By Norman P. Grubb
In this final part of our Romans 6 to 8 -- Paul's key to the liberated life -- let us start by reviewing briefly what has been said in the previous two parts. In essence, the lost secret now revealed is that we humans were never created to be self-dependent or self-operating. There is no such thing as am independent human self. We were marvelously created in God's likeness to function spontaneously as expressers of Himself. Ultimately we will manage His universe as co-heirs with His Son, permanently operating in His perfect other-love nature.
But by the law of the universe, referred to in the previous sections, we understand that nothing can function except by having its opposite, just as light operates by swallowing up darkness. So we can only know and operate of human personhood by being confronted with the opposite: the false deity of the opposite of sin" nature, which is self-for-self.
We started our fallen human lives from the Garden of Eden by being occupied by that false deity and expressing his nature as though it were ours. Then our Saviour Christ, in His other-love nature, took our place as our Last Adam, representing us in His Calvary death and being "made sin" as us. In that death as us, out went that sin-spirit; and in His resurrection as us, in came His Spirit of self-giving love.
Paul's main point then, in Romans 6 and 7 has been to expose how we were deluded by Satan into thinking that we were self-operating selves. In actuality, however, it was Satan expressing his self-for-self (sin) nature as us. Then Paul tells us at length how God sent the law with its requirements to expose us when we come honest. We first had to learn that we had not kept the law as lost sinners, and then that we could never keep it because we have never been independent self-relying selves. We were deceived by Satan to think we were, but actually we were only expressers of Satan's self-for-self nature.
In unfolding the value of the law in Romans 7, Paul makes a unique contribution to exposing and removing the main blockage to effective Christian living. At last, in our agony and desperation at our failures, light dawns upon us. We are then capable of seeing that the evil was not in our beautiful, God-created humanity, but in the lie of the independent self (sin dwelling in us). Through Calvary, we now move in by faith to see and recognize that it is He, the Spirit of Truth, expressing Himself in our vessels -- branch containers -- in us and by us, in place of that evil one.
So by faith in the revealed fact, we find ourselves free just to be our human selves with no fears or condemnations. Through the Spirit's certain inner witness, we are expressers of Him: Christ in us as us. And now, after a brief law interlude, we go into chapter 8 of Romans, not as in our walking-Satan forms, but as walking Christs -- "more than conquerors."
A CRISIS MOMENT
Now we move with Paul into Romans 8. Here he comes right out with who he is. What he said he had "reckoned" on in Romans 6:11, he now says he "realizes" (Rom 8:2). The governing principle, "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus," has set him free. So there is a settled knowing. In "reckoning," you SAY it is so; in "knowing," you KNOW it is so. There is a crisis moment. The lives of the great men of the Bible -- Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, right through to Jesus Himself -- bear witness to this knowing.
So do I know? And how do I know? I began my new knowing at my new birth, and the Spirit bore witness. Now this is a total knowing. If you have seen this change through Calvary, from being Satan-sin indwelt and Satan expresser to now being Christ indwelt and Christ expresser, then be sure you have spoken the word of faith and recognition, as Paul did. "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus," he says, "has set me free." And in Galatians he proclaims, "I have been crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me."
Say YOUR word now, and say it to someone else! Then what you say echoes back to you, and you know (1 Jn 5:10). Maybe you cannot yet give a date for when you received that knowing, just as I mentioned (in Part II) about Pauline and myself. Only be sure not to pull back, if you do not yet know. What you have said, you have said. You stand on such a word as Galatians 2:20 or Romans 8:2, and God in His time makes you a knower.
Now at the summit there is no condemnation. We are freed from that false self guilt, for there is no wrong human self! We are Spirit people in outer bodies. There is nothing to condemn (Rom 8:1). Our human selves are fixed expressions of the Deity Self, where we were formerly fixed expressions of that false deity self. That is the change.
Law (principle) is the way a thing works, and works no other way. We used to be under Satan's law with no escape, and now we are under Christ's law with no escape. There is this change of governing principle controlling our lives. Strong terms! (Rom 8:2). That makes it easy and normal to walk this new way.
On Calvary, Christ put the old sin indweller behind bars on death row (condemned sin in the flesh), from where he is able only to shout at us. That old law standard, which had seemed unattainable, is now our normal way of living -- "the righteousness of the law fulfilled in us" (Rom 8:3,4). This is the Sermon on the Mount top standard of living, and the one who lives it in us is "the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus."
Paul lays unique emphasis on life being the Spirit in us. Nowhere else in the New Testament is this said in such plainness. There are fifteen mentions of the Spirit in Romans 8, in place of those many "I's" in the previous chapter. Paul says, "Get this clear: we are now Spirit people. Christ is living our life. We are walking His way (Rom 8:3). We think His thoughts" (Rom 8:5,6). He in us counteracts those former self-for-self thought patterns, which set us at enmity with God.
"IF you walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh..." Paul begins, for he could not speak our word for us. But speaking for ourselves we say, "SINCE we walk that way..." Again, when Paul says in 8:11, "IF the Spirit dwells in you,..." we say, "He DOES dwell in us." And the Spirit puts those old body habits to death (Rom 8:13).
Because we live in a world of self incitement all around us, to which our normal humanity (our flesh) has been formerly geared to respond, Paul does lay stress on walking after the Spirit and not after the flesh. Does that mean we had better be very careful, for surely we are inclined to flesh walking? The lie again! That would be guarding against independent self uprisings which might respond to those "ought to's." But that is not our Spirit drive. We don't walk fearfully, as if we still plenty of flesh. No! Our human selves are now Spirit kept and Spirit driven.
Certainly there are flesh pulls -- sin's self-for-self nature getting at us through all the world's atmosphere around us. But we don't resist them by any false self-effort. We recognize and admit them, but then we affirm who we ARE and know we are -- Spirit expressers, Christ in our forms; and our faith affirmation puts to death those "deeds of the body" (Rom 8:13). Light swallows up darkness. [See Norman Grubb's leaflet entitled "How to Handle Temptation".]
The Spirit, says Paul, also now permeates our physical bodies, though we remain mortal. The Spirit is the Quickener. So we walk not as body fussers. We accept where there are physical infirmities, but our bodies are His Temples; and in freedom of faith - not in negative unbelief or foolish questioning -- we often experience His quickenings and healings (8:11).
The normal background to our daily lives is the Spirit's witness with our spirits that we actually are God's children (8:16). By the Spirit we are at home now with our Father/"Daddy," which is very difficult from our former fears of Him in our old false self-condemning life (8:15). We are naturally Spirit-led in the affairs and decisions of our lives, and take that for granted (8:14).
From the moment in Romans 8:17 when he opens up the incredible destiny of us humans being co-inheritors of the universe with God's Son, Paul changes the tone of what we are to experience in our daily lives. This comes as a shock, until we see at the end of the chapter that those are devastating conditions in which we, as sons, operate triumphantly as "summit" people.
For the glory living, which will be our permanency through eternity, is first built strongly on a continual "suffering" condition. That sounds terrifying, until we find by experience that there is glory now in the suffering (Rom 5:3-5). The coming "exceeding weight of glory" is the product of these earthly "afflictions," which Paul called "light"! (2 Cor 4:17). These "sufferings" are first on a physical level. Face it, Paul says, the animal and material creation around us is engulfed in suffering -- "red in tooth and claw" -- living in permanent tension. And that, Paul continues, is a Godordained necessary opposite to the "glorious liberty," which will swallow up the "groanings." The deliverance will come through the sons of God, but the methods are not explained in detail (8:19-22).
Then Paul makes very plain that physical perfection on our human body level is not for our present life: a warning note to those who offer complete physical healings and major on a physical healing ministry. Paul tells us that our bodies remain corrupted and mortal. The replacement of corruption by incorruption is only at the Lord's coming (1 Corinthians 15:42-44;52-55). meanwhile, let's not fool ourselves on the physical level. We "suffer" with all the creation, and our "salvation" on that level is by hope, not faith. It is a prospect not within our present reach (8:23-25).
Added to the physical sufferings, we live in a sea of frustration of every kind, and inhibitions we cannot handle by ourselves. We are "compassed by infirmity" and "groan" in distressing experiences, about which we do not even know how to pray for deliverances (8:26-27).
Obviously, Paul is now speaking of the varied disturbed conditions of our daily living: not just the physical, but family problems, economic shocks, fatalities, social problems in our communities, crying needs of every kind, malicious personal hurts, family losses, and whatnot.
In these distresses we "groan"; but we people of the Spirit know that the Spirit Himself is carrying our groanings to the Father in intercession. This gives us our one solid unshakable confidence that, however totally confusing and apparently humanly inextricable, ALL THESE THINGS are actually working out for GOOD. Meanwhile we love our God, no matter how painful the situations, because we know the path of our calling, with outcomes always GOOD, GOOD, GOOD! What a word of faith, which has upheld millions! We might say that the air is full of verbal quotings of Romans 8:28, that great favourite.
Then Paul goes a glorious step further. He opens up the hidden purpose behind our sufferings and disturbed conditions. "Your destiny is to be a Co-Son with the Son in the development of His vast universal inheritance!" So these are necessary TRAINING YEARS on earth. "You have begun recognizing and realizing that you already are Christ in your human form (Gal. 2:20; Col 3:4); and it is necessary that you are brought, by the maturing grace of the indwelling Spirit, to exact conformity to Him." What a destiny! What a conformity, which John also foresaw (1 Jn 3:2). So there is a steady gradual conforming process in action by the Spirit, who is already indissolubly joined to our spirit (1 Cor 6:17). And we are being "changed into His likeness from glory to glory" (2 Cor 3:18).
We must not confuse God's transforming operations, taking place in us through those constant trials and pressures (which James said are used to establish us "perfect, wanting nothing" [Ja 1:2-4]), with the total basic transformation already taken place. We escaped from the lying independent self outlook of Romans 7 into the permanent liberation of Romans 8:1-2 by our faith recognition of the finished work on Calvary. Growth in conforming us to the image of Christ, which Paul is now speaking about (8:29), is the spontaneous development of Christ fixed in us as us: union fact.
Folks often do try to escape the necessity of the crisis and exchange of the independent self lie of Romans 7 for that glorious fact of Christ having replaced Satan as the fixed one now living our lives, by majoring on the subsequent changes conforming us to His likeness. These changes are constantly taking place in us merely as products of that crisis. They are not to be mistaken for it or used as a gradual improvement method, as though to escape from the rugged confronting of the necessary faith crisis.
Se we go on now, Paul says (8:30-39), through these processes being fulfilled in us under the cloak of human pressures. We are being conformed marvelously through predestination, justification, even to present glorification (8:29,30). There is a glory even in our attitudes and on our faces, which really glow like Moses as he came down from the Mount; and others see it. And in this transforming process we are bold. We take ourselves to be blameless as God's chosen ones. We neither live in false self-condemnation (8:1), nor are we disturbed by the pointing finger of others: certainly not of the world, but also not of our brethren.
We all need to learn plenty about not pointing fingers at our brothers in Christ, when we may think they don't measure up. See Christ in our brothers, and leave the Great Transformer to get on with His transforming work in them as in us. Where anything does disturb us, let our contribution be faith in God-in-action in our brother (8:31,33,34). We need a new quality of boldness, both about who we NOW ARE -- walking Christs in place of walking Satans -- and of saying and seeing the same faith of our Christ-indwelt brethren!
"MT. EVEREST" SCALED
The conforming process also includes appearances of need sand necessities of life abundantly supplied by Him, who "spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all" (8:32). But does Paul sum up his great victory chapter by our being immersed in a sea of prosperity and popularity? Just the opposite! His summation includes the rough, rough seas of every form of outer distress, persecution, material necessity, and subjective assault -- "killed all the day long" and "accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Constant physical dangers dogged Paul, and today most likely face modern-day oppositions to our "pilgrim" walk, and experience, as did Paul, by lost reputations as Christ's fools (8:35,36).
Do we wilt? Do we question, "Why does God allow that?" Do we murmur about hard experiences, manifesting more disturbed feelings than enjoyment and praise? Paul used just one word: "conquerors." He stands, as it were, on HIS Mt. Everest, having scaled the jagged peaks of suffering and persecution (2 Cor 11:21-31) which had defied his ascent. How? Because it was Christ in Paul's form. A prisoner of Nero? No, a prisoner of the Lord; and his fiery trials were called the "sufferings of Christ" (1 Pet 4L12,13). Even Jesus Himself, when suffering came to Him by Satan's agents, called it "the cup which my Father hath given me" (Jn 18:11).
"COME ON UP"
So by faith we see Christ in the garments of our outer tragedies and maltreatments, and stand on OUR Everest summit as "conquerors." And more than standing as "conquerors," Paul says we stand as "MORE than conquerors" (8:37). We have the extra -- "the cups running over" -- to help others climb their summits, when our own inner conquests are complete.
To all toiling climbers, we call out, "Come on up. Drop your heavy equipment." We invite them to step out by faith right where they are now, and they will find by a miracle, grace leap that they are already on the Summit. Christ has already carried them there in His own crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension two thousand years ago. And the Spirit, Who came at Pentecost, will cause them to know their eternal inseparable love-union with the Father and Christ living in them as them -- MORE THAN CONQUERORS!
TO SUM IT UP
The main point has been the startling discovery that we have had really only one problem since the fall of man, and that has been our vast delusion about ourselves -- the lie of Satan concerning his own independence which he has imparted to us concerning ourselves. As a consequence, even when we are sinners saved by grace and in the new birth of the Spirit, and we have been taken further in the sixth chapter to know that through Christ's death and resurrection the control of us by Satan in his sin nature has been replaced by the control of Christ, we still deludedly regard ourselves as independent persons responsible for living our new way of life and therefore equally responsible for living our new way of life and therefore equally responsible for discarding the old.
The shock then comes when Paul says that old way of life will have no further control over us because we are "not under the law, but under grace." But our immediate reaction is, "Why, that is putting the cart before the horse! Don't we need the law to stop us from responding to the pulls of that old life? Take away the law and we shall be caught out again." "Not so," says Paul. "The opposite is true. Your great basic deception is that we are self-managed selves. Therefore what the law will do while you are still under that delusion, is to expose your helplessness and that you never were created to manage yourself, and your old sin-manager will take advantage of the law to show you that you can't obey it, but keep obeying him. But because you are too blind to see this until we have been shocked into it, first I will show you some facts."
Then Paul drives that home by three illustrations which certainly settles the matter when our eyes are sufficiently opened to see these facts; but actually they are not until we have had the necessary radical shock. But anyhow here are those three plain facts. First, we all are slaves and therefore compelled to do what our owner demands of us, and there is no middle condition in which we are just independent free humans. Second, we are branches and bear the fruit f the tree of which we are a part, and there is no such thing as we being independent, and not branches of either of the trees. Third, we are married wives under the marriage bond of our husbands and bearing his children. If our marriage is dissolved by the death of either husband, then we are immediately married to the other husband. We never were just single and unmarried. All of these illustrations, of course, mean that we are slaves, branches, wives, formerly of Satan in his sin nature, but now are the same to Christ in His holy nature, and there never has been a JUST OURSELVES in imaginary activities of our own.
But that point must be driven home never to arise again -- that in actual fact we never were self-operating and never did or could manage our own affairs: and it was in that point the Satan has so grossly deluded us, as he himself is deluded. So that shock has to come, as Paul tells of it in his own experience, and the means in his own experience was the impact of that pouter law on him. So down came the law on newborn Paul in it tenth "Thou shalt not covet" commandment: and because he was very much alive to that illusion of independence, back came his quick response, "Of course I won't and don't covet. I am a new man in Christ." And he found all kinds of what he called "concupiscence" very much alive in him which he could not resist. He surely fell flat on his face and called himself a "slain man."
But Paul had made a unique discovery, to which he refers as his special revelation in his Galatian letter, when he spent three years alone in the Arabian desert. It was that there is this sin virus deposited in us since the Fall (to which he refers in Romans 5:12-21), and that as our Lord Jesus Christ has represented us on the cross, His body was as ours in God's sight, as though the sin-expresser just like ours ("made sin"); and when he died, out went that sin spirit and so out out of us, and in the tomb in His resurrection in came His own Spirit, and so into us. Now with the impact of the law and his inability to obey it through the apparent power of indwelling sin, he saw the great lie of the independent self, and that he was only able to respond to the drives of the false deity in him and the lusts, and it was the impact of the law with its demands that awakened him to this delusion. But now he also saw the great deceit of sin on him, because in Christ the sin-indweller had been replaced by the Holy Spirit indweller, which had been revealed to him in Arabia. So now suddenly he saw his freedom. All he had to do was to recognize and affirm as fact in himself that "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death," and now the Spirit already in him since his new birth inwardly confirmed that to him.
So the key had been turned in the lock by the exposure of the lie of independent self through the law. This was the great value of the law for him and us. The claims of the law exposed the lie of his supposed ability to respond to it as though independent. The other lie now exposed to his new born self was that sin power still had its right and presence in him. No. "Dead to sin" in Christ and now alive in Christ to live by the Spirit.
As simple as that when the law had done its Romans 7 work by forcing Paul to find that there never was a Paul-self who could obey that law, and this his Arabian revelation of the body death of Jesus representing us and body resurrection, took Paul right out of Romans 7 into Romans 8 liberty. Then he shares what follows as the fruit of that liberty outlined in chapter 8 in the Spirit-operated life, in the glory of the family relationship with the Father and the Son, the sharing of the eternal inheritance, and the present prolonged period in which we still have the full impact of the consequences of the Fall on our humanity and world conditions, and live the life of overcoming faith, as Jesus Himself did. The sufferings of this present life give us our great constant opportunities for the conquests of faith in every kind of adverse conditions. In the walk and warfare of faith we are experiencing new ways of proving the goodness of God in all kinds of deliverances, though sometimes the highest is that martyrdom and extremity of suffering in the faith of the resurrection, as is says in Hebrews 11:35-38, "of whom the world was not worthy": and in all these the watching hungry world is seeing the inner victories outwardly demonstrated in peace, joy, hope, faith, and love for our enemies, by which Christ is manifested in our bodies "whether by life or by death," and countless others have been inspired to follow the same way.