Westminster Assembly

Westminster Assembly

Acts 6:4

"But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word."



1 Timothy 4:6-16

" If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." 1 Tim 4:6-16 (KJV)

"The Apostle Paul in Romans 7 and What Does It Mean to the Modern Believer?" by Shane C. Montgomery

Thursday, October 7, 2010
  15 "For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good."     Romans 7:15-16 (KJV)

  Maybe a better title for this blog post would be "Caught between Antinomianism and Legalism."  I believe there comes a time in every Christian's life where they find themselves in a struggle, a struggle to stay on the narrow path and not to wonder of course and find themselves in either the Antinomian camp or the just as dangerous Legalist camp.   Maybe this is not the case for you but for most of us, those who desire to grow in grace, we do struggle with this, it doesn't help any that Paul makes Romans chapter Seven more confusing than Chinese algebra!

 I love Romans, it is the most theologically sound book in the entire bible, but you have to admit, Paul runs us around answering the questions never asked and giving us tongue twisters that distract our thinking, hard to concentrate when you feel like you are practicing "Hooked On Phonics" but I understand what he is getting at, I also understand Romans is a letter to the Christians in Rome, many of whom were newly converted Jews who still hold to their Pharasetic views(my spell checker is telling me that "Pharasetic" is not a word)  on Works Righteousness, though they believed in Christ, they still held to their rituals, ceremonies, holy days and most of all, the keeping of the Mosaic Law.

 It is easy to get distracted in reading this epistle, I know we are better off to read it straight through in one setting to get the proper context from it, just as Paul meant for it to be read aloud to the believers in Rome.  I have found though through spending the past twenty weeks expounding upon Romans, breaking it down verse by verse and unpacking every single sentence, attempting to find not only the overall context of this letter but all the easy to miss points that are waiting to edify us as modern day believers, I have found that Paul changes directions often, he always returns to his point but you might have to wait ten or twelve verses to get your answer.  Paul spends much of this time in answering the questions never asked by the Jewish believers, which was a good idea, he being a former Pharisee, who better to know the questions they would have!

  Understanding why Romans was written the way it was, laid out as it is and why Paul spends the time he does arguing with Jewish Christians a far off, still this book is one of the most important books for the modern day Christian, not that I want to be pinned down by picking a favorite book of Scripture, Romans is vital for every believer to understand.  Yet it is still hard for people to wrap their minds around, even though I believe Ephesians is a little deeper in understanding and advanced in many ways beyond what the average pew sitter is willing to put into it.  Romans is no easy book.  Do most believers bypass Romans in their personal bible studies?

  In my studies of Romans I have read several commentaries, essays, articles and anything else I can find, study bible footnotes, anything, and I have noticed that Chapter Seven is a sore spot for many bible scholars, I fail to see the same life and death problems that they do, granted I am nowhere near the scholar as these great, gifted men of God are, but what does it matter if Paul is speaking in Chapter Seven of "Saul the Pharisee" or "Paul the Apostle?"   Weighing in might show my ignorance of this subject, but that has never stopped me before, so here goes.   Paul is speaking of both!   7 "What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. 8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. 9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me."  Romans 7:7-11 (KJV)

 Paul says he had not known sin but by the law, I am taking this to mean that when he was a Pharisee he knew the law very well, it was his job to know the law well, so he is admitting that he trusted in his knowledge of the law and his ability to keep the law for righteousness.  Then the hinge comes in, the doors swings from Pharisee Saul, unregenerated Saul to the Apostle Paul, regenerated Paul, -14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.     Romans 7:14-25 (KJV)
  Paul is now talking about himself  now that he has been truly converted.  The point Paul is making is that even after God giving him a new heart, he still sins!   He knows the law, heck, he loves the Law!  He desires to do what the Law says........but he can't.   He does what he does not desire to do..... he sins.     Why?   The two opposing camps out there today, the Antinomian and the Legalist, would pull him in half if they could.  One would tell him he is no longer under the Law but under grace (which he was) and thus he can now throw out the Law!   The other camp would tell him he still must know, understand, maintain and keep diligently the Law!   So which one is it?..   According to Paul.... Neither!

  That is the gem hidden in Romans now isn't it!   We are no longer under the bondage of the Law or even Sin!  But that does not mean we do not sin, neither does it mean we can dismiss the Law.  Paul's point is simple, and the fact that he takes sixteen chapters to put this point out there scares some off I am sure, but it is simple really, we are truly new creatures in Christ Jesus!   We are not carnal Christians simply because we stumble in sin.   We will not go to hell if we sin.  We will not forfeit our salvation either.   That is the beauty of it all.  Do we throw out the Law?  No, the Law did it's job as a schoolmaster in that in showed us our sinful nature and our need for a Savior, the Savior I should say.  But that does not mean it has served it's purpose, it remains yet a picture of righteousness, what does "Holiness" look like?   It looks like the Law!   It is still a set effective means of knowing God's will for our lives as believers as well.  We should now desire to keep the Law, not for salvation, not for maintaining our salvation, not even for our sanctification, but knowing this is how God wants us to live, we should want to live this way as well, after all, look what He did for us!  He saved us when He had every right to destroy us!   Paul says the Law is still good and it is still holy, and I agree.

  We can take the Law too far, we can just as easily take being under grace too far.  This is where so many wonder of course.  It is sad, I hate to see anyone impose a set of strict rules upon themselves, and I hate to see anyone take God's Word too lightly as well.  If you live a purposeful sinful lifestyle, you are still a sinner, of course, we all are still sinners, but if you seek out sin, which is just the opposite of what Paul was going through in his life as a BELIEVER, instead of seeking to do the will of God, then you are unregenerated, you are still lost my friend!  You are deceiving yourself with a false assurance that you will soon find out was based on an ignorance of Scripture.   But to the opposite extreme, if you try to maintain your salvation by keeping the Law, then you are putting yourself back under the Law and voluntarily removing yourself from under grace!  Not such a good idea.  I have noticed that those in this camp are not satisfied with living under the Law of Moses and they insert more laws into Scripture than what are there now.   Why?   I have no idea, I imagine it is that they get to point where they believe they are truly sinless and have thus perfected righteousness.   Ouch!   Not a good idea either.   If memory serves me correct, Jewish law contained 613 laws?   That is not enough for some believers who insist on earning their way.   Both these camps are running from the cross of Christ instead of embracing it.

  When I sin, I hate myself, I really do.  I do not believe we are allowed to feel guilty, but I am not proud of myself when I sin, I feel as if I let down the Savior that saved me, and I honestly am when I sin.  But I do not seek sin out, I do not desire sin, like Paul, I desire the things of God, yet I find myself doing stupid things instead, just as he did.   Paul's point is that even though we are new creatures in Christ, sin is still present in our lives, but that will continue to be the case for us until the day we die.  We will not be glorified in this life as long as we live.   I know several believers who honestly think they are sinless.   I talk until I am blue in the face, a few have told me they have not sinned in over twenty years!   I sin that many times a day!   Am I a sinner?   Yes, of course, but that is why I Still Need A Savior!   I want to believe that is what Paul is telling us in Romans Seven.   Stay on the path, read your Bibles, and please do not add anything or take anything out of Scripture, leave it alone, it is fine the way it is.  But desire to learn!   Make a point to study Scripture and do so with a humble mind and a hungry heart.  Come with the intention to learn.  Come to Scripture with the intent of learning something new, some will for your life that God would like to see come true with you.  Erase any preconceived ideas of what you have about God's Word and learn from Him.  Folk theology is a dangerous thing.  Humble yourself and want to learn, study hard, study often and study on your knees with the Bible opened before you on the floor.  Always pray that God will open your eyes to wonderful new truths and that He will open your hard heart to His Will for your life, which is the will for all of our lives as His adopted children.  I admit, these past twenty weeks I have spent up to my elbows in Romans, I have only made it half way into chapter seven, even though I have read Romans dozens of times in the past, I feel like I am seeing it for the first time when I exegete it verse by verse and look for context, context, context and the overall meaning of each chapter, and the over all meaning of the entire letter.  Paul has a way in each of his epistles of giving us doctrine to start and then finishing up with application of that doctrine for our lives.  We need to keep this in mind when we read Romans.  What would the church look like today if we all studied Romans the way we should?   I am sick of seeing "The Romans Road To Salvation"   Trust me, Romans is so much more than that brother!   We as believers are going to sin, there is no way around it, but do not let that get you down, grieve over your sins, be mad at yourself when you sin, but confess that sin and repent of it and get back to producing good fruit!  Don't get too carried away about the Law, it served it's purpose and it still serves a purpose now, but spend more time on Loving God and Neighbor and less time trying to be Holy and more time Being Holy!   What I mean by that, don't keep the law on the outside like the Pharisees, but keep it in your heart and keep it because now you want to please God, and you love the things He loves and hates the things He hates.  Remember the Rich Young Ruler?  Yeah, he was missing the point of the Law, so lets not do the same friends.      Soli Deo Gloria!              Shane


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