.

But I also don’t think that Paul expects that we will never struggle with sin as believers or that we will ever get rid of it in this life. So maybe if I was paraphrasing it… it would maybe say there is an allowance for sin, but not a tolerance. Does that make it any clearer?

I think (@SeanO can correct me if I’m wrong here) SeanO and I agree on what are probably the main points to Paul’s argument:

  1. Salvation is only by God’s Spirit through belief in the saving work of Jesus’ death and resurrection
  2. Sin is still present in our current lives and an ongoing temptation
  3. But Sin no longer has eternal mastery or power over us if we are In Christ

We seem to be differing only on what stage Paul is describing himself as being in in Romans 7:14-25; i.e. is he describing himself as a believer, or before he was converted? For me, the implication of Paul describing himself here as a believer is an acknowledgement of the ongoing power of sin. I still agree that sin doesn’t have MASTERY of us, in terms of salvation/life vs condemnation/death… this is quite clear. But I see no problem (in fact I think it’s wise) to acknowledge the insidious nature of sin and it’s constant pull at our fleshly selves during this life. This is what I think Paul is describing in the last half of 7 (and where SeanO and I disagree in these verses)… that even as a believer he knows God’s will and knows that it is good, but in reality he is a fallen sinner and cannot live it perfectly. But this is why we have Jesus and Jesus is why there is no condemnation (which is what is the most important fact and what SeanO and I agree on).

I hope that makes sense and hasn’t made things worse. :slight_smile:

Is that a fair set of comments to our positions SeanO?

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@tsbehan Yes, I think that is fair :slight_smile: What do you mean by eternal mastery? Do you mean that we can overcome sin now, in the present, by the grace of God and the power of the Spirit?

Below are some resources on what is to me a crucial distinction. As Christians we are saints - set apart by the shed blood of Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We can conquer sin - we can overcome every temptation. If we do not, there is grace and forgiveness. But we have the power in the Spirit to do so.

I Cor 10:13 - No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful;he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

If you’re a Christian you are not a sinner. You’re a saint. Not a holier than thou saint or an I’m better than you saint, but an I’m purchased by the blood of Jesus and not yet there but chasing after the righteousness He has declared over me saint. A saint who recognizes their own imperfection but longs for more of Jesus, more of holiness, more of obedience, more of the image of Christ in me - a saint who crucifies his flesh and opens his heart to the sanctifying grace of Jesus, yet does not judge others. A saint who obeys out of love because God has loved them and forgives others as they have been forgiven.

“Just a sinner saved by grace” is only half the gospel. It’s true that in Christ, God has wiped the slate clean and has forgiven us our sins. But let’s make sure we don’t leave out the flip side – that not only does He forgive our sins, but He also regenerates us through the power of His Spirit. God is restoring our relationship to Him. He is living within us.

Great worship song that expresses a prayer to be more like Jesus :slight_smile:

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