In Sunday School 2 weeks ago, a verse snuck up on me. It's an odd thing when that happens, and especially when it happens right in the middle of Romans 8! It's not like it's hidden off in 2 Chronicles or something. It's in the middle of what might be the most famous passage of the most famous letter of the most famous book in the world.
Romans 8:4 TNIV ...in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
It's a funny verse, because the legalists who reared me did not use it, and the gracists who helped me so much preached over it. In fact, they explained it away. They drew in scriptures from all over the place to prove that this verse really meant that the righteous requirements of the law were fulfilled in Christ, not me.
Of course, they are right. Christ did fulfill the righteous requirements of the law, but this verse does not say that, and scratching it out of the bible might not be that good an idea. ;-)
So, I was there in bible study, and Ray gave us an assignment. He wanted us to go home and figure out how the righteous requirements of the law could be fully met in us. I really wanted to do this, but various things led me to fail at his request. The work was too big for me to wrap my mind around it that week, but with everyone's help, I will begin fulfilling "the righteous request of Ray" today.
With everyone who is on board, this is our second attempt at a group bible study, and this time it's for some of the marbles. Whatever we come up with I will present to Ray (and give credit where it's due.) Hopefully everyone will be able to take it to someone, somewhere.
I will move kind of slowly on this one. I will start by thinking up questions. I will then look at cross-references and commentaries, before I draw any conclusions. No one else is bound to that process, though! I hope everyone will offer everything from impressions to prayers to analysis of the Greek.
I will do most of my thinking on a "notes" post here that everyone can see, then copy the worthwhile stuff over to this post. Maybe that will work for others, maybe not. Whatever works for you works for me. Feel free to copy the whole thing over to your blog, add comments to this post, or to my notes page. Comment on other people's posts. Just so long as I know about it, it will get into the final draft (even if I have the nerve to disagree with you ;-).
Travis, Danny Kaye, Milly (and hubby), codepoke, DugALug, Japhy
* Why do we care about the requirements of the law, when Paul just finished teaching us that we are dead to it?
* Are the requirements of the law truly to be met in us? Or in Christ?
* Can we live by the flesh? We should not, but could we? If so, then what happens to this verse?
* Is there anything we have to do to be living by the Spirit? Or is it done for us?
I think the "context clues" here would probably be Romans 7:20-23 and 8:3. (I'd also toss in Philippians 2:13 for good measure, but partly because it's my current "pet verse.")
Jesus gives another example of following man’s law in Matthew 15:1-11 (posted on Milly's site)
Matthew 11:29-30 (NIV)
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
I am thinking that if we, as Christians, understand the law, see that it no longer has control over our destiny, and embrace God's intent behind it, then living with the law becomes arbitrary, and much easier which is what Jesus was saying in the above scripture.
Danny Kaye's lesson/comments on Colossians. Scroll down to where chapter 2 verses 10 - 15 begin. It will either confuse you, make you ask more questions, or thrill you.
[Here is the section Danny Kaye references - I could not cut and paste it well, either. I tried to simulate his indentation scheme with + signs. More pluses = more indents.]
10 – 15
+ Our sinful nature has been cut off through our faith in Jesus at baptism, at which point God made me alive w/ Christ and I have been full ever since.
+ Jesus canceled the "written code" that was against us.
++ This written code was the Law of Moses.
+++ If a person is crammed full of Jesus, then the written code no longer applies to them and they will no longer be held accountable to its rules and regulations.
+++ If a person decides not the follow Jesus, they are to be held accountable to the written code.
++++ Romans 2:12b "…and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law."
++++ Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.
++++ 3 Choices now remain for those who have heard the message:
+++++ Live according to the Law and attain righteousness that way,
+++++ Be crammed full of Christ and attain His righteousness,
+++++ Or choose none of the above and live believing that righteousness is not needed. (atheists, agnostics…).
If you live according to God’s law you are guaranteed life, as in everlasting life in His Kingdom.
If you live only according to man’s laws in sin you are guaranteed death. You can be a law abiding citizen, a great guy, nice to kittens, and yet not know Jesus. The gates of Heaven won’t open for you if you don’t follow God’s laws.
My husband had an example of how the Catholic church says that you can only take communion in the Catholic church and no other if you are Catholic. That’s man made not from God. I use to laugh at the Catholic church for that. Jesus wasn’t of a "church" He traveled to cities and spoke the Word. If he walked into the Catholic church could Jesus take communion? (Man’s lines in the sand again.)
We have to live in the Spirit not just live our lives day after day following only man’s laws. We must live in Christ for life.
I did a study on Colossians called "Crammed with Christ" a while ago and it tackles in part some of what you are addressing in your questions. I basically came up with three conclusions.
1) Live according to the Law and try to attain righteousness that way
2) Be crammed full of Christ and attain His righteousness,
3) Or choose none of the above and live believing that righteousness is not needed. (atheists, agnostics…).
I think it comes down to the simple fact that we are freed from the consequences of the law through what Christ has done for us, but that doesn't make the law invalid: it makes it part of our being, rather than something that we rally against.
In Galatians, Paul was angry over the fact that some people were preaching that converted gentiles needed to be circumcized. Paul's anger was directed at the fact that God was much more interested in their hearts than an outward sign of conversion (aka Works). These individuals were imposing their will on them rather than allowing God to direct them.
The liberty of being free from the consequence of the law leads us to worship. So following the law is now an act of understanding rather than an act of obedience.This was one of my points on my blog post:
My La La Post
God is after our heart and we are instructed to be more Christ-like. That meens seeing things as Christ sees them.Thus, living by the Spirit, is allowing God to mold or shape our heart so that our entire lifestyle and outlook will be an instrument of praise towards God.
This all sounds so great, but again I am sometimes so overwhelmed by the magnitude of what that really means.
Why do we care about the requirements of the law...?
I believe Paul is saying that while our flesh exists in the framework of the law of sin, our spirits exist in the framework of the law of God. It is possible for our spirits to do works in the law of the flesh, but it is not possible for our flesh to do works in the law of the spirit. We are no longer governed by the power of the law of sin (which is death) because of our salvation in Christ Jesus, but we are still able to commit acts which violate the law.
Are the requirements of the law truly to be met in us?
Christ was the first person through whom the requirements of the law were truly met, and so we now have the model of Christ to follow. This is a point I like to bring up, that the Old Testament is full of failures to live up to God's laws because there was never a perfect subject of God until Jesus Christ: we do not have the impossible expectations of God-like perfection as our example, we have the perfect human as our example.
Can we live by the flesh?
The desires of the flesh are opposite the desires of the spirit; you cannot serve two masters at once. I'm not sure what you mean by "live" here; we cannot attain the same end as we would by living in the spirit.
Is there anything we have to do to be living by the Spirit?
We have been given the opportunity to accept the gift of salvation, but we are by no means saved unless we act upon that invitation. As for what we do after we accept Jesus Christ, we cannot expect "living by the Spirit" to just take hold of us; we must act.
"[Who] was neighbor to the robbers' victim?" He answered, "The one who treated him with mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise." (Luke 10:36-37)
Jesus did not say "correct" and pat the man on the back. He told him to "do likewise". We cannot take the example of Jesus, the perfect human, and frame it and put it our wall and say we are living in the Spirit. We must live in the Spirit!
[Context change. Discussion with DugALug here]
I've heard contention between "works" and "faith" as far as salvation is concerned. There's one side that says faith in Christ is all that's needed (and they base this on a few lines from Paul's letters) and another side that says faith alone is not enough.
Ephesians 2:8-9 is the oft-quoted excerpt: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast." Harping on this, they neglect so many other things written by Paul and others (e.g. James 2:14-17), as well as the teachings of Jesus himself (e.g. Matthew 25:31-46, "whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me").
But moreso, they confuse the meaning of Paul's words. It is not by works that we are saved, it is through faith. That faith then works in and through us to produce good works, by which we justify the grace and salvation given us by Christ's sacrifice.
I think we can all agree that if we are living as Christians, it is because we are united in our faith in Christ and our desire to live as Christ did: therefore, let us do works, as Jesus did, in his name, to the glory of God.