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Romans 6-7-8


Javelin
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Romans 6: 1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

 

Do believers actually die to sin? What is Paul saying? Obviously, believers continue to sin. So, is Paul teaching something that's impossible for a believer to comply with? What kind of new life is Paul referring to?

 

Romans 7: 14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

 

21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

 

 

Basically, Paul confesses that he has always been, and continues to be, a sinner. Paul indicates he continues to be a slave to sin because of his sinful nature even though, in his mind, he delights in God's law and desires to be obedient. I think present day believers can identify with Paul's dilemma.

 

Then in Romans 8 Paul claims assurance & righteousness is found only in Chirst

 

1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature,God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

 

 

I believe this is where the controversial doctrine, at least controversial for some, of substitutionary atonement comes into play. If the doctrine of substitutionary atonement is not valid, at least in my view, then Jesus teaching would seem to have no practical value because no one could possibly comply with them. In that case Jesus teachings become a metaphorical unreachable carrot being dangled at the end of a celestial stick that offers hope and assurance to no one.

 

Jesus sermon on the mount, at least the way I interpret it, confirms that mankind cannot keep the law because the law judges the heart of man not just his actions

 

Thoughts and comments.

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Romans 6: 1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

 

Do believers actually die to sin? What is Paul saying? Obviously, believers continue to sin. So, is Paul teaching something that's impossible for a believer to comply with? What kind of new life is Paul referring to?

 

(sniped for brevity)

 

An appropriate answer to those question begs a definition of the word sin? From that definition, To me, it is not at all obvious that believers must continue to sin. To me, Paul's teaching is NOT impossible to comply with. Paul is referring to the life of the new creature. You are to reckon yourself dead to the old. I am not saying there are two but for purposes of communications it requires explanation that way.

 

Perhaps to understand the whole issue of your post a deep understanding of 'the law' , 'sin', and condemnation is needed. I authored a short pamphlet in 2002 on that very subject focusing on many of the writings referenced in your opening post. It can be read here if interested. I would not necessarily write it with the same words with my understanding today, however, there is a level of understanding that it speaks that I believe will clear up many of the issues you raised.

 

Love in Christ,

Joseph

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As you mentioned I think a pivot point is Romans 7:27-8:3

 

So, then with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, I am slave to the law of sin.

 

There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the , weakened by the flesh, could not do; by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and to deal with sin. NRSV

 

I don't think that subsitutionary atonement is the only meaning here. I think that Jesus dealt with sin by showing us how to live with the Spirit, beyond the law's responsibility and expectations, in a Spirit-filled life where expectancy is born in the relationship with our Creator.

 

Young in The Shack says this condemnation, from God's point of view, never existed. With the indwelling of the Spirit we are free from the judgment of the law and clinging and grasping desires of the flesh. Are we now perfect? No? But we headed in the right direction with no responsibilities and expectations as burdens.

 

From The Shack by W. Paul Young p.~207

 

Sarayu (Holy Spirit) says she is not a noun but a verb and that difference between them is the difference between law and grace. Her examples are responsibility/responding and expectations/expectancy .

 

Responsibility/Responding

"Because I am your ability to respond, I (Spirit) have to be present in you.
If I simply give you a responsibility, I would not to be with you at all.
[The responsibility] would now be ... an obligation to perform."

 

A responsibility is law, but spirit-informed responding is grace.

 

Expectations/expectancy

"If you and I are friends there is an expectancy that exists within our relationship. When we see each other or are apart there is an expectancy of being together, of laughing and talking.
The expectancy has no concrete definition.
It is alive and dynamic and everything that emerges from our being together is a unique gift shared by no one else. But what happens if I change the expectancy to an expectation - spoken or unspoken? Suddenly law has entered in to our relationship. You are now expected to perform in a way that meets my expectations. Our relationship ... is a dead thing with rules..."

 

"Responsibilities and expectations are the basis of guilt, shame and judgment."

 

 

Papa, (an African woman, God), spoke up,"Honey, I have never placed any expectations on you or anyone else....Because I have no expectations you never disappoint me."

 

"You have never been disappointed in me?"

 

"Never!" Papa stated emphatically. "What I do have is a constant and living expectancy in our relationship and I give an ability to respond to any circumstance and situation in which find yourself."

 

The new life I think that Paul is pointing to is life without responsibilities, obligations and judgment, a life with the Spirit of Christ within us to respond with expectancy. A new life.

 

Another attempt to put it all together

Dutch

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I hope you don't mind me playing around with a few words, Javelin, but I think this "paraphrase" (my own) is exegetically and contexually justifiable:

 

Romans 6: 1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on being selfish just because God freely forgives us 2By no means! We're no longer identified with selfishness; why should we practice it any longer? 3Or don't you know that all of us who became part of following Christ were not merely following him, but being identified with him? 4We were therefore metaphorically buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life - here, now.

 

Romans 7: 14We know that the law is about how we should relate to God and others; but I am a selfish creature, I can't stop thinking about my own wants and needs. 15This drives me nuts! For what I want to do deep down, I do not do, but follow my selfish impulses. 16And even when I'm being selfish, I still know, deep down, that I should not be. 17This propensity to look out only for myself seems to be so deeply ingrained in me. 18I sometimes wonder if I'm good for anything at all.[c] For I have the desire to be a good and loving person, but knowing what is right and doing it are two different things. 19For what I end up doing is not what I really know and want to do. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is not my "best intentions" that lie at fault, it is something deeper, something that I can't seem to escape from.

 

21So I find this principle at work: Even when I'm doing good, I'm still selfish in that I wonder who is watching me to give me notice or praise. 22For in my heart, I know I should love God and others; 23but I see another power working my life, waging war against what I know is the truth and making me serve my own selfish motives. 24Egads! What am I going to do? How do I get away from this problem that makes me feel so dead inside?25Thanks be to God— he sent Jesus Christ to show the way!

 

1Therefore, there is now no constant guilt, knowing that Christ is always with me, 2because through Christ Jesus God's abundant life has been made manifest. Jesus shows me that I don't have to be a selfish creature who lives only for himself. 3For what the "knowing the right thing to do" was powerless to do in that I'm a selfish creature, God sets me free by showing me that Jesus' ultimate act of unselfishness was dying for his friends. He didn't cling to his life. He laid it down. His death is a symbolic offering, not of blood to an angry God, but of life to mankind. Jesus' death shows us just how self-centered we usually are AND that we don't have to be that way, we can rise above it. 4 If we want to experience connectedness to God and others, to experience abundant life, then the way to do that is not to just stop doing wrong things, but joining with God in doing the right things, not to earn God's acceptance, or to impress others with our good works, but solely for the sake of others. We can't experience God's abundant life by ourselves. It is only experienced as community.

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"I die to sin"

Galatians 2:20 (New International Version)

20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

If sin is living without love then sin is the punishment. It is not really living. It is just existing so I must die to sin to live in love. We sin in the flesh or body. We don't sin in the Spirit when Christ lives in us.Aware of the body, not aware of the Spirit so the idea or even the image of Christ, the Son of God who in Spirit is united with God is the image or idea that draws me back to the Spirit. Aware of the Spirit, not aware of the body

 

Great ideas on this thread. I hope this post makes sense.

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[/b]

An appropriate answer to those question begs a definition of the word sin? From that definition, To me, it is not at all obvious that believers must continue to sin. To me, Paul's teaching is NOT impossible to comply with. Paul is referring to the life of the new creature. You are to reckon yourself dead to the old. I am not saying there are two but for purposes of communications it requires explanation that way.

 

Perhaps to understand the whole issue of your post a deep understanding of 'the law' , 'sin', and condemnation is needed. I authored a short pamphlet in 2002 on that very subject focusing on many of the writings referenced in your opening post. It can be read here if interested. I would not necessarily write it with the same words with my understanding today, however, there is a level of understanding that it speaks that I believe will clear up many of the issues you raised.

 

Love in Christ,

Joseph

 

Joseph, I think the Holy Spirit my have influenced me to post this topic. I read your article a couple of times. Then I printed it out so that I could study it in more detail. You have presented a believable and workable resolution to the duel complexities of our Spiritual and Physical natures.

 

I have been taught that I am ultimately responsible to overcome the desires and nature of my flesh. I’ve also been told that Christ will empower and equip me to do that. Unfortunately, I have not found that to be true and I’ve not found that to be true of anyone else either. It is very disheartening to struggle with the same fleshly issues and personality flaws day in and day out without any identifiable long term results.

 

Eventually you come to the conclusion that Christ really isn’t in you and that your faith isn’t real. You then realize that if your faith isn’t real there is nothing more you can do to make it real. You are who and what you are, and that means you are without any real hope. You tried, you sincerely sought Christ and believed that you had faith, but the evidence says that you failed and your faith is an illusion.

 

Then you attempt to rationalize your predicament but you don’t really buy into your rationalizations. You continue to wonder why you are unable to obtain a true saving faith that will empower you to overcome your earthly flaws, knowing all the while that such a faith is unattainable because you are weak and spiritually deficient.

 

Your article spoke directly to that issue Joseph and I identified with it. I’ve come to realize that God isn’t condemning me. I’m condemning myself. I have become so focused on overcoming my flesh that I’ve all but lost contact with my Spiritual nature. You article has blessed me. Its restored my hope and revitalized me.

 

Blessing to you my brother.

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BTW, I don't think this has been mentioned but I really dislike the way that the NIV translates "sarx" as "sinful nature." To render this word for "flesh" as "sinful nature" implies, at least to modern ears, that we have a nature to do evil, something that we just can't help, and, therefore, something that we have no power over. It is analog to the old Flip Wilson line, "The Devil made me do it!" If it is our nature to sin, then it is part of our makeup and should neither be condemned or stopped. So I think the NIV puts out the false notion that "we just can't help it", so why try?

 

On the other hand, I also find that translating "sarx" as coporeal flesh is not accurate either. This translation, IMO, caters to much to the gnostic teaching that the body is fallen and evil while the spirit is pure and good. Taken to the extreme, devout Christians have physically harmed themselves down through the centuries because they thought the human body to be an inherently evil vessel.

 

It seems to me that the best workable definition of "sarx" is "human self-effort without relying on God's power". This definition doesn't imply that sin is something that we just can't help nor does it imply that our physicality is something evil.

 

Of course, these are just my thoughts on the subject, but these chapters in Romans focus alot on "sarx" and how we might deal with it. Rendering sarx as just an evil nature splits us in have and makes us not responsible for what that "evil half that we got from Adam" does. And rendering it as the human body doesn't address the issue that evil comes, not from physicality, but from our inate desire to survive at all cost left to our own devices. Christ shows us that we don't survive at all costs. It's not about saving your life, it's about giving it away.

 

Just my 2c.

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Joseph, I think the Holy Spirit my have influenced me to post this topic. I read your article a couple of times. Then I printed it out so that I could study it in more detail. You have presented a believable and workable resolution to the duel complexities of our Spiritual and Physical natures.

 

I have been taught that I am ultimately responsible to overcome the desires and nature of my flesh. I've also been told that Christ will empower and equip me to do that. Unfortunately, I have not found that to be true and I've not found that to be true of anyone else either. It is very disheartening to struggle with the same fleshly issues and personality flaws day in and day out without any identifiable long term results.

 

Yes, I would agree that it is very disheartening to struggle with those issues. Perhaps you now see there is no need to struggle? Perhaps the battle is indeed already won and there is a rest left rather than to struggle?

 

Eventually you come to the conclusion that Christ really isn't in you and that your faith isn't real. You then realize that if your faith isn't real there is nothing more you can do to make it real. You are who and what you are, and that means you are without any real hope. You tried, you sincerely sought Christ and believed that you had faith, but the evidence says that you failed and your faith is an illusion.

Then you attempt to rationalize your predicament but you don't really buy into your rationalizations. You continue to wonder why you are unable to obtain a true saving faith that will empower you to overcome your earthly flaws, knowing all the while that such a faith is unattainable because you are weak and spiritually deficient.

 

Your article spoke directly to that issue Joseph and I identified with it. I've come to realize that God isn't condemning me. I'm condemning myself. I have become so focused on overcoming my flesh that I've all but lost contact with my Spiritual nature. You article has blessed me. Its restored my hope and revitalized me.

 

Blessing to you my brother.

 

In my experience, you have come a long way with that realization and your words are very kind. It all comes as a gift without work so that one truly cannot boast.

 

Love in Christ,

Joseph

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