Notes on Romans 1-7: Part 2

Romans 1-7
Then we have proofs brought in of the condition of man. First, the Gentiles are taken up, and then from chap. 2:17, the Jew, with his privileges, to whom had been given the law, circumcision, yea, the oracles of God. So we see “There is none righteous, no, not one.” The very law, which was the boast of the Jew, is that which condemned him. All being now proved guilty, the apostle returns to “God's righteousness.” What is wanting now, therefore, is for man to be able to stand in the presence of God without a veil. Righteousness of God has been witnessed by the law and the prophets, but it is manifested now. It is a righteousness without law—apart from law altogether—and moreover, being God's righteousness, it is made good alike to anybody who has faith, whether Jew or Gentile.
But you notice that in this part, the apostle does not go beyond “propitiation through faith in His blood.” We meet God as a righteous Judge, and for this there needs propitiation. Then he takes up Abraham, and David (chap. 4.), and shows that these both concurred in this testimony. Yet here, too, we have nothing more than forgiveness. Of course we have much more afterward.
But does not justification go much farther than forgiveness?
Yes, but it is not used for more in this part of the epistle. Here the sinner is taken, and the judge says, “You are forgiven.” He has not a fault left. But that is not the whole of righteousness in what follows in the epistle. The accounting righteous in this part is the same as forgiveness. If I count a man to have no fault, he is righteous. There is, doubtless, more in chap. 3:25, 26, but this is the point here. A great deal more follows, but each is given by itself. It is of the utmost importance to see the way in which God deals with the sins of the “old man"; and then, quite distinctly, another question altogether comes in—the making of the “new man,” The division of these two subjects, is at the 11th verse of chapter 5. Up to that he treats of forgiveness, and then afterward of the other side of the subject—the positively new thing.
Here I stand as a child of Adam before God in the light! And what am I to do, for I am guilty? Righteousness of God is the only deliverance, and you have two phases of it in the two distinct characters of blessedness given us in chapters 5, and 8.
In connection with which of these would you regard the teaching of Job's story?
Oh, the latter surely. In Rom. 5 you have what God is in sovereign grace to a sinner. And in chap. 8 you have a new man altogether before God. Man is in the higher place in chap. 8 but God is in the more absolute place in chap. 5.
For when I get to chap. 8. I am not talking about sinners, but about saints. God is for me, in chap. 8., but for Himself in chap. 5. and this is a higher thing. It is what God is in sovereign grace to sinners, what He is in Himself, and so I am joying in Him.
Another thing is, that in this first part I have nothing to do with experience except to own myself a sinner. Suppose I tell a man his debts are paid, there is an end of it as far as the debts are concerned. It does not touch his personal condition, say, as to whether or no, he was a fool in making them. But in the second part from chap. 5:12 I have much more.
Quickening is not introduced in the early part, for there it is the question of guilt, and not of nature—of sins only. In the second part, it is sin and its remedy. The first part is, Christ dying for my sins. The second, our dying with Christ.
Where was propitiation made?
On the cross. Christ goes in with His own blood.
What is “by the which will we are sanctified?”
It is the will of God. And you will observe that whenever sanctification and justification come together in scripture, sanctification comes first.
Now we see as to Abraham that he believed that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. But for us, God has done that which to Abraham was future, and I am therefore called to believe what God has performed, not what He is able to do, but what He has done. The work of justification was not accomplished on the cross, though the ground or basis of it was there. Resurrection it is that is the seal—Jesus “was raised again for our justification” (chap. 4: 21-25). Here it is the abstract thing, but in chap. 5 it is the application of it by faith to the particular individual. There needs a man to be justified before there can be his justification. Justification is the quittance of the person. Then besides this I have tribulation here, and very blessed this is. For God then is caring for me. His eyes are upon the righteous, not sinners but the righteous. Justified by faith, we have peace. Peace is a deeper thing than joy. We have, too, by the Holy Ghost, the love of God known, shed abroad in our hearts. All our sins, yes all, have been met on the cross. I do not say our future sins—because we ought not to commit any in future. Verse 11 of chap. 5 is really the end of the epistle as to results, for after this we have no more thought of individual sins, but of Adam who has ruined us all.
From chap. 5 we get our experience, which is contrary to God's Word that we “are dead to sin.” Now the “old man” is dealt with by death, that the body of sin might be destroyed, ‘Oh, but,' says one, 'I find it in me.' Then “reckon yourself dead,” “always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus.” I believe an honest mind looking to Christ is more troubled about sin in him than about all, his past sins put together.
Chap. 8:1 reads “There is therefore, now, no condemnation to them which are” (not in their sins, but), “in Christ Jesus.”
What is the meaning of “sin is not imputed where there is no law?”
It is, not reckoning a man anything, but it is putting it to his account. The sin of Adam addresses itself to the whole Jewish people (Hos. 6:77But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me. (Hosea 6:7)).
What is the force of “justification of life?”
Simply that it is justification connected with life. The remedy for all of the flesh is our death (chap. 4.). Heb. 9:2626For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Hebrews 9:26) goes out and includes “new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3). So in John 1 we have “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” In a practical sense sin is not exactly “put away,” but the work that does it is accomplished. The power that brings it into result is another thing. John 2:22And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. (John 2:2) does not teach that Christ bore the sins of the world. He died for all, He has glorified God as to all. And more than this, He has confessed the sins of His people and put them away forever. So that I have been brought into death because I cannot live. Not that sin has gone out of me absolutely, for then I should not have to “reckon” myself dead. If I have died I am wholly justified from sin (6:7), and if I always reckon myself dead I am free from it. It is like a young man who has contracted debts beyond his means to pay, and his father with ample capital has paid his debts. Well, if that be all, he is only ready to go and make more debts. But if his father makes him a partner the case is changed; He now speaks of our business and of our capital, and quite right too, though he brought no cash into the business. Only in this epistle it is not carried on to resurrection with Christ. The apostle is speaking individually and does not go on to union. He is keeping up the full position of the individual before God.
Well, now, you live through Christ, what are you going to do with yourself? The same principle in chap. 7 is applied to law. You die. Well, the law hath dominion over you, only so long as you live, and when you die, the law has no power over you. Verse 6 (chap. 7) should be “having died in that wherein we were held.” This chap 7 is the experience of a man with his first husband. The doctrine is, you cannot have both. You died to the law just as you died to sin. You must not say the law is dead. No, that is killing the gaoler and not the prisoner. The old husband is not dead. It will come into full force in the day of judgment.
(Concluded from page 240)