Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Paraphrase of Romans 5-8

5 Therefore, we have indeed been justified by faith and are at peace with God, reconciled through Christ's death. The problem both Jew and Gentile face has been taken care of through the blood of Christ and we will be saved from God's wrath when it comes on the world. God has shown us His love for us in that while we were His enemies, Christ died for the ungodly we mentioned in chapter 1.

Notice I mention in chapter 5: 1) the hope of the glory of God, something that I will end the section with in chapter 8 and 2) tribulations, remembering that I will mention sufferings at the end of this section as well. These comments may just create an inclusio that binds chapters 5-8 together. It may also imply that we should read my comments on sin and the law later at least partially against the backdrop of the way we Christians are currently suffering for Christ.

Let's step back and place this discussion of justification and sin into its broader narrative framework. You see, sin entered into the world through one person, Adam. And death was the result. Before God gave the law to Moses, the power of sin was in the world, even though sin was not taken into account. But they still died even though they didn't sin like Adam, who knew the commandment.

But Christ has done the opposite of Adam. Many died because of Adam. Many will receive God's grace because of Christ. The disobedience of one person made many sinners; the faithful obedience of one will make many righteous, justified. The purpose of the Jewish law was to make sin multiply as people knowingly violated it. But God's grace multiplies even more when that happens and reigns as it leads to eternal life.

6 So I've said that grace multiplies even more as sin multiplies as we consciously violate the Jewish law. So should we dwell on sinning, so that even more grace comes? Absolutely not!

We've died to sin and been buried with Christ. We must therefore rise up to a new way of life. We become conformed to his death, and then later we will be resurrected like him. When we died, we died to sin.

What that means is that the power of sin must not rule over your dying bodies, meaning that you just can't obey the desires of your body. You can't present the parts of your body to sin, but your body to right living. We are not in the situation under the law we started out in; we are in the age of God's grace through Christ.

So since we have God's grace on our side, should we go ahead and sin and not worry about it? Absolutely not! That would make you a slave of sin rather than a slave of right living. Thanks be to God! You were slaves of sin, but you have been freed from sin and now serve righteousness. Good thing too, because the end of the "slave to sin" path is death, death is its wages. But now you you are free from sin and enslaved to righteousness--your living is now the kind appropriate when you belong to God.

7 Again, you used to be married to the Jewish law and to the power sin exerted over you through it. But when your first husband dies, you can get remarried. So now although you were in the flesh, with the passions of sins working in the parts of your body, now you have been released from the power sin had over you because of the law.

So does that make the Jewish law evil?

Absolutely not! The law told me what sin was. But the power of sin uses the law to kill me. So like those before the law and Adam, we start off life without real knowledge of the law. Then like Adam, we learn the commandment and the power of sin takes advantage of us and we head for death. It isn't the law's fault--it is correctly pointing out what the holy and just and good actually is.

So why did I die then, since the law is good? The problem is that when you are a slave to sin, when you are "in your flesh," in your dying body, a person isn't able to keep the good law even when they want to. We all start off this way, as fleshly creatures sold as slaves under sin. The young Jew may want to keep the law and do the good in their inner person, but there is a rule in their flesh that prevents them. Woe is me! What can be done?

Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord something can be done!

So you see there is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, just as we saw back in chapter 5. The rule of sin that entered the world through Adam is overcome by the rule of the Spirit that entered the world through Christ. The law couldn't make us right with God--our flesh made sure of that. But God sent his Son in the flesh--flesh that looked like the sinful flesh the rest of us have--and condemned sin in the flesh. Now the just act of the law can be fulfilled in us (love) if we walk according to the Spirit.

But those "in the flesh" can't please God, they are not subject to the law of God. But you're not in the flesh; you're in the Spirit, because the Spirit of Christ is in you--you can't even belong to Christ if you don't have his Spirit.
So as we said in chapter 6, put to death the deeds of the body of the flesh and you will truly live.

Those with God's Spirit are His sons. If we suffer with him we will be glorified with him. The sufferings we're experiencing these days are nothing compared to the glory we're about to see. The creation of which our bodies is a part is waiting to be liberated just like we are. We know that all these things will come to the good at the end, for God has pre-arranged for us to be resurrected and take on the image of his Son.

God is on our side! None of the things we are experiencing can separate us from the love of God that He has shown us in Christ Jesus!

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