Commentary on "Freedom in Christ"
Day 1: Sabbath Afternoon, August 21, 2010 - Introduction
This is the first part of today’s introduction in this week’s quarterly lesson:
Romans 8 is Paul’s answer to Romans 7. In Romans 7 Paul speaks of frustration, failure, and condemnation; in Romans 8 the condemnation is gone, replaced with freedom and victory through Jesus Christ.
Paul was saying in Romans 7 that if you refuse to accept Jesus Christ, the wretched experience of Romans 7 will be yours. You will be slaves to sin, unable to do what you choose to do. In Romans 8 he says that Christ Jesus offers you deliverance from sin and the freedom to do the good that you want to do but your flesh won’t allow (Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide; July, Aug, Sept, 2010, Page 101).
The memory verse that sets the theme for this week is:
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Rom 8:1 KJV).
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1 ESV).
When we compare the two versions of the memory verse, we see that the KJV has the phrase “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit”. If we use the KJV version of this verse and do not keep it within its context we could wrongly evaluate God’s condemnation of Christians by their ‘walk’ instead of their relationship with Jesus Christ. As we move through chapter eight, it is very clear that ‘no condemnation’ is centered on those who are ‘in Christ Jesus’. The ESV version quoted above is a complete statement. If you wish to maintain the KJV then you must conclude that those who are ‘in Christ Jesus’ are those whose lives have been changed and they now walk after the Spirit, not after the flesh which is still part of their lives.
We should not to imply that a relationship with Christ is the most important issue for a non Christian, important as that is. Rather, our salvation in response by the ‘faith of Abraham’ to the gospel message (I Cor. 15:1-4) is central, because our relationship to Christ is established at the moment of salvation when we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Salvation produces the relationship and not the other way around.
The lesson suggests that chapter seven raises questions which are not answered until we come to chapter eight. Not so! All the issues raised in chapter seven are resolved in that chapter. Rather, chapter eight builds and expands upon what has been made clear in chapter seven, along with the chapters leading up to this point. Paul, in the epistle of Romans, builds verse by verse and chapter upon chapter each of the major themes outlined in the introductory verses of chapter one.
In verses 1 through 6 of chapter seven we see that we are no longer under the old way of the “written code” because the death of Jesus Christ upon the cross ended the Old Covenant. In an agreement between members of a contract, the death of either member ends the contract. Next, in verses 7 through 12 the general question is raised and answered as to the purpose of the “written code”, the Mosaic Law. The law reveals to us the utter sinfulness of sin simply by the fact that we are unable to keep even a small fraction of the Law, something that Paul has already pointed out.
Keeping in mind that Romans was primarily directed to Christians, verses 13 through 25 candidly portrays the condition faced by all who have put away their old life and now are indwelt by the Seal of their salvation, the Holy Spirit. The question now asked in verse 24 is; how do we, those who are now indwelt by the Holy Spirit, put away the deeds of the flesh?
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Rom. 7:24 ESV).
Paul immediately answers this vital question:
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin (Rom. 7:25 ESV).
The statement in the lesson; “Because of space limitations, we will cover only the first 17 verses of Romans 8” is unbelievable. One could even say; “Criminal”. One of the greatest high points reached in the epistle of Romans is contained in the last half of this chapter and is especially important for any Adventist to study and understand.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? (Rom. 8:35 ESV).
Certainly do as the lesson suggests and study, not just read, this entire chapter. Now, answer the question posed in verse 35; is there anything that can possible separate you from the love of God?
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