By Norman P. Grubb
SLAIN BY THE DELUSION
In his self-delusion Paul was so ashamed and humiliated that he said he was like a slain man (Rom 7:7-11). In fact, that was what had happened. He had been slain by the delusion that he was an independent self who could manage himself, when there is no such thing and it was really Satan’s self-effort. So he said, “Sin, taking occasion by the commandment [as if he could obey it], deceived me, and by it slew me” (Rom 7:11).
What a universal deceit in all us humans, and what an exposure and deliverance! The shame and humiliation of Paul’s defeat was just the necessary negative God used to make him desperate enough to find the answer, and thus that final usefulness of the law in exposing the lie of self-effort. So down Paul had fallen by the exposure of his self-relying self, not yet knowing that self-effort is Satan.
Having used his own dramatic experience to underline the necessary negative operation of the law on us, Paul then asks, “Does such an exposure by the law make it a death-dealing and dangerous weapon? The very opposite!” (Rom 7:12-14). Only by that sharp, personal law exposure of his helpless self in response to those self-gratifying desires could the roots of the independent-self lie be exposed. At first he struggled, wrongfully condemning himself instead of Satan-sin. But this drove him to the great final discovery: not of an evil human self, with the false self-condemnation, but to the great light of a right, God-made human self, with the sinner in him really being the sin spirit.
Paul knew, by the revelation he had when in Arabia (Gal 1:11, 12, 17), that Satan-sin had been cast out by Christ’s body death on Calvary (2 Cor 5:14,21). (We shall explain this in detail in Part III). But he had not yet come to the necessary point of personally appropriating that tremendous fact. He was still confused by the self-condemnation of false, independent self, instead of laying the rightful blame on sin. So by the use of the vivid present tense, as though he were a young, struggling believer, he underlines the value of the law in its disturbing effects on “me, me, me!” But finally there would be a right adjustment of the human “me”.
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