CMF eZine

The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship.

Romans 7:16 - The Law is Good!

Christians may here find a test of their piety. The fact of struggling against evil, the desire to be free from it, and to overcome it, the anxiety and grief which it causes, is an evidence that we do not love it, and that there. fore we are the friends of God. Perhaps nothing can be a more decisive test of piety than a long-continued and painful struggle against evil passions and desires in every form, and a panting of the soul to be delivered from the power and dominion of sin. (Dr. Albert Barnes)

But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. (NASB)

If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. (KJV)

But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. (NLT)

But if I do what I don't want, I agree that the law is good. (NET)

The fact that we are wrestling with our sin give us a sign of our ownership.  If we did not have God's light within us we would be at peace with our fallenness and would be trying to encourage others to join in our fallen lifestyle (Romans 1).  Matthew Henry pretty well encapsulates this (see quote below) when he describes this as being sold to a hated master.  We serve sin unwillingly (that is we hate what we are doing) yet we find ourselves unable to extricate ourselves from the conflict.  But when we are rescued by the comforter (the Spirit of Christ who lives within) we begin to discover the victory planned for us.  Kenneth Wuest says that "To be saved from sin, a man must at the same time own it and disown it; it is this practical paradox which is reflected in this verse."  We are responsible for our own sin (we own it) but must repent of it (disown it) and turn away from our dead self and toward Christ (our new life).  The honest place to begin is to confess to our Heavenly Father our conflict that we might be partakers of the life He has planned for us.  If our failures are the result of the sin that lives in us, then our victories must be the result of Christ in us.  The "I" in us must die to see the victory assured.

Compared with the holy rule of conduct in the law of God, the apostle found himself so very far short of perfection, that he seemed to be carnal; like a man who is sold against his will to a hated master, from whom he cannot set himself at liberty.  A real Christian unwillingly serves this hated master, yet cannot shake off the galling chain, till his powerful and gracious Friend above, rescues him. The remaining evil of his heart is a real and humbling hindrance to his serving God as angels do and the spirits of just made perfect. This strong language was the result of St. Paul's great advance in holiness, and the depth of his self-abasement and hatred of sin.  If we do not understand this language, it is because we are so far beneath him in holiness, knowledge of the spirituality of God's law, and the evil of our own hearts, and hatred of moral evil.  And many believers have adopted the apostle's language, showing that it is suitable to their deep feelings of abhorrence of sin, and self-abasement.  The apostle enlarges on the conflict he daily maintained with the remainder of his original depravity. He was frequently led into tempers, words, or actions, which he did not approve or allow in his renewed judgment and affections.  By distinguishing his real self, his spiritual part, from the self, or flesh, in which sin dwelt, and by observing that the evil actions were done, not by him, but by sin dwelling in him, the apostle did not mean that men are not accountable for their sins, but he teaches the evil of their sins, by showing that they are all done against reason and conscience.  Sin dwelling in a man, does not prove its ruling, or having dominion over him.  If a man dwells in a city, or in a country, still he may not rule there. (Matthew Henry)

Psalm 119:127-28  Truly, I love Your commands more than gold, even the finest gold.  Each of Your commandments is right. That is why I hate every false way. (NLT)

Romans 7:15 - I Can Do This - NOT

The deeds of my life, he says, are not in accordance to my will, rather they are contrary to it.  Therefore by the consent of my will with the law, and repugnancy with the deeds of my life, it plainly appears that the law and a properly controlled will induce us to do one thing, but corruption, which also has its seat in the regenerated, another thing. (Geneva Bible Translations Notes)

For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. (NASB)

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. (KJV)

I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate. (NLT)

For I don't understand what I am doing.  For I do not do what I want — instead, I do what I hate. (NET)

Sin is like a magnesium fire, once ablaze it cannot be readily extinguished and the usually helpful agents tend to exacerbate the inferno.  What passes today for spiritual maturity (if there is such a thing) has more to do with personality type than true spiritual vigor.  Why is this?  Because of the latent power of the soul!  We a fearfully and wonderfully made.  We can exhibit great character totally from human endeavor.  But in the end the totality of our works are but filthy rags!  We kick against the goads because it is our nature to do so.  We say in our innermost being, "I can do this!"  But the law reveals our inability to bring fruition to our prideful assertions.  All have sinned, all have come up short, all have missed the mark.

Wherein is the difference?  The inclinations of the heart have changed for the heart now hates those things that are not pleasing to God and loves those things that are pleasing even though we are powerless in the flesh to prove them.  This new inclination is a sign of our new ownership!

That do I - Under the influence of sinful propensities, and carnal inclinations and desires. This represents the strong native propensity to sin; and even the power of corrupt propensity under the restraining influence of the gospel. On this remarkable and important passage we may observe,

(1) That the prevailing propensity; the habitual fixed inclination of the mind of the Christian, is to do right. The evil course is hated, the right course is loved. This is the characteristic of a pious mind. It distinguishes a holy man from a sinner.

(2) the evil which is done is disapproved; is a source of grief; and the habitual desire of the mind is to avoid it, and be pure. This also distinguishes the Christian from the sinner.

(3) there is no need of being embarrassed here with any metaphysical difficulties or inquiries how this can be; for.

(a) it is in fact the experience of all Christians. The habitual, fixed inclination and desire of their minds is to serve God. They have a fixed abhorrence of sin; and yet they are conscious of imperfection, and error, and sin, that is the source of uneasiness and trouble. The strength of natural passion may in an unguarded moment overcome them. The power of long habits of previous thoughts may annoy them. A man who was an infidel before his conversion, and whose mind was filled with scepticism, and cavils, and blasphemy, will find the effect of his former habits of thinking lingering in his mind, and annoying his peace for years. These thoughts will start up with the rapidity of lightning. Thus, it is with every vice and every opinion. It is one of the effects of habit. “The very passage of an impure thought through the mind leaves pollution behind it,” and where sin has been long indulged, it leaves its withering, desolating effect on the soul long after conversion, and produces that state of conflict with which every Christian is familiar.

(b) An effect somewhat similar is felt by all people. All are conscious of doing that, under the excitement of passion and prejudice, which their conscience and better judgment disapprove. A conflict thus exists, which is attended with as much metaphysical difficulty as the struggle in the Christian’s mind referred to here.

(c) The same thing was observed and described in the writings of the heathen. Thus, Xenophon (Cyrop. vi. 1), Araspes, the Persian, says, in order to excuse his treasonable designs,” Certainly I must have two souls; for plainly it is not one and the same which is both evil and good; and at the same time wishes to do a thing and not to do it. Plainly then, there are two souls; and when the good one prevails, then it does good; and when the evil one predominates, then it does evil.” So also Epictetus (Enchixid. ii. 26) says, “He that sins does not do what he would, but what he would not, that he does.” With this passage it would almost seem that Paul was familiar, and had his eye on it when he wrote. (Dr. Albert Barnes)

Romans 7:14 - The Trouble is Me!

In verse 14 we have the beginning of the "I" chorus where we discover the Apostle Paul sharing the daily struggle that takes place within us.  With the law of our mind, we try to obey the law of God but the law of sin and death gives us only one choice.  According to Wuest's Word Studies, Paul uses three words to describe mankind, "natural" (psuchikos ψυχικος), "carnal" (sarkinos σαρκινος), and “spiritual” pneumatikos (πνευματικος).  The carnal man is unsaved and living by the latent power of the God created soul.  The things of God are foolishness to him because he remains deceived by his abandonment to the sinful flesh.  The carnal man is one who is saved but has yet to live by the power of the life giving Spirit and remains under control of his evil nature and may try to live a moral life in the power of the flesh (again the latent power of the soul) and is deceived into thinking that he is spiritual.  Tyndale's Concise commentary calls this the walking-in-the-flesh approach to being righteous.  The last is the spiritual man who is living in the fullness of the Spirit and recognizes that apart from the power of Christ in him he too will be deceived.  He recognizes that he is engaged in a daily battle that will never end until the day he is called home to be with the Lord or Christ's return.

For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. (NASB)

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. (KJV)

So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. (NLT)

For we know that the law is spiritual — but I am unspiritual, sold into slavery to sin. (NET)

For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. (Ps 51:5 NLT)

pneumatikós; fem. pneumatikḗ, neut. pneumatikón, adj. from pneúma (G4151), spirit. Spiritual.
(I) Pertaining to the nature of spirits. "A spiritual body" (1Co_15:44) means a body dominated by the Spirit, in contrast to a natural or soulish body (sṓma psuchikón [sṓma {G4983}, body; psuchikón {G5591}, pertaining to soul]) which obeys one's natural instincts or soul.

It might be good to consider the reasons we suffer in the midst of the things of this fallen world system:

1.  Our suffering may be caused by Satanic activity

But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water?  This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?” (Luke 13:15-16 NLT)

And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. (Acts 10:38 NLT)

2.  Suffering may be caused by ungodly men.

Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will pay him back for his deeds. (2 Timothy 4:14 NLT)

3.  Suffering may be caused by this world’s system.

Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day. (2 Peter 2:8 NLT)

4.  Suffering may be caused by the believer’s own fallen nature. (Romans 7:14-23)

5.  Suffering may be caused by carnal Christians.

It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives.  They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. (Philippians 1:15-16 NLT)

Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica.  Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia. (2 Timothy 4:10 NLT)

Thus it is our job to be combat ready for all of these situations as they arise so that we may carry on the commission that has been given to us-to make disciples!  How are you doing?  Are you living a life worthy of your calling?  If not?  What are you doing to allow Christ to have the victory in your life?

Cause of Freedom

Cause of Freedom

The Cause of Freedom is a Gospel Opportunity—by Bob Flynn

A Warrior's End

"No foreign power or combination of foreign powers could by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected?  I answer, if it ever reach us it must spring up from among us, it cannot come from abroad.  If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die of suicide.”  Abraham Lincoln

When Abraham Lincoln spoke these words I doubt that he could have conceived of a day when we would have a Department of Homeland Security.  It is by design that America has NOT YET suffered another twin tower disaster! This success has been wrought at great cost!

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”  Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

Destination Assured

“The patriot who feels himself in the service of God, who acknowledges Him in all his ways, has the promise of Almighty direction, and will find His word in his greatest darkness, ‘a lantern to his feet and a lamp unto his path.’  He will therefore seek to establish for his country in the eyes of the world, such a character as shall make her not unworthy of the name of a Christian nation.”  Francis Scott Key (1779-1843) 

“And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.  This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others.”  (2 Corinthians 5:18-19 NLT)

Destination Assured

We can ponder the significance of “A Warrior’s End” from many perspectives.  There is the look on a mother’s face that can never be forgotten when she is told she will never hug her beloved son again; or the empty side of the bed that grieves the young wife’s heart; the empty chair at the dinner table where Daddy used to sit.

If together we could introduce each one of these young men and women to the Gospel before the crisis, their destination will be changed for an eternity!  For those who return wounded of heart, there is one immutable fact: warriors talk only to warriors about warrior things.

Would you consider partnering with us in this effort to carry the Gospel to those yet unsaved and hug the wounded?

These are the needs:

  • Local Representatives (that’s you) who are willing to facilitate fellowship groups at their location.
  • Prayer warriors (that’s you) willing to pray daily for the concerns of the troops, their families and this ministry.
  • Financial support (that’s you) for the ministry. Our general fund still lags behind the expenses. Please consider becoming a regular giver.

Our Dream:

  • To have an active CMF fellowship group at each and every military installation, Veterans Hospital, and Active Duty or Reserve community in the world.

Romans 7:13 - Sin, Death, Law

Thus it appears that man cannot have a true notion of sin but by means of the law of God….The law, therefore, is the grand instrument in the hands of a faithful minister, to alarm and awaken sinners; and he may safely show that every sinner is under the law, and consequently under the curse, who has not fled for refuge to the hope held out by the Gospel: for, in this sense also, Jesus Christ is the End of the Law for justification to them that believe. (Dr. Adam Clarke)

The proposition: that the law is not the cause of death, but our corrupt nature being with the law not only discouraged, but also stirred up: and it took occasion by this to rebel, and the more that things are forbidden it, the more it desires them, and the result of this is guiltiness, and occasion of death. (Geneva Bible Translation Notes)

The sense here is, that by the giving of the command, and its application to the mind, sin was completely developed; it was excited, inflamed, aggravated, and showed to be excessively malignant and deadly. It was not a dormant, slumbering principle; but it was awfully opposed to God and His Law. Calvin has well expressed the sense: “It was proper that the enormity of sin should be revealed by the Law; because unless sin should break forth by some dreadful and enormous excess (as they say,) it would not be known to be sin. (Dr. Albert Barnes)

Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful. (NASB)

Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. (KJV)

But how can that be? Did the law, which is good, cause my death? Of course not! Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation to death. So we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God's good commands for its own evil purposes.  (NLT)

Did that which is good, then, become death to me? Absolutely not! But sin, so that it would be shown to be sin, produced death in me through what is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful. (NET)

The argument anticipated is that we could say the law was the cause of the condition rather than our condition being the cause of our failure.  We ought to be acquainted with our own character so as not to be deceived.  We are as an unclean thing and our righteousness is filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6)  Perhaps the New Living Translation will give us some insight:

We are all infected and impure with sin.  When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.  Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. (NLT)

When we were abandoned by God (Romans 1) to our sin it was for the purpose of showing us our true nature and letting us fell the full weight of our sinful transgressions.  It is when we see the hopelessness of our true condition that we are drawn to its only cure, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christian Military Fellowship

An Indigenous Ministry • Discipleship • Prayer • Community • Support
Encouraging Men and Women in the United States Armed Forces, and their families, to love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

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    PO Box 1207, Englewood, CO 80150-1207

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