Thursday, March 3, 2011

Romans 7:4 (NLT)
So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God.

- I think what Paul is trying to get at in this section is how Jesus' followers are now free of the contractual obligations of the Sinaiatic Covenant as a basis for relationship with YHWH.

At the same time I think he is trying to show why the law is not to be despised. As I see it he is making two points:

1) The law as expressed in the Sinaiatic Covenant revealed what sin is and revealed the inability of a human being to live a legalistically perfect life. The world of relationships and behavior is just not that cut-and-dried.

2) This old covenant with the 10 commandments at the heart, points to a higher expression which is sometimes called the law of love. It is discerned in the way the first 4 commands express love of God and the last 6 describe love of neighbor. The origin from which these commandments arise is the statement that "God is love."

Thus for a Christ follower, the challenge is never about keeping a list of rules, but rather how to live as an expression of Christ's love within us and through us to all others.

Paul refers to this as the Spirit of the law being our goal now rather than the letter of the law.

Romans 7:15 (NLT)
I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate.

- Now Paul turns to that age-old conundrum. How is it that we can agree whole-heartedly that we want to live a certain way, yet in our attitudes and deeds we do not! This is a case of the old adage that 'knowing is only half the battle.'

This is a struggle we all face as we strive to live coherent lives of love. Theologian and pastor Greg Boyd points out that while we have been given a new heart (as prophesied by Jeremiah), which wants to obey the edicts of God's love, our habitual nature is not "there" yet and we will experience a lifetime of progress towards a complete surrender of our inner landscape to the invasion of Christ's presence:

Romans 7:25 (NLT)
Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God's law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

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