Darby on Romans 7 – Released from the Law

That law as applied to the inward man.
That in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing (18)
That the old man has died so we can say, ‘When we were in the flesh’ (5).
That it is not I; (because I hate sin having being renewed); It is then sin in me
That it is too strong for me.
So I stop trying to be better, and look for a Deliverer instead. The Deliverer is Jesus. Thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

RomeIn Romans 7 we have the distinction between a soul under law, and a soul in life with a risen Christ. We have the soul’s experience being quickened and renewed in its desires and delights, but not knowing deliverance. It does not understand that it has died with Christ, and is now connected with another – Christ risen from the dead. The description of the deliverance follows, and we have the condition of the delivered soul in Romans 8.

Having been crucified with Christ, we are free from law. The law has power over a man as long as he lives. This is illustrated by the case of marriage, and the law or bond of husband and wife, which lasts evidently as long as one lives, and no longer; the survivor is free to be to another when the other is dead.

We are delivered, being dead to the law, by the body of Christ. (See v.4). Death puts an end to our legal obligations, but of course we have not died actually: Christ has died for us.   Now we are united to Him in resurrection, so we can bear fruit to God in the power of life.

Because Christ has died, we do not stand before God as Adam’s children. We can therefore say, ‘when we were in the flesh’ (v.5); clearly we could not say that if we were still in it. When we were in the flesh, and hence the law, our sinful acts brought forth fruit unto death. If a child is told that something is forbidden, he or she is apt to desire it even more. A disobedient child only pushes harder against the obstacle opposed to him. This leads to actual sin unto death.

Romans 6 gave us the doctrine of our old man being crucified with Christ. Romans 7 gives are connection as children of Adam with law and our But deliverance from it. As life in which we were connected with the law has ended, the bond which attached us to that life does not exist any more. Instead, we are connected with a risen Christ, serving in the newness of spirit, not in the legal oldness of letter. We cannot have two husbands at once.   Christ, not the law, is now our life and husband, and we have power to bring forth fruit to God, something that the sinful flesh could never have. We just cannot have the law and Christ together.

The law does not condemn our nature or treat us as lost, but it does make us conscious of our state – what we are. Was it the fault of the law, that sin had dominion over us? No, it was sin and lust, and these things were condemned by the law. Sin deceived us, and killed us. The law said, ‘Thou shalt not covet.’ (v. 9) We may not be criminals – we have not murdered, stolen, or committed adultery; but who of us has never lusted, or coveted? If we claimed not to have lusted, we would be saying that we were not children of Adam. It is important to stress that we are not speaking of sinful acts, but of our sinful state; not forgiveness of sins, but of deliverance from sin. It is not what we have done, but what we are. We discover the sinful source in us – that there is no good there – a humbling discovery! We cannot make a child of Adam good, he has to be born again.

Because of the law, we have the knowledge of sin: without it, sin was dead. When the commandment came, I felt my guilt, and death came upon my conscience. I was a living child of Adam, unconscious of sin, but when the law of God forbade lust, my conscience was affected, and I died under its judgment. Whereas the law said to me, ‘Do this and thou shalt live’ (Luke 10:28), I took up the law, thinking I had power to be good and righteous by it. I could not, as sin showed itself to be in opposition to, and in transgression of, God’s holy, just, and good will. So the law killed me.

We now have the expression ‘οἴδαμεν γὰρ – We know’ (v.14). This is a technical expression for the Christian’s knowledge. I have learnt:

  1. That law as applied to the inward man.
  2. That in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing (18)
  3. That the old man has died so we can say, ‘When we were in the flesh’ (5).
  4. That it is not I; (because I hate sin having being renewed); It is then sin in me
  5. That it is too strong for me.

I cannot do what I want to do – indeed, I do not know how to do it. I desire to do what is right, but good never comes. That is not the Christian state.

But I have light from God. The law is spiritual but I am carnal, a slave to (or sold under) sin. I consent to the law that it is good; I have knowledge of sin, but I do what I hate.

But, thank God for His grace: I have a new man, a new life, and I can treat sin as a stranger, even though it dwells in me. Now the renewed man comes out – the positive will to do good – I delight in the law of God in the inner man – that is more than consent. But still I have no power: I cannot do good. There is another law in my members, a constantly operating power of evil bringing me into captivity, even though against my will.

Poor wretched man! But (immense advantage) I know it. I know my real state: I know there is no good in my flesh, and that I have no power. I am just like the poor man at the pool of Bethesda: he desired to be healed, but did not have the strength to get healed. (See John 5). So I stop trying to be better, and look for a Deliverer instead. The Deliverer is Jesus. Thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

The difference in me is immense. The power of the flesh has broken, and I have no thought of being in the flesh before God. Even though the evil flesh is still there, I am not in Romans 7 any longer. Christ has set me free. ‘So, then, I myself with the mind serve the law of God; with the flesh, the law of sin(v.25). This leads me to Rom 8:1, ‘The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.’ Romans 8 develops this further.

A simplified summary of part of the introduction to John Nelson Darby’s  Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans

Darby on Romans 6 – Dead to Sin, Alive to God

Walking in the path of obedience to Him, the soul is delivered evil – will and lust – which is not obedience. We grow in the knowledge of God and in intimacy with Him. We cannot do this in our own will. But we live more in His things, and that is holiness: that is more than obedience. But that is the gift of God. The path to it is the path of obedience and holiness, but itself is the gift of God. Death is the wages of sin; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The gift of God is nothing less than eternal life. God gives it to us.

RomeIn Romans 6 we have the practical consequence of deliverance from sin. in the first part of the epistle (Rom. 1:18; to 5:11) we read nothing as to practical conduct. The guilty sinner is cleared, but nothing is said as to our consequential conduct. The conclusion of Romans 5 is that by one Man’s obedience we have been made righteous, and that, by having part in Christ’s death, we have part in this righteousness.

But having part in death (that is, dying) is, of course, not the way to live. How shall we who are dead to sin live in it any longer?  By our profession of Christianity, we are baptised unto His death, the old man being judged and crucified. Now as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father (God’s power), so our life is to be a new resurrected one.

Our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin’ (v.6). This means that sin as a whole is annulled or rendered powerless: it has closed its existence. ‘He that is dead is justified from sin’ (v.7). Here it is not here sins or guilt: a dead man may have to answer for his sins, but he cannot sin: he does not have evil lusts nor a perverse will. However for us, the power of death has been destroyed by the resurrection of Christ. He came to take our place as sinners and deal with the question of sin: He died to sin, once for all. On the cross sin was the question – He was made sin. Now He is risen; He dies no more; death does not have dominion any longer. Now He lives and lives to God, sin having been done with for ever, to the glory of God

In His life down here Jesus served God perfectly. He lived by the Father, having Him always before His mind. Before He died on the cross, He had to do with sin – though He was sinless.   Sin was all around Him: it grieved Him; He was a Man of sorrows because of it, and He had to be made sin for us. In love He manifested God; as Man come to do God’s will, when fully proved to be the sinless One Himself – who knew no sin, he hath made sin for us (2 Cor 5:21). But now He has done with it for ever. Now He is risen into a new state as Man: in thought, object, and life, He lives to God. Now everything serves God’s glory. Though the flesh is always the same, the life of Jesus is manifested in our bodies (see 2 Cor 4:10). This is what the true Christian state is.

So we are to reckon ourselves dead to sin, and alive to God through Him, our old man being crucified with Him. We are not physically dead, but have a new and free life, alive to God, not through Adam, but through Jesus Christ our Lord. It is not that we never sin or lust; but we do not let sin obey its lust: we walk in the power of a new life. Instead of being slaves to sin, we hold the reins, and yield our members as instruments of righteousness to God.

Sin does not have dominion over us any longer, because we are not under law, but under grace. Being under law leaves us under the dominion of sin. What we need is freedom from the bondage of sin; for the law forbids sins, but gives us neither the life nor power to obey it. But under grace we have the power, sin having no dominion over us. The power comes from on high, so we are set really free, and can give ourselves to God willingly and freely. Shall we sin because we are not under a law which forbids it, and which curses us if I do it? God forbid!

Now Paul returns to the Gentile condition. If we yield ourselves to sin, we are its slaves. Even without law, death and the consequent judgment of God, were the appointed wages of sin.   But now we are alive to God, and that must involve obedience. Christ was the obedient Man: His Father’s will was the motive of everything He did. He lived by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God. (See Deut 8:3). His path was practical righteousness, and He was the pattern of it. So the apostle thanks God that, whereas they had been slaves of sin, they had obeyed from the heart the form of doctrine that had been delivered to them (v.17).

It is the obedience of faith. As we receive the word of God into our hearts, we are linked with the life-giving God. It is the true life of Christ, the obedient Man. As free from sin, we yield ourselves to obey, becoming ‘slaves’ to righteousness. [Note that JND uses the word ‘slave’ here, whereas in the Darby Bible he uses the word ‘bondman’. A ‘slave’ is someone bought and owned by another. A ‘bondman’ on the other hand, is someone who was a slave, been given the opportunity for freedom, and has decided to remain for life in the service of their Master.]* Hence it is true liberty: we were fruitlessly wasting our members as slaves to uncleanness and lawlessness. Now we freely yield our members to be slaves to righteousness. The blessed result is holiness, our hearts separated to God, knowing Him, the soul brought into His image. ‘And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him’ (Col 3:10).

This is the general doctrine: Christ having died, we reckon ourselves dead as if we had died. We have died – we have been crucified with Him, and, as Christians, we do not consider the flesh to be alive any more. I speak of all that has happened to Christ as if it had happened to me, because He is become my life, and I live by Him. I am a son whose father had not only paid his debts, but made him a partner in a business. He speaks of ‘our capital, our connections,’ though the son brought nothing into the business, everything having been done and acquired beforehand. We have therefore a living association with the Lord. It is neither ascension, nor union, nor resurrection with Him, but the death of the old man, and a new life in Christ with freedom from being slaves to sin. This is the full answer to the allegation that, having righteousness in Him, we have license to sin. Instead of sin reigning in our mortal bodies, having dominion over us, we enjoy subsisting power.

Walking in the path of obedience to Him, the soul is delivered evil – will and lust – which is not obedience. We grow in the knowledge of God and in intimacy with Him. We cannot do this in our own will. But we live more in His things, and that is holiness: that is more than obedience. But that is the gift of God. The path to it is the path of obedience and holiness, but itself is the gift of God. Death is the wages of sin; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The gift of God is nothing less than eternal life. God gives it to us.

A simplified summary of part of the introduction to John Nelson Darby’s  Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans

* Acknowledgments to ‘Underground Theologian’ http://theologicalmuse.christianblogsites.com/blog/post/2009/04/24/slave-or-bond-servant

Darby on Romans – Introduction to Romans

We need to understand two aspects of man’s state of sin

Man as living in evil ways, alive to sin and lust. According to Romans, death must come in to free him from the evil – redemption by grace.
Man as dead towards God. Ephesians treats man as dead in sins and gives us new creation.

RomeBackground in Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians

It may facilitate our apprehension of the epistle to the Romans, if we briefly survey Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians.

We need to understand two aspects of man’s state of sin

  1. Man as living in evil ways, alive to sin and lust. According to Romans, death must come in to free him from the evil – redemption by grace.
  2. Man as dead towards God. Ephesians treats man as dead in sins and gives us new creation.

Galatians

Galatians brings out the following points: –

  1. Promise, in contrast with law, which brought a curse and no justification of man
  2. Redemption from that curse, by Christ’s being made a curse for us
  3. The promised Seed, come of the woman (once the source of sin), to redeem those under the law.

The law had been the school-master until Christ came. Now, as sons by faith, having the Spirit, we are consciously heirs – not servants but sons.   The flesh, our evil nature, may lust against the Spirit, but, we are not under law. There can be no law against the fruit of the Spirit – elementary, though most important teaching.

 

Ephesians

Ephesians begins with the counsels of God:

  1. Our place before God, morally like Himself
  2. Christ’s position, as gone to His Father and our Father, His God and our God
  3. God’s purposes as to the Christ Himself, head over all as Man
  4. The inheritance and the earnest of the Spirit given to us
  5. The present exaltation of Christ
  6. The working of the same power in us, so we are raised with Him
  7. The church His body associated with Him
  8. Christ as Head over all things, to the church.

Eph. 2 gives Christ’s work. God’s power comes in and raises us up into His place of glory and blessing. We are sons and heirs.   The church, Christ’s body is united to Him, something hidden from all ages and generations, impossible to exist or be revealed till the middle wall of partition had been broken down.

The gifts of the Spirit from the Man on high builds up the saints, forms the body in union with Christ, and evangelises the world. From Eph. 4:17 onward we have practical conduct.  Having been brought to God in Christ, we are to display God’s own character, Christ being the perfect pattern in man. Having put off the old man and put on the new, we love one another as Christ loves His church. Finally we are God’s warriors in Canaan – that is, in heavenly places – and have need of God’s whole armour against spiritual wickedness, walking in dependence on God.

 

Colossians

In Colossians saints are not sitting in heavenly places, but with a hope laid up for them in heaven. Their are affections are to be set on things above, where Christ sits. They are buried with Him by baptism unto death (as Rom. 6). The believer is looked at as previously alive in his sins, but now quickened with Christ (Col. 2:13). Colossians does not reach on to the full level of Ephesian doctrine, but we do not get these thoughts in Romans at all.

The fullness of the Godhead is in Christ in Colossians; in Ephesians it is the body that is His fullness. The glory of an exalted Christ is before the Christian’s eyes – the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

This should enable us to study the epistle to the Romans more intelligently. Romans does not develop the counsels of God, but lays the ground for their accomplishment. All have sinned, Jew and Gentile, and have the same fleshly nature. There is no difference: God’s righteousness is applicable to both. Sins are put away, and we have deliverance from the old man. Romans treats the responsibility of man, explains God’s righteousness, and unfolds His grace unfolded as the source and principle of God’s dealings with us.

The epistle to the Romans furnishes the eternal principles of God’s relationship with man – the way in which, by means of Christ’s death and resurrection, the believer is established in blessing.   It reconciles of these things with the promises made to the Jews, by Him whose gifts and calling are without repentance.

 

Romans comprises several parts:

 

 A simplified summary of part of the introduction to John Nelson Darby’s  Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans