Monday, April 26, 2010


Romans 6-8

Having just told them that "as sin increased, grace increased all the more," Paul starts Romans 6 by asking "shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase," and quickly answers, "by no means!" Instead, he tells them, they have "died to sin" and "just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." He therefore encourages them to "count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus" and not to "let sin reign in your mortal body." He tells them that they are "not under law, but under grace." That is "by no means" reason to sin, though. They are now "slaves to righteousness" rather than sin. And the benefit leads to holiness "and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

In chapter seven, he analogizes their situation to that of a woman whose husband died. While he lived, she could not marry another man by law, but when he has died, she is no longer under that law. Likewise, the Christians have died to the law "through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another." They have been released from the law, from the "old way of the written code" to serve "in the new way of the Spirit." He tells them that the law is not sin, but it reveals sin, and sin "deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death." But the law is spiritual, and Paul tells them that he is unspiritual, "sold as a slave to sin... if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it." He considers himself a "slave to God's law" in his mind, but "in the sinful natiure a slave to the law of sin."

In chapter eight, he tells them that "through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." The law was powerless to set men free, but God did it by sending "his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering." He says that those who live according to sinful nature have their minds set on sin, but those who "live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." They have an obligation, he tells them, to live according to the Spirit, which "testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." He tells them that their present sufferings aren't worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in them and says that all of creation "has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time." He says that "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him." And he introduces the concept of predestination, saying that "those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers."

Thoughts, questions, issues

  • This passage contains, if I'm not mistaken, the first words on predestination in the New Testament. As always, the term raises questions. How does predestination exist with free will? If faith saves, can it save someone who hasn't been predetermined to be saved? If one is not predestined but then has faith, is the faith in vain? I'm not going to pretend that there are easy questions to any of these, despite the fact that people have been asking them, well, since Paul wrote this, at least. I am not a predestinationist, myself.
  • One can make a case that, if increasing sin increases grace even more, then sinning is a good thing. Paul is quick to knock that one down.

Proverbs 29:1-14

By justice a king gives a country stability, but one who is greedy for bribes tears it down....If a king judges the poor with fairness, his throne will always be secure
Those verses reference "kings," but it really works for anyone in a position of power. Success is much more likely when one is just and fair with subordinates.

Proverbs 29

1 A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes
will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.

2 When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice;
when the wicked rule, the people groan.

3 A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father,
but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.

4 By justice a king gives a country stability,
but one who is greedy for bribes tears it down.

5 Whoever flatters his neighbor
is spreading a net for his feet.

6 An evil man is snared by his own sin,
but a righteous one can sing and be glad.

7 The righteous care about justice for the poor,
but the wicked have no such concern.

8 Mockers stir up a city,
but wise men turn away anger.

9 If a wise man goes to court with a fool,
the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace.

10 Bloodthirsty men hate a man of integrity
and seek to kill the upright.

11 A fool gives full vent to his anger,
but a wise man keeps himself under control.

12 If a ruler listens to lies,
all his officials become wicked.

13 The poor man and the oppressor have this in common:
The LORD gives sight to the eyes of both.

14 If a king judges the poor with fairness,
his throne will always be secure.

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