“”Wrestling With Romans”
From Sinai to Calvary (Chapter 7 Verses 7-25)
The sin in us is the number one problem, not the law (v7a), the law is excellent, it is holy, just, and good. The law simply drags our sin out into the light, shows that it is there, and how awful it is, and points that accusing finger at us pronouncing us guilty, condemned. It has a total inability to remove one single sin from either the Christian or non-Christian. Take for example the strong desire for things that have not been given to you, or belong to someone else? How many people under the influence of that desire would lie, or cheat, steal or perhaps even be led to murder, to get that thing, or that person which is not theirs? How many folk in our own society today have such desires and are led to such extremes by them, but fail to recognise that very desire itself is sin? Well, says Paul, I would not have known either, if the law had not told me (v7b). That is a good reason for us to be preaching God’s law, for it to be threaded through all our preaching, not that we teach people to rely upon the law for acceptance, justification, not that they can be saved by the law, but that people coming to the preaching would learn what sin actually is. To be honest we, as Christians need that too.
It is a good reason for open-air preaching too, is it not, when so few people come to preaching today. The open-air preachers job today should be predominantly law-preaching, the hammer that breaks the rock-like heart, enlightening the folk as to exactly what sin is, not just referring to sin, but in particular. Contrary to what I have heard other Christians say, people do not know that they are sinners, but they need to know. How shall they know if the preacher does not tell them (Romans 10.14-15), through the preaching of God’s commandments? It is not really much good going and telling them that Jesus loves them, although that is very nice. But to experience the removal of God’s displeasure (Psalm 5.4-6), and know his surpassing peace, sin must be dealt with. The problem with this is the average person looks up and says, so what? Without the conviction that Paul here speaks of, no one will ever realise what sinful creatures they are, and will never be led to an appreciation of the goodness and kindness of God in sending Christ Jesus to be the Saviour of sinners. The present writer recalls the time when he was brought to the realisation that the mess his life was in, was due to sin, and being convinced, not only of that, but that Christ was willing and able to forgive (Mark 9.23). I thank God for his law that taught me about sin, and led me to Jesus.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)