(study – 28)
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
The Law, with its 625 dictums was given to Moses for Israel and is indivisible. It was a law of condemnation, and to fail in one part was to fail in the whole. But the purpose of the Law is to point us to Christ, Who fulfilled the righteous requirements of the law on our behalf. And through Christ we have receive the law of the Spirit of life, which has freed us from the power of sin that leads to death. Christians today, in the church age should know, understand and apply this royal law of Christ, as we abide in Him and He in us, for: it is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
We should know, understand and apply the law of life in Christ Jesus, and Romans 6 is a vital passage, which describes this victorious Christian life, but is founded on an understanding of the previous chapters. Chapter 1: all men are sinners; accountable to God and guilty before Him. Chapter 2: God is righteous and His laws are good, while man is unrighteous and his heart is evil. Chapter 3: all men are guilty before God and righteousness only comes by grace, through faith in Christ. Chapter 4: gives examples of men of faith and God’s promises to those who live by faith. Chapter 5: the glories of trusting Christ, contrasting the old life under law with the new life under grace, and Chapter 6: as slaves of Christ we are no longer slaves to sin and death.
And a crescendo of hope and excitement builds as we pass from the ministration of Law and death to the ministration of life freedom and grace. And although chapter 6 rejoices in the victorious Christian life, chapter 7 brings us to a jarring halt, as we tumble headlong from the glittering mountain top to the shocking realization that the reality of our own life does not mirror the requirements of a holy God – rather our lives demonstrate the opposite of what we were called to be in Christ, and we cry out with Paul: O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death?
Romans 1-7 show a perfect example of the normal Christian walk. We start in chapter 1 as a sinner at enmity with God – guilty and foul before a holy God. In chapter 2 we hear of His saving grace, but recognise our own evil and unrighteous heart. In chapter 3 we discover God’s plan of salvation, which is grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone – and we are saved and praise God, worshiping Him with grateful thanks. The Word is devoured in chapter 4 with great joy.. grace alone by faith in Christ alone, and in chapter 5 we discover His promises are yes and amen in Christ. In chapter 6 our Christian life is wonderful for a time – until we reach the reality of our failure in chapter 7.
And here in chapter 7 we come to the shocking discovery that we are incapable of living the godly life we desire to live, and our own efforts inevitably end in failure and despair. We begin to see that because of our sinful nature and inability to keep the Law, we can never do the things we ought to do – but always seem to do that which we ought not to do.. until we dissolve into Paul famous words: oh wretched man that I am. The reason most Christians have to go through the Romans chapter 7 experience, is by living under the wrong law – living under the destructive law of sin and death rather than the liberating law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
To arrive at the brokenness of Romans 7 is not the devastating defeat that it appears to be, but a vital learning curve through which many believers are gently guided by the gracious hand of their heavenly Father, Who is drawing His child into a deeper understanding of Himself, and a closer fellowship – until he comes to an understanding that in my strength I can do nothing.. and by the power of my own abilities and the wisdom of my own capacities – I am bankrupt.
It is only when a believer comes to the point of true wretchedness of soul and inner brokenness of despair, that in desperation he is able to cry: who can deliver me from this body of sin? Only then can he come to an understanding that of himself he can do nothing, but that in Christ I can do all things.. for He alone is my Deliverer. And this opens the floodgates to the beautiful revelation that when I am weak then He is strong – for of myself I can do no good thing – But I can do all things through Christ Who gives me the strength.
God’s training programme through the book of Romans is to bring His child to recognise his own inabilities, so that he stops relying on self and starts to place his trust in his heavenly Father – by trusting God in all things. He begins to see that behind all failure is a divine purpose; behind all problems is a heavenly objective; behind all sufferings; irritations; and trials there is a godly reason, which is to show us that: My grace is sufficient. Indeed God wants to teach us through our Romans 7 experience that behind every life experiences is a divine purpose to demonstrate that: God’s grace is sufficient and that without Him we can do nothing – but I can do all things through Christ, Who gives me the strength.
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