Man's Dual Problem
Today we will be looking at the difference of content between our two sections in the first eight chapters of the book of Romans. This content will be extremely important as we come to the next section of our study dealing with man's nature.
Content of the Sections
Different aspects of the resurrection are shown in the two sections. In Romans 4:25 we see an aspect of the resurrection relating to justification. It says, "Jesus our Lord...was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification". Here the scripture focuses on the matter of our standing before God. In Romans 6:4 we see an aspect of the resurrection in relation to "new life" and our holy walk: "Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life". Here the focus is on the matter of behavior.
In our sections the hope of "peace" is discussed in two different areas. Romans 5:1 says, "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ". Here, as the scripture says we have "peace with God" meaning that God is no longer a cause of dread to us, because we have been forgiven. I was an enemy to God, but I have been "reconciled... by the death of his Son" (5:10). I soon discover that I am a great trouble to myself. There is no peace within me; a civil war rages in my heart. In Romans 7 we see this civil war depicted when flesh and spirit are shown in deadly conflict within. In Chapter 8 we have the inward peace of a walk in the Spirit. "For to set the mind on the flesh is death," because it is "hostile to God," but "to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace" (Rom 8:6,7). This is peace within myself.
The first half, in general, deals with the matter of justification (ex. Romans 3:24-26; 4:5; 4:25). The second half deals primarily with the matter of sanctification (Rom. 6:19; 6:22). Though precious, the truth of justification by faith is only half of the story. Our standing before God has been fixed, and as we go on in the story God has offered us the solution to the problem of our conduct. Forgiveness of our sins, justification, and peace with God are our indispensable foundation, but when these are established by faith in Christ we must move on to something more. God has much more planned for us.
Does the sin make the sinner; or the sinner make the sin?
The Lord Jesus was our substitute. He bore our sins on the Cross, obtaining forgiveness, justification, and reconciliation for us by the Blood. Now we will go a step further to understand how God deals with the sin principle in us. The Blood washes our sins, but it can't wash away my :old man." It needs the Cross to crucify me. The Blood deals with the sins, while the Cross deals with the sinner.
In the first sections of Romans (1-4) the word "sinner" rarely appears. The focus of these sections is on the sins he has committed and the sinner isn't in main view. Beginning in chapter 5 of Romans the word "sinner" starts to gain prominence. The chapter makes the clear distinction that a sinner is a sinner because he is born a sinner; not because he has committed sins. The statement that "all have sinned" in Romans 3:23 must be thought of with care. It can lead one to think of the sin and the sinner in the wrong order, namely that we are sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners; we are not sinners because we sin. Think of it with the example of a factory. Whatever type of factory it is determines what type of product will come out. A boat factory for instance would not be producing glass bottles. The product is evidence of what type of factory is in question. The same is true of the sinner and his sin. Sin is the product because the factory, that is the sinner, is equipped to produce that product. We are sinners by constitution rather than action. "By the one man's disobedience the many were made [or "constituted"] sinners" (Rom. 5:19).
Constitution, in this sense, means the composition of something; what it is made of. This means that we have in us, as a part of us, an inward inclination to sin, a power that draws to sin. How did this happen? How were we "constituted sinners"? This will be the topic for our next few posts. I must warn you that these next posts will get right down to the "nitty-gritty". These can be hard truths to accept about ourselves. We know that our sin is horrible and gross, but are we ourselves really all that bad?
I hope that you join us next time as we look at what God's Word reveals to us about this matter of being "constituted a sinner". Until then enjoy the fellowship of your brothers and sisters in Christ tomorrow morning; praising the One who has provided everything "in Christ".