AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
THE VICE AND THE VICTORY
Neither does sin hold like a vice, nor does its viciousness of nature grab the Christian, who by faith finds victory in the life of God, freedom in His Spirit and grace with His goodness.
Romans 6:1 - 8:4 APRIL 4, 2004
1. THE GODLY THRUST OF ROMANS 6
Grace is not a licence to sin but a thrust out of it. Planted in union with Christ as sin is buried, we are raised in His power not in dripping weakness but in spiritual strength to heavenly places. This is spiritual gift not sacramental planting, nor is it sacramental crucifixion which is nothing to do with water. Here is power and personal life, not ceremonial picturing.
Indeed, if you have the cancellation you have likewise the elevation: sin newly lodged on its target in Christ, power vested in your heart as you abide. Sin tries to debase you to reactive incapacity, dragging down the mind that wishes to soar; but the cry to Christ (Romans 7:25) brings a power that is more than psychic, beyond our own personality, indeed from His own Person who made man. If death met its Master in Him, so did sin which caused death; and in THAT divine Master there is reason to be free in offering service for Him, not sin for seduction.
2. THE NEW LIBERTY OF ROMANS 7:1-6
Now it is like a marriage: if the first husband lives, he says, then he has precedence; but if he dies, then the wife no more has his word to consider. So the law bound to many pictorial ways of seeing salvation, but now this ‘husband’ is dead and Christ has supplanted its symbols of salvation with the actual thing. If then it was seen in symbol, now in the Saviour in person.
The body of Christ buries the old nature and its ways, and with it the Old Covenant’s sacrificial ways, so that now it is Christ direct, impelling and living within. His values govern, His will activates directly. Thus says Paul, you are “married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit to God.” The ‘children’, in other words, of this ‘marriage’ are the product of Christ’s own life which He grants and accompanies (Colossians 1:27). These products are life, power, virtue, goodness, grace and kindness and courage in His work and will.
Now Paul is not saying in Romans 7:6, that we should ignore the word of this same Christ! How could he when he has just presented Him as Master! No, “oldness of the letter” means the Old Covenant, as you see in I Corinthians 3:6, where Paul is showing how the law, identifying sin and specifying its penalties, KILLED, whereas in the New Covenant, “the Spirit gives life,” grants in grace the very life beyond penalty, which though always available as you see in the Psalms, is now highlighted in the resurrection of Christ. Like the death, this is the LIFE on OUR BEHALF! It speaks of now, in power of living, and soon, in bodily resurrection.
3. THE OLD TEMPTATION OF ROMANS 7:7-24
Next Paul unveils a sad spectacle, a mind wanting peace and right, but a life refusing to be led by such aspirations, and dashing down like an unwieldy aircraft. Facing ruin and doom, it is captured by sin as if, to use our own terms, hijackers had taken it over. The more the list of the good commandments hits a fallen nature, the more it urges it, through its warped reaction, into sin: yes the law is holy and good (7:12), but the hearer in his nakedness without Christ, is NOT! Such a state Paul declares, appears incomprehensible: “The good that I want, that I do not perform; but what I hate, I do.” No more is it I, he declares, but sin in me.
THAT is the way of the fallen life which whether in pride, covetousness or sexual passion, falls into disrepute and disrepair. “O wretched man that I am!” comes the reminiscent outburst, in which he shows empathy with all who fall: WHO WILL DELIVER ME! Who, from “the body of this death”. It is not for removal from the word of God (Matthew 5:17ff.), but from failure in it that he cries to the One whose it is, whose mouth is as full of love as is His heart.
4. THE GLORY OF THE CROSS THAT CANCELS ROMANS 7:25 – 8:3
There is more than his mind available for deliverance: there is the One who was NOT weak through the flesh, being NOT fallen, who DIED for sin and BECAME its very CENTRE as if in the midst of a destructive cyclone, bearing its force and providing liberty to the captive (as in Isaiah 61). God acted Himself, and the result is manifest, a dead Saviour raised, a dead heart vicariously covered and a living heart provided. This you see in Jeremiah 31 as in Ezekiel 11, where the provisions of the Old Testament are already speaking of the coming wonder which gives more than a picture of peace, yes providing its very Person whose it is (Isaiah 26:1-4), who lives, and imparts spiritual life to believing receivers. It is like the telephone, you have to pick it up, which on believing, you do. THEN you can speak to Him and finding Him, are governed and guided by God. “I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh that they may walk in my statues…”
After all, in this way, we are being brought back to what LIFE WHAT DESIGNED TO BE (Colossians 3:10). It was not made to be dominated by sin but dynamised by life, that of God.
5. SPIRITUAL CALL THAT ELEVATES TO HEAVENLY PLACES 8:1-4
Thus in Romans 8:1-4, we find that there is no condemnation to those who are IN CHRIST JESUS (like branches in the vine stock), who (as a matter of fact) walk “not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” They are not pre-occupied with the desires of ambition, pride, deceit, pretence, pretension, self-fulfilment, but occupied with the kingdom of heaven, and delighted to be in it! Paul, HOW can you say that this is so ? someone may ask. The apostle declares the answer in Romans 8:2: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” You sun-bathe and your skin changes! You bathe in the Lord’s presence, having been first regenerated by His power by faith in Him, and your nature grows into His own likeness (II Corinthians 3:18). Life flies, which frogs cannot do! (Ephesians 2:6). That is its spiritual law, its potency, its provision and its nature. Law’s load left, life’s lift arrives and the righteousness of God is not only a gift as in Romans 5:17, but operative.