Jesus is the Word of God and “the way, the truth and the life” (Joh. 1:1; 14:6). When this true Word is preached and taught correctly, and, in addition, understood and believed, then it becomes a regenerating spirit in all those that believe (2. Tim. 2:15; 1. Cor. 15:45). In this way the letter becomes spirit and water, and from this follows sanctification and cleansing “with the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:26). Without this sanctification no one shall see the Lord (Heb. 12:14), so each and everyone should therefore seek to partake of it through obedience to the truth and through faith in God’s true gospel, the everlasting (1. Pet. 1:22; Rev. 14:6). Since the spirit gives life, while the letter kills, we must in faith and trust in the Word of God allow it to become spirit and life in us (2. Cor. 3:6; Joh. 6:63). It is precisely this that God’s true baptism is all about.
In the days of Jesus John the Baptist came forth, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying: “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:1-2). John was a true witness of God, and he said: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He That cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” (Matt. 3:11.) Those who read the Word of God know of all the things that John the Baptist did and said, and they know that John’s baptism was called “the baptism of repentance” (Acts 19:4). Furthermore, they also know that even Jesus came to John to be baptized with this baptism. At first John refused to baptize Jesus, but then agreed to do it, on hearing Jesus say (Matt. 3:15-16):
“Thus it becometh us TO FULFILL ALL RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
These words of Jesus were strange, for it was He who did not send His apostle Paul to baptize, as can be seen from 1 Cor. 1:14, 17. You will probably say: Yes, but the reason for that is that Paul had a special mission, and Jesus certainly did send His disciples to baptize, as the so-called mission commandment shows us (Matt. 28:18-(19)-20; Mark 16:15). To this I would answer that Paul, the Apostle, preached and taught everything that was profitable to God’s people, keeping back NOTHING (Acts 20:20), for his gospel was no half-gospel but God’s full gospel and “the mystery of Christ” (Col. 4:3; Eph. 3:4). With this in mind, then, we shall later in this letter take a closer look at what is meant by the expression “Thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.” We should understand how these words of Jesus harmonize with what the apostle Peter says about baptism, i.e. that it is “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh”.
When John the Baptist baptized he said that he baptized with water unto repentance, but that after him there should come one who would baptize with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. These words of John are misunderstood by many, who believe erroneously that the baptism with water by John (baptism unto repentance) was somehow weaker than the baptism with which Jesus sent forth His disciples (Matt. 28:19). In other words, the baptism referred to by John the Baptist as “baptism with the Holy Ghost” they wrongly equate with washing with water in the name of the Lord Jesus, i.e. the baptism which the disciples in Ephesus received, they having already been baptized with John’s baptism (Acts 8:16; 19:6). The aforementioned misunderstanding concerning baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus is revealed as such by what Jesus asks the chief priests and scribes. “The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?” (Luke 20:4) Since there can be no doubt that also John’s baptism came from heaven, there are seen to be two kinds of baptism in Scripture, and both of them from heaven, even though the apostle states unequivocally in Ephesians 4:5 that there is only ONE BAPTISM. Since people do not understand these two forms of baptism they choose just one of them, preferably baptism in the name of the Lord, to be on the safe side. Thus, for them, the significance of Jesus’ question to the chief priests and scribes remains hidden. “The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?” They hold that we receive the Holy Spirit through the baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus, and that this baptism is therefore better than John’s baptism, being the baptism which the expression “one baptism” refers to. Scripture, however, clearly shows this belief to be erroneous. How is it possible to teach that a person being baptized receives the Holy Spirit through baptism with water, while the Bible clearly shows us that both the baptism of John and the baptism of the Lord Jesus were such that sometimes the person being baptized received the Holy Spirit, sometimes not. This is confirmed by Acts 19:2-3; 8:16. Moreover, does Scripture not tell us that in the days of the apostles there were people who had received the Spirit of God, even though they had not been baptized, and thus baptism with water could not be denied them (Acts 10:47-48). All these scriptures, therefore, clearly show us that the Spirit is not dependant on water, but, on the contrary, that water is dependant on the Spirit.
If we ask members of the various churches and creeds why they baptize they will answer that they follow the practice common during the early days of Christianity – and the example and doctrine of the apostles, often adding that baptism is a covenant between God and man, and thus a prerequisite for salvation. Most people are agreed that baptism is necessary, but what they can not agree on is whether baptism should be for babies or for adults who can decide for themselves. Some accept only one of these forms of baptism, while others accept both. Yet others annul any baptism not performed in accordance with their own doctrine of baptism, or performed by a person they consider unworthy. If the baptism has been “wrongly performed” they require rebaptism of the person wishing to join their denomination. They are then baptized anew, preferably with full emersion. Only then is that person buried with Jesus Christ in baptism, and again risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, they say, while referring to Col. 2:12. Those, on the other hand, who are satisfied by a splash of water on a baby’s head, readily point to such scriptures as Acts 18:8 and Luke 18:16.
All who preach baptism and who baptize with water, teaching that this baptism saves, are living in ignorance concerning the true significance and meaning of baptism. Their baptism doctrine shows that they do not know that Scripture foresees far-reaching changes in the midst of the New Testament period, revealing baptism in both its forms to be merely a transient example, limited in time, of the “washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Titus 3:5). If they had understood these biblical prophecies, then they would also know that the aforementioned changes abolish baptism with water in the same way as the Lord’s work of atonement brought an end to circumcision and the jewish people’ temple ordinances together with the sacrifices pertaining to them. (Eph. 2:15).
But in what way is the blindness of today like that of the jewish people? Yes, the likeness is revealed when we understand what Jesus meant when He said that the kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. (Matt. 13:33). These three measures of meal signify that there are three dispensations foretold in Scripture, two of which belong in the New Testament period. It is precisely this that the apostle Paul confirms when he tells that he was caught up to the third heaven. (2 Cor. 12:2). Heaven also signifies a covenant or dispensation, so when Scripture speaks about three heavens or dispensations, then it is clear that they must replace one another. This is confirmed in Psalm 102:26-27, where it is said that the heavens are changed. It should be obvious to everyone that these heavens cannot be the natural heavens, but rather covenants that change, the one succeeding the other. In spite of his being an apostle for a dispensation of the New Testament Paul wrote of yet another dispensation to come in the fulness of times (Eph. 1:10), when the Lord should “gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him.” In Hebrews 12:26-28 we can read the following about God’s third dispensation: “Whose voice then shook the earth: but now He hath promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. (cf. Rev. 6:12-17). And this word, “Yet once more,” signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptly with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire.” Note that according to Hebrews 1:6 the Son is again brought into the world! This coming cannot mean the Son’s coming in the clouds to fetch His faithful, as many erroneously claim. Moreover it is clear that this prophecy has not yet been visibly fulfilled, since the Son shall be Lord over the whole earth. That God again brings the First-begotten into the world, according to Hebrews 1:6, confirms the existence of a third dispensation. “Our Father” is then fulfilled (Matt. 6:10): “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.” The fulfilment of these words means the coming of the so-called millennium (thousand years of peace), foreshadowed by the Old Testament sabbat, the seventh day. You will now probably be thinking that this must be a misunderstanding on the part of the writer, and that all this can have nothing whatsoever to do with baptism. The answer, I believe, is given by Jesus Himself when He says that there shall be REGENERATION (baptism through the Holy Spirit) when He, the Son of Man, shall sit in the throne of His glory. (Matt. 19:28) This period is characterized as “a rest to the people of God” in Hebrews 4:8-9.
Before continuing with the baptism doctrine proper, I would point out that the first of the Bible’s three dispensations is the covenant and dispensation of the Old Testament, with its temple ordinances and sacrifices. This dispensation came to an end with the coming of Jesus and His work of atonement. The second dispensation is the time of the apostolic church in the New Covenant, which contained baptism with water, the Lord’s supper (Eucharist), and speaking in tongues. All this, however, disappeared in the great apostasy (falling-away), together with the covenant which was broken. (Isa. 24:5) This is explained in Zech. 11, especially verse 14. He shows us that when the first staff, BEAUTY (Jesus), was cut asunder (verse 10), thereby breaking the covenant of circumcision, there began a new covenant and time. Compare Zech. 11:12-13 with Matt. 26:15. The era that was then begun we call the New Testament. The prophet shows us, moreover, that when the New Testament period was in the midst of its course (see Hab. 3:2), the staff BANDS (the man child), was also cut asunder. This brought yet another change, like the change that occurred with the death and atonement of Jesus. Scripture says that at the cutting asunder of this second staff, Bands, the brotherhood between Juhah and Israel was broken. Every one knows that in the era of the New Testament such a brotherhood between Israel and Judah can no longer exist in the historical sense. Israel was led away into captivity by Assyria, nevermore to return to their homeland. This emnity, therefore, has nothing whatsoever to do with the Israel of today and the things that happen there. A further confirmation that this is indeed the case can be seen from Rev. 12:5-12, which tells of a war in heaven. No one can be under the impression that this war occurs in God’s invisible heaven, for Jesus said the following when on earth (Joh. 12:31): “Now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” No, this war is fought here in this world with the word of God as the battleground. This is confirmed by Psalm 149:6-9, Matt. 19:28 and 2 Thes. 2:7-8. Be therefore persuaded that the hidden meaning of these aforementioned scriptures can best be understood in the context of the spiritual night which descended on earth when the Beast or Antichrist, with its falsehood and religious fanaticism, destroyed the saints together with God’s New Testament church and congregation; all of which was foretold by Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets.
If God had left man in this miserable situation, then we would have been without hope. But Scripture tells us that God in His great faithfulness and mercy sends us a witness, who has an everlasting gospel to preach to all those living on earth, to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice: “Fear God, and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come, and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters!” (Rev. 14:6-7). This message ushers in the third and last dispensation, together with the war in heaven. Just think, this everlasting gospel should be preached to all peoples as if the world previous to this had no gospel at all! Is this not a clear condemnation of all that today goes under the name of the gospel? Yes, indeed it is! We see now that between the New Testament’s two dispensations lies the dark night of apostasy, and seeing this we realize why a third dispensation is necessary. You are probably once again asking what all this has to do with baptism. Dear reader, it is precisely in the light of the three dispensations that we can best understand the mystery and true significance of baptism.
For a poor confused soul who is in doubt as to what the Bible teaches concerning baptism, whether it is three drops of water on a baby’s head or full immersion that is correct practice, it is of little use asking those who baptize others. For these baptizers are themselves just as ignorant of the Bible’s true baptism doctrine. This ignorance they reveal when they among other things claim that baptism with water is a covenant between God and man (1. Pet. 3:21), and when misusing these words of Jesus in persuading people to let themselves be baptized: “Thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matt. 3:15-16). They do not understand that the laver (Ex. 40:7) has been moved from the court and is now the “sea” before God’s throne (Rev. 4:6), signifying that baptism has in its entirety become a spiritual cleansing; for the everlasting gospel is now come, for which baptism with water was a shadow. That this is indeed so shall be explained in the remainder of this letter.
What sanctification could be gained from the circumcision and animal sacrifices of the Old Testament, following the change in covenant brought about by Jesus’ work of atonement? Does not the prophet Isaiah say the following about all those who, in the days of Jesus, lived in ignorance of the fact that a change had come to pass in the dispensation of the Word: “He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them.” (Isa. 66:3.)
Those that teach that a person becomes a child of God through baptism with water, are thereby slaughtering an ox, and are therefore like one who slays a man. This is the very core of all baptizing today. The practitioners of baptism are guilty of the same sin as the jewish people, who continued their practices in spite of Jesus having obtained for us an eternal redemption through His suffering and death. The jewish people refused to accept the change, continuing instead to sacrifice their oxen and sheep. The Lord called this idolatry and sent judgement and punishment upon them.
Baptism with water is therefore no covenant between God and man, for the Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it (Eph. 1:13-14), is not contained in baptism with water, nor dependant on it. It is clear, therefore, that they teach falsehood, who teach that the word of God and water together make up a covenant unto salvation. This can be clearly seen by anyone who reads and believes what the apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:14, 17): “I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gajus, (…) For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” To Paul baptism was NO PREREQUISITE FOR SALVATION, and he had therefore neither inclination nor reason to baptize as many as possible in order to save them, unlike the baptizers in the various denominations of today. No, for Paul baptism was just one more example among many others that should in time disappear together with the dispensations to which they belonged. In this way baptism is like circumcision, for circumcision was then about to disappear along with its dispensation. If baptism had been a covenant, as many erroneously believe and teach, then Paul would never have thanked God that he had only baptized Crispus and Gajus. Neither would Christ have failed to send Paul on precisely this errand, i.e. to baptize.
The baptizers will at this point probably protest, saying that Jesus did, nevertheless, send out His disciples to baptize (Matt. 28:18-20): “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” The answer is: Yes, He did send them out, but this so-called mission-commandment could not remain in force after the Beast had overcome the saints, and the total apostasy of the church was a fact. (Rev. 13:7) Biblical prophecies show that the coming of the Beast and the falling-away of God’s church, with the resulting false doctrines, destroyed and removed the daily sacrifice (Dan. 8:11), and idolatrous worship was set up instead of true worship. The biblical time-scale shows that all these things were fulfilled when the Beast attained its scripture-based number, 666, so from that year there could certainly not be any true baptism, so those that continued to baptize after this time were accordingly worshippers of the Beast, as indeed are those who baptize today. The baptizers thus deny the prophetic word. Let us then see what Scripture really does teach concerning baptism.
Even though Jesus Christ has suffered for sinners, taking their burden of sin upon himself, it is no use baptizing an ungodly adult in the name of Jesus to make him into a child of God. And why is that? Yes, the Holy Spirit, as we have seen, is not contained in natural water. It is just as impossible to make a baby into a child of God by baptizing it, as it is to make an adult into the same by baptism. What difference, indeed, is there between the baptized and the unbaptized baby. Thus those who still baptize are unaware of the fact that baptism with water was a mere shadow of the word of God and its power to change people through the gospel. The Bible says that there is only one baptism (Eph. 4:5), but since baptism with water was merely a shadow of its true meaning, then it could appear in two forms, i.e. the baptism of John and the baptism of the Lord Jesus, to reveal to us the mystery of regeneration. The baptism of John, also called “baptism unto repentance” (Acts 19:4), and the baptism of the Lord Jesus, which we can call “baptism of renewal”, were together what is referred to in Titus 3:5 as “the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost”. This two forms of baptism are thus tokens of the same kind as “the song of Moses” and “the song of the Lamb” in Rev. 15:3. The baptism of John and the song of Moses, the servant of God, both symbolize God’s holy law, which calls us to account for all our sins, for the law shall judge all of us in the flesh like men (1 Pet. 4:6). The baptism of the Lord Jesus and the song of the Lamb symbolize God’s gospel, which gives us the Son and forgiveness for all our sins and faults. That baptism with water is solely an example or shadow which disappeared with the second dispensation, can, as mentioned earlier, be seen from Rev. 4:6, where it is said that there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal, before the throne. This sea of glass contains living water, as can be seen by a comparison of this verse with Rev. 22:1, for the glass is God’s true word and baptism.
In the old Jewish covenant (first dispensation) the laver, which contained water, stood outside in the court, and it was there that the priests washed both themselves and the sacrifices.
In the New Covenant (second dispensation) it was the baptism with water that was this laver. in the third and last dispensation there are no such literal examples, since it is a purely spiritual dispensation, the laver in this dispensation being the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb. It is said that the sea is as it were of glass, like crystal, and that it stands before the throne. This means that the water in this sea of glass is God’s Holy Spirit, with the glass being the word of God. The Spirit and the Word together are the mystery of regeneration and the reality to which the figures of both the previous dispensations point. That this is so, is confirmed by the apostle Paul in his explanation of the mystery of regeneration in his epistle to the Romans, especially in chapter 7, which is the main topic of this letter.
That so many people live in ignorance concerning the mystery of baptism is due to their lack of knowledge about and understanding of the holy Scripture and its power. (Matt. 22:29). Those that are allowed to see the hidden meaning in Scripture will not deny that the holy word of God foresees a change in the priesthood also in the midst of the New Testament era (Zech. 11:10-13; Heb. 7:12), which entails among other things that the laver of the court (baptism with water) is set before the throne. (Ex. 30:18; 2 Cor. 4:1-6; Rev. 4:6). Thus, in its spiritual meaning, water becomes crystal. (Rev. 22:1)
The origin of all ignorance and confusion concerning the Scripture’s true baptism doctrine, is Antichrist or the Son of Perdition, who we can read of in 2 Thes. 2:3. It is therefore appropriate to take a closer look at who exactly this enemy of the truth is, before proceeding to the baptism doctrine itself, as expounded by St. Paul. Antichrist or the Son of Perdition is the Beast in Rev. 13, who was to make war with the saints and overcome them. (Rev. 13:7) Who this Antichrist and Son of Perdition is, is explained by John the apostle as follows (2 Joh. 7): “For may deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a (=the) deceiver and an (= the) antichrist.” The apostle here shows us that Antichrist is not just one individual but MANY DECEIVERS together, or the spirit that drives them. When the apostle says that these deceivers do not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, he does not first and foremost mean that they deny the fact of His being born as a man, though he here also condemns docetism. The deceivers’ lack of confession, i.e. their denial of God, lies rather in the fact of their preaching and believing doctrines which preclude “the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:26). Jesus Christ is the Word according to Joh. 1:14 (“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”), and it is this word which through the gospel must become spirit and life in each and every believer. Jesus says (Joh. 6:63): “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” We see, then, that this is a deep mystery.
Antichrist does not deny the outward “form of godliness” (2 Tim. 3:5), but rather its power, and this he does by denying, corrupting, hiding and suppressing the sound doctrine, giving people instead innumerable doctrines, because of their “itching ears” (2 Tim. 4:3). His aim has thus always been to prevent the word in its true meaning from being preached, and from becoming a LIVING SPIRIT in men. He has now had his allotted time “with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth” (2 Thes. 2:9-10). He shall now be revealed and consumed by our Lord Jesus Christ and the spirit of His mouth (2 Thes. 2:8), which is the LIVING WORD. Antichrist should, through his false doctrines, “cast down the truth to the ground,” as foretold in Dan. 8:11 and Isa. 24:5. When he, the Beast, had overcome the saints, the spiritual night had fallen, and no one could any longer preach the word of God clear and unadulterated without being persecuted and killed by this accursed instrument of Satan. Jesus foresaw these events when He spoke of the night that should come, “when no man can work.” (Joh. 9:4). If this night were merely natural darkness, then it would still be possible to work. The night, spoken of here, was, however, spiritual darkness, and in this darkness the true doctrine of the word of God (including the baptism doctrine) was hidden from most people.
Now, however, is the morning Star come (Rev. 2:28), and the Branch has started to bear fruit, in accordance with Scripture (Isa. 11:1), so now shall the true meaning of baptism also break forth pure and unadulterated for all the peoples of the earth. I know for certain that this baptism doctrine shall not be understood by any of those who have received the mark (creed/confession) of the Beast either in their right hand (faith) or in their forehead (knowledge). Such people are impossible to convince. The elect of God, on the other hand, who sigh after truth and righteousness, shall both see, understand and believe unto salvation. For their sake I will now show what the Bible’s true baptism entails according to St. Paul.
The Bible’s baptism doctrine is to be found in Romans chapter 7, where it is expounded in detail, so I shall therefore go through the whole chapter, verse by verse. My sincere wish and hope to God is that everyone who with an honest mind reads this explanation, shall understand the meaning of “the washing of water by the word.” (Eph. 5:26). The apostle will help us in this with his explanation, so let us take a closer look at what he says.
- “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?”
Quoting: The Bible
Though the chuch in Rome, to whom the apostle addresses this epistle, to begin with probably contained a majority of jewish people who had come to the faith the church was still, as regards doctrine, a christian church. It cannot therefore be the law of the jewish people, the Mosaic law, that Paul means when he writes that they know the law, that it has dominion over a man as long as he lives. What, then, was the law, which they knew, and who was it that this law had dominion over? This question is relevant since the apostle later in the epistle says that the Christian is dead to the law. Does he mean two kinds of people, those who believe and those who do not, and that the law has dominion over those that do not believe? Assuming that the apostle meant that the Christians in Rome had the law and kept it, yet at the same time being dead to it, then the question for us is: Can the law have dominion over one who is dead to it?
While Paul was yet Saul, and a zealous Pharisee, he knew the law, being, as he says, blameless “touching the righteousness which is in the law” (Phil.3:6), and was, moreover, taught at the feet of Gamaliel according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers. (Acts 22:3). Despite his great knowledge pertaining to the law of the fathers, the Mosaic Law, he, nevertheless, later writes that he once lived without the law. (Rom. 7:9) The law which he had learnt from Gamaliel can not then be the one he meant when writing to the Romans.
- “For the woman which hath a husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.”
Quoting: The Bible
By this the apostle does not mean that only the woman is bound by the marital law, since he in other places explains that the husband is also bound to obey the same law with regard to his wife, and to love her even as himself (Eph. 5:33). What the apostle wishes to do by using the married woman as an example is to illuminate man’s spiritual condition.
- “So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.”
Quoting: The Bible
God’s word and law applies to all people, whether they believe it or not, and whether we like it or not, for we shall all be judged by the word of God on the last day (Joh. 12:48). Thieves shall be judged by the law that forbids theft, and murderers shall be judged by the law that forbids murder, for God’s law applies to each and every human act, whether to judgement or to life. (Rom. 2:13.)
4. “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”
Quoting: The Bible
In this verse the apostle says that man cannot bear fruit unto God while under the law. We see, therefore, that though the apostle writes to the church in Rome, saying that they know the law, and also that it has dominion over a man as long as he lives, he does not, of course, mean that they were under the law, for in such a condition they would not be able to bear fruit unto God. To say that they were under the law would be to say that they were under the condemnation of the law, and were aliens to God, and that was definitely not what the apostle meant. We see, then, from this, that the apostle distinguishes between being under the law and being under the dominion of the law. The former is reprehensible, the latter inevitable. The consequence of what he later says confirms this, for he who is under the law belongs to another than Christ, he, on the other hand, who is become dead to the law by the body of Christ is loosed from the law and belongs to Him. We see here that the apostle speaks of the law in two differing senses, the one spiritual and the other historical, illuminating for us the mystery of regeneration. And this we shall see later on in his explanation. We should, under no circumstances, be lead to believe that when a christian “dies,” as St. Paul here explains, the law looses its dominion over him. Proverbs 6:23 says the following: “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” Should then this lamp and this light become superfluos? No, certainly not! John the apostle confirms that the Christian does not become dead to the law in the sense that it no longer applies to him, for he says: “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” (1 Joh. 2:3.) Let us, therefore, abide by the fact that the law applies and does its work, as the apostle will now explain.
- “For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.”
Quoting: The Bible
Here that state is described in which all people find themselves before and when the power of the word starts to gain access through the hearing of the gospel, for when that happens we begin to be aware that sin and iniquity has corrupted us in all things, and that we bear fruit unto death and are enemies of God. We then realize, as David did, that the Lord is a God who is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11), and a God who demands that His law be kept to the last jot. We then begin to fear Him, for He is a jealous God who says: “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments!” (Matt. 19:17) Yes, what happens when this unalterable demand is set before you and me? Dear reader, we stand now at a crossroads in the doctrine of baptism and regeneration. What happens to us henceforth will decide whether we become children of God or children of Antichrist, and it is precisely this that all false doctrine would conceal from man. The hidden meaning of God’s gospel lies here (Eph. 6:19), and he who understands it will also understand what baptism is. Let us therefore hear what the spiritual meaning of the expression “become dead to the law” entails. The historical meaning is, as we have heard, that the husband dies and the woman is thereby loosed from the law which bound her to her husband, but in the spiritual sense our first husband is our fallen, sinful nature, inherited from Adam. He is the fruit of original sin in us. Paul says:
- “But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”
Quoting: The Bible
This verse shows us what the apostle meant when he earlier explained that a person under the law cannot bear fruit unto God, and must therefore become dead to it. Paul, with the expression “delivered from the law”, shows that man was previously “held” captive under the dominion of sin, and thus under the condemnation of the law. But we should note who it is, according to Paul, that should become dead. In verse 2 he says that it is the man who dies, and the woman who is loosed, but he, nevertheless, states later on in this same chapter that “I died”. Easiest to understand, to start with, is that the woman does not die, but rather the man, and that it is the woman who is loosed from the law when her husband dies. That man and woman in marriage are here used by the apostle to describe man, both when joined as one to sin, and when partaking in Christ through “washing of water by the word”, we see from what he says about the Christians in the church he is writing to. He says: “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ.” He means the following: As the woman is loosed when her husband dies, so also are you, “man”, loosed when that dies, to which you are joined as one. The apostle lets us know that it is sin to which we are joined as one, right up until we are loosed. He wishes to tell us that to live in sin is the same as to be “in the flesh”, or, to be in the flesh is the same as to live in sin.
- “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.”
Quoting: The Bible
Yes, “Is the law sin?” we must ask together with the apostle, since it has in it a quality enabling it to revive sin? “Nay,” is the clear answer from the apostle. The spirit of Antichrist also gives a willing answer to this question, saying: “No, the law is not sin, I agree with the apostle, it only reveals sin! Fortunately, the law does not apply to me anymore, since I believe in Christ. Christ has now taken onto Himself all my sins and all my guilt.” If we then ask further how sin is made manifest, as Paul says it should, Antichrist will answer: “I felt exactly the same as the apostle before I came to the faith, but as we know, “The law is not made for a righteous man.” (1 Tim. 1:9). I do not waste time anymore on the law, not wanting to belittle Jesus’ work of atonement, for “the law is not of faith.” (Gal. 3:12) Yes, this is the answer we get from Antichrist.
- “But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.”
Quoting: The Bible
Do we realize what this mean? The question is: When does sin take occasion in man, working all manner of concupiscence in him, as Paul says? This question can also be put in the following way: Is sin no longer dead in man when it takes occasion by the commandment? What will you answer? Will you answer that this was the apostle’s condition while he lived according to “the law of the fathers,” which he had learnt at the feet of Gamaliel? No, hardly, since the apostle says that he was “alive without the law once,” despite his having been taught the law of the fathers. Will the answer instead be, as is indeed the case here, that sin took occasion by the commandment when he realized that he was in reality a persecuter of God’s people, and thus a trespasser? If this is the answer, then the expression “sin was dead” must mean that it is we, rather, who are not aware of the working of sin in us. We are as dead in this condition, a state under the condemnation and damnation of the law. When the commandment comes, on the other hand, it throws light on the working and life of sin in us, in the same way as the moon throws light on the realm of the night, illuminating it. Then that which we have previously not known or been aware of comes to light, that which was “dead” to us. Yes, in the same way as the landscape of the night is revealed by the light of the moon in the natural sense, so also is this realm of spiritual darkness revealed by the light of the law. The apostle states further:
9. “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.”
Quoting: The Bible
Here we read the testimony that sin was revealed by the law and could thus no longer remain hidden in and from Paul. This discovery extremely is painful for us humans, when we experience it. We then see that there lives in us a nature that is diametrically opposed to the commandment, completely unable to comply with the demands of the law in all things. We realize that we are in fact bound in marriage to sin and its nature in us, which we have inherited from Adam. This evil nature is our husband, our first one. We are, as the apostle has described, like a woman in her marriage, for she is, according to the law, one flesh with her husband (Mark 10:7-8). In the same way we are one with sinful nature, which is our husband, for earlier in his epistle to the Romans Paul says: (Rom. 6:16): “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” When the commandment (the law) comes we discover, through the revelation of our sin, that we are subject to its dominion, and thus under the wrath and condemnation of God. The apostle now explains what the commandment did to him in that state.
- “And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.”
Quoting: The Bible
Just think, the apostle here tells us that he died, and if that was not enough, he died at the hand of that which was meant to be “to life”, i.e. the commandment, for Jesus says (Matt. 19:17): “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” What was it then that happened to Paul, since it all went so badly wrong? Let Paul himself explain:
- “For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.”
Quoting: The Bible
These are extraordinary words. Does he mean that even though sin had been revealed in him by the law he was yet himself no sinner, only becoming one after sin managed to deceive him? No, far from it, for he says earlier in the epistle to the Romans (5:18) that “by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation.” We all receive sinful nature as an inheritance at birth, as David says in Psalm 51:5: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” The expressions “shapen in iniquity” and “conceived in sin” are here not meant as a criticism of the woman as a mother, but rather as a description of how serious the condition of all Adam’s descendants is. When we are conceived we inherit an evil and sinful nature, which is subject to the judgement and condemnation of God, since it is of the Devil, doing the Devil’s works. So, right from the start then, we also, together with our sinful nature, are subject to the law. This is confirmed by Romans 3:19: “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” Just think, the whole world is under the law because of this sinful nature, inherited from Adam! And had not Jesus Christ come to destroy the works of the Devil (1 Joh. 3:8) it would not be possible for us to escape from the shackles of sin at all. Jesus obtained for us a pardon through His sacrifice, for “almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Heb. 9:22) This remission is offered to us through the preaching of the gospel, which contains the “washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:26), and Peter the apostle explains what the gospel does with us (1 Pet. 4:6): “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” We now understand what St. Paul means when he says: “For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.”
Let us recapitulate: (1) The gospel is preached to us who are dead because of original sin and the dominion of sin over us. When the gospel is heard, sin revives in us, for we discover that our will and desire is in direct opposition to the law and will of God, and that we neither can nor will do as the law and the commandment of God demands. We are, as it were, bound in marriage to another will, which is evil, and are, therefore, its servant in all things. God’s holy law stands then before us with its unmitigated demand that we must keep the commandments if we will enter into life. (Matt. 19:17) (2) It is no use us answering: “I will do the best I can!” This answer is not acceptable to the law, which is there to ensure that the commandments are kept to the last jot. It is also there to punish all trespasses. The law therefore declares to you and me: “You shall not just try or do the best you can, but actually keep the commandments to the very last jot! Otherwise I shall slay you with my sword of judgement!” When this demand is made we are still bound in marriage to our original nature, for it is our life and our lord, and what it wills we do, being its servant. (3) Since the law does not modify its demand on us we start appealing for mitigation, saying that Jesus Christ has suffered for the sins of the world, including ours, and that he has thus taken on Himself all our guilt. (4) The law’s answer to this is: “Jesus Christ did not suffer for the Devil! Either you keep the commandments, or else I slay you with my sword, for “the soul that sinneth, it shall die!” (Ezek. 18:20) (5) When this is declared then I am become judged as “a man in the flesh” (1 Pet. 4:6), i.e. as being one with my first husband, Adam, who is sinful nature. (6) I love my first husband, who is my lord and my life, I being his servant, but at the same time the law shows me that he is a sinful man, who Christ did not suffer for, and who is therefore under the condemnation and damnation of the law for all eternity. (Joh. 16:11)
The question is now: What shall I do with my first husband? It is painful to me to discover that the law condemns him, excluding him from Christ’s work of atonement, and it is especially painful that the law even requires that I should be the first to cast a stone at him (Deut. 13:9-10). Jesus says: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matt. 10:37) Therefore I must cast the first stone at my first husband, if I wish to be worthy of Christ.
When my inherent evil nature, my first husband, sees that the law does not show him mercy through the sacrifice of Christ he starts to rail against the law, accusing God of being unfair and cruel. My husband thus showed himself to be an evil man, and “sin revived” in me.
My first husband livens up as it were, showing himself to have a will, which is completely contrary to the law. I then have to admit that my first husband is of the Devil, and neither can nor will subject himself to the will of God. Since he is my first husband I constantly feel his will in my flesh, and it is him I have always been wont to obey. But there stands the law, and I realize that if I am to be saved I must let the marriage bonds that bind me to him be broken, for he is an evil man, condemned by the law. I can no longer be joined as one to such an evil man. I can see that what the law demands is righteous and from the Lord. I must therefore give up my first husband to Moses, the law, so that he can punish him. My first husband, my lord and my life is then condemned, being myself judged as a man in the flesh, as Peter has said. The sacrifice (my husband) is then salted with salt (the law), as Jesus says should happen in Mark 9:49. Just think, I must stand and watch while the law tortures and kills my dear husband as he also tortured and killed Jesus on the cross. At the very moment that my first husband began railing against the law because it required full compliance with the commandments he was shown to be evil, and I who loved him was seen to be bound to him in marriage, subjected and deceived by him and his will, and thereby a party to his sin and trespasses. The law therefore lifted its sword to slay him who was my life.
- “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”
Quoting: The Bible
We should note here that the apostle in no way says that the law and its work has been made void. No, far from it, it both works and inflicts death, but is holy, righteous and good in spite of this! That which must, on the other hand, be done away with is our sinful nature and its dominion over us, which the law condemns with an irretrievable judgement. Yes, for every one that will enter into life must be saltet with fire, as Jesus says in Mark 9:49. The apostle now explains further the death, inflicted on us by this salt.
- “Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.”
Quoting: The Bible
“Was it the law that slew me?” asks the apostle. I would say that before it is even possible to ask such a thing the judgement in question would already have to have been carried out. Some people think that the apostle is here talking about the judgement that was passed on the whole of humanity because of man’s fall from divine grace, but this is certainly not the case, for the main issue here is what happens when God’s law with its demands on us enters our life. The answer that the apostle himself gives is that the law did not slay him. What, however, cannot be denied is that somebody was slain, i.e. “I.” Let us therefore take a look at who this “I” is that was slain, and this is best done by keeping in mind the example of the “husband and wife.” We know that man was created in the image of God, for it was said (Gen. 1:26): “God said: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” The historical meaning of this verse is that God wanted to create man with a bodily form like that in which Jesus would one day reveal himself. The spiritual meaning, though, is that God wanted to give man of His spirit, who thua become God’s image in the soul. This image, or Spirit of God, was man’s life and will, for as the Lord willed, so also willed the man, that is, until man fell from grace. In the fall from grace we lost God’s image, receiving another in its place, namely Satan’s image, and his spirit and will. Here St. Paul comes in, with the example of the husband and wife to show what happens subsequently. Because of Adam’s fall from grace we are born with Satan’s root in us, this evil nature, and he it is who is our lord, will and guide for as long as he is allowed to be the image in our soul. As long as this image is allowed to remain unscathed and intact within us it avails nothing to believe that Jesus Christ’s sacrifice cleanses us from sin, an thus saves us, this in spite of the indisputable fact that Jesus has suffered and died for everyone. This image and this spirit is the Devil himself! And we are one with him through the fall from grace, as the wife is one with the husband in marriage. His will is my law and will, and what he wills, that I do, for he is “I.”
If we believe in Christ while in this condition we will be like a woman who marries another man while her first husband still lives, and that is adultery, according to the word of God. When the gospel is preached, therefore, offering us God’s grace through the blood of Christ, as well as victory over sin and death, if only we believe and better our ways (which means keeping the commandments), this Devil’s spirit (who is our head and lord by way of the fall from grace) sees the threat immediately, and therefore presents a feigned willingness to keep the commandments.
Man, in this condition, can not really see what is happening, that it is our first husband who pleads with God’s holy law to spare us, the reason being that his will is our will, though we believe it to be our own will, and nobody else’s. Man would be deceived but not God’s holy law. The law therefore comes to me, saying: “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments!” (Matt. 19:17) I then answer: “I shall do the best that I can.” Just think, “I” shall do the best that I can! The law, which is holy and which demands complete obedience, answers, saying: “You shall not do the best that you can, for that is not sufficient, but you must keep the law to the last jot. And if you do not, you shall die, for sinners shall die!”
I then become frightened, I, who is my first husband and my own self, and I say: “I put my trust in Jesus and His work of atonement, that He will make intercession for me, putting His perfection in my stead, so that my blame shall be covered.” As soon as I have said this, or even thought the thought, I hear the law saying: “Jesus did not suffer for the Devil, so if you will inherit life, keep the commandments. Otherwise you die!” The law says this because I am bound to my first husband, even though I do not yet know it. My first husband then starts to complain about the law’s unmitigated requirement, yes, and worse still, he starts to hate and despise this requirement, raging inside of me because of it. He neither can nor will keep God’s commandments. The law which is standing right in front of me, with its holy demand, throws light on my first husband, and I see how unwilling he is to comply with the law. I also see that the matrimonial bonds, which bind me to him, are strong, that I am one with him, and that I am party to him in this. I see what the law demands, but have no power either to comply with what it demands or to refrain from what it forbids, let alone to the last jot, for my first husband compels me to act against God’s law. He “deceives” me by making his will my will.
But the Lord sees this, and sends His holy law to face me, with its shining sword. It shows me that my first husband is a sinner from the beginning, and is thus subject to God’s eternal judgement and damnation, and that I am one with him, and thus subject to the same judgement. I realize that my condition is both hopeless and terrible, and cry therefore in great pain and fear to the God of heaven, that He look to me in mercy, if such is possible. Moses the servant of God (the law), standing there with his great sword, then says: “Let your first husband be slain with this sword, which is the will of God!” I then, as it were, fall into the fire, fore on the one hand I love my first husband, but on the other hand I see, in the light of the law, that he is an evil and sinful man, a trespasser, who God’s law demands shall be punished with the severest punishment.
My first husband bids me therefore defend him, so that the sword of the law cannot get through to him. But the law makes it clear to me that if I defend my first husband, instead of casting the first stone against him, then I shall be slain together with him. My fear therefore grows ever greater, and I cry to the Lord for the strength to deliver up my first husband, who is my will and desire. The Lord then comes and gives me the strength to resist my first husband, so that I do not continue to do his will, however much he may plead. I gradually discover, that each time I refuse to do what my first husband wills me to, God’s law gets through, inflicting upon him deep wounds. After a time he becomes so weak that he can no longer lead me as he wants, and his image in me then collapses, thus his will dies a peculiar death. I realize then that he who was my life and will has lost his life, and that I also, who was with him under judgement, have lost this same life and will, which I had in and through him.
I now stand widowed and alone before God’s law and commandments, without hope and without God in the world. The only thing I have is a deceased condemned husband, and I am uncertain of my fate. Since all this has befallen through the hearing of the law and gospel of God I turn my ear to hear what else this gospel may have to say about my condition, and then I hear the apostle say:
- “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.”
Quoting: The Bible
What do I hear? God’s law was neither void nor merely the letter, as I had heard many people say. It was, on the contrary, spiritual, and it was not the law that had done me harm, but sin, which I was “sold under.” Indeed, though the law had slain my first husband, and thereby the dominion of sin over me, I could still feel his “motions” in me, desiring to reclaim his life. I realized with anguish that I was still “carnal”, remaining in this body of death, so I listened carefully to what the apostle had to say further:
- “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not, but what I hate, that do I.”
Quoting: The Bible
The apostle was right, for this was exactly what I had experienced: Though the law showed me what the will of God was, and though it had slain my first husband and put an end to the dominion he had had over me, my first husband still opposed the law, making himself felt as sinful nature in me, for that which I would not he strove to do in me. The more I refused to comply with his will the more I could feel him. His will was abysmal and evil and devilish, and completely contrary to the will of God. I resisted it, but even so it still manifested itself in me. St. Paul says.
- “If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.”
Quoting: The Bible
While the law now threw its light on me I could see that all the things that the root of sin wished to work in me were evil, and that the demands that the law made on me were good and righteous. Yes, even though I felt the abysmal corruption in me I could not but give the law a good testimony for what it demanded of me. My situation was such that the law had slain my first husband, since he was a transgressor and opposed to the will of God, but even slain this deceased man still made himself felt in me, though without any longer having dominion over me through his will. I now experienced the presence of God, Who came near to me with His life-giving word, and with His promises and blessings, and with His consolation, and He put the great hope of the gospel in my heart, and thus a new life and will began to take form in me, who was the Son, or the Way, the Truth and the Life. He lifted me up from under the law, judgement and damnation, and put me on the bright path of the law’s commandments.
- “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.”
Quoting: The Bible
Here the apostle states that sin appears in his flesh, though he himself is not “doing” it. To many these words may sound like an abdication of responsibility, that the apostle will not admit that it is he who is to blame, and no one else. The question is: How is it possible for the apostle to say that sin manifests itself in him, without his “doing” it? If a sin or a breach of the law was committed by you or me it would be difficult for us to evade the matter by saying: It was not me who did it but sin in me. Any judge would take little notice of such an answer, and we would be found guilty all the same. The consequence of this, if we are to take the apostle seriously as being inspired and a messenger of God, is that sin exists in the flesh, independent of man’s own will. We see, according to the apostle, that there is a will inhabiting the flesh of man, which is opposed to all good intentions and every commandment, and which neither can or will subject itself to the law and will of God. It opposes, therefore, all the good intentions that a person might have to follow God’s commandment in accordance with the word. Everyone who subjects himself to the word and will of God, will find, as soon as he decides to live in accordance with the word, that he has, within him, two wills in direct opposition to each other. The one would keep God’s commandments while the other would break these commandments. There are many names in Scripture for the will that breaks God’s commandments, e.g. “the old man” (Col. 3:9), “very wickedness” (Psalm 5:9), “the desires of the flesh and the mind” (Eph. 2:3), “the son of perdition” (2 Thes. 2:3), “the leaven of malice and wickedness” (1 Cor. 5:8), “superfluity of naughtiness” or “rank growth of wickedness” (RSV, Jam. 1:21), etc. Since this will is the opposite of the will and spirit of Jesus Christ, who is the image of God in His people, it would also be correct to call this evil will in man “the image of Satan.” When man was created, he was created in the image of God, i.e. he received the spirit and will of God as his lord and guide, and he lived and breathed in this will. With the fall from divine grace, our ancestors lost this inner image of God, receiving instead the image of another, opposed to God, which we have inherited. Thus the source of sin and evil took root in the flesh of man, leading him against the will of God.
Since the apostle has earlier stated that the commandment brought about his death, i.e. the sinful will lost its dominion over him, he cannot, therefore, here mean that this sinful will continues to have dominion over him, but rather that the “stump” of sin still exists in him, making itself felt in his flesh as “another law in my members” (verse 7:23) and “a thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7). It did not have dominion over him, but it manifested itself as a residue of evil in his body as long as he lived. This condition of man is contained in these words of the prophet: “the child shall die an hundred years old” and “the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.” (Isa. 65:20)
- “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”
Quoting: The Bible
The apostle confirms here that he is inhabited by something that is not of God, something which has occupied his flesh, subjecting it to a will which opposes the Spirit of God. He further explains that when he would do in accordance with the will of God, this contrary will (revealed in him by the law) resisted any good resolution he might have. He had come to believe in the righteous demands of the law and righteous will of God, but discovered at the same time the existence of an opposite will, hindering him in every way possible. In his life and works he strove to fulfill the demands of the law, but discovered to his great sorrow and anguish that it was impossible to remove this evil will of the flesh once and for all, so that he could never be completely free to do the will of God, which was his desire. This will was in his flesh like a “bridgehead” of evil, always seeking to hinder him, by preventing his flesh from complying with the Law of God.
We are now faced with an important question in this mystery of faith, which it seems appropriate to deal with here. Since the apostle must admit that he is incaple of doing the good which he would, it is tempting for us to think that St. Paul did not keep the law. Moreover, if St. Paul, he who was the apostle of God, did not keep the law, then no one can expect that I should do so. It is then that another apostle comes in with his words, namely John, who says the following (1 Joh. 3:9): “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” What shall we say about this? St. Paul says that he does that which he would not, namely sin, while John says that he cannot sin, for he is of God. These two apostles seem then to disagree. St. Paul even emphasizes what a bad state he is in, when he says:
- “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”
Quoting: The Bible
Not only does St. Paul fail to do the good he should, he even does the EVIL that he should not, which seems completely to contradict the testimony of his fellow apostle John. What then is the explanation for this seeming contradiction? Well, St. Paul gives us the explanation now:
- “Now if I do that what I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.”
Quoting: The Bible
Just think, even though St. Paul was God’s chosen apostle, he still had a “fatal illness” in him, which incessantly plagued him, manifesting itself as something other than he was and strove to be, yes, even now, after the law had executed its judgement and work in him. The gospel had been preached to him while he was yet “dead” (Eph. 2:1), and he was judged with “the judgement that began at the house of God” (1 Pet. 4:17), and he “died” (Rom. 7:10), since he had to let the law judge the dominion that sin had over him, a painful process, “for every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice (dominion of sin) shall be salted with salt (the law).” (Mark 9:49) When this happens, the door is opened and Jesus Christ, our saviour, comes in and becomes man’s life and lord, and “sups” with the believer. The believer has then overcome, and is granted to sit with Christ in His throne (Rev. 3:20-21), or, as the apostle Peter says, “Live according to God in the spirit.” (1 Pet. 4:6) The believer’s life is then Christ, who is God.
- “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.”
Quoting: The Bible
The apostle has, as we know, explained that he was “alive without the law once”, at which time sin was “dead”. But now, after being allowed to see the demands and judgement of the law, sin was revealed, bearing fruit in him unto death, having dominion over him without his knowing. Faith comes through hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17), and in the word is also God’s holy demand to man. Faith is the spirit of God and Christ, which reveals to us how abysmal the fall in us is. By this faith we see that there is an evil will and desire inside us, which we can no longer gratify, if we wish to be a child of God. Here we see “the scapegoat in the wilderness.” (Lev. 16:10)
- “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:”
Quoting: The Bible
Paul explains that there exists an inward man in addition to the flesh, the outward man. The flesh has the residue of sin in it, as we have heard. But what about the inward man? Who or what is he? Do we here discern the soul of man? The answer is of course “yes”, for Jesus Christ says: “If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will com in to him, and will sup with him, and HE with me.” (Rev. 3:20). This same Jesus has also said the following: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for WITHOUT me ye can do nothing.” (Joh. 15:5). The inward man is thus Jesus Christ as lord and life in the body of man, and as the spirit and will of God bound in marriage to man’s soul and mind. St. Paul writes this to the Ephesians (4:23-24): “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” To the Colossians he says the following (Col. 3:9-11): “Seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: where there is neither Greek nor jewish, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but CHRIST IS ALL, AND IN ALL.” It is this new life in the “dead” who has pleasure in the law of God, for He (Jesus) says (Joh. 4:34): “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” What this work is, is explained by John the Apostle (1 Joh. 3:8): “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the Devil.” We see here, then, what was wrought in the St. Paul. He had delivered up the dominion of sin and his evil will, which he discovered in his flesh, to be judged and damned by God. This was accomplished when, on feeling the temptation and demands of sin (the law in his members), he gave himself up into the safe keeping of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, so that the demands and will of sin could not be fulfilled in him. St. Paul had finally received the law, and abided by it, as he says:
- “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”
Quoting: The Bible
Again, singular words from the mouth of the apostle! Just think, Jesus Christ had delivered him from sin (Rom. 6:18), but he was a captive all the same. Everybody must realize that the apostle does not mean that he continues to be a slave under sin, for we have already heard that he who sins, is of the Devil. Paul’s captivity is such that he must, to his dying day, endure the “stump” of sin, with its temptations and afflictions. Romans 8:16-17 says: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; IF WE SUFFER WITH HIM, that we may also be glorified together.” It is this suffering Jesus speaks of in Matthews 16:24-25: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” Since his life under the dominion of sin was condemned and slain by the holy law of god, a new lord, with his law and mind, had taken abode in the apostle. He could therefore see the law of sin in his members and renounce it. At the same time he saw how deeply the root of sin went in him, yes, and would remain so for the rest of his life. He therefore cries out:
- “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
Quoting: The Bible
We now realize that this is also our condition, for we have nothing with which to resist the “stump” of sin, with its temptations, as long as we are in this body. Our only hope, therefore, lies with the promise of God, if only we will hear and believe His gospel, the everlasting. (Rev. 14:6). The Lord has said (Hos. 13:14): “I will ransom them from the POWER of the grave; I will redeem them from DEATH: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentence shall be hid from mine eyes.” By faith the Lord fulfills this work of redemption by becoming plague to the plague and death to the death in us. God’s answer, therefore, to St. Paul is: “my grace is sufficient for thee!” (2 Cor. 12:9) Sure of this promise the apostle exalts, saying:
- “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
Quoting: The Bible
He declares that even though sin manifests itself in his flesh, holding him as it were yet captive (since he still has to live in the body inherited from Adam), his soul and mind has, nonetheless, been torn out from under the tyranny of sin, its servitude and dominion. Sin does, however, still make itself felt in him, but has no power to inflict eternal harm on his soul, as the adversary intended, for God says: “My grace is sufficient for you.”
If we feel the sin in us and through faith refuse to gratify it, we suffer and are martyrs, and in this state the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. Smoke now rises up from the daily sacrifice with forgiveness of sins for us. It is this that the apostle teaches us.
After Christ has obtained for us an eternal sacrifice of atonement the situation is reversed, with Satan and sin now receiving everlasting destruction from the law, since we are “judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”
So Paul concludes that he is left with two wills, which abide in him, separated by the law. The one will is the will of God, which is his life “resting” upon the law; the other Will is the Will of Satan, which is his death, now under the law. Here it is useful to compare this condition with the clean animals of the Old Covenant, i.e. those that both chew the cud and are clovenfooted.” (Lev. 11:3).
That which the apostle describes with the help of examples in this chapter (Rom 7), and which I have explained as baptism, will seem to many as having very little to do with baptism at all, since they equate baptism with natural water. They will rather, on the contrary, construe this explanation as a rejection of the Bible’s baptism with water, and thereby as a rejection of Christ’s work of atonement.
Let me therefore remind you that, according to Peter the apostle (1 Pet. 3:21), it is in its COUNTERPART (antitypos) that baptism, i.e. natural water, saves us, and nobody can deny that this counterpart (antitypos) is “washing of water by the word.” (Eph. 5:26). In this “washing of water” the people of God are “buried into death” (Rom. 6:4), a death which Romans 7 deals with, as we have seen.
The baptism with water that was instituted at the beginning of the New Testament era, and which I certainly do not reject, was thus a shadow of that baptism which saves. This baptism consists of “the demands and judgement of the law unto death in us” (the baptism of John), and “the promise of the gospel and regeneration unto life through faith in us” (the baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus). This is the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, which we must learn (Rev. 15:3) It is this song which gives all those that believe first burial with Christ in death, and then resurrection and life with Him again.