Our Glorious Redemption—Glorification (Rom. 8:14-25) Part 1 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 11 September 2017

Paul begins this section by affirming what must have been quite obvious to a lot of people at his time: this world is a place of much suffering and pain. But we should not think that the life then was so miserable because they did not have all the modern conveniences, such as running water and dishwashers and laundry machines and cars and airplanes, not to mention HD TV’s and internet. It’s easy to think that way because we are a generation of people who wonder how we ever lived without the smartphones! I’m sure the people of the ancient world were happier and more satisfied than we think they were since they had no idea how convenient life has become for us. Even so, they themselves were not so naïve as to think that their lives were just fine and dandy! They did know the kind of hardship they lived in when their babies and loved ones died prematurely, when their children cried for more food and they had none to give them, when they frequently fell victims to floods and droughts and lost everything they had (from which we are still not free as we saw in recent hurricanes). So, Paul took it for granted that, when he characterized the life in the ancient world as a life of suffering (v. 18) and groaning (v. 23), pretty much everyone would agree.

That was then. How is it now? Has it gotten any better after 2,000 years and all the scientific progress we have made? Life expectancy has gotten much longer. Infant mortality rate is definitely way down. Life has gotten so much more convenient. And we are much more educated and knowledgeable. With Google Search at our fingertips, we have access to so much information instantaneously. But can we say we are better people? Are we better at resisting temptations and overcoming sin? Probably not. All we have to do is just read what people post on the internet and the kind of obscene and mean comments people make in the safety of anonymity. It is obvious that we need redemption at a foundational level—nothing short of a new creation. That is what our glorification is ultimately about.

Which Paul? (Rom. 7:14-25) Part 5 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 08 September 2017

So, Christ must save us from sin—not only from its punishment but also from its power and presence. In order to accomplish that, He must also work in us so that we will hate sin itself, not just its punishment and other terrible consequences. This requires an inner renewal at the deepest level, a new birth, a new creation. This is what the law could not do. This is what God has done by sending His Son into this world and bringing us under the law of the Spirit of life through the work of the Holy Spirit. 

 

In case you didn’t catch, the law of the Spirit of life should not be set in opposition to the law of God; it should be set against the law of sin and death. And these two laws are different from the law of God. The law of God consists of many commandments and statutes. The other two laws are of a different kind. They are more like the laws of physics—the way things work. The law of sin and death lures us to break God’s law; the law of the Spirit of life enables us to obey God’s law.

Which Paul? (Rom. 7:14-25) Part 4 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 07 September 2017

What did Christ do in this regard? He had to do something both externally and internally. Externally, Christ had to set us free from the condemnation of the law. He did this by taking our sin upon Himself and suffering the punishment of our sin. How wonderful this is for someone who understands the gravity of his wrongdoing and the punishment he rightly deserves! (Leslie Yoder’s story.) That’s nothing compared to the forgiveness Christ procured for us! The certificate of our debt to God has been nailed to the cross. We are rescued from the eternal torment of hell. Surely, this is good enough to make us rejoice all the days of our life here on earth and for all eternity in heaven!

 

Sin, by nature, is destructive. As Midas’ touch turns everything into gold, sin destroys everything it touches and there’s no exception--whether we can see it or not. The cancer that grows in us without us knowing is far more dangerous than breaking a leg. As a violation of the moral law without, sin brings humiliation and criticism and banishment and even prison terms, not to mention all the harm it does in our relationships. But more than anything, sin separates us from our holy God: “Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear” (Isa. 59:1-2). Sin cannot sever our relationship with God—the fact that He is our Father and we are His children in Jesus Christ. But sin can and does disrupt our fellowship with God in profound and powerful ways, like estranged father and children who hardly communicate with one another. What good is it really to be rescued from hell if we are still estranged from God? God is the Fount of life and every blessing; He is our salvation, our life, and our all in all, without whom nothing means anything. How foolish it is to be content with our escape from hell if we are estranged from God! It would be like living in a big mansion, all alone, or watching a gorgeous sunset all alone.

Which Paul? (Rom. 7:14-25) Part 3 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 05 September 2017

Do you see how there are now three laws, not just two--not just "the law of sin and death" (v. 2) and the law (of God, v. 3) but also "the law of the Spirit of life" (v. 2)? This third law makes all the difference in our spiritual battle against sin. This third law--the law of the Spirit of life—is able to do what the law of God, though "holy and righteous and good" (7:12), could not do—to set us free from the law of sin and death. You can see why this is important to point out. Living under this third law—and the freedom from the law of sin and death we now have under it—is what characterizes our Christian life, not the description we see in the previous section! How did this come about?

 It had everything to do with the coming of Christ and what He accomplished for our redemption. Christ did what the law could not do. The law can tell us what is right and wrong. The law can threaten us with its curses and encourage us with its blessings. The law can also show that God, who gave it, is "holy and righteous and good," worthy of our love and worship and obedience. But the law cannot help us defeat the law of sin and death. The law cannot give us a new birth from above. The law cannot change our heart from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh to beat with faith and love and devotion to God. To put it starkly, our problem is not ignorance but wickedness: "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth" (Rom. 1:18). You see, our problem in our sinful condition is not that we don't know what is right and wrong, however imperfectly. Our problem is that we don't want to do what we know is right. We don't even do what we know is good for us--such as our daily devotions and exercising and quitting bad habits.

Which Paul? (Rom. 7:14-25) Part 2 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 05 September 2017

As Dennis E. Johnson suggests, the person is the Old Testament saint living under the law ("Romans 7:13-25--Paul's Argument for Law's Impotence and Spirit's Power," in Resurrection and Eschatology, p. 7). Because he is born again (as we are), he is able to love God and delight in His law—something that an unbeliever cannot do. But while he received the same salvation as ours, his experience of salvation was quite limited for two reasons: 1) Christ had not yet come; 2) until Christ came, externally, he still had to live under the Old Testament administration of the law with all of its demands and threats.

 And there’s the undeniable transition from today’s passage to Ch. 8. Notice what the struggle is in vv. 14-25: it is between two laws—the law of God (v. 22) and the law of sin (v. 23). As we saw, the general experience of God's people in this condition is that of defeat, which culminates with the heart-wrenching lament, "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death" (v. 24)! How can Paul go so quickly from that to a triumphant praise in the very next verse, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (v. 25)? And from that he moves on to say, as quickly, "So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin" (v. 25)—all in one verse! It is easy to see that his triumphant praise is a premature interruption in the flow of his bleak descriptions. It is as though he could not wait to move on from these depressing thoughts to what he really wanted to talk about—our  new condition in Jesus Christ! Indeed, that's exactly what he talks about in Rom. 8! 

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