By Norman P. Grubb
NO SEPARATE SELF
When Paul tells us that we are no longer under that former outer Law of Moses, doesn’t that mean that we shall be given over to a spirit of license? “God forbid,” pronounces Paul. In our new life our human selves are motivated, controlled, and spontaneously express the nature of God, by His Spirit united to our spirits. Laying the foundation for this assurance in Romans 6:16-7:6, Paul there presents one strong evidence after another that there is no intermediate, “independent me” to be taken over, unless we foolishly believe it.
“First,” he says, “we were always slaves; and a slave just obeys his owner.” We had handed ourselves over to owner Sin-Satan, to express his sin-nature. Now, however, we have become God’s willing slaves through the obedience of faith which takes Him at His word, and we express His nature of holiness.
“Put it this way,” Paul explains. “We were free in our sinning, with no response to God’s law. Now we are free in our right living, with no response to Satan’s law. And there is no ‘you,’ with an in-between or independent life of your own (Rom 6:16-20).”
Next Paul introduces a second illustration…a fruit-bearing tree. He describes how we are now producing right, good fruit in our lives, whereas we were ashamed of the former fruit (Rom 6:21,22). He wants us to understand that we are only branches which have changed trees. We never produced fruit without a tree!
To sum it up, we learn through the slave and branch analogies that we never exercised any kind of in-between life as self-operators. We are slaves of either one owner or another, or branches of either one vine or the other. Therefore, the idea that we humans were self-operating selves and had a “nature” or quality of life of our own has been a vast human illusion — there never was such a thing. We have been created to produce the way of life of our Deity Creator and Operator. Only first we had to experience and discard through Calvary that false deity operator, who produced that opposite, negative way of life.
In Romans 7:1-6 Paul uses one further powerful and convincing illustration…the law of marriage, which he speaks of here as the “law of the husband” (Rom 7:2). The wife is legally bound to her husband so long as he lives, and he is her “lord” (1 Pet 3:6); she receives his seed, conceives by it, and produces their family.
We humans were “married” at the Fall to our Sin-satan husband and became his sin family, he working in us the “motions of sins” which produced “fruit unto death” (Rom 7:5). We had to do this according to the law and demands of marriage, as any change of husbands would have been an “adultery.” It looked hopeless; our husband was not going to die.
But there was One, representing the whole human family, who died as us. So the marriage was dissolved because we died “wherein we were held” (Rom 7:6). The dissolution of the first marriage and release from that husband meant that in Christ’s resurrection we were immediately married to another, our risen Saviour, and are now under His law.
The law of marriage in Romans 7:1-6 is therefore a continuation by Paul of his two illustrations from Romans 6. For just as we have always been slaves to an ‘owner’, and branches producing the fruit of a tree, we have always produced the fruit of a husband. We have never been widows conceiving without a husband.
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