The Way Not to Experience Godís Righteousness (Part Two)

(Rom. 7:13-25)
The Way Not to Experience Godís Righteousness (Part Two)

Todayís lesson falls in the overall outline of Romans in the following way:

Theme: The Faithfulness and Righteousness of God (1:16-17)

I. The Need for God's Righteousness (1:18-3:20)

    General Statement Explaining Why Man Needs Godís Righteous Activity (1:18a)
    The Gentile Need for Godís Righteous Activity (1:18-32)
    The Jewish Need for Godís Righteous Activity (2:1-3:20)
II. Godís Gracious Provision of Righteousness (3:21-8:39)
    The Method of God Making Us Right with Himself (3:21-31)
    Abraham: OT Proof that God Makes Us Right With Him By Faith (4:1-25)
    Results of Being Made Right with God (5:1-6:23)
        (1) A Proper Relationship of Peace with God (5:1-2)
        (2) A Proper Understanding of Suffering (5:3-5)
        (3) Assurance in Judgment (5:6-11)
        (4) A New Race of Mankind (5:12-21)
        A Rejection of Lawlessness (6:1-23)
    Experiencing Godís Righteousness Daily (7:1-8:39)
        (1) The Way Not to Experience Godís Righteousness (7:1-25)

        (2) The Way to Experience Godís Righteousness (8:1-39)

Before going further into Paul's discussion of the Law in Rom. 7, we need to look at some passages of some of Paul other letters in which he discusses the Law. In Gal. 3: 19 why does Paul say the Law of Moses was given? Through whom was the Law ordained? Was a mediator necessary in giving the Law to the people? How long was the Law supposed to be in effect?

Contrast the Law of Moses with the covenant Jesus made with us. First, it does not promote sin but righteousness. Second, it was given directly to us by God the Son Himself. Third, there was no mediator involved. Fourth, this covenant (or way to achieve righteousness) is eternal.

Now fill in the blanks from Gal. 3:23-25 and 4:1-2 to understand the relationship of the Law to people: "But before faith came, we were kept in ____________ under the Law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore, the Law has become our ______________ to lead us to Christ. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. . . . Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but he is under _____________ and _________________ until the date set by the Father."

Most of the symbols in this passage are familiar to usóthe prison warden and the guardians/managers. The second term, paidagogosótutoróis strange to us. The paidagogos was a slave in the Roman household who was in charge of the son's moral conduct. He had the authority to discipline the son whenever he got out of hand. Once the son turned 16 though, the services of the paidagogos were no longer used. The son was considered old enough to be responsible for his own conduct.

Notice 2 things about each of these symbols. First, they are all negative: a prison warden, a paidagogos, and managers/guardians. Once those in prison, under the paidagogos, and under managers/guardians were given the chance to be free, they should have jumped at that chance. That was one of the purposes of the Lawóto make us want this new freedom in Christ. (Unfortunately, many still want to live under this slavery or imprisonment.) Second, they all had a temporal function. The person was not given a life sentence; the paidagogos controlled the son until he was sixteen; and the guardians/managers stopped controlling the young man's finances once he reached 21 years of age.

Another passage which deals with the relationship of the Law to people is found in 1 Tim. 1:8-11. According to v. 8 when is the Law good? According to v. 9 does the Law apply to the righteous person? According to verses 9-11 what kinds of persons does the Law apply to?

(13) Therefore, did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, that through the Law sin might become utterly sinful. (14) For we know that the Law is good, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. (15) For that which I am doing, I do not understand, for what I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. (16) But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish to do, I am no longer the one doing it but sin which indwells me. (17) So now, no longer am I the one doing it but sin which indwells me. (18) For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh, for the wishing is present in me but the doing of the good is not. (19) For the good that I wish I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. (20) So now, no longer am I the one doing it but sin which dwells in me. (21) I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good. (22) For I joyfully concur with the Law of God in the inner man. (23) but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the Law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the Law of sin which is in my members. (24) Wretched man that I am. Who will set me free from the body of this death? (25) But thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then on the one hand I with my mind am serving the Law of God, but on the other hand with my flesh the law of sin.

After all that Paul has said, you can really come away with the impression that the problem all along was the Law. For example, you could almost conclude that the Law itself is what kills a person. Paul wants to correct that impression. According to Paul in v. 13 what was it that causes a person to die?

In v. 13 what was it that showed that sin really was sinful or evil?

Simply because something is used to kill somebody does not make that thing evil. For example, the scalpel was made for physicians so that they could perform surgery and heal patients. Because Jack the Ripper used the scalpel on his victims, does that make scalpels evil? No, it just shows you how perverse Jack the Ripper is. The same applies to the Law. It is good because God gave it. Sin though shows how evil it is by using this good thing from God and using it to kill people.

In verses 14-23 Paul gives a description of the person who lives life under the Law. What are some characteristics of the life lived under the Law as described in these verses?

One major characteristic of life lived under the Law or legalism is the inability to do the good that one wants to do. In fact, instead of doing the good the person wants to do, he does the exact oppositeóthe very thing he does not want to do.

This same principle was brought out in the second X-Men movie. In that movie an evil government scientist injects a serum into the bodies of the X-men so that they are completely under his control. Although they don't want to obey the evil scientists, the X-men have no choice. They know what they are doing; they don't want to do what they are doing; and yet they are unable to stop doing what they don't want to do. In the same way we have had a sin nature injected into us so that we can no longer do what we desire to do.

When you look at this description, do you feel like he is speaking about what non-Christians or Christians experience?

Verse 24 is one of the greatest cries of despair in the entire Bible: "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?" Most of us never get to this point because we don't live completely a legalistic life. We like to mix legalism with a little bit of grace and with a touch of lawlessness. The life though lived strictly legalistically produces this feeling.

Many of us have either seen the movie Les Miserables or have seen the stage musical or even read the book. It is the classic story of a man, Jean Valjean, who has been given a new life by a priest but who is pursued throughout his life by a legalistic policeman, Inspector Javert. At the end of the movie when Javert finally has Valjean in his power, he can't execute him for his crimes. Valjean has changed to the point to where he has even forgiven Javert. Unable to kill Valjean and yet unable to live with himself if he breaks the Law, he finds that the only suitable solution is suicide. That's what legalism does to people.

Verse 25 gives the only way to find deliverance from the burden of legalism and from the tyranny of lawlessness (doing your own thing). What solution is that? (The solution introduces the major theme of chapter 8).