Dueling Dynamics (Rom 7:1-6)

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Pastor Mark Mikels – February 28, 2010
(The Law and The Spirit)
(Romans 7:1-6)

Intro … Today in our journey through the Book of Romans we come to Romans chapter seven – a most challenging chapter; it’s a chapter that many find bewildering or even cause for consternation. They might say,

“I wish Paul had never written it” –
“It strikes too close to home”.

Others, however, find Romans Seven to provide a convenient excuse for them living a less-than stellar Christian life – for them, Romans Seven provides great comfort whenever they mess up as in …

“What did you expect? …
“None of us ever fully escapes sin’s clutches –
even Paul didn’t – just read Romans chapter seven!””

We will approach Romans Seven in neither of those two ways and when we are done, I want us to hold neither of those two attitudes.

I want us to emerge from this study clearly understanding just how absolutely vital Romans Seven is in our journey through this incredible revelation. – I want us to emerge with a deeper understanding of the way things work as we live out our lives in this fallen, sin-filled world.

Romans Seven tackles the incredibly important relationship between the Law and the Spirit … between “living in response to a written code” and “living in response to an indwelling Spirit” and how sin responds to and is affected by both.

Sound like a big enough task?

Today we begin with a look at the first six foundational verses upon which the rest of the chapter is built …

“Do you not know, brothers-for I am speaking to men who know the law-that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives?

For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress.
But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man.

So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that
we might bear fruit to God.

For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” (NIV)

Three Key Realities contained in the first part of this brief passage …

Reality #1 … Laws Only Apply To The Living (vs. 1-3)
(Death eliminates the law’s authority and control)
* Example: The “marriage law”; the widow is free to re-marry
though she may chose not to.

Reality #2 … Believers have died with respect to the Law (vs. 4a)
“So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ…”

(Romans 6:11 … “Reckon yourselves dead to sin” and to the
entire framework of things that has grown up around sin.)

There’s a vast difference between things that are theologically true and things that are experientially true – and the deeper we get into this chapter the more that will become apparent.

Reality #3 … Believer’s have permission to bond with Christ (vs. 4b)
“that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead …”

(Romans 6:11 … “Reckon yourselves alive to God through Jesus Christ” and
to the entire network of things that such life provides)
In summary, our death to sin (our rebirth in Christ) has granted us the opportunity to either live under law or live under grace. The unsaved have
no such choice – they are not freed from the law and they have no way of escaping its authority this side of the grave.

So having a choice, let’s consider which is the better of the two
ways to live …

First of all, Consider with me The BENEFITS of Living Under Law …
That is, living LEGALISTICALLY.

* Everything is written down in BLACK and WHITE …
“Thou Shalt” and “Thou Shalt Not”

* Everything has already been THOUGHT out and SPELLED Out

*Very little need to MANEUVER – to adjust or adapt or even think!

* The Only RESPONSIBILITY I shoulder is that of COMPLIANCE.
(Just do what the law says and you’ll be fine.)

Some people think that “living under law” is just great – especially if they are the ones “making the laws”. There’s structure and orderly process. If everyone would just “follow the rules” everything would be fine.

In the religious world of Paul’s day, the Pharisees were such people.
In our day today they go by many different names.

But there’s a fundamental flaw in the “rule-run society” …


A Law-Based Society Gives Rise To REBELLION
for it directly challenges man’s fallen sinful nature. (vs. 5)

For when we were controlled by the sinful nature,
the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies,
so that we bore fruit for death.
For every law that says “Thou shalt not” there is a corresponding attitude in man’s sin nature that says …

“I will if I want to” – if I think that doing so
is in my own best interest.”

Now that attitude can stir man toward the most rebellious of actions -actions that might only be curtailed by force.

Frequently man’s rebellious spirit expresses itself more subtly as mere resistance.

For every law that prescribes a certain set of procedures to be followed in a given situation, there is a tendency in man’s sinful nature to question and challenge and find inconsistency and inadequacy.

Citizens do it; students do it; children do it; employees do it; in fact, all members of Adam’s Fallen Race do it – they resist and they rebel as a result of living under Law. It’s hard-wired right into them.

If they could, they would live absolutely “Above the Law” … they would be a
“Law to themselves” … they would obey the laws they agree with and they
would ignore the ones that they don’t agree with.

The truth is, they have no other way to live … they are rebellious human beings living in a Law-Based Society.

There’s a definite discernable Dynamic here …

The Law stimulates man’s inner spirit of rebellion which leads to
specific rebellious actions which the Law-Givers must address.

Ironically, the Law sometimes actually stirs man toward actions that he wouldn’t have even thought of if the Law hadn’t identified them and prohibited them.

The parent says “Don’t” and the child thinks …

“I don’t even know what it is but now I’ve got to try it.”
We’ll see Paul speaking to that scenario next week …

Generally speaking here’s how it plays out …

“The More Law – The More Sin and the More Sin –
the More Punishment and then generally comes More Law.”

It’s a discouraging dynamic but in a fallen world populated by fallen people,
it’s the best that we can hope for. It’s certainly better than just giving up and allowing everyone to live lawlessly, though there are some who have tried that.

Now here’s the point today … Christians don’t have to live that way; in fact, Christians are not supposed to live that way.

Christians do not have to live within the “Discouraging Dynamic” of a
Law-Based System …

Consider Today’s Incredible Reality


Christians have an opportunity to live “BEYOND LAW” …
not ABOVE the LAW but so in tune with THE LAW that they live
free of all feelings of resistance and rebellion and thus avoid
all the negative consequences of violating the LAW.

Now living that way is exactly the way Jesus lived.
He came as he said …

“Not to destroy the law but to fulfill the law.”
(Matthew 5:17)

And he made it through his entire earthly life without once violating the Law though he never seemed to be all that caught up in obeying it.

This now is what Paul is getting at in this passage when he says (vs. 6)

“… we have been released from the law so that we serve in
the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”
So here it is … Paul says that there is a whole “new way” to live and to serve God …

It’s what he calls “The way of the Spirit” and he contrasts it to the “old way of the written code” – the system of rules and regulations that have been printed and posted and are to be committed to memory and carefully followed.

Now a good part of the rest of the book of Romans is given to identifying and clarifying what that “Way of the Spirit” is and we will be discovering more
and more about it as we proceed but today we make a start …

And we start with Two Key Clarifications that distinguish these “’Dueling Dynamics” from one another

Two Key Clarifications…

* Whereas the Written Code (Laws written on the Wall)
Stimulates RESISTANCE, the Internalized Code (Laws
written on the heart) stimulates OBEDIENCE.

Here’s the confession of one who has chosen this path …

”Rather than a focus on satisfying myself,
obeying the Lord is the very thing that I have on my heart to do –
I obey him because my heart is of that sort.”

This is the type of Heart that Jesus Himself had as he came to earth.

Hebrews 10:5-7 ..

“Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared
for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased …
(that is, not completely satisfied)

Then I said, `Here I am – it is written about me in the scroll-
I have come to do your will, O God.’”

Now that’s the attitude of the Spirit that has been placed within us and the orientation of the re-born spirit which has been granted to us …

“I have come (I exist for no other purpose than)
to do Your Will, O God”

Thoughts of resistance or rebellion are completely foreign – struggle with obedience is not an issue.

This is in keeping with the desire that God expressed long centuries before Paul ever picked up a pen …

I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God, and they will be my people.
(Jeremiah 31:33)

God knew the desirability of the “New Way” before he ever initiated the “Old Way” and through Christ we have an opportunity to live it.

Here now is our second Key Clarification …

* Whereas the Written Code (laws written on the wall) stimulates questions
like “How LITTLE can I get by with?” and “How MUCH can I get away with?”,
the Internalized Code (law written on the heart) stimulates questions
like “How can I do this even BETTER?” or “’What is the FULLEST
possible expression of this obedient action?”

It’s an interesting and revealing exercise to run those questions through your mind and sample those words on your tongue and see which set of them is the more familiar and “tastes better” …

It’s that “New Way Dynamic” that caused Paul to write these kinds of exhortations to the church …

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord,
not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from
the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
(Colossians 3:23-24)

Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you,
but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.
(Ephesians 6:6)

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do,
do it all for the glory of God.
(1 Corinthians 10:31)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy –
think about such things.

Whatever you have learned or received or heard
from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.
And the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:8-9)

Doing things in the “new way of the Spirit” actually means doing them just
as if Christ Himself were doing them for (though His Spirit within us)
He actually is!

So here’s the Final Thot of this first message from Romans
Chapter Seven …

Final Thot …

Christians can CHOOSE to Live in the Old Way of the Law or
in the New Way of the Spirit – Which CHOICE are you making?

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