Tuesday, December 23, 2008

D.3 continued law and sin

7.1: Do you not know, brethren -- for I am speaking to those who know the law --
that the law is binding on a person only during a person's life?
2: Thus a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives;
but if her husband dies she is discharged from the law concerning the husband.
3: Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she becomes husband to another while her husband is alive.
But if her husband dies she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
4: Likewise, my brethren, you
[plural] have died to the law through the body of Christ,
so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead
in order that we may bear fruit for God.

5: While we were in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.

6: But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the newness of the Spirit.

[First comment: 7:7-25]

[Second comment: 8:1-17]

7: What then shall we say? That the law is sin?[14] By no means! [First person singular - I think inviting individual identification with the text for all those in Adam to Moses including Paul himself.]
Yet, if it had not been for the law,
should not have known sin.
should not have known what it is to covet
if the law had not said, "You shall not covet."
8: But sin, finding opportunity in the commandment, wrought in me all kinds of covetousness.
Apart from the law sin lies dead. 9: I was once alive apart from the law,
but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died;
10: the very commandment which promised life proved to be death to me.
11: For sin, finding opportunity in the commandment, deceived me and by it killed me.
12: So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.

13: Did that which is good, then, bring death to me?[15] By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.
14: We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin.
15: I do not understand my own actions.
For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
16: Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good.
17: So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.
18: For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh.
can will what is right, but I cannot do it.
19: For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.
20: Now if I do what I do not want,
it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.
21: So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.
22: For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, 23:
but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and
making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members.
24: Wretched human that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

[Doxology]25: Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

[Flesh and Spirit - apart from the flesh of Jesus (chapter 1) and Abraham (chapter 4), Paul introduced flesh in 6:19 and 7:18; it can be read as simply 'the human condition', natural limitations as RSV has, or self-preservation. But explanation is insufficient, for the true knowledge of sin comes from the gift of the Spirit - even as much as it comes from the presence of the Law. This catch-22 is clear in John's gospel (chapter 16) and is a definite part of Paul's character as well that he encapsulates in the word flesh. The prior uses of sarx show us that Paul has no quarrel with the physical flesh itself. The word is used in a different sense here - but it is not unconnected, in that God gives life to this mortal body by the Spirit.]

So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

This series on Romans begins here

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