Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Significance of the Law in Romans 7

Romans 7 has often been interpreted as if it is talking about our inability as Christians to keep God’s law, but is this interpretation correct? I believe that it is not correct as an exegetical interpretation of Rom 7 for the following reasons:

Firstly, we need to recognize that the law that is being talked about in Rom 7 is the law of Moses, not the law of God in general. As Douglas Moo says: “the topic of Rom. 7 is … not just ‘law’ in general, but the Mosaic law” (Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans [NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996], 428). The debate between Paul and orthodox Judaism was an argument over the role of the law of Moses in divine revelation. Was the law of Moses still currently the supreme authority in faith and practice (as it had been since Sinai), or had the gospel revealed through Jesus Christ come to occupy this position?

Secondly, in Paul’s thinking, God’s people in the new covenant age are no longer under the law. We have been set free from the law (Rom 7:4, 6; see also 6:14). The law in question here is the law of Moses. We need to remember here that the law of Moses was given exclusively to Israel (Exod 19:5–6; Deut 4:7–8). By definition, Gentiles as Gentiles cannot be subject to the law of Moses. The coming of Jesus means that the period of history during which the law of Moses ruled God’s people has come to an end (Rom 7:4, 6; 10:4; Gal 3:23–25).

Thirdly, Paul is concerned in Rom 7 with the effect of the law of Moses on old covenant Israel. He argues in Rom 7 that the historical function of the law of Moses was to bring about the death of carnal Israel (Rom 7:14) as a way of compounding the death of humanity in Adam (Rom 7:8–11, 13; 5:20). Paul’s view of the function of the law of Moses (and the old covenant) in salvation history is thoroughly consistent with the teaching of the Old Testament at this point. The Old Testament prophets looked forward to to a powerful work of God in the future whereby he would act through the coming of his suffering and Spirit-filled Servant, who would die as the true atoning sacrifice and who would then pour out God’s Spirit to effect a radical change in the hearts of God’s people, so that they might be able to keep covenant with God and, as a result, experience the full and final blessing that God had promised as part of the covenant (Rom 8:2–4). This time of spiritual renewal is what the Old Testament calls the new covenant (see Jer 31:31–33). As the Old Testament prophets prophesied, the only way of full salvation for Israel (and the nations) is the salvation that comes through the new covenant, which Paul identifies as having come in Jesus (Rom 7:25; 8:1–4).

All in all, Rom 7 describes the historical situation of carnal Israel under the law of Moses, not the situation of Christians under God’s law in general.


feetxxxl said...

consider that jesus came to give witness to the light, and that law ïs a only" a shadow of things to come, not their realities themselves". the light being the absence of sin and the law "thru it we are consconscious of sin" (NOT LOVING). the light( LOVING) is directed by the three commandments of love, which in living them we do much more than automatically follow the law but instead we fulfill it.

in living their faith believers have a choice to focus themselves EITHER on the light itself that proactive love OR instead the light's shadow, what is not loving.



Galatians 3:21
For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.

Steven Coxhead said...

Thanks for the comment, feetxxxl.

I definitely agree that the law of Moses (the shadow) could not bring the fullness of life to Israel let alone the nations. Jesus, the supreme Word/Torah of God, is the way, the truth, and the life.

John Thomson said...

Good post Steven.

feetxxxl said...

when i ask believers to explain how being homosexual is not of the light by speaking thru the essence of light, they can do it, but are forced to speak thru their interpretation of the law. they cannot because being homosexual does not come against the 2nd commandment(love neighbor)(the summation of all new covenant law).

Steven Coxhead said...

Hello feetxxl,

Thanks for your comment. Leaving personal views about homosexuality aside, I don’t think that the New Testament understands the command to love one’s neighbor in terms of sexuality as such. If so, then we should be pursuing sexual relationships with everyone regardless of gender, age, and familial relation. I also think that it is impossible to argue successfully that the New Testament has a different view on homosexuality than the Old Testament. The Apostle Paul’s teaching in Rom 1:24-27 and 1 Cor 6:9 is quite clear: according to Paul, those who practise homosexuality (without genuine repentance) are unrighteous, and “the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

The Apostle Paul is simply recognizing that homosexuality goes against the creation ideal of the one flesh relationship between one man and one woman, and that homosexuality is inconsistent with the creation mandate of Gen 1:26-28. This makes sense from the perspective of the biblical emphasis on life. Let’s say everyone was homosexual. What would happen to the human race? Without recourse to artificial means of reproduction, it would survive for a maximum of about 100 years before extinction.

From the biblical perspective, homosexual sex is a dead end. It does not and cannot contribute to the life that is God’s intention for his creation. For those who are of the opinion that homosexual practices are okay, I believe that it is more honest to say that one doesn’t agree with the biblical teaching on homosexuality than to suggest that the New Testament condones homosexual practices. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to construct a form of Christianity that is both genuinely biblical and pro-homosexual.

I hope these thoughts prove helpful.

feetxxxl said...

1corr and 1tim paul a learned man created a compound word (arsenkaitoi) rather than repeat the same word seperated phrase from lev. compound words may or may not have the same meaning as the words that make them up. paul never taught thru the law not even with the man who had his father's wife. for paul to denote a physicality as a sin without any indication of violation of spirit would mean making a regulation. there are no regulations under the new covenant. believers do not have a relationship to god thru regulation as in deut 28. but instead directly to the one who lives in each believer. (torn curtain) what paul is refering is a behavior of defilement (that violates the spirit thru which all were created...christ) similar to the shameful lust of romans. in gal 5 paul says the acts of the sin nature are obvious. that by the very nature of those acts(spiritual essence) it is obvious that they come against the fruit of the,joy,peace,kindness,patience,gentleness, self-control,goodness,and faithfulness. homosexuality doesnt come against the fruit of the spirit.

about 1tim and 1cor.

queen victoria head of both england and the church of england(no seperation of church and state)(victorian era) attempted to make homosexuality a sin, influenced by a 400 year old law being on the books enacted by another head of the church/state, henry the eighth, that made homosexual sex a hanging offense. they did it by the fraudulent transposition of the word" homosexual" into scripture.

but the transposition does not support the translation of the wycliffe bible 1384

1cor:9 Whether ye know not, that wicked men shall not wield the kingdom of God? Do not ye err; neither lechers, neither men that serve maumets [neither men serving to idols], neither adulterers, neither lechers against kind, neither they that do LECHERY with men,
10 and lechers, to them that do LECHERY with men, lying-mongers and forsworn, and if any other thing is contrary to the wholesome teaching,

lecher..................someone who is obsessed with sexual gratification.

the kvj bible(1500's) supports the wycliffe interpretation.

1cor:6:9Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor ABUSERS(defilers) of themselves with mankind,
1tim1:10For whoremongers, for them that DEFILE themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;

this reaffirms the understanding that 1tim and 1cor is about defiling lust, which reaffirms that romans 1 is about the shameful lust.
romans1:27 Also the men [the males, or men,] forsook the natural use of woman, and BURNED in their desires together

romans1:27And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their LUST one toward another.

where there is lust there is no bonding, no relationship, because the sole purpose of coming together is to satiate the lust.

again the kjv points to LECHERY as to what paul is referring to.
this in no way relates or refers to human bonding that is done out of mutual love, respect, devotion,affection,and trust for a shared committed life together. these are the things that are of christ and are of the fruit of the spirit.

even your interpretation of it being a sin, were those who were saved, saved, because they stopped doing those things or because they were washed by the blood. if it because they stopped then why the cross. romans 7.........the things i want to do........

feetxxxl said...

in truth there is so much in the new covenant that shows being gay is of god, that it has become a non issue.

the real issue is that for 2000 years christendom has kept one foot firmly planted in the old covenant.........."that which has long since past away and become obsolete."

its amazing how much there is in scripture that is basically either hidden by the holy spirit or ignored.

case and point read romans 10 and 11 and then explain 2000 years of christendom's antisemetism. ill bet your first response will be to blatantly deny it.

consider next time you are in a book store, scanning gonzalez's " history of christianity" vol 1 and 2

feetxxxl said...

CONSIDER: condemnation because of interpretation, no actual explicit explanation(the inspiration for the fraudulent transposition)of why homosexuality should even be considered a sin, except for a cloud of cultural influence passed down generationally for 600 years. there never was an unbiased examination of the words of scripture accompanied by a 1john1 witness in fellowship in christ of walking in another's shoes carrying his burdens(as we were to do for our enemies..............."go a mile".....sermon on the mount). instead there was just a blatant blanket of persecution founded on belief system, that was without any reasoned explanation. this is christendom's legacy.

Steven Coxhead said...

Hello feetxxxl,

You say that there are no regulations as part of the new covenant; but according to Jer 31:33 law/torah continues on the new covenant age, enscribed in the hearts of God’s people. Is it possible to have law without regulations? God still has specific moral standards in the new covenant.

The vast majority of those who argue for the legitimacy of (some forms of) homosexuality in the church today acknowledge that the New Testament speaks of homosexual activities as sinful, but they then argue on theological and cultural grounds that things should be different today. I hazard a guess that your argument concerning lechery is not very common, most likely because it does not match what the standard Greek lexicons say regarding the meaning of ἀρσενοκοίτης. The word literally means male bed. It denotes a male who sleeps with a male. BAGD gives its meaning as a male who practices homosexuality. Liddell and Scott say it means one guilty of unnatural offences. I don’t think many people would accept that there is a conspiracy involving the translation of this word.

About the necessity of repentance, the Bible teaches that the blood of Christ does not benefit those who refuse to turn from sin. “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries” (Heb 10:26-27). We are saved by the blood of Christ, but the benefits of Christ’s blood only apply to those in whom genuine repentance is found.

feetxxxl said...

"God still has specific moral standards in the new covenant.

"there is only one standard under the new covenant. " love one another as i have loved you"

1cor 13 "anything with out love is nothing and gains nothing.
you are preaching obedience to a moral code. there are a millions of reasons to follow a code, but there can be only one right one. why should believers be led by a code which even if they follow it they receive no righteousness.
whereas if they live the three commandments of love they not only automatically follow the law they do much more, they fulfill it as christ did.....christ who said follow me.(fulfillment of the law is love)

it has been said that one shows how nuch they love god by following their interpretations of scriptural law. NOT SO!!!!!!

according to 1john 4:20 one can only love god if he is also loving his brother .

feetxxxl said...

i find it interesting how you ignore the compound word issue. or of what violation of the spirit is being homosexual.

are you saying that we still have a relationship to god thru regulation as in deut28???????

why would we need that when each beliEver has a relationship directly to the spirit of the triune god who lives in HIM(torn curtain). are you saying that an interpretation of a written code by those who see in part thru a poor reflection of a glass darkly should trump their living relationship with a spirit that lives in them. if you say that relationship would never be about any thing that would trump my interpretation.............then you are trumping it, your relation ship is limited to your understanding.............(lean not on your understanding....proverbs)

Steven Coxhead said...

Hello feetxxxl,

The biblical position is that God is into life. Two of the same sex cannot create life, and the opposite of life is death.

I also think you have misunderstood the intent of Paul’s law versus spirit distinction. This should be understood in a manner consistent with Old Testament prophecy. The Old Testament prophets viewed the new covenant as involving torah being written on the heart. They did not view the new covenant as involving the removal or spiritualizing-away of torah or its standards of morality.

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh, and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezek 36:25-27).

“My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd, and they shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes” (Ezek 37:24).

According to Ezekiel, the new covenant age involves God moving God’s people to keep God’s rules.

feetxxxl said...

if you are so convinced of your position then why do you not address my comments.

god said in lev that slavery was good. jesus never preached that it was bad. by what license do you have today to say that it is evil. or unless of course it is your understanding that there was a form of isreali slavery(1kings solomon's slave labor camps) that could be considered good today. please explain what it would look like today

feetxxxl said...

gal3:15Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,”[g] meaning one person, who is Christ. 17What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
19What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. 20A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one.

21Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.

23Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ[h] that we might be justified by faith. 25Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

Sons of God
26You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, HOMOSEXUAL NOR HETEROSEXUAL for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Steven Coxhead said...

Hello feetxxxl,

God did not create Adam a slave, nor was his wife male. God created him as a free man under God’s benevolent rule. God is not into slavery. The Mosaic law may have permitted slavery in certain instances, but even when it did it was not to be cruel or humiliating for the one enslaved. Part of the significance of the Sabbath and the Jubilee is to point out God’s ideal of freedom from slavery. The new covenant brings about the realization of this ideal.

Homosexual activity is different from slavery. It is condemned just as strongly in the New Testament as it is in the Old.

Your addition to Gal 3:28 is adding to Scripture. You are confusing social and moral categories. Jew versus Gentile, slave versus free, male versus female are social distinctions. From the biblical perspective, sexual orientation is not a social distinction, but a moral one.

As I have have suggested before, the honest way forward would be to say that you do not agree with the teaching of the New Testament regarding homosexuality. There are many homosexuals and heterosexuals who are of that opinion. Your disagreement at this point is not just with me, but also with them.

feetxxxl said...

"sexual orientation is not a social distinction, but a moral one"

yet you cannot explain how being homosexual comes against the 2nd commandment(love neighbor), the summation of all new covenant, and the fruit of the spirit gal5

paul says in gal5 the acts of the sin nature are OBVIOUS, OBVIOUS, that by their very own nature (essence) they show how they come against the fruit of the spirit.......ergo the 2nd commandment.

"God is not into slavery."

"take slaves from the surrounding countries for LIFE, and pass them on to your children as inheritance." that means generations progeny.

solomon conscripted his slave labor camps with those he could not kill in battle.

" Mosaic law may have permitted slavery in certain instances,"

does the law say do not conscript them from battle, i would think that this pretty much covers slavery from a to z.

was there ever a scripture that castigated an isreali for taking a slave in the wrong way.

are you crediting yourself with knowing the mind of god.

jesus never spoke out against it. if you know me you know the father. paul sent the slave back to his master.

its interesting that you credit the jews with being magnamimous slaves owners who have historically been credited with having one code for treating each other and another for the way they treated gentiles.

in the future please accompany emphatic statements with annotations of scripture.

if anything jubilee is not about freeing slaves but about returning them to their original owner.

"Homosexual activity is different from slavery. It is condemned just as strongly in the New Testament as it is in the Old."

definitely not true. the truth is scripture has never said homosexuality was a sin. believers have attempted to say otherwise by assigning meaning to verses in spite of their words,adding their own stroke, and by standing on legalities that come against the very faith that they are part of.

which scripture would you like to discuss first.

"Your addition to Gal 3:28 is adding to Scripture. You are confusing social and moral categories. Jew versus Gentile, slave versus free, male versus female are social distinctions. From the biblical perspective, sexual orientation is not a social distinction, but a moral one."

you think that slavery is not a moral issue..................tell that to the progeny of slaves. so you are saying that since slavery is social, there is a form of good slavery......................explain this good slavery.

Leviticus 25:39
" 'If one of your countrymen becomes poor among you and sells himself to you, do not make him work as a slave.

Leviticus 26:13 (New International Version)
13 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.

feetxxxl said...

"As I have have suggested before, the honest way forward would be to say that you do not agree with the teaching of the New Testament regarding homosexuality. There are many homosexuals and heterosexuals who are of that opinion. Your disagreement at this point is not just with me, but also with them."

you have not addressed my comments or discussed the scriptures i have offered and yet you accuse me of not agreeing with scripture.

you are using the word teaching as a euphemism for for your interpretation of the law. because your understanding agrees with a certain segment of antiquity means nothing, antiquity has never a litmus test for the truth.

2000 years of christendom's antisemetism, 1700 yerars of ETHNIC slavery(300ad pope forbade the slavery of whites), 2000 years of rules forbidding miscegenation, 800 years of practicing indulgences.

Steven Coxhead said...

Hello feetxxxl,

Thanks for your comments. I’ve noticed that this is a topic that you have pursued in a number of other places, but I’ll continue the conversation for a little while longer.

Are you aware that the commandment to love one’s neighbor is actually Jesus’ summary of the Mosaic law?

‘But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”’ (Matt 22:34-40).

The second greatest commandment did not invalidate the other Mosaic commandments but (being a summary of them) was in harmony with them. How loving one’s neighbor was to be fulfilled was defined by the other, more specific, commandments of the law. In other words, under the Mosaic law, love for your mother means not having sexual relations with her. In a similar way, love for your male neighbor means not engaging in homosexual activity with him.

Why do you limit the second greatest commndment to the new covenant when Jesus used it as a summary of the Mosaic law? Why do you make the two greatest commandments the two only commandments when Jesus did not do that?

Also, what is a legitimate application of the second commandment as far as you are concerned? Is incest legitimate if done in love and without lust? Is sleeping with my neighbor’s wife okay? And when it comes to homosexual practices, which ones are okay? In your opinion is it legitimate to have multiple partners? Do you need to be married to your partner first before engaging in sexual activity?

feetxxxl said...

according to romans and galatians the 2nd commandment is the the summation of all NEW COVENANT LAW. that means that the essence of the 2nd commandment is in each and every law of the new covenant.

it has been thought that one shows how much they love the father by their following their interpretation of the law.

NOT SO!!!!!!!!!!

1john4:20 one cannot love the father unless he is loving his brother also.

in other words you cannot do one commandment unless you are doing the other also.

bottom line: following ones interpretation of law, a believer receives not righteousness and does not show how much they love god.

again..........anything without love is nothing and gains nothing.1cor13.

what it comes down to, is what is lovinmg ones brother: consider these.....................honoring anothers life experiences, honoring their sincerity of heart, fellowshipping in the oneness of christ's spirit, open to receive from another as well as sharing oneself.

if the law is a mere shadow of what is coming and not the realities themselves, then for someone to love according to their understanding of the law, they are loving according to their understandinmg of the shadows(the absence of light) rather than according to what is the light itself. which one do you think is greater?

is your shadow you?

since all are created very good(gen), the created(the sin nature) cannot alter what god has created. all we can do is deny it or distant ourselves from that goodness. when we love(proactive) we love the very goodness god created of ourselves or another.

the same way a mother may love her child, a child their parent, sibling etc.

if we focus on what is not the very goodness, we take our eyes off what is of god.

Dave said...

Dear feetxxl

I am no theologian. My PhD is in a very different area. I am not wise, yet the bible couldn't be clearer. We are called to pursue holiness. We continue to sin and will always do so, but that doesn't weaken the call. If you want to pick and choose that which makes us Christian, if you want to obsess about the light (or the love) and ignore the salt, what are you and I but irrelevant, useless piles of something which may once have been salt or which may not. What makes us Christians instead of a loose collection of people who have some affiliation based on something other than truth. If the gospel is not truth, why not eat, drink, and be merry? If the gospel is not truth, then let's go with John Lennon's "Imagine" and the many other versions of utopia that have so deluded so many over so many centuries. You see, if you remove the foundations, your tower of Babel topples over. What can we make of concepts such as heaven and resurrection, for God's sake, let alone those of repentance and truth.

Steve Taylor had a wonderful song in the 1980s, "Whatever Happened to Sin?" which included the lyrics, "I heard the reverend say, "Gay. It's probably noble in the good Lord's sight." What's to be debated? Jesus never stated what's right!

Great satire. Man, whoever you are, stop trying to find some kind of Christian crutch for your sinning. Again, I write this from weakness. Weakness, huge weakness, as fellow sinner. But let's not accept the greatest lie of them all, that by constantly repeating the view that "it's okay", it will become so. The Gospel is not to be deconstructed, decontextualised, and emasculated in this way.

Go well, my friend.


feetxxxl said...

and just where is the sin? where is the violation of spirit in being gay?

romans1:20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

do you think that holiness is wrapped around regulations of physicality?

Dave said...

What did Jesus say to the woman at the well? Was her sin not primarily physical? Yes, it was also psychological. But, first and foremost, it was her reckless use of her own body. Of course, being overtly liberal, you can easily hit all of our views "for six", to coin a cricketing metaphor. After all, if we that are without sin cannot cast a stone, how can we deliver judgement on you?

But am I not my brother's keeper?

Your argument jettisons a decent slice of the New Testament, though, doesn't it? You would have to delete a good number of its pages, particularly those in which Paul writes to the various churches about their practices and warns them against following other gods, other idols, and that which you cannot confront, sexual impurity.

Oh yeah,I should include the rest of the Steve Taylor lyric. "If the Lord don't care if you choose to ignore, ah? Tell it to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah."

"Call it just an alternative lifestyle, huh? Morality lies within? Consciences arrested. Please repeat the question again. Whatever happened to sin?"

To recall an older riff, "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness." Without the "right", what is left? The vacuum is filled. Deviousness, the desire to deviate.

Mate, you can't have your cake and eat it too. At the core of liberalism lies its most significant flaw. When one pillar falls, there's nothing much left to hold up the temple. Yet the temple remains. It is the temple of narcissus, the gospel of man created for man according to man's needs, needs that change and shift with the morality of the ages.

Our God is to be loved, yes, but also to be feared. Does your bible not say that?

Truth, bigfoot, truth.


feetxxxl said...

what is the violation of spirit in being gay.

homosexuals never having been found wanting in any sector of society compared to heterosexuals. they are less a brother, friend, administrator, lawyer, teacher, pastor, soldier,father, neighbor,etc.

homosexuals bond in the same way as heterosexuals, out of mutual love, attraction, devotion, affection, respect, and trust for a shared committed life together.