Monday, April 20, 2009

Romans 7: Not a Christian Struggle (Part 1)

Here are 10 reasons why a Christian cannot have a Romans 7 struggle. These are taken verbatim from my mentor and friend, Walt Russell. I plan on following this up with a post or two on Romans 7 and the Christian's struggle with sin.

1) This chapter is a message addressed to a very specific group of people in Romans 7:1 and they are clearly specified as "those who know the Law," not all Christians.

2) The principle of Romans 7:2-4 is not drawn from general Christian experience, but it is drawn only from the experience of those within Israel who had believed in Jesus Christ and the principle is applied ONLY to them.

3) The issue of this chapter that is introduced and summarized in Romans 7:5-6 is not a general Christian issue, but it is one that is only relevant to a specific group of people: those who had been in the flesh, i.e. under the Mosaic Law.

4) In Romans 7:7-25, Paul represents a certain group with his "I" language and the most likely representation drawn from his previous categories in Romans 1-6 and from his framing of the issue in Romans 7:1-6 is NOT Christians, but Jews/Israelites who had lived under the Mosaic Law.

5) The focus on the dividedness of the person in Romans 7:7-25 is not ultimately on the internal struggle, but on the external constraints or boundaries of the age that caused this struggle.

6) The purpose of the struggle in Romans 7:7-25 is very specific: to show the Mosaic Law's limited ability to restrain sin during the Mosaic Law era, NOT to reveal the struggle of Christians with God's general demands.

7) The rhetorical reason why Paul recounts the struggle in Romans 7:7-25 is to persuade the Jewish Christians that the Mosaic Law is not an appropriate restraint for Christian behavior in light of its designed limitations.

8) The pervasive sense of condemnation and wretchedness in Romans 7:14-24 cannot apply to Christians because those IN CHRIST have no condemnation, as Romans 8:1-4 makes clear.

9) The person described in Romans 7:7-25 is "of flesh, sold into bondage to sin" and not "spiritual" like the Mosaic Law (7:14), but this cannot possibly be true of Christians who ahve been set free from the law of sin and of death and who are not in the flesh (Romans 8:5-9).

10) The summary of the believer's dividedness between their mind and their flesh in Romans 7:25b cannot possibly refer to a Christian because Christians have been removed from the moral realm of flesh and placed in the realm of the Spirit (Romans 8:9-11).

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