Romans: Gospel and Torah (4)
The following section (6:1-8:17) which is a response to these Torah issues is not dealing with the dynamic of the Christian's life or the power to overcome sin in our lives (though it will mention that); it has to do with the "obligation" of the "new man" in Christ. Paul's gospel doesn't obligate people to live after the flesh in order to bring God glory-the reverse is true (8:12-17). In responding to the issues raised by 5:20 Paul develops the meaning of the disciple's baptism which commits him/her to new life in/with Christ, death to sin, definitive severance from sin, life unto God and righteousness (moral uprightness though not mere moral uprightness). Paul has assigned the Torah to the Adamic realm (the realm of the old man) from which they've been freed and that makes it look like the Torah is part of the evil the Messiah is opposed to. Because, if you can only offer acceptable service to God when you're free from the Torah that augmented the offence then surely the Torah must be evil (6:11-23). This Paul vigorously rejects.
The marriage law that binds a woman to a husband is not evil (even if the husband is an evil man). The Torah that binds Israel to its Adamic, sinful flesh and apostasy is not evil (7:1-6)--it is the reverse. It is holy, just and good. It is Israel that failed and through their failure Sin was shown to be exceedingly sinful by using the commandment (Torah) which was unto life (7:10 and see Genesis 2:16-17 with 3:1-19) to deceive and slay Israel--the Adam/Eve experience is recapitulated. So in the hands of Sin the Torah that is always holy, just and good becomes a Torah of sin and death. (That is, a Torah in Sin's service and which results in death-4:15a and see 1 Corinthians 15:56.) Israel sees the Torah as holy, just and good but because Israel is in the flesh (7:14-18, 21) the Torah without changing its essential nature is another torah that brings Israel under sin and death. While in the flesh (in Adam) Israel longs but loses and finds itself in a body of death. The Torah (followed in flesh) is a law of sin and death but in Jesus Christ it is the "torah of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus". Through the Messiah the "torah of the Spirit" (8:2) sets Israel free. It's important to see that in Jesus Christ the Torah itself is vindicated and declared to be a freeing agent. This in turn means that the righteous requirement of the Torah is met (8:4) by those who in the Spirit (of Christ) fulfill the Torah (see 13:8-10). All this is connected with 6:1-8:17.
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, the abiding word.com.