Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Year: Rm 7-9 for Nov 28

The "newness of the Spirit" (7:6) is explained further by Paul, as he explains further the Christian life in Rm 7-8. Also in the reading for today is the beginning of his defense of the fact that Israel as a nation did not "arrive at" (9:31) the "righteousness which is by faith" (9:30), this righteousness he has been explaining since 3:21.

All three of today's chapters contribute to understanding of the Law. The Law has a "just requirement" (8:4), that is, requirement that there be justice. Either the Mosaic Law itself, in the case of Israel (3:19), or the "work of the Law written in their hearts" (2:15), in the case of the Gentiles, brings the obligation to do right upon the whole human race, and Paul personifies the failure of all the sinful human race in Rm 7. There is only one exception to the rule that all the human race is sinful, and that is God's Son. Christ's work has consequences that change things for the world's problem of sin, as we've seen in 1:16 to 3:31. Christ's work also has consequences that change things about us "who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead," (4:24) , as we've seen from Romans 5-6, and see more in Romans 7 and 8. The gospel (good news) is "of God" (1:1) and of God's Son (1:9)..

Among the consequences for those who are "children of God" (8:16) is a change in the manner of serving God (7:6). A change, from what, to what? Before, as well as now for Paul, the Law is good (7:16), but in the presence of sin (7:8), the product of the combination of the Law and sin is that Paul, personifying all human beings, says, "I died." (7:9). The Law, "effecting my death through that which is good" (7:13), had this effect.

The change is from a state that Paul calls "while we were in the flesh" (7:5), to "not in the flesh but in the Spirit," (8:9). This is a change of being, from being those who "are according to the flesh" (8:5a) to "those whare are according to the Spirit" (8:5b). How is this all related to Christ?

Paul gives credit to a divine act upon the "brethren" for this change, and it is related to the death of Christ! Having opened that subject up in Romans 6:2ff, he continues examining more of this event! "My brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God" (7:4).

Exclamation point! This is the passive voice, "you also were made to die" (7:4), indicating God's work! God made us to die to the Law through the body of Christ. Exclamation point! Even though Paul defends that kind of thing (Rm 9ff), judging from the glory of that kind of thing, expressed all through Rm 3-8 (really: ...) God needs no defense for such a glorious combination of acts! "Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (7:24-5).

Paul explains this new freedom in terms that outstrip the glories of everything in our present creation: "the whole creation groans" (8:22). The existence of the whole present creation is characterized as "slavery to corruption" and compared to its future freedom, which it will share. What freedom? Shared with whom? "The freedom of the glory of the children of God" (8:21)!

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