Monday, March 19, 2007

Romans 7

An awful lot to say about this chapter - for now I'm just going to focus on 2 things:

1. vs 1-6 - the whole point of this section is that a death has taken place - we have died, because X has died, and we are somehow mysteriously connected to him - so the law is no longer binding (1), we are realeased from the law (5, 6).

It's interesting to note the structure of the argument here - this release of ours is because our husband (X) is the one who has died (3) - if we tried to set aside the law apart from him, we'd be called an adulterous, but because he has died, we too have died to the law (4), so that we might be given to another (the rez X), in order that we might bear fruit for God (4). The old life could be characterized as "life in the flesh" (5) - the new is characterized as nothing less than "new life of the Spirit" (6).

2. vs 7-20 - Lots of ink spilled over whether this section is hypothetical, past experience, etc. I think the biggest argument in favor of "present struggle for Paul" is that it's "present struggle for us" as well. What P seems to be saying (IMO), is this: given this amazing reality described in vs 1-6, how do we deal with our present experience which is largely characterized as "I want to do what is right, but find myself doing what is wrong instead".

Bottom line - we experience this "new life of the Spirit" not as X does (fullness), but as fallen-yet-redeemed children struggling to be sanctified in the already-not-yet. We are simultaneously saints and sinners. Both of those are true (and if you deny either one, you're going to end up in trouble).

The law is not bad here - it's good, because it reveals our sin for what it is (7).

It's amazing in Romans to follow P's 'by no means' comments, because he is constantly anticipating our attempts to blame shift, to pin the fault on someone else - ultimately, we alone are responsible for our sin, and X alone can save us - we cannot save ourselves (24). And that's precisely the point of this passage. X doesn't just save us from our past sins (and now we save ourselves from our present sin) - no X saves us from past, present, and future sins. We are sanctified in the same way we are justified - by faith union w/ the resurrected X.

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