Paul’s Theology On The Bondage Of Sin Found In The Context Of Romans 6-8 PART IV

In Part I, we established that we are enslaved to sin completely, as Paul clearly teaches in Romans 6. Part II covered that our will is bound to sin so deeply that “our members bear fruit for death,” (7:5). In Part III, we discussed how depraved the mind is in sin and that “in the flesh,” we “cannot please God,” (8:8). So what does this mean for us practically?

Paul, and the rest of the Word of God, teaches us that we are sinners covenantally promised to suffer under the wrath of a holy and righteous God because of our sin, (Is. 6:3; Neh. 9:32, 33). Therefore, the necessity for redemption is vast and great. How can we possibly attain this redemption, this salvation from our sin, and from the wrath of God? Jesus Christ is the profound answer.

A Covenant of Redemption

Since Genesis 3, God has promised to save His people from death and misery (Gen. 3:15; Eph. 1:4, 5). We see in Gen. 3 that man fell in Adam (our federal head, Rom. 5) and God showed mercy (yet justly true to His Word that man will surely die and Adam began to die) and gave Adam a covenant of redemption (Gen. 3:15), promising that salvation will come to man someday by the seed of the woman. Praise God, He did not leave us in the estate of sin and misery for all eternity, as our Baptist Catechism reminds us:

Q. 23: Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?

A. God having out of His mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer.

Obviously, Jesus, the Son of God, is the Redeemer promised here. “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many,” (Rom. 5:15). In the beginning, all fell in the first Adam, however, by the perfect and righteous obedience to the whole law of works by Jesus Christ, (the second and greater Adam) we are made righteous and holy before almighty God (Rom. 5:17-19). This is by His death which our sins are fully and perfectly atoned for; in His resurrection we have new life in its fullest.

New Enslavement (Romans 6)

When we continue reading Paul in Romans, he tells the local Roman Churches how Christ is the One to set us free from sin and into obedience of God’s holy law. Paul teaches that it is in Christ that we die to sin and live to Him:

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. ~Rom. 6:6-11

This truth leads us to rejoice in God’s salvation as it frees us from the reign of sin and death, leading us from a slavery of sin to a slavery of righteousness (6:17, 18). In Christ, we are transformed into a true and life-giving union with Him (Eph. 2:11-22). Before Christ, we were bound by sin and lustful desires which distinctively led us to run away from God in idolatry and pride. After being found in Christ, we are free from the tyranny of sin and now have the freedom to live in true obedience unto our Lord God (Jm. 2:22; 1 Jn. 2:3).

Regenerated Heart (Romans 7)

Moreover, Paul teaches in Chapter 7 that we are no longer bound to the law of works but are free in Christ. By grace we are set free unto true obedience to the law of God in worship and adoration.

Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. Rom. 7:4-6

“When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, He freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, and by His grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good,” (1689 LBCF 9.4).

Praise be to God that we are no longer bound to this body of death but now live in Christ in communion with God our Father, Creator of all. In Christ, we realize the depths of our sinful nature saying, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (7:25) who saved us!

Regenerated Mind (Romans 8)

Even so, our very mindset is transformed by the Spirit from desiring to walk in sin and the flesh, to now thinking and dwelling “on the things of the Spirit,” (8:5). In Christ, we walk in the Spirit, living in obedience to God by bringing glory to His holy name. We are adopted (8:12-17) as heirs into an inheritance of righteousness through Christ, “for all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God,” (8:14). Even creation “groans” for the restoring of all things in the resurrection, the “redemption of our bodies,” (8:18-25).

In Christ, we are elected before the foundations of the world into His church (Eph 1:3-6), the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:22-33), and therefore “called according to His purpose,” (Rom. 8:28). It is in Christ, that we are “conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified,” (8:29, 30). Therefore, nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (8:39)!

“The covenant of works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable unto life, God was pleased to give forth the promise of Christ, the seed of the woman, as the means of calling the elect, and begetting in them faith and repentance; in this promise the gospel, as to the substance of it, was revealed, and [is] therein effectual for the conversion and salvation of sinners,” (1689 LBCF 19.1).

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord.   ~Psalm 40:1-3

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