After God led me recently to Romans 7:6 in preparation for a sermon, my mind has not been able to leave it for very long. I don’t know why, but this verse (and it’s context) excite something in me. Ok, I do know why; it’s because it’s as though God had been leading me on a path that finally crested at this verse and the light that I saw (or the light bulb that was switched on) was nothing short of awe-inspiring awesomeness. That doesn’t mean I don’t have more to learn, but I had an a-ha moment. It continues to build too when I go back and study it more!
First, my sermon was on adultery – with a specific emphasis on spiritual adultery. Paul in speaking to the Romans in chapter 7 compares marriage and adultery to the newness we have in Christ versus living under the law. He specifically points on the “newness” of the Spirit in contrast to the old way of living by the letter of the Law. So what he is saying is that you are now married to Christ and the new way of living by the Spirit in contrast to the old way (which you died to, ending your marriage to it) of having a list of laws that you tried to in your own efforts to live up to and by. So if you claim to be a born again Christian, in-dwelt by the Spirit and having a transformed nature (Romans 12:2) then it is adulterous to go back to the old way and try to live by in your self efforted self righteousness of trying to live out the Law.
Second, in preparation for my sermon I used a Bible dictionary to look up the word newness. It described it as something completely new; something that wasn’t a refresh of before; something that didn’t take the old and add anything to it but rather was a brand new, never before seen, thing. In this case, living by the Spirit. So it can’t be the Law + the Spirit to live by because that would be old way + new way. That’s spiritual polygamy and isn’t the word used there. Ok, good times, right?
Well, today I looked at the blueletterbible.org’s breakdown of that verse and then clicked on the greek word that is translated as newness, kainotēs. I saw a link to Vine’s dictionary and clicked it… it said in reference to the use of the word in Rom. 7:6, “it is impossible to dissociate this (in an objective sense) from the operation of the Holy Spirit, by whose power the service is rendered.”
Wowza! Another reminder that the righteousness and working is on the part of God and not of me, or my effort, or my duty, or my diligence, or my striving, or my knowledge, or my talents, or my skill(s), or my bank account, or my ability to speak, or my… anything. It is only in the surrendering to the work of the Spirit, which is made possible by Jesus. So Christianity is not Judaism plus Jesus (the Jerusalem Council agreed on that in Acts 15 & Galatians 2), and it’s not my best and Jesus doing the rest, and it’s not my ability to follow the Law plus Jesus, it’s just Jesus.
Whew, glad to be taken deeper into the idea that this isn’t relying on me and my ability to perform; only in my ability to say “I have no ability, please come do it (living in holiness & righteousness) for me, in and through me, so that you may somehow get glory out of this life you gave me. I’m marking my life ‘Return to sender’.”