In these final verses of chapter 13, Paul stresses the urgency of our call to love by reminding us that the Day of Christ is near. In light of Christ’s coming, we are to live as children of the day, putting aside the deeds of darkness and putting on the Lord Jesus Christ. How do we array ourselves with Christ? By cultivating our relationship with Him. We seek Him, we read His Word, we pray, and as we draw near to Him and know Him, we become like Him — we manifest His character.
Questions of adultery, hypocrisy, and conspiracy all meet the Lord Jesus Christ outside temple walls. In John 8 the Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus by bringing a woman who has been caught in the act of adultery before Him. The Pharisees give him two options: either he can stone the woman or let her go free. Jesus, in all of wisdom, brings the weight of the Law to reign down on the Pharisees. Then we see a beautiful glimpse of His mercy towards the adulterous woman.
Because Adam and Eve chose to listen to the voice of Satan, to doubt the loving purpose of their Lord, and to break God’s law by seeking what He alone reserved for Himself, all of creation has come under the curse of death. Our sin and lostness is why we are a condemned people in need of salvation from our Loving God. And that salvation is exactly what God promises in Genesis 3:15. Christ will be the gift of God who will crush the head of the Serpent and restore all who believe to the enjoyment of God’s glory. It is the fulfillment of this promise in the incarnation that we celebrate at Christmas.
The fall of Genesis 3 severely severed human relationships; first with God, and second with fellow human beings. Before the flood, we saw the fruit of humanity’s broken relationship in Cain’s killing of his brother Abel. After the flood, we see the fruit of humanity’s broken relationships as we pick up the narrative in chapter 11. We see how men in this new world rebelled against God, seeking to glorify and deify themselves, and the destructive effects their sin has on humanity’s relationship with one another. First, we see the common root of their sin, and how it worked itself out in their lives. Second, we see the destructive effects of their sin in severing their relationship with God, and with one another. Finally, we see how they need to be reconciled to God, and to one another, and how Christ is the only hope for that reconciliation.
The truth of God’s election and the fact that men are ultimately saved only by God’s electing grace should never make us stoic or dismissive of the souls of men. It didn’t for Paul. Even though he knew the plight of his brethren was completely a matter of God’s sovereign will, he was still moved by godly love to grieve for them. As we consider our service to each other and to the lost world, this is the kind of heart that is to drive us. Out of our love for Christ, we are to be moved to ministry.
The major problem with America is me and it is you. It is the anger in our hearts that is directed at others rather than at our own sin problem. It is the indifference to human suffering that plagues the church. Racial reconciliation comes when we are reconciled to God! When we confess our sin and trust in Christ alone for salvation. There is no racial distinction before God. He is LORD OF ALL, abounding in riches for all who call on Him. And when I am in Christ, I learn that I am my brother’s keeper — that injustice and heartache and the lostness of even ONE are the concern of us all.
As we come to Romans 8:12, Paul moves from instruction to exhortation, giving us one of the most essential evidences of those who are truly sons of God: killing sin. The critical practice of killing sin in your heart is evidence of the fact that you have been justified in Christ alone. So walking in Christ means that you are by nature someone who is making war on your remaining sin, thereby manifesting that you are indeed in the Spirit and of the sons of God.
In the latter part of Romans 7, Paul has been sharing his own testimony of how his “Inner Man” or new, regenerate nature wrestles with his “Old Man” or the “Law of Sin” still present in his members. His words here reflect the anguish of a saint who too often finds himself taken captive by his old nature. Must he simply try harder to keep the law? Does God forsake His children who struggle with sin? Absolutely not. The answer is that Christ will be the One who ultimately sets the Christian free from this body of death, and therefore we press on in the battle with our flesh knowing that, in Christ, we are forgiven.
Though we are completely saved when we are united with Christ by grace through faith, we remain attached to our body of sin, our old crucified self, throughout the remainder of our earthly life. This reality means that sanctification is a battle. To illustrate that truth, here in Romans 7, Paul begins sharing his own testimony of how his “Inner Man” or new, regenerate nature wrestles with his “Old Man” or the “Law of Sin” still present in his members.
“Is the Law Sin?” No. In the hand of God, the law is holy and righteous and good as He uses it to establish His perfect standard, to reveal and convict us of the depths of our sin, and to direct us on the path of righteousness. But when the law is wielded by our sin nature, it emboldens and incites us to greater sin, resulting in our condemnation and death. Here in Romans seven, Paul defends the righteous function of God’s law while also revealing the insipid way our sin nature uses the law against us.