I’d like to do something here. We like to sometimes assume people who are watching all may know everything going on, and I know the church family here is aware, but some who are watching are wondering—the schedule seems to have changed a little bit. The end of January, I technically ceased to be the senior pastor of Sacramento Central. This church planted a church in Granite Bay about six years ago, and the Lord has blessed, and we’ve always known that as time came, I’d eventually shift, transfer over there, which happened the end of January. The challenge is we still don’t have a church. We’re renting facilities from another church, and I just want to say thank you. Sacramento Central has been nice enough to let me be at least a guest teacher sometimes here at Sacramento Central, and I’m very thankful for that.
But something happened while I was in Germany, and I am very excited to share with our extended members that are online, and our viewing audience. I’d like to invite Pastor Chris Buttery to come up. You’ve seen Pastor Chris teach a number of times because he’s part of our staff here. So how long have you been here with Central Church?
Pastor Chris Buttery: I’ve been here for just under a year and a half.
Pastor Doug Batchelor: It was about a year and a half ago, or a couple months before that, I called Pastor Chris and his wife Jennifer and said we would love to have them be part of our team here at Sacramento Central, and in the back of my mind I knew the day might come where I would be going somewhere else, and I was just prayerful that the congregation and the conference would see wisdom in his staying on in that capacity, and they’ve seen the light. It sometimes is a long process in searching for a new senior pastor. There are meetings with the board and meetings with a search committee at the conference, but I think it was last Sabbath you were officially introduced as the senior pastor.
Pastor Chris Buttery: Yes, that’s right.
Pastor Doug Batchelor: So I was just very excited. I wanted to introduce you formally as the senior pastor to our online members. There are members of Sacramento Central around the world, some I met that were in Europe last week. And you’re going to continue. I thought it would be great to say a word about—do you have any plans?
Pastor Chris Buttery: We have plans, probably not as great as your plans, but we have some plans, yes. And again, Pastor Doug, it’s been a privilege to serve with you and work with you this last year and a half or some. So I recognize, and I told the congregation and our online viewers last week, that I certainly have big shoes to fill, and it’s certainly a humbling task that’s before us. But we’re excited about a new page, a new chapter, in Sacramento Central’s future. Some folk do ask us whether Central Study Hour might be continuing, and we hope to see it continue in some capacity so folk can continue to view and tune in as well. But we’re excited about what the Lord might have in store for us here, yes.
Pastor Doug Batchelor: I thought it would be appropriate for us to have prayer together for Pastor Chris, and I think I see Jennifer not too far away. Would you mind coming up? Again, you’ve seen Jennifer singing many times, those who watch Sabbath School, but I don’t know that it’s ever said, Jennifer Buttery, the pastor’s wife,” so some people may not have made that connection. It may have happened, but I just would like to have them here before you. Being a pastor of the Central Church in the capital of California is a big responsibility, and it’s only by prayer, I think—we need to pray for God’s Spirit to be on this couple, and that the Lord will give them wisdom and just bless this church that it will continue to be a light, both in the community and beyond. Amen? So why don’t you bow your heads with me as we pray, and those who are viewing?
Father in heaven, we just are so thankful for the assurance that You are on the throne, and that as we surrender our lives to You, that You will bless and You will guide, and as we’re willing to do Your will, You’ll give us strength and wisdom to do the tasks and to fulfill the ministry You have for us. Lord, right now, in a special sense we pray that You will continue to bless Pastor Chris and Jennifer Buttery. Be with their family and their children. We pray also You will be with the Thompsons, Pastor Mike and Helen, and as they search also to replace some vacancies for the pastoral staff here, just guide in that whole process. Lord, You’ve blessed this church in many ways. We pray You will continue to bless in even greater, more abundant ways. And so we just commit them to Your care and pray that You will fill them with Your Spirit, and we thank You because we believe You will, because we’re asking in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Thank you. God bless you.
I again want to thank Central Church for letting me continue to, at least for a little while, be a guest teacher here. I love teaching, and this lesson in particular today is a very important lesson.
First, I should say we have a special gift offer. It has a strange title, and it’s called Square Circles and Carnal Christians. Now, a square circle sounds like an oxymoron, right? So is a carnal Christian. We’re going to be studying in a little bit Romans chapter 7, which is a very important chapter to understand, sometimes misunderstood. If it is misunderstood, the results can be catastrophic in your theology, and so this book helps explain that in a way that everybody can understand. I was even reading it this morning. So, we’ll send it to you for free. Just call 866-STUDY MORE. That’s 866-788-3966. I think we’ve reprinted it even, with a new cover. Ask for the offer number that appears on your screen. It’s free. Read and then share it with somebody, and you’ll find that a blessing. That’s everybody. If you haven’t read this book, it really helps you understand Romans 7.
Our lesson today is on Christ and His law. We’re going through our quarterly dealing with Christ and His law. It’s lesson number 7, in particular, “Christ, the End of the Law.” Now, just the title itself can sometimes throw people. “Christ, the End of the Law”—what does that mean? Does that mean, when Jesus came, there is no more law? Didn’t Jesus say something in Matthew 5:17 [KJV], “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to [fill full,] fulfil”? (That’s what that means.) For “whosoever … shall break … [the] least [of these] commandments, and shall teach [others to do] so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” The rich young ruler came to Jesus and said, “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” And Jesus said, “Keep the commandments.” He said, “Which ones?” And then Jesus began to quote the Ten Commandments. So when it says, “Christ, the End of the Law,” this lesson is actually quoting a verse from Romans, but it’s a verse that is often misunderstood, and that’s why we have a lesson on this subject.
Our memory verse is from Romans 10:4, and this is the source of the title for the lesson, and it comes from the New Revised Standard Version. If you could say it with me—are you ready? Romans 10:4, “For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” What does that mean? We’re going to get to that in just a second.
But to start with, we’re going to go on to “Where Sin Abounded,” the first part of this lesson, and I want to invite you to turn in your Bibles to Romans 5. We’re going to get to Romans 7 in just a minute, but first we have to build a foundation. Romans is a book that, if you read it, just one verse by itself or one little section by itself, you can miss the thought, because the book of Romans is like Mount Everest in the writings of Paul. It gives you a panorama of the whole plan of salvation. It’s an incredible book. But you need to know as he’s leading people in their thinking so that when you get to a certain point, and you say, “Ah! This makes sense because of what he said before and what he says after.”
So join me in Romans chapter 5, and we’re talking about where sin abounds. Start with verse 12. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world,” that one man being Adam, “and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—(for until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.”
He says until the law, sin was in the world. In other words, until the law was given by the Lord on Mount Sinai, was there sin in the world still? Was it a sin to commit adultery before the Ten Commandments were written down? Was murder a sin? Was lying a sin? Did God tell Cain that murder was a sin? Did Joseph say to Potiphar’s wife adultery was a sin? That was before the Ten Commandments. So Paul is making an argument, even before the law was spoken, there was law because there was sin. And where there is no law, there is no sin.
I was in Germany on the autobahn, and people were driving by at 100 miles an hour, literally, or faster! We were driving 100 at one point, not kilometers, miles per hour! And it was perfectly legal, because it was a section of the road where there is no speed limit, and it’s pretty amazing. Have any of you ever been to the autobahn? It’s pretty amazing.
So he’s just making that argument here. Then you go on to verse 14. “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.” Adam is a type of Christ. “But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.”
Through Adam’s sin, death passed on all man. But through Christ’s victory, that eternal life can go to all man. How many of you believe that Adam fell and we all suffered as a result? It’s very real every day, right? Do you believe just as much that Jesus succeeded and through the second Adam we can have victory, we can have righteousness, we can have heaven? Adam fell in a garden. Jesus overcame in a wilderness. On the sixth day of the week, Adam went to sleep and his side was opened up, and out came a wife. On the sixth day of the week, Jesus went to sleep on the cross. He said, “It is finished.” His side was opened by a spear, and in the blood and water that came out, His bride was born, the church. So that’s why it says Jesus is like the second Adam.
I want to jump ahead here. Go to verse 20. I’m in Romans 5:20. “Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” I lived sort of unaware of the law of God. I knew that things were right and wrong. But once I started reading the Bible, and I thought I was okay compared to other people, but I read the Ten Commandments, and once I read the law, sin abounded. I realized, wow! Because I became aware how fast I’d been driving. I had no idea what the speed limit was. I’m using this metaphorically. Do you know what I’m saying?
I want someone to look something up for me. Somebody has Proverbs 6:23. Who has that verse? Let’s get you a microphone. Hold your hand up so they can see where you are, and in a minute, then, I’m going to get to John 15:22. As we’re getting ready for that, I’d like to read Romans 7:7 [KJV]. “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” He goes on to say, “where there is no law there is no transgression.” By the way, if Christ is the end of the law (some people take that to mean that when Jesus came, the law was done away with)—if Christ is the end of the law, is there still sin in the world today? Let me repeat Paul, “where there is no law there is no [sin].” If there’s still sin, mustn’t there also be law? Yes. So when it says Christ is the end of the law, it doesn’t mean that He did away with the law. We’ll get to that in a minute.
Are we ready, then? Go ahead and read for us Proverbs 6:23 [KJV]. “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.”
So why would God do away with light? The commandment of God is a light; it’s a lamp; it illuminates. It does not save. What does light do? Light reveals; light exposes things. Light makes things manifest. James compares the law to a mirror, because a mirror shows a reflection of something that may need attention. It doesn’t save. It was never intended to save. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness, meaning if someone is looking upon the law as a source of righteousness, He put that to an end. The law never did bring righteousness. What the law does, it amplifies our need for righteousness. The law amplifies our need. I might think I need to take a shower once a week, and wash my face, but looking in the mirror, that might be amplified. Do you see what I’m saying? So that was the purpose of the law. It’s not to save.
Go ahead, read for us John 15:22. “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.”
Now, is there more accountability once there’s a knowledge of what God’s will is? Jesus says in Luke (I don’t remember the verse), but He said he that knew his master’s will and did not do it will be beaten with many stripes, and he that did not know his master’s will and did not do it will be beaten with few stripes. In other words, you are more accountable when you know than when you don’t know. Even every court system in the country, there’s a different punishment for what they call “premeditated murder”—it means it was planned, it was calculated. Something that happens—a fight on the street, and then they called it manslaughter—it wasn’t premeditated. So having a knowledge in advance makes you more responsible. This is what Paul is saying. The law is there to make us more responsible.
Let’s go to the next section here, and it covers Romans 6:15-23. Someone look up for me Romans 7:12. We’ll get to you in just a moment. In the mean time, I’m going to take you to Romans 6, and we’re going to be reading verses 15-23.
“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!” If you have King James, it says, “God forbid”—don’t even think it! Shall we sin because we are not under the law?
What does it mean to be not under the law? Does not under the law mean not under a responsibility to obey the law? Are Christians still obligated to keep the commandments? Once you accept Jesus, do you have more of an obligation or less of an obligation? I would think more, because, first of all, when you realize that it’s your lawlessness that put Him on the cross, why would you want to increase your lawlessness after you’ve accepted His forgiveness? Does that make sense? Christians should be the most law-keeping people, because it’s for our sins—transgression of the law—that Jesus died. So this idea that we’re not under the law means that we’re not under the obligation to keep the commandments, that’s not at all what Paul meant. That’s why Paul says, lest you misunderstand, Should we continue to break God’s law that grace might abound? “God forbid.” Perish the thought! Don’t think it! Yet I hear pastors say that all the time. They take this phrase “under the law” to mean an obligation to obey, and they say, “We’re not under the law. We’re no longer under an obligation to keep the Ten Commandments.” Have you heard this before? I hear it all the time. But whenever I hear someone say this, I pin them down a little bit, and I say, “Wait. Help me. Are you saying that since we’re not under the law, that means we don’t have to keep the Ten Commandments any more?”
And they realize where it’s going, and they go, “Well, no, we’re not under the old law.”
I say, “Is it okay to lie?”
“Is it okay to steal?”
“Covet my neighbor’s goods or spouse?”
And you go through the Ten Commandments. “Can I pray to statues? Can I worship other gods?”
“No, no, no, no, no, no, no! Of course you have to keep all of those.”
And then you say, “Remember the Sabbath day?”
“We’re not under the law.”
I’ve seen that dance so many times, I would think that somebody would realize it’s suspicious. They have no problem with the Ten Commandments until you get to the fourth commandment. They’ve basically invented this whole new theology that “not under the law” means you’re not under an obligation to keep the Ten Commandments.
They say, “Well, we need to keep those because those commandments are restated in the New Testament.” That’s not true. They say, “The only commandment not restated in the New Testament is the fourth commandment, the Sabbath.” That’s not true. That’s what you call a Christian urban myth. Sometimes people say things over and over again, they think it must be true, and they don’t ever search it out. Actually, you don’t find anywhere in the New Testament where it says, “Don’t take the name of the Lord in vain.” So can we break that commandment? No. Where does it say in the New Testament, “Do not take the name of the Lord in vain”? Can we break that, then? Do we find the fourth commandment repeated and addressed in the New Testament? Yes. Hebrews chapter 4, for one thing, Acts chapter 13—there are a number of places where it talks about keeping the Sabbath in the New Testament. So that argument that, “Well, it’s not repeated,” I heard one evangelist say it this way. Many evangelical Christians really struggle to get rid of the Sabbath. It’s like a man who has a sore finger, and in order to deal with that sore finger, he cuts off all 10 fingers and sews 9 of them back on. So to get rid of the Sabbath, they actually have to get rid of all 10, they reattach 9 of them, and really the problem is we should keep all 10.
When Christ says we’re not under the law, this is what “under the law” means. We are not under the curse or the penalty of the law, we are under grace. When you sin, you are under the condemnation of the law, you are under the penalty—the death penalty. After you’re forgiven, praise God, by the grace of God we are no longer under the penalty of the law—it doesn’t mean under an obligation to obey the law. But I’ve heard it twisted, and so many—millions—of Christians think this verse means we are not under an obligation to keep the law. That’s not what he’s saying.
Listen to Paul. Let him speak for himself. Verse 16. Romans 6:16, “Do you not know that to whom you [yield] yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin [breaking the law] leading to death, or of obedience [keeping the law] leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness”—can’t misunderstand what he means here. Before you were saved, you were slaves to lawlessness. Lawless means without the law, right? Lawbreaking. Do we all agree? If I tell you someone’s an outlaw, are they law-abiding or not? They are lawless. Okay. Paul is very clear here. I’m in verse 19. “…leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.” In other words, you were separated from righteousness. “What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness,” a law of obedience, “and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
So that’s the good news there, and someone, I think, is ready to read Romans 7:12 [KJV]. Let’s go ahead and read that. “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” Only a few things are called holy. By the way, the only place in the Ten Commandments you find the word holy is in the fourth commandment. Only a few things are holy, and did Jesus come to do away with something that is holy and just and good, to replace it with something unholy, unjust, and bad? Of course not! So Paul is saying there is no problem with the law. The law’s function, though, is not to save. That’s the point he’s making, and do you know why Paul is making that point? He’s talking here in Romans about his personal experience. Would he consider himself a law keeper before he knew Jesus was the Messiah? Sure! He was a Pharisee of the Pharisees. That’s his own word. Did Pharisees make a big deal about the law? Yes. Were they even a little legalistic? Isn’t legalism thinking you’re saved by the law? Paul is talking about his own experience about the time when he thought that he was being saved by the law, and he finally realized the law does no saving. Salvation and forgiveness comes from the grace of God and through the righteousness of Christ.
Now, the law serves a purpose. When I was first learning to drive—a lot of you probably fancy yourselves pretty good drivers. How many of you remember, when you were first learning to drive, there was a driving manual put out by the state, and it might have been California’s DMV driving handbook, and there were regulations. How many of you took the test? Anyone driving and you didn’t take the test? We want to get you on camera right now because we want you off the roads! So we all took a test. There are a lot of laws about when to pass, when not to pass, what the lines mean. You don’t want someone coming towards you not knowing what those lines mean. Solid lines, dotted lines, yellow lines, white lines—they all mean something, right? You probably studied that book and took a test, and I’m assuming you passed. How many of you carry that book in your glove box now? I see some of you do. Well, that’s good. That’s okay. I know it pretty well, and I sort of have it in my heart. How many of you, it’s second nature for you now? Isn’t that what the law should be, where it’s in our minds and in our hearts, so it becomes like almost a natural response to obey the laws? I had to think so hard to turn on my turn signal when I was first learning to drive, that when my driving instructor took me out, that was something he said, “Turn signal. You forgot you’re turn—changing lanes—turn signal.” It got so bad that, now I’m up on the country roads. I’m on dirt roads 12 miles from anybody, and I go around a corner and I turn on my turn signal. There’s nobody up there. I’m just surrounded by a cloud of dust on a dirt road, and I’m turning on my turn signal. It’s a habit now! Do you know what I mean?
When you walk with Jesus, and you live that kind of life, and you study His word, and it becomes in your heart, isn’t that the new covenant? When you’re governed by love for God, then you start driving right, because you have the law written in your heart.
Deuteronomy 6:6. Just a couple more thoughts on the law here. “And these words”—in Deuteronomy 5, Moses recites, he repeats, the Ten Commandments. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
This was really meant to be a symbol. When God says you should have them in your heart, did that mean literally to open your heart and put them in there? When He said they should be on your doors and on your gates—well, there’s no harm in doing that. When you go into a Jewish home, sometimes there will be a little scroll, and you’ll see them kiss it and put their finger to it, and it’s supposed to have a little piece of the law written inside this little—I can’t remember the word for it. Anyway, it’s a Jewish word for the little element of the law that is in this silver box nailed to the door. And you’ve probably seen the Pharisees that have these phylacteries. They have a little leather box for the law on their forehead, and they have one tied to their wrists, and they think there’s some spiritual merit, or showing their holiness, by having, literally, the law tied on their hand and on their forehead and on their gates.
But what did Moses mean? Surround yourself with it. It should be in your hand—in your actions, in your heart—your affections, in your head—in your thoughts. That’s very important because—. Did any of you see the new YouTube? I just put it up on my Facebook last night. Some of you saw it. Amazing Facts just put out a new YouTube on the mark of the beast explaining what the mark is. Is it symbolic or figurative? We quote this verse, and you can just go to the Amazing Facts website and we’ll have it there. It’s a four-minute YouTube, because people misunderstand the mark. They think it’s a physical line; they think it’s a tattoo, a barcode, a computer chip. There might be some mechanism that the beast power will use to control buying and selling, but a credit card is not the mark of the beast. Where is the mark of the beast? In the hand and the forehead, right? This is a clue, when Moses says these words shall be in your hand and between your eyes, he symbolically means the law of the Lord.
How many people in Revelation have a mark? What percentage? A hundred percent. A hundred percent have a mark. They either have the seal of God, or they have the mark of the beast. Did you notice how I worded that? Everybody has some kind of distinguishing mark. Isn’t that right? Are you all with me? The whole world is going to get pulverized into one of two groups. The seal of God is the law of God in the head and in the hand. It’s in the heart, really. And in that law, there’s a special commandment that talks about holiness and worshiping God, because the big battle in the last days is about worship. So that’s why the devil attacks the law, and that’s why we’re studying this subject.
So, many people misunderstand. Is it still a good idea for Christians to do what Moses suggested, to surround ourselves with the law of God when we lie down and when we rise up, to teach it to them, have it in our hands and in our hearts and in our heads and on our doors? Shouldn’t we know the law of God? We’re not saved by it, but in teaching the word, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet.” It’s very important to have the mirror of the law, to have the light of the law, to reveal our need of Christ. Amen? That is a very important point there.
Let me read something (this is in your lesson) from Acts of the Apostles, page 393. “Paul had ever exalted the divine law. He had shown that in the law there is no power to save men from the penalty of disobedience. Wrongdoers must repent of their sins and humble themselves before God, whose just wrath they have incurred by breaking His law, and they must also exercise faith in the blood of Christ as their only means of pardon.” So, for those that think that Seventh-day Adventists believe that we’re saved by keeping the law, we don’t believe that any more than an evangelical believes they’re saved by not committing adultery. But evangelicals teach their flock not to commit adultery. Is that legalism? Evangelicals teach their flock not to steal, right? Don’t most Christians teach that? So do we become legalists by also teaching, “Remember the Sabbath day”? That’s not fair. You mean because we do 100 percent of the commandments instead of 90 percent, we become legalists? No. It’s the same principle. We are saved by grace from all disobedience. But you still teach the law. Right?
Now let’s get to that difficult passage that I really pray we all understand. Go to Romans 7:15. In Romans 6 and in Romans 8 and in Romans 5, Paul is talking about the wonderful liberty and freedom and deliverance we have in Jesus, this new life, this new heart, the joy, the praise, and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, Romans 7, he describes this very depressing condition, and people misunderstand, and they’re going, “What is he talking about?” Let me read this to you.
Romans 7:15, “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” I just have to pause here. Some people believe, and this is the part that I hope everybody will wake up and engrave in your mind. Some people believe that Paul is describing what is supposed to be the regular experience of a converted Christian in these verses. Many Christians do not believe that. They believe Paul is describing here what his struggle was as Saul the Pharisee, where he had no peace, when it came to trying to find righteousness through the law. If we believe that we can say, “Well, I’m just going to continue to sin, but I’m not responsible; it’s sin that dwells in me.”
I remember when I lived on the Navajo Reservation, they struggle with alcohol, and sometimes they do the most embarrassing, even deadly things under the influence. But their attitude was, among many, “Well, it wasn’t me, it was the alcohol.” It’s almost like they said, “I’m not responsible. It was the alcohol.” Well, but you’re responsible when you choose to drink the alcohol. Some people have this attitude, “Well, I sin, but I’ve accepted Jesus, so it doesn’t matter because I don’t have to worry about sin. It’s just the sin that dwells in me. This is the normal experience,” and they give up making any effort to repent and turn from their sins, because they think this is supposed to be the normal experience. That’s dangerous. That’s exactly what the devil wants people to think. Listen. Let me continue here.
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me”—the desire to do right is present with me, “but how to perform what is good I do not find.” I don’t know how to do what I’m supposed to do. Is that the ongoing experience of the Christian—hopelessness, we have no idea how to do God’s will? We know what it is, but we can’t do it. “For the good that I will to do, I do not do.” Now, we’ve all experienced that. Me too. But is that supposed to be the pattern? “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” So this is the new born again Christian. The evil you don’t want to do, that’s what you’re going to do. Well, why be a Christian? “Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
“I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.” I see the law. It makes sense. Will there be a day when even the wicked fall before the Lord and declare He’s just? So you can be lost and still declare that God is just. Didn’t Balaam try to curse Israel, and he said, “Let me die the death of the righteous”? He praised the goodness of God, and yet he continued to chase after money. So the idea that only people that are abject, abandoned to sin can say that, is not true. A lot of sinners out there know God is good and the law is just.
“I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am!” So is that the condition of the saved Christian—wretched? That’s going to be a great evangelism slogan. “Come! Be a Christian! Be a wretched man and woman! A constant conflict, knowing what you should do, never able to do it.” That’s going to be hard to do evangelism with that as our model.
“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” We all know about the body of death. By the way, when Paul says “body of death,” many scholars believe he is alluding to a very despicable practice the Romans had for the worst criminals. If you think crucifixion was the worst thing, they had one thing worse. They would actually chain you to a dead body. They would chain a living person, a criminal, in a dungeon to a dead body that was decomposing, and so the contagion of that dead body would eventually spread to them, and they would die from the contamination. Paul is referencing that, and he’s saying, I feel like I’m chained to this body of death. Here I have this desire to be a Christian, but I have this carnal nature, and I can’t get away from it. What do I do?
Everybody in the conversion process experiences that. There is a struggle. Paul is describing the struggle for deliverance, this wretched battle between the Spirit and the flesh. Did the children of Israel just wave a hankie and leave Egypt, or was there a tremendous struggle? In getting out of Egypt, was there a struggle? Is there sometimes a struggle when a baby is born? I know we have a lot of things to make it easier today, but it didn’t used to be that way. Rachel died giving birth. It was a tremendous struggle. So the conversion struggle—people go back and forth, and they say, “Who will deliver me?” Have you ever read Ellen White’s story? The struggle! She had days of darkness saying, “Who will deliver me?” And then she found it, and she was converted, and she’d praise God, and she was on cloud nine. She experienced a real conversion. She understood it. This is what God wants us to have, where we have a born again experience.
This is important, because my heart goes out to the millions, and I’m not exaggerating—millions of Christians out there that think that Paul is describing what is supposed to be the normal experience, the daily experience, of the Christian. Paul is describing here what was his struggle as a Pharisee. Paul went three days without eating or drinking after he ran into Christ, and there was a tremendous struggle.
Let me finish here. “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” So is there deliverance? Through whom? Christ.
Then he backs up, and he says, “So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” What does that mean? Does that mean we’re to go on serving the law of sin with our flesh? No. He’s just saying that the operation, this law of sin, is in our flesh, and we’re going to want to serve God with our mind, but we can be delivered from the control of the flesh.
I want to read something. This is from Adam Clarke. Adam Clarke was a great commentary writer. He was the right hand man of John Wesley. “That all that is said in this chapter of the carnal man, sold under sin, did apply to Saul of Tarsus”—notice he doesn’t say Paul, Saul—before his conversion, “no man can doubt: that what is here said can ever be with propriety applied to Paul the Apostle, who can believe? Of the former, all is natural.” It makes sense that Saul of Tarsus would talk about the struggle of his conversion while a Pharisee. “…of the latter, … [it] would be monstrous and absurd, if not blasphemous” to believe Paul is describing the ongoing experience of the Christian as a wretched one.
Do you know “Amazing Grace”? “That saved a…” what? “That saved a wretch like me.” Saved a wretch from what? From wretchedness. We’re saved from it.
Let me give you another part of Adam Clarke’s comment on this. “Had he been in captivity to the law of sin and death, after his conversion to Christianity, what did he gain by that conversion? Nothing for his personal holiness. He had found no salvation under an inefficient law; and he was left in thraldom under an equally inefficient Gospel. The very genius of Christianity demonstrates that nothing like this can, with any propriety, be spoken of a genuine Christian.” And yet, pastors, not just evangelical, even in our own church, are teaching their flock this is the normal experience, the daily experience. This is what you expect in being a Christian. Is it any wonder that Christians don’t look happy, because they think that they are continually…
Let me read to you from Galatians 5. Who wrote Galatians? Paul did. Galatians 5:16 [KJV], “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh”—there’s that battle again: “and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” Isn’t he describing the same struggle here? “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” Under what law? Under the law of the flesh. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest…; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past,” notice, “that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” If you are led by the Spirit, you will not walk according to the lusts of the flesh. Is that clear? And he’s describing the same struggle here. But we are not left to be losers in that battle. The Lord wants us to have victory in that battle. Do you believe that?
Notice, he goes on to say, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” So you’re in the law of God. There’s no law against having the fruit of the Spirit. There is a law against the other things if you are led by the flesh.
This is an excerpt from Joe Crews’ book that we’re offering on square circles and carnal Christians.
“Can you imagine how these words could ever apply to that spiritual giant who was Paul: ‘I am carnal, sold under sin,’ ‘… bringing me into captivity to the law of sin,’ ‘What I hate, that do I,’ ‘O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’” Is that where we’re left?
Or “what does this miserable, sin-bound creature have in common with the experience described in the preceding chapter?” Notice what he says in chapter 6. “‘We … are dead to sin,’ ‘… freed from sin,’ ‘Let not sin therefore reign,’ ‘Sin shall not have dominion over you,’ ‘Shall we sin? God forbid,’ ‘Being then made free from sin.’” That’s the previous chapter.
So in order to take Romans 7:15 and on to mean this is the ongoing experience of the Christian, you have to do away with everything else he says in Romans. Yet some people butcher their theology by getting rid of everything the Bible says about a victorious life, they embrace Paul describing his life as a Pharisee, the struggle, and they say, “Yes, well, this is the normal, miserable, wretched experience of a Christian, and we just have to deal with it.” Wow, that’s sad.
How could Paul himself harmonize this wretched state of Romans 7 with the soaring spirit of Spirit-filled victory described in Romans 8? Let’s go there really quick. Go to Romans 8. Notice what he says in Romans 7:24, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Then go to chapter 8 verse 1. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to…” what? “the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did….” We couldn’t do it. Paul describes the condition when we couldn’t do it; we were weak through the flesh. He says what we couldn’t do, Christ did, God did. How? “…by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh”—He took my flesh, and “on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh”—in His life, why?—“that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who [no longer] walk according to the flesh but [now] according to the Spirit.” We know what the works of the flesh are, right? We just read them. We do not walk according to the flesh anymore. God is calling us to holiness, right? This is such an important thing to understand about the law.
Let me just read a few more things really quick. I’m running out of time. “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” He’s already described that hopeless condition. “So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” You can’t please Him in the flesh; you can only please Him in the spirit. We need to live Spirit-filled lives.
I’m in Romans 8:9. “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” We need to be Spirit-filled Christians, friends. “And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin,” and “he that is dead is freed from sin,” Paul said in Romans 6 [KJV]. “The body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” So, yes, our mortal bodies, these carnal bodies we’re trapped in, He gives us new life through His Spirit.
I just could keep on reading, but I have some other things in my notes here. You know what I want to do? I’m just going to have to skip a few things. Forgive me if I don’t get to everything. Turn with me to Romans chapter 10. We have to get through the title. What does it mean when it talks about the goal of the law? “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” What does it mean when Christ is the end of the law? The word end in Greek there is telos, and it’s translated “the end,” and it can be—you can get a terminal, where it’s the end of something, but it really means what completes a thing or renders it perfect.
For instance, if you look in your Bible in 1 Timothy 1:5—I think I gave that to somebody. We’ll let you read that. What version are you going to read? New King James? All right, good. I want you to read that in the New King James Version. While he’s getting ready to read that, I’m going to read the King James Version. King James, 1 Timothy 1:5, says, “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart.” The end of the commandment, same word telos. All right, you’re going to read it now in the New King James Version.
“Now the purpose of the commandment is love…”
Oh, wait a second! I’m going to stop you. Mine says “the end.” Yours says what?
“Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.”
That word end is really translated “the object, the purpose.” So now, reading Romans 10, “For Christ is the [purpose] of the law,” Christ is the object of the law, He is the essence of the law, “for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Do not think that word end there means that it is kaputt, as they would say in Germany, that Jesus came to do away with. That’s not what it means, and there are many other—let me read you one more. 1 Peter 1:9 [KJV], “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” Is our faith supposed to be done away with? Does the word end there mean “done away with”? It’s the same word, telos, and it means the object of your faith, the purpose of your faith is even the salvation of your souls. That’s what the word end means. So the title of the lesson, “The End of the Law,” doesn’t mean the doing away with the law, it means the purpose of the law is Christ. Is that clear? All right.
We’re out of time, but I want to encourage everybody, if you didn’t catch at the beginning, please request and read this book, Square Circles and Carnal Christians. It explains these conundrums in Romans very well. They’ll send it to you free. Just call 866-788-3966, and we’ll send it to you. God bless till we study God’s word together again next week.