|Romans 7:1,4-6,9 |
1 Do you not know brothers, (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? [Until you lose your life by crucifying your sinful nature, your carnal mind, and your evil spirit, you are still under the law; until then you are still walking in restricted flesh; until then the law is your schoolmaster. Until Christ replaces your nature, mind, and spirit with His so that your fleshly nature is dead, you are under the law. When Christ controls your thoughts, words, and deeds, then the law no longer has dominion over you because the selfish "you" has died. Even those who know no law, have the inner law on their hearts by which a man is judged and which has dominion over him until his death. From the Word of the Lord within: "Until you witness receiving faith from Christ, you are under the law. Until you witness the law fulfilled in you, you are under the law."]
4 Therefore, my brothers, you also became dead to the law through the living body of Christ in you, so that you could be married to another, and raised from the dead to bear fruit to God.1 [Paul is addressing believers that had been crucified, (and therefore they had died to the law), who had been raised from the dead with Christ, the new creature in newness of life. Christ had appeared in them and dwelled in them. They had received the fruit of the Spirit from Christ with the measure of faith that frees from the law, enabling them to no longer walk after the flesh but to walk after the Spirit, as it guided all their words and deeds; they had reached the first stage of perfection. The translation of this verse has been typically twisted to mean that Christ's death and resurrection made a believer dead to the law, but we are only dead to the law through the law after we have been crucified and He is dwelling in us, totally guiding us, with His prompting of every word to speak and every deed to be done. While Christ's blood sacrifice made the Mosaic law obsolete, the inner law on every man's heart is still alive, never cancelled, (which inner law includes the moral core of the Mosaic law); and for you to be free from this inner law, by which all men shall be judged, you must submit to God condemning the sins in your flesh, with commands that you hear when waiting on Him; those commands are established as additional laws in your heart, in which are all the laws you must obey and continue to obey until you are completely crucified, to then walk in love and liberty under no laws.]
5 For when we were in the flesh, the passions of sin, (evil established by the law), worked in our members to bring forth fruit to death. [We are all trees with corrupt fruit, (adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lack of restraint, idolatry [covetousness], sorcery, hatred, arguments, jealousies, rage, selfishness, divisiveness, envies, murders, drunkenness, revelries [partying], etc.), to start; but we must be changed while alive on earth to produce good fruit. Christendom would have you simply label the bad tree good, still producing corrupt fruit; but such trees will be cut down and sent to the fire, regardless of the label on them. The law does not cause one to sin; the law adjusts, regulates, and curbs sin. From the word of the Lord within: "Either make the tree good, or make the tree bad. A tree that is holy is a good one."]
6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to that by which we were held; so that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.2 [The moral laws only end when a man's selfish spirit has been crucified on the inward cross of self-denial, and Christ Jesus is resurrected in him to totally control his thoughts, words, and deeds with the Law of the Spirit of Life. See the footnote to Rom 3:28 for more understanding on why the the inner law on your heart, which includes the moral core of the old law, must still be observed and is your schoolmaster until your thoughts, and words, and deeds are under complete control of the Holy Spirit. From the Word of God within, regarding newness of spirit: "The new life is as radically different as a man who has lived underground his whole life, suddenly coming above ground to see the sun, the sky, the plants, the animals, the wind, the stars." Notice! Paul had died to the law through the law and was delivered from the law; he served sin no longer. He fulfilled and established the law.]
9 For I was alive apart from the law once; but when the commandments came, sin was alive again, and I died.4 [Paul, (when still a Jew), had been strictly observing the law of Moses; but then Paul began to hear more commands from the Spirit that were tailored to the circumstances of his life. These new commandments caused him to realize that sin was still alive in his body; sin was alive again. One then dies and becomes dead to the law by hearing the Spirit's many commands that restricts the fleshly mind, words, and actions; and if those spoken commands are heeded and obeyed, one gradually loses their fleshly life, dying daily, until their spirit and mind are crucified. Christ is then revealed in their body. The Lord condemns sin in your flesh by revealing it to you and commanding your repentance, (the commandment came); sin of which you are often not even aware, (sin lived); with your acknowledgement of His revelations being true, you obey His commands; by grace He then removes even the desire for that sin from your heart. This process is repeated, first with your actions, then your words, and then your thoughts; until you have crucified your carnal mind and sinful nature, (I died). Now you are free from the law, walking under total rule of the Lord to your thoughts, words, and deeds. (Through the law, I died to the law.)
4 Based on the commandments, sin produced in me all lusts. For apart from the commandments sin was dead. For I was alive apart from the law once; but when the commandments came, sin was alive again, and I died. Paul, (when still a Jew), had been strictly observing the law of Moses; but then Paul began to hear more commands from the Spirit that were tailored to the circumstances of his life. These new commandments caused him to realize that sin was still alive in his body; sin was alive again. One then dies and becomes dead to the law by hearing the Spirit's many commands that restricts the fleshly mind, words, and actions; and if those spoken commands are heeded and obeyed, one gradually loses their fleshly life, dying daily, until they are dead. Christ is then revealed in their body.
Paul is speaking about having the states that a Christian must pass through to reach salvation. Believing that to be still sinning till death is excused for believers, there are priests of Babylon* who claim that in this chapter Paul is speaking of being burdened with sins only when he was still a Jew, and not after he became a believer; for they preach consequence-free sin for a believer with no necessity for mortification of sin, without need of a behavior conversion from fruits of the flesh to fruit of the Spirit, and without the requirement to become undefiled; all of which must take place in the struggle between the sins in the body and the Spirit of God within any still-sinning believer who hopes to grow to salvation. Additional facts that disprove the priests of Babylon's ridiculous claim are: 1) Paul stated that he had previously been schooled in the Law by the leading teacher of the Pharisees, and 2) he had "lived as devout Pharisee in accordance with the strictest sect of our religion." Acts 26:4-5. So Paul was not writing of his epic struggle with sin while still a Jew. Only as a believer, when Paul exposed himself to the Lord's commands, did he realize the secret sins lurking in his body, from which he had faith of deliverance to come, and later received the Lord's destruction of all sin in his body and freeing him from even the desires of sin to become a perfect man.
* See Footnote 1 to Romans 7.5 in the Net Bible for one example of such priests whose doctrine is: once you are a believer, you are in Christ, and all past, present, and future, sins are excused through the transfer of the meaning of grace from the truth: that with repentance the Spirit of God commands us to deny lusts and ungodliness as it purifies us to be able to live a soberly, godly life in this present world — transferred instead to the twisted lie that grace excuses all past, present, and future sins in believers, thereby excusing believers to live in their lusts and pride as they please with no laws.
From the Word of the Lord within: "Do you agree with any who in their arrogance have stated that God excuses evil in believers? It's not fair, but they don't care. Do not be confused; do not be misled; you must break a suspected action. Consequence-free sin does not exist. There is a war you must win: sin must be overcome; the fleshly lusts war against your soul."
Stephen Crisp, who also dwelled in the kingdom, wrote most excellently to this process as below:
"Now the proposition and tender of the love of God to mankind, has always carried that limitation with it, that every one in the world ought to observe; if a man hopes to be saved by Christ, he must be ruled by him. It is contrary to all manner of reason, that the devil should rule a man, and Christ be his Savior. The whole tenor of the New Testament is against it, (pray read it as often as you please, for it is a good exercise), you will find the true Christian's faith to be this: that he who has faith in Christ has an operation upon him for the cleansing his heart, purifying and purging his conscience from dead works, that he may serve the living God; though he had previously been a servant of the devil, it will make him leave his former servitude, and bring him under the influence of another law, the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which will make him free from the law of sin and death. The apostle sets down the several conditions he had passed through:
- I was alive without the law once; he thought himself a man, a brave man, a man of understanding, who had profited among the Jews; I was alive, having respect to that law which should have been my governor; [Paul knew the law well; he had been taught the strict manner of the law by a prominent Pharisee and leader of the judicial Sanhedrin, Gamaliel. Paul also thought he observed the law in righteousness.]
- but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. He had read the law, the commandment, many times, and had been at the reading of it in the synagogue; but there was a coming of the commandment, [as it was commanded by the Word of the Lord within him], which he had not been acquainted with; there was a writing of the law of God in his heart. When he came to this inward work upon him, where was the life he lived then?
[The Lord shows us the secret sins of our heart, of which we were not aware until his light reveals them to us; and with his conviction, he also commands us.]
- When the commandment came, sin revived, [when he was convicted by the Word of the Lord within, his awareness of sin in himself revived],
- and I died. [Realizing how poor in Spirit he really was, he deeply mourned over his condition. His pride was dying. The root of sin, his carnal mind is being destroyed. This is the Ministry of Condemnation; this is how one dies to the law, through the law.]
There was a professing life he formerly lived, but he was slain by the power of the commandment; it laid him in the dust as a slain man; when he was in a slain condition he found out that law in him, which was the law of sin and death, and this caused a combat and a war in him; he said: I find a law that when I would do good, evil is present with me; for I delight in the law of God in the inner man; but I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. Now this brought him to a poverty of spirit, into a sense of his miserable condition, and then he cries out, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death?
Now some people in this say that they are like the apostle: they have a law in their members warring against the law of their minds; the good that they would do they do not, and they can go no further, [their excuse for remaining a slave to sin]. But the apostle Paul did reach further, though he did not in that state [which he described that he had passed through] yet know deliverance; yet he had a faith that he would be delivered, and that he would not be miserable all his days. Thus having led the Romans into the several states through which he passed, he brings them to a further state, the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. And now there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Rom 8:1-2. How shall we know this? They walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. Now Paul had come to that sanctified state, that state of freedom and liberty which Christ Jesus will bring all those unto that believe in him.
Holy men, in former days, experienced and found a great strife and warfare in their own hearts; they all wished to do well, and exercise a conscience, void of offence, towards God and towards man; but there was a law of sin that warred in their members. If we yield to it, it leads to sin and death; but if we yield ourselves to the law of the spirit of life, there is a power that is derived from the Mediator, that will translate the soul out of the kingdom of darkness and sin, which the devil is the prince of, and bring it into the kingdom of God's dear Son.
There must be a real change wrought in us before we can come to God, and to fellowship and communion with God, which alone can make the soul happy. Let this be the exercise of every one of us to adore and magnify the great mercy and the kindness of God, that he has not withdrawn his spirit from you, but has placed a monitor in your bosoms that calls upon you to cease to do evil, and learn to do well, and to consider that the wages of sin is death. Here is a sin, I may commit it; there is a temptation before me, but I know there is a bait and a hook. I may swallow it if I choose, but if I do, it will be my ruin. Do I wish to come to eternal death, and have my portion with liars and wicked persons in the kingdom of darkness, where the worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched? Or would I have my portion with saints and angels? If I would have my portion with the blessed in the kingdom of God when I die, I must walk in the way that leads to it; but the gate is strait and the way narrow, and few there are that find it. Labor then to be one of those few."
As Jesus also said: "Strive to enter in at the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter, and will not be able to." Luke 13:24
Margaret Fox replied strongly to the ministers and teachers of corruption in her time, who taught that the entire law of God was cancelled and replaced by just believing in Jesus.
You, who are in your carnal apprehensions of God, are in the world without God. You are alive without the law, and have not come to know the law yet, and are dead in sins and trespasses. You, that live in pleasure, are dead while you live. You live unto sin and so are free from righteousness. The law which is holy, just, and good, shall cut you to pieces. You have not yet come to know the law, nor what is lawful, which everyone passes through before they come to know the liberty of the sons of God - which law cuts down all your carnal apprehensions of God. Oh you blasphemer, do you say there is no such thing as lawful and unlawful, godliness or ungodliness? Would you lay waste the scriptures and make void the righteous law of God which takes hold of the transgressor? Would you trample upon the blood of the new covenant and count it an unholy thing? Oh, the day of the vengeance is coming upon you. The Lord God is clothed with vengeance against you and all such as you are. You who sit at the table of devils are shut out from the liberty of the sons of God and know not the condition that Paul has passed through. When you know that, it will be death and destruction to you. This you shall eternally witness, before ever you come to know the living God.