Romans 7 and the Ministry of Condemnation

Romans 7, Thoughts
I believe another reason we like to see Romans 7:14-25 held up as normative for the believer is the difficulty we have with leaving the old covenant way of life behind.  The old covenant method of law and its consequences just fits our natural way of thinking.  New covenant living does not seem natural because, quite frankly, it is not natural!  It is supernatural at its core!  But it is a supernatural that is not only available to us but is, in fact, who we really are in our heart of hearts as a child of God. What does old covenant spiritual formation – if those words should even be used together – look like?  Paul calls it a ministry of condemnation as opposed to a new covenant ministry of…
Read More

Romans 7 and the New Nature

Romans 7, Thoughts
Maybe we and the teachers we follow keep coming back to Romans 7:14-25 because it seems an apt description of our own Christian experience.  How many of us feel the weight of desperation articulated in this passage and think it normal for the Christian life?  When we identify this kind of struggle with sin as normal, we make a grave mistake regarding all that became new at our conversion. A key issue to keep in front of us is the fact that the Christian life is lived by faith, not by sight.  The Christian life is lived by faith, not by feelings.  The Christian life is lived by faith, not by Satan’s lies.  We may feel like Romans 7:14-25 is our Christian destiny, but to believe it is true is…
Read More

Romans 7 and the Present Tense

Romans 7, Thoughts
I would like to add this aside concerning one of the biggest stumbling blocks to what I believe is the proper place of Romans 7:14-25 in the timeline of the life of Paul.  As I stated in our first post on this topic, I think the apostle is describing his experience prior to conversion.  I made a very brief summary argument for that position based primarily on the context of Romans 5 through 8 and what I believe to be the predominant message of the New Testament regarding our new moral resemblance to Christ.  But the challenge of Paul’s use of the present tense is still unresolved. The best I can offer is the following.  Paul is writing with a strong sense of purpose and may be using the present…
Read More

Romans 7 in Context

Romans 7, Thoughts
Last post I made a strong statement that Romans 7:14-25 does not apply to the believer’s walk.  I did so without much substantiation which I hope to humbly correct this time.  I recognize this thought process goes against the typical interpretation of this passage and I may be heading out to the end of a long limb, but bear with me and see if this flow makes biblical sense. The first of the challenges mentioned in my last post is the challenge of interpreting the passage itself.  We need to start with the big picture and when we do we will see that attributing Paul’s lament to prior to his conversion is a perfect fit with the context of Paul’s Romans chapters 5 through 8 argument concerning the normal Christian…
Read More

Romans 7 and the Normal Christian Life

Romans 7, Thoughts
The idea starter, some time ago, for Fanning the Flames was the growing realization of the incredible depth of our new covenant relationship with God.  Our motive in continuing this blog is an effort to flesh out what the new covenant looks like in practice.  How do the tremendous riches we have in our identification with Christ in His death and resurrection play out in the warp and woof of life?  During this period of study and writing on this topic, I have become very aware of old covenant thinking that still finds its way into our spiritual formation literature. It seems everywhere I turn these days, I encounter Romans 7:14-25 ¹  as a proof text for the believer’s relationship with sin.  From books on relationships to articles in Christian…
Read More

Following the New Testament Money Trail

Money, Thoughts
What started as a post about "Wealth with Wings" and putting our financial eggs in God's basket has morphed into a series of posts following just a small section of the New Testament money trail (hopefully not a rabbit trail).  I think the length was necessary to really get us thinking about the seriousness of what Jesus said about investing our money.  I hope you have picked up some food for thought along the way. In practical terms, what might this "send it on ahead" approach to financial planning look like in today's world.  Keeping in mind the admonition to use our wealth to make friends that will welcome us into the eternal dwellings, it might look like this: It might be sponsoring a child in an impoverished country, providing…
Read More

Money and the Early Church

Money, Thoughts
The most quoted passage in the New Testament describing the early church is Acts 2:42-47.  "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.  And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.  Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.  And the Lord was adding to…
Read More