1. AN ILLUSTRATION
a. What was the condition of ancient Israel when they tried to obey God’s moral law in their own strength? Romans 10:1–3.
“The people did not realize the sinfulness of their own hearts, and that without Christ it was impossible for them to keep God’s law.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 371, 372.
b. What practical illustration does Paul use to explain the relationship between humanity and God’s moral law—and how can we be dead to the condemnation of that law? Romans 7:1–4.
“Turn your eyes from the imperfections of others, and fix them steadfastly on Christ. With a contrite heart, study His life and character. You need not only to be more enlightened, but quickened, that you may see the banquet that is before you, and eat and drink the flesh and blood of the Son of God, which is His Word. By tasting the good Word of life, by feeding on the bread of life, you may see the power of a world to come, and be created anew in Christ Jesus.”—This Day With God, p. 46.
2. PAUL DIED, NOT THE LAW
a. What is the main purpose of the moral law? Romans 7:7–9.
“[Romans 7:7–9 quoted.] Sin then appeared in its true hideousness, and [Paul’s] self-esteem was gone. He became humble. He no longer ascribed goodness and merit to himself. He ceased to think more highly of himself than he ought, and he ascribed all the glory to God. He was no longer ambitious for greatness. He ceased to want to avenge himself, and was no longer sensitive to reproach, neglect, or contempt. He no longer sought earthly alliance, station, or honor. He did not pull others down to uplift himself. He became gentle, condescending, meek and lowly of heart, because he had learned his lesson in the school of Christ. He talked of Jesus and His matchless love, and grew more and more into His image. He bent his whole energy to win souls to Christ. When trial came upon him because of his unselfish labor for souls, he bowed in prayer, and his love for them increased. His life was hid with Christ in God, and he loved Jesus with all the ardor of his nature. Every church was dear to him; every church member was a person of interest to him; for he looked upon every soul as the purchase of the blood of Christ.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 6, p. 1076.
b. Describe Paul’s early experience with God’s law. Romans 7:10–12.
“The apostle Paul, in relating his experience, presents an important truth concerning the work to be wrought in conversion. He says, ‘I was alive without the law once’—he felt no condemnation; ‘but when the commandment came,’ when the law of God was urged upon his conscience, ‘sin revived, and I died.’ Then he saw himself a sinner, condemned by the divine law. Mark, it was Paul, and not the law, that died.”—Ibid.
c. Explain the conflict between the law and the sinner. Romans 7:13–17.
d. Describe the struggle of the carnal mind seeking its own righteousness. Romans 7:18–21.
3. THE ONLY WAY OUT
a. How does the repentant believer consider God’s moral law? Romans 7:22. On the other hand, what he does realize about himself? Verse 23.
“He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 172.
b. What had Paul mournfully concluded about his spiritual state—and how was this echoed also by the early Advent believers? Romans 7:24.
“Sinners felt their consciences quickened. The ‘light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world’ illumined the secret chambers of their souls, and the hidden things of darkness were made manifest. Deep conviction took hold upon their minds and hearts. They were convinced of sin and of righteousness and of judgment to come. They had a sense of the righteousness of Jehovah and felt the terror of appearing, in their guilt and uncleanness, before the Searcher of hearts. In anguish they cried out: ‘Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’ ”—The Great Controversy, p. 461.
c. Where only can hope be found? Romans 7:25 (first part). Yet what tends to be the natural, human flow of thinking—and why does it drastically need to change? Romans 7:25 (second half); Isaiah 55:7.
“With the mind we serve the law of God; but the minds of many have been serving the world. And while their minds were all occupied with things of earth and serving themselves, they could not serve the law of God.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 150.
“We need to understand how necessary it is that we die to self. Self-crucifixion will place souls on vantage ground. I entreat those [of you] who profess to be Christians to die to self that you may be stirred with a new life by the Holy Spirit’s power. Satan is working with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. Daily we need the converting power of God, or we cannot walk in the footprints of Christ. As the mind is enlightened in regard to what is purity and sanctification, and the heart responds to the strivings of the Holy Spirit, a daily conversion will be the result.”—The Upward Look, p. 269.
4. NOW, NO CONDEMNATION
a. After utter, total surrender of the mind to Christ, what could Paul—and the early Advent believers, too—ultimately declare? Romans 8:1, 2.
“As the cross of Calvary, with its infinite sacrifice for the sins of men, was revealed, they saw that nothing but the merits of Christ could suffice to atone for their transgressions; this alone could reconcile man to God. With faith and humility they accepted the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. Through the blood of Jesus they had ‘remission of sins that are past.’ ”—The Great Controversy, p. 461.
“While the Christian’s life will be characterized by humility, it should not be marked with sadness and self-depreciation. It is the privilege of everyone so to live that God will approve and bless him. It is not the will of our heavenly Father that we should be ever under condemnation and darkness. There is no evidence of true humility in going with the head bowed down and the heart filled with thoughts of self. We may go to Jesus and be cleansed, and stand before the law without shame and remorse. [Romans 8:1 quoted.]”—Ibid., p. 477.
b. Where do we find freedom from sin—and how did Paul find deliverance from “the motions of sin”? Romans 8:3; compare 7:5 and 8:2.
“[The] same resurrection power is that which gives life to the soul ‘dead in trespasses and sins.’ Ephesians 2:1. That spirit of life in Christ Jesus, ‘the power of His resurrection,’ sets men ‘free from the law of sin and death.’ Philippians 3:10; Romans 8:2. The dominion of evil is broken, and through faith the soul is kept from sin. He who opens his heart to the Spirit of Christ becomes a partaker of that mighty power which shall bring forth his body from the grave.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 209, 210.
“We must not think that our own grace and merits will save us; the grace of Christ is our only hope of salvation. . . . When we trust God fully, when we rely upon the merits of Jesus as a sin-pardoning Saviour, we shall receive all the help that we can desire.”—Faith and Works, p. 36.
“There is need of men who will love God, who will not have a dwarfed, stunted religion, but will ever be gaining new supplies of grace, spirituality, and energy, by doing the commandments of the Lord.”—The Review and Herald, June 19, 1888.
5. FLESH VS. SPIRIT
a. What is the choice of those who are “born again”? Romans 8:4–9.
“The lower passions have their seat in the body and work through it. The words ‘flesh’ or ‘fleshly’ or ‘carnal lusts’ embrace the lower, corrupt nature; the flesh of itself cannot act contrary to the will of God. We are commanded to crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts. How shall we do it? Shall we inflict pain on the body? No; but put to death the temptation to sin. The corrupt thought is to be expelled. Every thought is to be brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. All animal propensities are to be subjected to the higher powers of the soul. The love of God must reign supreme; Christ must occupy an undivided throne. Our bodies are to be regarded as His purchased possession. The members of the body are to become the instruments of righteousness.”—The Adventist Home, pp. 127, 128.
b. What is our spiritual condition if guided by the Holy Spirit? Romans 8:10–14; 1 John 4:7.
“Our finite will must be brought into submission to the will of the Infinite; the human will must be blended with the divine. This will bring the Holy Spirit to our aid; and every conquest will tend to the recovery of God’s purchased possession, to the restoration of His image in the soul.”—Our High Calling, p. 153.
“Christ places the salvation of man, not upon profession merely, but upon faith that is made manifest in works of righteousness. Doing, not saying merely, is expected of the followers of Christ. It is through action that character is built. [Romans 8:14 quoted.] . . . Not those whose hearts are touched by the Spirit, not those who now and then yield to its power, but they that are led by the Spirit, are the sons of God.”—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 149, 150.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What does it mean to be “married” to Christ?
2. What happens when we try to follow God’s law in our own strength?
3. Where does our mind need to be when we seek to follow Christ?
4. What good news is introduced in the opening of Romans chapter 8?
5. How are we to continue to grow in the experience shown in Romans 8?