It Has Accomplished Far More than We Imagined

Nowhere in the lodestar passage (Romans 7) for the Christian life does Paul direct our attention to the imitation of Christ.  he has already painted too dark (realistic) a picture of human depravity to imagine that the devil, the world, and our sinful hearts could meet their match in our deeper commitment to follow Christ’s example.  Yet he does not ignore the issue of conformity to Christ.  Rather, he teaches something far greater than an example to imitate.  He calls us not to simply imitate Christ but to be crucified, buried and raised with him.  Sine we are in Christ, we must act accordingly; daily putting to death the deeds of the unrighteousness and bearing the fruit of our union with him.  But before he speaks an imperative, he announces the indicative of the gospel; Christ’s saving work has accomplished far more than we imagined.

Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 150

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Only Then Was Paul Cheered

The same apostle who said that we are justified (Romans 3-5) and have already been buried and raised with Christ in newness of life (Romans 6) goes on to relate his own experience of persistent failures in the Christian life (Romans 7).  Only when he takes his eyes off of himself and gives his ear again to Christ and his Word is the apostle once again cheered (Romans 8)

Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 107

Habits Often Trump Head and Heart

I believe that one of the chief characteristics of our sinful nature, or “flesh” as it is called in most Bible translations, is an attitude of independence toward God.  Even when we know and agree that we are dependent on Him, we tend out of habit to act independently.  It is part of the “evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing'” (Romans 7:19) syndrome that clings so tightly to us.  Undoubtedly one of the reasons God allows us to fall before temptation so often is to teach us experientially that we really are dependent on Him to enable us to grow in holiness.

– Bridges, Jerry; The Disciplined of Grace:God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness; NavPress; Colorado Springs; copyright 1994; p. 142

It Involves Conflict in the Heart and Life of a Christian

The presence of sin in the believer involves conflict in his heart and life.  If there is remaining, indwelling sin, there myst be the conflict which Paul described in Romans 7:14ff.  It is futile to argue that this conflict is not normal.  If there is still sin to any degree in one who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, then there is tension, yes, contradiction, within thehear of that person.  Indeed, the more sanctified the person is, the more confirmed he is to the image of his Savior, the more he must recoil against every lack of conformity to the holiness of God.  The deeper his apprehension of the majesty of God, the greater the intensity of his love to God, the more persistent his yearning for the attainment of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, the more conscious will he be of the gravity of the sin which remains and the more poignant will be his detestation of it.

– John Murray

as quoted byBridges, Jerry; The Disciplined of Grace:God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness; NavPress; Colorado Springs; copyright 1994; p. 101

There Will Always Be Conflict

Because sanctification is a process, there will always be conflict within us between the “flesh”, or the sinful nature, and the Holy Spirit.  This is the conflict descibed by Paul in Galatians 5:17.  He elaborated on this struggle in greater detail in Romans 7:14-25.

– Bridges, Jerry; The Disciplined of Grace:God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness; NavPress; Colorado Springs; copyright 1994; p. 100

What We Won’t Have Without the New Birth

What we won’t have without the new birth:

  1. Without the new birth, we won’t have saving faith, but only unbelief (John 1:11-13; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 2:29; I Timothy 1:14; II Timothy 1:3)
  2. Without the new birth, we won’t have justification, but only condemnation (Romans 8:1; II Corinthians  5:21; Galatians 2:17; Philippians 3:9)
  3. Without the new birth, we won’t be the children of God, but the children of the devil.  (I John 3:9-10)
  4. Without the new birth we won’t bear the fruit of love by the Holy Spirit but only the fruit of death (Romans 6:20-21, 7: 4-6, 15:16; I Corinthians 1:2; II Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10; Galatians 5:6; II Thessalonians 2:13; I Peter 1:2; I John 3:14)
  5. Without the new birth, we won’t have eternal joy in fellowship with God, but only eternal misery with the devil and his angels (Matthew 24:41; John 3:3; Romans 6:23; Revelations 2:11, 20:15)

– John Piper, Finally Alive, Christian Focus Publishers, copyright 2009, page 60-61

Ten Explanations for Our Current Condition

Here aer ten of the biblical explanations of our condition apart from the new birth and why it is so necessary:

  1. Apart from the new birth, we are dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-2)
  2. Apart from the new birth, we are by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3)
  3. Apart from the new birth, we love darkness and hate the light (John 3:19-20)
  4. Apart from the new birth, our hearts are hard like stone (Ezekiel 36:26; Ephesians 4:18)
  5. Apart from the new birth, we are unable to submit to God or please God (Romans 8:7-8)
  6. Apart from the new birth, we are unable to accept the gospel (Ephesians 4:18; I Corinthians 2:14)
  7. Apart from the new birth, we are unable to come to Christ or embrace him as Lord (John 6:44; I Corinthians 12:3)
  8. Apart from the new birth, we are slaves to sin (Romans 6:17)
  9. Apart from the new birth, we are slaves of Satan (Ephesians 2:1-2; II Timothy 2:24-26)
  10. Apart from the new birth, no good thing dwells in us (Romans 7:18)

– John Piper, Finally Alive, Christian Focus Publishers, copyright 2009, page 48-58