1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
It was taken away by Christ dying, which placed him beyond its operation.
When he is dead, it has no further jurisdiction. It was only ordained for living mortals. When Christ hung lifeless on the cross, it had no further hold on him. When he rose from the dead, he was a free man. This is Paul's argument:
"Ye (who have been baptised into the risen Christ) are become dead to the law by the body of Christ (in his death) that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead" (Rom. vii. 4).
It is in this connection that the force is apparent of Paul's declaration that Christ, in his death, "blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross" (Col. ii. 14); and further, that those who are in Christ are "no longer under the law, but under grace" and are to
"stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage" (Gal. v. 1).
There were two purposes in the establishing of the law, that ended in Christ. Paul informs us that one was that sinful man might be manifest to himself, and that every mouth might be stopped in the conviction of his own helplessness.
"The law entered that the offence might abound" (Rom. v. 20): that sin "might appear sin, work death by that which is good" (vii. 13), "that every mouth might be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God" (iii. 19).
The other was, that what the law could not do for man left to himself, God in His love and grace might do, in sending His own Son, who should "magnify the law and make it honourable" in its complete observance, and who should then, in further and loving obedience, remove it out of the way in surrendering to the death of the cross, by which the curse of the law should come on him, for all who should come unto God by him.
The law during the time it was in force completely accomplished these two things. First, Peter declared that Israel had found it a yoke which neither his generation nor their fathers were able to bear" (Acts xv. 10). Secondly, Jesus, who could challenge the Jews on the score of his perfect fulfilment of it, saying, "which of you convinceth me of sin?" (Jno. viii. 46), appeared just before it had run its course, putting away sin by the sacrifice of himself, and in rising again, laid the foundation for the salvation of all those who have faith in him as the Lamb of God.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 3
4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
When Christ rose after thus bearing the curse of the law, the law had expended its cursing power on him, and was therefore "taken out of the way" in him, so that all who put on his name and came under his authority in faith and baptism were "free from that law" This is Paul's argument in Rom. 7:1-4.
The pith of it is in the assertion of verse 4," Ye are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead"; and in the further statement in verse 6, "We are delivered from the law, that (law) being dead wherein we were held". Therefore, as he says in Rom. 6:14, and substantially in Gal. 4 (the whole chapter), "Ye are not under the law, but under grace" (or favour), being recipients of the kindness of God in the forgiveness of sins for Christ's sake, and participating jointly with Christ in the heirship of the good things wrought out by the righteousness of Christ.
But though the covenant of Sinai is thus "done away in Christ ", it is not done away in the sense of abolishing the excellent rules of action which that covenant enjoined. The new law in Christ, which believers come under, revives those rules in a stronger and more efficient form.
Paul is very clear on this point, in which he is supported by the highest demands of reason. He enquires, "Shall we sin (that is, shall we do the things that the law forbids), because we are not under the law, but under grace ?" (Rom. 6: 15). He meets the suggestion with an emphatic "God forbid". "Being made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness" '(verse 18).
Law of Moses Ch 3
What Paul is doing is showing by analogy that the law represented the "husband," and the Jews represented the "woman," the key point being that freedom from one relationship of law allows a person to establish a new one. This is the very point Paul makes in Rom 7:4! The bondage of law was done away through Christ's death and resurrection.
What Paul is saying in verses 1-4 is: 1) The Jews were bound to the law - "A married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives." 2) But, the Jews were found to be adulterous to God - "She will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive." 3) Now free from the law because we are not under the law, but under grace - "But if her husband dies, she is released from the law of the husband." 4). Now they are in a new relationship and bound to Christ - "if she marries another." 5) In Christ, they are no longer adulterous - "she is not an adulteress."
Some of the Jews were trying to have it both ways! Paul illustrated how the Jews may transition from under the law and be joined to Christ without being treacherous to Moses. You cannot be "married" to both (see 2Cor 11:2).
To believe otherwise, was to indict Jesus, himself, as an adulterous husband to all the Jews (woman/bride) who accepted him! In this case, it is the death of the New Testament testator, but it still illustrates how the Jews may come out from under the law (former husband that "died."), and now be married to Messiah.
"But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter" (Rom 7:6).
Sis Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2011
5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
THE TWO PRINCIPLES.
"With the mind I myself serve the Law of God; but with the flesh the Law of Sin."
Although a sinner may have been "delivered from the power of darkness," or ignorance; and have been "translated into" (Col. 1:13) the hope of "the Kingdom of God and of his Christ" (Rev. 11:15), by faith in the divine testimony and baptism into Christ -- yet, if he turn his thoughts back into his own heart, and note the impulses which work there, he will perceive a something that, if he were to yield to it, would impel him to the violation of the divine law.
These impulses are styled "the motions of sins" (Rom. 7:5). Before he was enlightened, they "worked in his members," until they were manifested in evil action, or sin; which is termed, "bringing forth fruit unto death." The remote cause of these "motions" is that physical principle, or quality of the flesh, styled, indwelling sin, which returns the mortal body to the dust; and that which excites the latent disposition is the law of God forbidding to do thus and so; for,
"I had not known sin; but by the law."
Now, while a righteous man feels this law involuntarily at work in his members, the law of sin, or of nature within him, he also perceives there a something which condemns "the motions of sins," and suppresses them; so that they shall not impel him to do what he ought not to do.
The best of men, and I quote Paul as an illustration of the class, are conscious of the co-existence of these hostile principles within them.
"I find," says he, "a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me."
Yes; the principle of evil, and the principle of good, are the two laws which abide in the saints of God so long as they continue subject to mortality.
Elpis Israel 1.4.
12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
The intellectualism of the serpent had been transferred to the man. The serpent system of ideas and mode of thinking had become characteristic of the man, whose lustful nature, inflamed to rebellion by the serpent's reasoning, came to occupy the same relation to the word of the Deity in all after ages, that the original speaking beast did before the fall of man.
All the primeval serpent, or any other kind of serpent, has had to do with serpentine developments since that important crisis has been merely as the expressive and appropriate symbol of the nature of man.
The serpent, then, is the reasoning of the flesh, which is inseparable from it, and tends only to death. This is human nature, and styled by Paul in Rom. 8:3, sarx hamartias, SIN'S FLESH, in which, in ch. 7:18, he says, "dwelleth no good thing."
In its original creation, this flesh, like the serpent, was "very good" of its kind. It had its affections and desires, which, like the affections and desires of other creatures, were innocent and harmless; and the man would not have known sin in the gratification of them, except the law had said, Thou shalt not eat of the tree.
There would have been no scope for the serpent's speculation if no law had been enacted; for without the law his doctrine could have no existence. The serpent's reasoning was sin in conception.
"Sin is the transgression of law,"
and this transgression was originally conceived in the brain of the serpent, and by reasoning on false premises, was transferred into the woman's, where, taking occasion by the commandment ordained for life, and in itself holy, just and good, it wrought in her all manner of intense and unlawful desires. Had she been contented to believe the Deity, and to obey the commandment, her course would have resulted in life eternal.
But, instead of this, she found the commandment to be for death; because the reasoning of the serpent, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived her, and by it slew her. Thus, the serpent's reasoning which she adopted as her own, worked death in her by the good and just and holy law, by which, when the reasoning was perfected in transgression.
Human Nature displayed itself as an exceedingly great sinner - kath' huperbolen hamartolos.
13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
Human nature winces at a faithful reflection of its undraped deformity and hideousness. It is part of the word's mission to so reflect it-the law was given that sin might appear sin.
The law teaches man, in no uncertain tones, that naturally he has no standing in the sight of God-that he is utterly defiled, both physically and morally. The lesson may not be pleasant, but it is wholesome and necessary, and will have the effect of enkindling, in those who are right-minded, gratitude to God for the means of escape from this body of sin.
TC June 1887
17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
The only change effected by baptism is one of relationship. We still have "this body of death" to contend with, we still have a law of sin in our members, and men are just as prone to sin after baptism as before.
Seeing then that believers often pass through a probation of greater duration than Christ's entire mortal existence, it would be obviously inconsistent with divine principles that absolute perfection should be required. God recognises human frailty, and provides a means of forgiveness, apart from which salvation would be impossible.
TC March 1896.
Sin that dwelleth in me
There is very much in our daily life at present to pull down the structure of faith reared in our minds by the Word understood and believed. A built-up state of mind is a comfortable state of mind. The opposite state of mind is a tormenting state of mind - the being uncertain or in doubt with regard to anything important to us.
The built-up state is a thing of conditions; that is, it is the result of powerful reasons before our mind. To feel the built-up state strongly, we must see clearly the reasons that produce it. When sight is dim, people put on glasses to improve the sight. This we do in the present case by the reading and rehearsal of the facts connected with the truth of God. But sometimes there is dust on the glasses. In this case the sight may not be much improved - perhaps made weaker.
The first thing is to rub off the dust. The dust takes various shapes. One form of it is connected with our own individual feelings. We are all burdened in mind and body - some in one way, some in another. Each man knows the plague of his own heart, and the distress of his own particular infirmity. In this connection we are liable to make two mistakes. We are liable to suppose that other people are not afflicted as we are, because we do not feel other people's troubles, and because those other people if they are of the truly civilized stamp, act habitually on the commandment to hide our troubles.
But the second mistake is the more obscuring kind of dust. And that is the mistake of allowing our troubled feelings make us think the Truth less true than when we are comfortable and bright. We must take firm ground against ourselves here. We must say to ourselves - Now, remember, the Truth in no way depends upon you or your feelings. It was true before you were born, and cannot be altered in any way by what you may feel.
You may feel depressed, and sometimes as if the Truth were far away, but remember that the Truth is a thing outside of you altogether - a thing independent of you. In a sense you have nothing to do with it. Your feelings belong to those native infirmities of constitution which entitle you to disown them, and say, - it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." Your dull and tinged feelings are mere dust on the glass, which you must wipe off while you try to look at the great and glorious things of God.
Bro Roberts - This present evil world
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
Experience proved the correctness of these descriptions. A child left without training unfolded evil and not good. Cut off absolutely from contact with man, it grew up a savage. All good in man came from without, not from within. It was only in proportion as men came within the power of enlightenment from without that they rose above the animation natural to flesh and blood.
TC June 1896. p210.
It is Flesh that Thinks
If the entire man die, mind and body, how can he arise from the dead again? Easily enough. The personal pronoun "he" is defined by Paul to be "flesh." His words are, "In me, that is, in my flesh;" (Rom. 7:18;) and when this "me" thinks, he styles the thinking, το ψζονημα της δαρχος, to phronema tēs sarkos, the thinking of the flesh. No flesh, no thinking. This is the law of our nature.
Quadrupeds think because they have brain-flesh. When this flesh operates under ventricular excitation, "instinct" is manifested, as in the case of calves, babies, &c.; and when stimulated to action by ideas from without, "reason" is developed in proportion to the higher or lower order of the mechanism of that particular kind of flesh. Mind is a noun of multitude, and stands for brain-manifestations. Press upon the brain, and there is no mind; remove the pressure, and thought and the expression of it return.
If the creature die, the brain ceases to act, and mind ceases; renew his life, and its action is renewed, and mind is again manifested. Take the dust of Abraham, and in building him up again, let his new brain be formed exactly like the old one, and his new brain will have the old recollections, and think in the old faithful manner; (Rom. 4:18-22;) in other words, Abraham will reäppear as he was over three thousand years ago. After rebuilding him thus, transform him "in the twinkling of an eye," and you have Abraham as he will be for ever.
The order, then, is this: First, to be born in the usual way. If, after this, the subject grow up under ordinary influences, his brainflesh will manifest only the phenomena common to the pious metaphysics of the schools; or those characteristic of mere non-sectarianism. But we are tracking a man into the kingdom of God; therefore we shall not trouble ourselves now about the metaphysicians, pious or positive.
"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."
This training of the brainflesh, when conducted upon scriptural principles, moulds it to a conformity with the ideas of the Bible. It thinks scripturally, and, therefore, spiritually; and its scriptural thinking is styled το ψγονημα του πρευηατος, to phronēma tou pneumatos, the thinking of the Spirit. Brainflesh thus trained thinks in a direction diametrically opposite to brainflesh trained under popular influences. The former is a spiritually-thinking, and the latter a fleshly-thinking brain. They are contrary one to another.
Every "heir of the kingdom" has had these two kinds of brainflesh. Before his enlightenment and subjection to the obedience of faith, he has a fleshly-thinking brain, which is the sport of all sorts of crotchets and vagaries, and always leaves its owner on the disobedient side of "the Law of Faith." But in the process of enlightenment this crotchetty brain becomes exorcised of the demons that possessed it; and it becomes the abode of the gospel of the kingdom, which being heartily believed, Christ therefore dwells there, and it becomes a spiritual brain.
Its spirituality increases in the ratio of its increasing understanding of the word of the kingdom. In the ratio of this is its participation of the divine nature.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, April 1854
20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Sin, in the primary and completest sense, is disobedience. In this sense, there was no sin in Christ.
But there is the source of disobedience? In the inclinations that are inherent in the flesh. Without these, there would be no sin. Hence it is (because they are the cause of sin) that they are sometimes spoken of as sin. As where Paul speaks in Rom. 7 of "Sin that dwelleth in me" and "The motions of sin in my members" etc.
These inclinations are so described in contrast to the Spirit nature in which there are no inclinations leading to sin. It is only in this sense that Christ "was made sin", which Paul states (2 Cor. 5:21). He was made in all points like to his brethren, and therefore of a nature experiencing the infirmities leading to temptation: "Tempted in all points like them but without sin". All this is testified (Heb. 2:17; 4:15).
He has also come under the dominion of sin in coming under the hereditary power of death which is the wages of sin. He was in this sense made part of the sin-constitution of things, deriving from his mother both the propensities that lead to sin and the sentence of death that was passed because of sin.
He was himself absolutely sinless as to disobedience, while subject to the impulses and the consequences of sin.
THE BLOOD OF CHRIST - 'Sin in the Flesh'
21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
While we are in the flesh, the natural mind is ever with us, spontaneously generating its own godless maxims, principles and feelings. Unless we oppose to these the constant antidote of Scripture reading, the natural mind will obtain the ascendant, even after we have known the way of righteousness.
Seasons 1: 44.
22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
Thus, mankind in whom the truth is not, being the Seed of the Serpent, the flesh of sin, is their natural parent. This is "their father the Devil, whose lusts they do."
But when the truth obtains entrance into a serpent-man, or sinner, and makes a lodgment in his understanding and affections, a power gets possession of him, and generates there "a new man," styled also "the inward man;" so that a Christadelphian, or brother of Christ, is not what he appears to be in the eyes of ordinary men.
The serpent-world of sinners does not know them. To the eye of sense they appear as serpent-men. Their outward man differs nothing from the seed of the serpent; while their inward man is beyond the range of the perceptions of the serpent-man, or sinner.
It is this new man of the heart, within the old man of the flesh, which constitutes an individual a saint, a son of the Deity, and a brother of Christ.
Collectively, the saints or brethren of Christ, constitute his woman or spouse; they are, therefore, styled the Seed of the Woman. This arrangement distributes mankind into two unequal and opposite classes - THE SERPENT-WORLD, and the Woman-Seed; the former, being based upon a lie; the latter, upon the truth.
24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Your distress, then, at the imperfections of your attainments as children of God is no cause of despair. In its own proper place it is a ground of hope. It is a proof of the right kind of sensibility-and the token of a due sense of human insufficiency, and the loftiness of the Divine standard. It is, indeed, part of the righteousness that commends a man to God: for all is righteousness that He is pleased with, and He is pleased with modesty and a sense of inferiority on the part of children of the dust. There is forgiveness for His fainting, erring children, who are not such in presumption, pride, or habit.
...Are we marred, then, with many blemishes? It is right that we should be distressed on their account: but let not the distress go to the point of despair. I have known some do this. The past has been so unsatisfactory to them that they have lost heart and given up trying. This is a mistake. It is best to accept no failure except at Christ's own hands at the judgment. It is better to die trying than to make condemnation sure by falling out of the ranks altogether.
It is better to renew our ways again and again than to settle in the bog of self-condemnation. The words of Christ are gracious and encouraging: "Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out." "Repent: do the first works." "I stand at the door and knock. If any man will open the door, I will come in." There is forgiveness after baptism. If there were not, there would be no hope for a living soul.
Exhort 280 TC 10/1896