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Before tackling this subject, I want to look at several verses that can be brought to bear on this chapter. I also want to look at several key words and phrases contained in this chapter that will assist us in deepening one’s understanding of what Paul was telling his Jewish-Gentile audience.
In Proverbs 20:27 it is declared, “The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.” Zechariah 12:1 says, “THE burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, which . . . formeth the spirit of man within him.”
Pretty straightforward. These verses reveal that the spirit placed within man has been put there by his Creator. It shines to expose the thoughts and intents of a man’s heart. In short, all individuals have a moral conscience.
In Ecclesiastes 12:7 we find this, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” Speaking directly on the process of what happens after death, God through Solomon, reveals that when the individual dies a person’s spirit returns to God “who gave it.” This does not say man’s soul is taken back at death. It is man’s spirit that returns to God “who gave it.”
In this taking back of the individual’s spirit at death, what significance does this suggest? The Bible teaches that man’s soul returns to Jesus Christ to await judgment (Heb. 9:27). Ecclesiastes 12:7 also implies a distinction and a divisibility, after death, between a person’s soul and their spirit. The question now becomes to whom is this divisibility directed?
In Matthew 16:26 Jesus emphasizes the importance of the human soul. Notice the spirit, or man’s moral conscience, is never mentioned. This is because man’s spirit comes directly from God. At death, it returns to God who gave it. Man’s soul consists of the sum of his mind, will, and emotions at a given point in his life.
At this point, I have a question for you Bible students. Does it make sense that the damned would need a moral conscience where they are going, if they spent their entire life ignoring God’s still small voice on this side of eternity?
Let’s take a look a I Thessalonians 5:23. Directed towards a believer in Jesus Christ, this verse says, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This was Paul’s prayer to the Thessalonian believers, as well as the body of Christ that would follow. Jesus’ words of comfort, through Paul, are that our deliverance from the world through Christ’s abiding and indwelling Holy Spirit will secure this hope for the saint—that our spirit, and soul and body will be preserved blameless until Jesus’ return.
This verse teaches that what is sanctified (set aside for Jesus’ use in this life) for the saint is one’s spirit, soul and body. Do the damned in this life really pay any attention to their spirit, which is their moral conscience? Most people recognize this as a rhetorical question. An interrogative that need not be answered because the reply is evident. Since the damned on this side of the grave are so mindlessly and unashamedly willing to blaspheme God’s name (Rev. 16:9, 11, 21) what does this reveal about their conscience. It is seared as with a hot iron. Remember, unrepentant blasphemy against the Holy Spirit in this life, and the one to come, is unforgivable (Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10).
In I Corinthians 12:3 we discover three powerful truths. First, that “no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed.” Blasphemy against Jesus Christ should never be heard coming from the mouth of any believer. Such blasphemy reveals the individual is not born again. The second truth disclosed says that no man can say Jesus is Lord, namely Master in their life, without possessing the Holy Ghost. Finally, God is not going to blaspheme himself. Put another way, Jesus’ Holy Spirit indwelling the believer, is not going to blaspheme Jesus’ name! We may find such blatant hypocrisy in men, but never in God.
In Romans 2:14 and 15 we are told that the Gentiles which possess not the law, perform the law as a result of having the law written on their hearts. This is a clear reference to the Gentiles moral conscience in the absence of the laws that had been issued to the Jews from Sinai. The Gentiles, then, were acting on their moral conscience in the absence of not having had God’s commandments in the first place. They were acting upon the law that had been written on the fleshy table of their hearts.
And Now the Particulars Gleaned from Romans Chapter 7
What I want to look at is Paul’s opening monologue from Romans 7:14. What this scripture reveals to the audience is Paul’s struggle as a Pharisee. This can also be said to be applicable to the religious, synagogue member or church-attending congregant. Remember, these labels with their subsequent ‘pious’ mindset, revealing one’s fruit, certainly not Jesus’ fruit, will never save you!
Recognizing the law as spiritual, holy, just, and good Paul says in Romans 7:14 that he is “carnal, sold under sin.” If we are truly born again, would we say such a thing? If we have been delivered supernaturally by the Spirit of Christ out of darkness into the glorious light of Jesus, do I believe I am carnal, sold under sin and given over to its power and hold on my life? If this is true, what attraction does my life hold to the lost? If there is not any distinguishing fruit I have to offer the lost that is hopeful, eternal, and encouraging, do I really want this lifestyle that many church goers have identified as the ‘Christian’ life?
In verse 15 Paul reveals the prohibitions of God’s moral code of conduct directed against certain behaviors and reflected in one’s conduct. Paul admitted his outward actions needed to be tempered by his thoughts ultimately influencing his conduct. He continues by saying that what he thinks, he will restrain himself from doing outwardly. In frustration and vexation of his own tormented spirit Paul declares that what he knows is odious to God, he does nonetheless.
Paul says in verse 16 that by prohibiting certain outward conduct he acknowledges the law to be good. Yes and no! By not doing certain things I reveal that God’s moral code of conduct is good outwardly. But what of my thoughts since they cannot be seen? Can I think what I may and avoid the judgment of God? Jesus said that the thoughts of a man’s heart condemn him as much as the fruit of those thoughts—an individual’s behavior.
Verse 17 is not saying the individual is not a responsible moral agent before his Creator. What Paul said is that when he rejected the truth of Jesus Christ in his life, sin directed his life. It consumed him. It drove him. Sin owned him. Sin was the rudder of Paul’s ship that eventually steered him toward the destruction and ruin in his own life. Paul was saying he was subject to the natural, impulsive, fleshly, prideful man full of envy, malice, and rage.
In verse 18 Paul gets to the heart of the law, which is to convict, shame, embarrass as well as reveal the holiness and perfection of Providence and his expectations of men toward him and each other. In short, God’s law is our schoolmaster (Gal. 3:24).
Mentioning to the audience, Paul continued by saying to do God’s will was within him, but how to perform or keep the law, outwardly, was ever elusive. As a Pharisee, there was this eternal conflict within Paul, and every religious person, to try and reconcile inward thoughts with outward conduct. This is clearly reflected in verse 19.
Coming to the same conclusion as he did earlier, Paul admits that it is the natural man (I Cor. 2:14) that is directing his life (verse 20), NOT the Spirit of the living Christ.
In verse 21 Paul acknowledges that the law, when his intentions were to do good, evil nonetheless was present and prevailed.
In Paul’s conflicted dialogue, the apostle utilizes the personal pronoun “I” no less than twenty-three times (verses 14-23). No mention of Christ’s Holy Spirit is to be found anywhere. What we do find is “the inward man.” This was Paul’s reference to the candle of the LORD, his moral conscience and the struggle that is waged within every soul between God’s still small voice and the sinful cacophony of the world.
In conclusion, Paul admitted something quite revealing in verses 24, and 25. In his frustration of spirit and wretchedness of soul Paul declared, “who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
In verse 25 is the summation of Paul’s struggle. Paul admitted to serving the law of God in his mind, while his flesh served the law of sin. Serving the law of God in his mind, Paul nonetheless was still acting within the power of his natural mind not the regenerated mind of Christ. And to put it another way, if we believe this is the Christian life then what Paul is saying is that believers serve the law of sin . . . They're salves to sin, as well as servants. The believer is still in bondage, and Jesus didn't really set the captives free. This, my friend is NOT the Christian life!!!
And Now the Light of Romans 8 and What it Means to be Regenerated
Did somebody turn on the Light? This is exactly what we see in Romans 8. Nothing like the religious and LOST person of Romans 7, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." (8:2)
If it cannot be discerned from someone reading this chapter that this is what the Christian life is really all about, I cannot help you. The people that will proclaim Romans 7 is Christianity are people who live by the law AND serve a redemptive paradigm of works NOT grace.
Filled with all sorts of encouragement, hope and eternal promises, Romans 8 nails Paul's own war-torn Pharisaical soul to the wall. With this indictment against the natural or “inward man” endeavoring to keep the law and believing that by doing so he gains brownie points with his Creator, Jesus Christ, nothing could be further from man’s religion and pious, disingenuous attitude.
In Romans 8:4 we are told that the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Do you know what that means? That means peace, not striving, resting in Christ’s perfect sacrifice. It also means ceasing from willfully keeping the law from within and without. It means belief MUST be punctuated by the Spirit’s fruit production and indwelling, meaning crucifixion of self or the flesh. Something we do not see anywhere in Romans 7.
In Romans 8:9 Paul says that ownership of Jesus Christ towards his own is marked by the abiding, indwelling Holy Spirit, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”
Known as baptism by the Holy Spirit this event occurs only once in a believer’s life (Eph. 4:5) AND the saint gets no more of the Spirit at this time than they do any other time. Remember, we are challenged to be filled with the Holy Spirit (completely under his control) throughout our life. Baptism by the Holy Spirit of Christ--it is all or nothing. Jesus’ blood is the ransom that sets the captive free. It is the Holy Spirit of Christ indwelling the believer, that is the saint’s assurance that the will of the Savior will be accomplished in me in spite of who and what I am. To God be the glory!
With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible to them that believe. JESUS CHRIST
John 5:22 says that the Father judgeth no man, but that all judgment has been committed to the Son by the Father.
This does not mean I continue in my sin, nor does it reveal the world’s grip on my life is still as strong as it was before I was regenerated. Sanctification means set apart for Jesus' use. Consecration means Jesus has a purpose with the gifting(s) he has blessed me with, and it is my purpose to discover what those are and how I can advance his kingdom on earth.
Copyright © 2008 Day of the LORD, Paul J. Wickliffe - All Rights Reserved.