Thursday, October 18, 2007

Unknotting a Challenging Text

This morning a good friend emailed me this question, "What's your take on Rom 7: 9;11? Paul, had already claimed to be dead in Christ, a bit confusing. Love to here your thoughts."

Here's my response....

Why don't you pick easy passage for me to interact with you about?

I think where Paul is going is to say something similar to Romans 3:20. Before we are aware of the expectation of God - to keep his commands perfectly - we think ourselves alive. But once we see ourselves in light of the law, suddenly we see that the way we've been living is sinful. To our apprehension what was "okay" before suddenly is seen in a new light. Where I thought I was alive I now realized I was actually dead and the knowledge of sin brought that about. I can't recall when you realized that you were a sinner. When I realized I was, it felt like I died. I had always thought I was a good kid and when God brought me to the realization that I was bad, not good, it was depressing.

By the way, I think in background Paul is here reflecting in Romans 7 on both his pre-Christian experience and also his "in Christ" experience. These verses are a look back in my opinion.

Okay back to the main point. The commandments are supposed to be the best path, the best that life can be lived. They are to be life and joy. Paul isn't trying to say something like, "the law has the same power as the Holy Spirit to bring life to the dead". Though Psalm 119 says some great things about the law, that isn't the point Paul is trying to make. God's commandments are supposed to be a life giving blessing but when we realize that we can't and don't keep them we realized we've been duped and the law that was supposed to be good for us becomes a curse to us due to our disobedience. This deceit is like that of Hebrews 3:13.