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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Hundred-Eighty-Fourth (Romans Part 13)

Last week we started looking at Romans 7, and we had to postpone the remainder of the discussion to this week to prevent going on too long!  As a recap, we saw some initially confusing and possibly contradicting statements by Paul that were somewhat clarified as we dug into them.  For example, Paul seemed to say that when we die, as we did spiritually when baptized into Yeshua's death, we no longer have to follow the Law, but then he goes on to say, and seemingly worriedly in fact, that he still sins.  This doesn't make sense because if you don't have to follow the Law then you can't sin, because sin is a transgression of YHWH's commandments, and the Law tells us what those are (Romans 7:7).

Based on this contradiction, this could not be the correct interpretation of Paul's words.  The other interpretation, which we identified last week, is that rather than dying such that we no longer have to follow the Law, we died such that the requirement of following the Law to be righteous no longer applied.  This is what we were freed from due to Jesus' death physically and our death spiritually.  This means YHWH did not cancel His expectation that we follow the Law, He just cancelled the requirement that we follow it in order for Him to make us righteous.

This is still not quite the full picture of this foundational belief though, and in order for us to put that together we must go back to the Old Testament and look at some of the historical figures recorded there.  Take David, for example.  YHWH called him a man after His own heart (Acts 13:22, 1 Samuel 13:14).  If you recall, David was the one that gave into temptation and sinned by committing adultery with the wife of Uriah.  He then sent Uriah to the front lines where he died, and that's how David covered up his transgression (2 Samuel 11:2-24).  And that was all after he tried to get Uriah to go sleep with his wife so the timing of the baby she conceived with David would look like it was Uriah's child.  So, not only did David sin, he went through multiple paths to try and cover it up rather than repent and face the consequences.

How then could YHWH call David a man after His own heart?  How could YHWH bless him with a son to make Jerusalem strong (1 Kings 15:4) and a lineage that would lead to the Savior of man, the Son of YHWH Himself (Jeremiah 23:5, 33:15, Revelation 22:16, Matthew 1:1)?  I mean, all Saul did was give YHWH a burnt offering and peace offering when all his men left him and the Philistines were coming to attack, and YHWH removed him from the throne (1 Samuel 13:11-14).  While Saul did have some other issues, the key is obedience to YHWH.

It was never the Law that made someone righteous, it was obedience to YHWH as a whole.  There were things not written in the Law that Saul was told to do by YHWH, and because he didn't do those things, judgment was pronounced on him (1 Samuel 13:13-14).  David however, was obedient to all those things but faltered in one commandment of the Law (1 Kings 15:5) and thus he was made part of the lineage to righteousness, Yeshua, despite this failure.  

Until we come to understand this we cannot make sense of references in the New Testament to things like Law being nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14).  Which, when you take a look at that verse again, you can see that it actually says our debt was nailed to the cross, not the Law.  The debt that we have due to sin, regardless of whether or not we read, or even know about, the Law.  Having the Law just made us aware of the sin that we have, it didn't create the sin.

This brings us back to Romans 7 where Paul says the Law is what made him aware of sin, and he goes on to say the Law brought death rather than life (Romans 7:8-11).  Looking at it from the perspective we just came to, what Paul is saying here is that once he knew about the Law, and all the things he was to do and forbidden to do, he died... figuratively.  Before that, he was carefree, not knowing the things he did that were sins, so he was oblivious.  Then, he says, when he came to understand they were sins, by reading and understanding the Law, "sin seized its opportunity" by making him feel oppressed and stressed about having to follow all these rules.  The modern day phrase of saying he died inside is an appropriate way to put this.

Paul then talks about his struggle with sin, which we touched on last week, and this can be another confusing part of this chapter (Romans 7:13-25).  He's got some interesting language in this section, talking about sin living in him, nothing good living in his flesh, and serving the law of sin.  None of these things add up when you look at it from the point of view of typical teachings about being born again.  How can you serve the law of sin and have sin live in you if you are born again and the Holy Spirit is in you? (1 Timothy 1:14, 1 Corinthians 3:16)  

The only way to understand this is to understand that we are beings of three parts: flesh, soul, and spirit.  We looked at this a long time ago, but the synopsis is that just as our God is manifested in the flesh (Yeshua), spirit (Holy Spirit), and soul (YHWH), so are we comprised.  He made us in His image (Genesis 1:26), and made us of the dust of the earth (flesh), breathing into us His Spirit (spirit), such that we became a living soul (soul) (Genesis 2:7, 1 Corinthians 15:45).

When you see it this way, you can understand how even though we are born again, we still can have sin in us.  The "born again" part is our spirit, not our flesh.  Yeshua taught this to Nicodemus (John 3:5-6).  Here, Yeshua compares and contrasts the birth of the flesh, which occurs through a mother's womb (born of water) and the birth of the spirit, which can only come through Him.

This also aligns with Paul's comparison at the beginning of this chapter to a woman whose husband died.  The death in us that aligns with Yeshua's death is our spiritual death, and His resurrection is our spiritual rebirth.  Since our flesh did not go through this death and rebirth, it is still subject to sin, tempted by it, and if we give in can cause us to stumble from it.  We will still be judged according to what we do in this flesh and will receive our due both for the good things and the evil things (2 Corinthians 5:10).  The way we know whether something is good or evil is through the leading of the Holy Spirit and through YHWH's word, including the Law.  We must keep our bodies under the control of our spirit so all we do is good (1 Corinthians 9:27).

I encourage you to take some time and read all the commandments, not just the "big ten."  Don't worry about the consequences listed for each, because Yeshua bore those for us on the cross.  Just read what YHWH's expectations are.  Despite what some might think, they are not burdensome (1 John 5:3), and they were even kept fully by some (Luke 1:5-6), so they are not impossible.  Next week, we'll move on to Romans 8, and see what Paul has to say about our future.

Shabbat shalom and YHWH bless you! 

-Rob and Sara Gene

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