In Romans 7, Paul describes his condition as a slave to the law of sin (Romans 7:14-25). On the other hand, Romans 8 describes his liberation from slavery to sin through the law of the spirit of life (Romans 8:1-14)
Does Romans 7 describe his pre-Christian experience, and Romans 8 describe his post-Christian experience? Or may a Christian still find himself in Romans 7?
Backsliding Christians may certainly slip back into Romans 7; but how about Christians who persistently seek the Lord? Do they pass beyond Romans 7, and live perpetually in Romans 8? Some Christian teachers think so, while others demur.
I believe that God wants and expects Christians to pray before God like Romans chapter 7, and live before men like Romans chapter 8. This is what the great saints did. Think of Moses: the same Moses who was decisive before Israel and bold before Pharoah was weak and uncertain before God. David was the same way: he was never defeated in battle, but in the Psalms David pours out before God how overpowered and overwhelmed he feels by the enemies which confront him. Now, our enemies are sin and Satan: and though with Godís help they will never get the better of us, we should honestly pour out before God our distress, despair, and fears of defeat.
Christians who feel they have completely passed beyond Romans 7 have ceased praying the prayer of contrition: ďSearch me O God and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the everlasting wayĒ (Psalm 139:23). They do not continue to ascend Godís holy mountain, because they imagine they reached the top. Their hearts are closed to deeper revelations of Godís holiness and purity.
When the Christian prays the prayer of contrition, and God responds by revealing inner wickedness in the deeper recesses of the heart, then the Christian re-enters Romans 7. However, this re-entry is private and temporary. When God reveals to us the sins of our hearts, we should remain closeted with Him until He grants us the assurance of victory over sin through the Spirit of life. Only then should return to the world, fully empowered and equipped to be Christís representatives.
In summary: Romans 7 before God in prayer, Romans 8 before men in life.
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Last Revised: September 8, 2002
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