The Gospel Of Grace? (Part 2)
Romans 7 – 8.
Earlier, the Apostle Paul explicated his first two points (Rom 6:1-14; Rom 6:15-23; see Part 1 of The Gospel of Grace? dated 7 May 2017), as he anticipated objections from his readers regarding the Gospel of Grace. His third contention (Rom 7:1-12) was addressed to Jewish believers, related to a prior reference, “for you are not under law but under grace” (Rom 6:14). Paul stated that a Christian, because of his death in Christ, also died to the Law, and therefore, had been freed from his obligations to live by the precepts of the Law; using a husband’s death in a marriage relationship to illustrate the legal re-marriage by his surviving wife (Rom 7:1-6). Then “Is the Law sin?” Paul posed, as he explained the purpose of the Law. It served two functions: it explicitly describes what constitutes sin in the eyes of God, and it reinforces man’s unrestrained proclivity towards sinning (Rom 7:7-11). The blatant contrast between the Law’s holiness and righteousness, with our deadly profligate sinful nature refocuses us on humanity’s absolute helplessness in reaching out to God on the basis of our own righteousness.
Paul’s fourth point (Rom 7:13-25) handled the question concerning the Law, “Did that which is good become a cause of death?” God’s Law, which judges what is right or wrong, reaffirmed a standard of perfection that revealed the total depravity of man. It is the ruling power of sin in this world and in our very being, that is the cause of death – the price for sinning (Rom 6:23). Hence, the Law is powerless to prevent sin. The struggle over sin continues to plague man, as the Apostle explained the ongoing dual struggle between sin and righteousness within the human frame. How then is the new life in Christ to be lived and how do we overcome sin?
Since it is impossible for man to save himself, due to his inherent sinfulness, the transformation of his heart is wholly a process initiated by God. The sacrifice of Jesus for our sin had so completely satisfied His Father’s wrath, that there is now no condemnation for anyone in Christ, with its accompanying freedom from the law of sin and of death (Rom 8:1-4). However, the success of this supernatural new life in Christ is entirely dependent on man’s obedience to His Holy Spirit in his walk with God (Rom 8:5-11); as the paradox of this life in the Spirit involves the inevitable dying of the self to our sinful nature and being made alive spiritually, both concurrent in their outworking and accomplishment (Rom 8:12-13). We need to be critically aware that our freedom to overcome temptations, and our identity and security in Christ as the adoptive children of God is always within the context of a Christian familial community (Rom 8:15-17), with an enriched sense that our primary focus concerns God’s future economy, despite the present suffering in this world (Rom 8:18-30), where the ultimate goal is the glorification of Christ (Rom 8:17).
Paul then plunges his readers into how the Gospel of Grace would impact those in Christ. Through a series of rhetorical questions, he assured them that the faithful Presence and commitment, the oversight and provisions of our inexorable God, on the basis of Christ’s finished work, goes beyond our personal temporal safety, where suffering is part and parcel of life. It is a remarkable conclusion that Paul reiterated concerning our security this side of heaven, given how troubled our world has become, that mirrors eternity, where absolutely nothing – neither tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword ….. neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from God’s love, that same love which is in Christ Jesus our Lord also. And because He has proved His love for us, through Him we win an overwhelming victory when we are faced with these constraints and difficulties (Rom 8:31-39). Be assured, God will never abandon us!