TO SUM IT UP
The main point has been the startling discovery that we have had really only one problem since the fall of man, and that has been our vast delusion about ourselves — the lie of Satan concerning his own independence which he has imparted to us concerning ourselves. As a consequence, even when we are sinners saved by grace and in the new birth of the Spirit, and we have been taken further in the sixth chapter to know that through Christ’s death and resurrection the control of us by Satan in his sin nature has been replaced by the control of Christ, we still deludedly regard ourselves as independent persons responsible for living our new way of life and therefore equally responsible for discarding the old.
The shock then comes when Paul says that old way of life will have no further control over us because we are “not under the law, but under grace.” But our immediate reaction is, “Why, that is putting the cart before the horse! Don’t we need the law to stop us from responding to the pulls of that old life? Take away the law and we shall be caught out again.” “Not so,” says Paul. “The opposite is true. Your great basic deception is that we are self-managed selves. Therefore what the law will do while you are still under that delusion, is to expose your helplessness and that you never were created to manage yourself…and your old sin-manager will take advantage of the law to show you that you can’t obey it…but keep obeying him. But because you are too blind to see this until you have been shocked into it, first I will show you some facts.”
Then Paul drives that home by three illustrations which certainly settle the matter when our eyes are sufficiently opened to see these facts; but, actually they are not until we have had the necessary radical shock. But anyhow here are those three plain facts. First, we all are slaves and therefore compelled to do what our owner demands of us, and there is no middle condition in which we are just independent free humans. Second, we are branches and bear the fruit of the tree of which we are a part, and there is no such thing as we being independent, and not branches of either of the trees. Third, we are married wives under the marriage bond of our husbands and bearing his children. If our marriage is dissolved by the death of either husband, then we are immediately married to the other husband. We never were just single and unmarried. All of these illustrations, of course, mean that we are slaves, branches, wives, formerly of Satan in his sin nature, but now are the same to Christ in His holy nature, and there never has been a JUST OURSELVES in imaginary activities of our own.
But that point must be driven home never to arise again — that in actual fact we never were self-operating and never did or could manage our own affairs: and it was in that point that Satan has so grossly deluded us, as he himself is deluded. So that shock has to come, as Paul tells of it in his own experience, and the means in his own experience was the impact of that outer law on him. So down came the law on newborn Paul in the 10th “Thou shalt not covet” commandment; and because he was very much alive to that illusion of independence, back came his quick response, “Of course I won’t and don’t covet. I am a new man in Christ.” And he found all kinds of what he called “concupiscence” very much alive in him which he could not resist. He surely fell flat on his face and called himself a “slain man.”
But Paul had made a unique discovery, to which he refers as his special revelation in his Galatian letter, when he spent three years alone in the Arabian desert. It was that there is this sin virus deposited in us since the Fall (to which he refers in Romans 5:12-21), and that as our Lord Jesus Christ has represented us on the cross, His body was as ours in God’s sight, as though the sin-expresser just like ours (“made sin”); and when he died, out went that sin spirit and so out of us, and in the tomb in His resurrection in came His own Spirit, and so into us. Now with the impact of the law and Paul’s inability to obey it through the apparent power of indwelling sin, he saw the great lie of the independent self, and that he was only able to respond to the drives of the false deity in him and the lusts, and it was the impact of the law with its demands that awakened him to this delusion. But now he also saw the great deceit of sin on him, because in Christ the sin-indweller had been replaced by the Holy Spirit indweller, which had been revealed to him in Arabia. So now suddenly he saw his freedom. All he had to do was to recognize and affirm as fact in himself that “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death,” and now, the Spirit already in him since his new birth, inwardly confirmed that to him.
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