This Mystery

reflections on theology and life

Tag: regeneration

Completed by the Spirit Part 6: Who Is The Man of Romans 7?

This is the sixth part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

As we noted in the pre­vi­ous install­ment of this series, Paul draws no dis­tinc­tion in sep­a­rat­ing a New Covenant life in the Spirit from an Old Covenant life of the let­ter or writ­ten code ().

But Paul does more than tell those who would look to the law that they are wrong; he calls them adul­ter­esses. In his anal­ogy, he says that a woman who lives with another man while he is alive com­mits adul­tery. We have died to the law; to live as under the law is to com­mit adul­tery against Christ, to whom the church is betrothed, and to whom He gave His Spirit as a guar­an­tee until the mar­riage sup­per of the Lamb ().

Paul con­tin­ues in in a peri­cope of which the sub­ject is widely debated:

[7] What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” [8] But sin, seiz­ing an oppor­tu­nity through the com­mand­ment, pro­duced in me all kinds of cov­etous­ness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. [9] I was once alive apart from the law, but when the com­mand­ment came, sin came alive and I died. [10] The very com­mand­ment that promised life proved to be death to me. [11] For sin, seiz­ing an oppor­tu­nity through the com­mand­ment, deceived me and through it killed me. [12] So the law is holy, and the com­mand­ment is holy and right­eous and good.

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But now we are released from the law, hav­ing died to that which held us cap­tive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the writ­ten code. (ESV)


And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the mar­riage sup­per of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” (ESV)


7:1 After this I saw four angels stand­ing at the four cor­ners of the earth, hold­ing back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. Then I saw another angel ascend­ing from the ris­ing of the sun, with the seal of the liv­ing God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, say­ing, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the ser­vants of our God on their fore­heads.” And I heard the num­ber of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:

12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed,
12,000 from the tribe of Reuben,
12,000 from the tribe of Gad,
12,000 from the tribe of Asher,
12,000 from the tribe of Naph­tali,
12,000 from the tribe of Man­asseh,
12,000 from the tribe of Simeon,
12,000 from the tribe of Levi,
12,000 from the tribe of Issachar,
12,000 from the tribe of Zebu­lun,
12,000 from the tribe of Joseph,
12,000 from the tribe of Ben­jamin were sealed.

After this I looked, and behold, a great mul­ti­tude that no one could num­ber, from every nation, from all tribes and peo­ples and lan­guages, stand­ing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and cry­ing out with a loud voice, “Sal­va­tion belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were stand­ing around the throne and around the elders and the four liv­ing crea­tures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and wor­shiped God, 12 say­ing, “Amen! Bless­ing and glory and wis­dom and thanks­giv­ing and honor and power and might be to our God for­ever and ever! Amen.”

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, say­ing, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones com­ing out of the great tribu­la­tion. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 “There­fore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his tem­ple;
and he who sits on the throne will shel­ter them with his pres­ence.
16 They shall hunger no more, nei­ther thirst any­more;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorch­ing heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shep­herd,
and he will guide them to springs of liv­ing water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (ESV)

Completed by the Spirit, Part 2: A Resurrection Like His

This is the sec­ond part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

Empty tombIn the first arti­cle in this series, we looked at five propo­si­tions that Paul intro­duces in his epis­tles about our rela­tion­ship to the law and its rela­tion­ship to our sanctification:

First, law can­not cope with sin.

Sec­ond, it’s the love brought to the saint through the indwelling Holy Spirit that is ful­fills the law.

Third, it is the Spirit that pro­duces fruit in the believer, while the law in our remain­ing sin­ful flesh can only pro­duce sin.

Fourth, sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion – a growth in holi­ness — results from our union with Christ and Scripture’s exhor­ta­tions about what it means to be Christ-like.

Fifth, that the imper­a­tives Paul gives to us are not them­selves laws and are not given as laws or in the cat­e­gory of law, because they flow from the indica­tive of our reliance upon Christ and our posi­tion in Christ.

Before we address those five propo­si­tions indi­vid­u­ally in future arti­cles, we need to con­sider the escha­tol­ogy of our sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion. We will indeed be glo­ri­fied, Paul promises (). What is impor­tant now about that final and com­plete sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion is what that state reveals about us – what that “not yet” tells us about our “already.”

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30 And those whom he pre­des­tined he also called, and those whom he called he also jus­ti­fied, and those whom he jus­ti­fied he also glo­ri­fied. (ESV)

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