Good Morning, Siblings
Today’s readings are Romans 4-7
Y’all Paul is on a roll today. I think someone gave him some coffee and a little extra lead in his pencil.
Upon a light reading of today’s passages we can be left feeling a bit dizzy by Paul talking out of both sides of his mouth but remember we discussed his point/counterpoint or straw man style of presenting his case. Reading this writing style can feel like a bit of a roller coaster ride and that is why a light reading of Paul is never a good idea. Paul requires a foundational knowledge of where He comes from, the truth He is rooted in, and a shared hope in his purpose.
I don’t get too worked up over Paul these days. I know that he is not imparting new knowledge and all that he is teaching and speaking from resides in the foundational Scriptures. I also realize he is arguing with a specific set of people and addressing a specific set of problems, all of which YHWH has already spoken to in His word, either directly or indirectly. So when Paul starts going around in circles, I know I’m fine simply falling back on YHWH’s Word.
We begin in chapter 4. I think I can summarize this chapter pretty easily for us: Our spiritual ancestors obeyed YHWH because they trusted in Him and had faith in Him. Because of their faith and trust in Him, they were counted as righteous.
Reading Romans 4:15 in the Ethiopic Manuscripts states: ”if the law had not come, there would have been none who would have known sin”. – Romans 4:15 Personally, I feel this unwinds the pretzel a bit to express what Paul was saying originally. But look around, kick the tires, test it, and see what you think. Remember to reference the questions I mentioned yesterday that we need to ask whenever reading Paul.
However, most translations state something to the effect of “Where there is no law, there is no sin.” We often take this to mean that YHWH did away with the law in order to forgive us. If that is the case, we are now free to commit adultery, murder, become cannibals, etc. There is no sin, right? However, from what I’m reading, with my map oriented using the compass of the foundational Scriptures, I see Paul saying that the law was needed in order that we may understand what is and is not sin.
Lest we think some of what Paul says today should lead us away from the Father and His commandments, let me pull out some pointed statements from our reading today for you to keep in mind as you read all else. Whenever you see Paul saying something contradicting the wisdom of YHWH, remember he has also said the following statements in this same writing and therefore our map must be turned wrong for us to think He is contradicting the Father.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? ~Romans 6:1-2
What then? Are we to sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! ~Romans 6:15
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. ~Romans 7:7
For the law is holy and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Romans 7:12
For I delight in the law of YHWH, in my inner being… ~Romans 7:22
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5
If it were up to me, neither of us would know sufferings but we should both be grateful that it isn’t up to me as difficult times are opportunities to draw closer to Him, glean from His wisdom, and shine a light into the world. Every moment of our lives is an opportunity to honor Him and how much brighter the light shines when it does so in the midst of darkness. Be encouraged. Even in our darkness, we have His light within us and the ability to be that light for someone else.
Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:20-21
This is a particularly difficult passage to wrap our heads around so let me untwist the pretzel a bit. Sin separates us from YHWH. The law points out our sin so that we can understand what separates us from YHWH. Sin is transgression of the law. Once we know what separates us we can repent, accept Yeshua as our Messiah who frees us from the debt of our sin, and come into the presence of the Father.
I want to spend a little time unraveling chapter 7 because, to the casual reader, that is where it appears the crazy train shows up in full force. In reality, Paul had a point, and I would dearly love to be able to read in his original letter and the original language to see exactly how he said it. I’m afraid centuries of time and legions of translators have left us with the word pretzel we have today and we need to step back a bit, try to climb inside Paul’s world, and sort this back together so it all lines up.
Okay, now that we’ve established that, let us wade into the statements Paul made that seem, at the onset, to contradict these.
I’m going to break down a few verses just to kinda show you where I went with this and to help show a different perspective and how we can reframe our mindset to understand the point of view Paul had in saying these things.
4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. Romans 7:4-6
Wow, that is a lot.
What does it mean “sinful passions aroused by the law?” You ever have or have been one of “those” teenagers who, when told not to do something became obsessed with doing just that thing? This is an example of a sinful passion aroused by the law.
This same thing happened with Adam and Eve, upon being told “thou shalt not eat”. This immediately made them curious and made the forbidden fruit more desirable. When we are in our flesh, inclinations like this can consume us.
However, by the power of being made new, of having the Law written on our hearts, we are able to operate in spirit rather than flesh and thus are released by these sinful passions which are aroused by the law. So now, rather than having to rely solely on our own ability to keep the commandments of our own accord and strength, we have the power of the Holy Spirit, a new way of obeying the Father and living.
There are three aspects of the Law of YHWH that we die to when we are born again in Messiah that Paul is referencing here and make specific mention of:
- The law’s capacity to stir up sin within us, to make us desire to break it (Romans 7:5-14)
- The laws ability to produce feelings of guilt because we know that when we seek to follow Him, we are not saved by law but by grace so that when we unwillingly break the law while earnestly seeking to follow Him, Grace steps in. We lose the guilt over not feeling “good enough” for salvation because we understand that it was never about being “good enough” to begin with, nor could we ever be. (Romans 7:15-25)
- We are also free from the penalties, punishments, and curses of the law because we have been redeemed through Messiah, who paid the fine for us. (Romans 8:1-4)
Now note that YHWH’s law can still make us feel guilty when we fall short but when we repent we must learn to rely on our faith and trust in Messiah as the means of our final redemption.
Romans 7:6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of spirit and not the old way of written code.
Let’s take this apart a bit. We’ve been released from our natural tendency to seek out sin, our tendency to rely on the Law for salvation or to think we can possibly earn it, and the penalties and curses of disobeying the Law of YHWH when we are seeking to follow Him but fall short. We are now serving in a NEW WAY with the Law written on our hearts, in this wonderful renewed covenant with YHWH in which He puts a desire to serve and obey Him in our very hearts!
Make sure you remember that we have the map but when it comes to reading Paul, after centuries of being filtered through translators and worlds away from the context and culture this was written in, we need to be careful to line our map up with the word of YHWH. So when something stands out as being contradictory or not making sense, linger over it a while and prayerfully seek how the map needs to be oriented in order to line up with YHWH’s word first.
Often in his writings, Paul is speaking to the struggle of flesh against the law and the victory of spirit once we know the Father’s love and redemption firsthand and the law is written on our hearts, no longer counted as a burden but as an act of love done with joy, which results in us walking in blessings rather than the curses we knew when we lived our life in the flesh. (Deut 30:19) He explains this struggle in Romans 7:21-25. I think it is one we can all relate to.
Have you ever known an academic who had spent a long time in school and had a natural tendency to frustrate everyone around him/her by their natural inclination to complicate the simple? Well if you read Paul, now you know two.
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!
May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!