"[footnoteRef:5] [5: Peter Stuhlmacher, (1994). Paul's Letter to the Romans: A Commentary. Westminster Press, 1994,p. 116.]
Man's Inability to Know Christ Materially
Paul's revelation contained in this chapter of Roman's is one of intense discovery and the lack of man's abilities to truly understand the omniscient and ever-present spirit and power that is Jesus Christ. Paul is speaking out of both sides of his mouth and realizes that this confusion and inner trapping with the ideas of law and sin are meant to be as such. In lines 10 and 11 this hypocrisy is detailed: " I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death."
The miraculous physical events that manifested within Jesus' short and powerful life perhaps mad Paul and the other apostles look for more of this type. As a result every living thing or idea was to be holy and revered. This may be true, but not in the way that Jesus may have intended. The trickster God that Jesus was, felt that humor, laughter and surprise were effective teaching measures to help make lessons become real. Cause and effect were strong tenets of his teaching and it is important to understand what Christ meant when he relayed in Luke 17: 21 the idea that the Kingdome of God Is Within You.[footnoteRef:6] [6: Luke 17:21.]
Not only is the Kingdom of God inside each and every one of us, it is also with the law and the obedience and disobedience of law. It appears that Paul is starting to understand how Christ is inside everyone of us and it is up to us to obey, ignore or erase laws that do not apply to our situation. Jesus had no trouble in both breaking laws and adhering to them. His own crucifixion was a manipulation of man's law and he took full advantage of using the hate, envy and obedience to garner support for a larger and more worthwhile cause. In Matthew 10: 25, Jesus proclaimed he was not here to solve the world's problems but rather instigate revolt and change.
-for I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.[footnoteRef:7] [7: Matthew 10:35.]
This idea is also supported by Luke 12: 35:
-They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.[footnoteRef:8] [8: Luke 12:53.]
Fallibility of Man's Laws
Some of the more maddening qualities within the Jewish laws as designated within the Old Testament or Torah may have also contributed to the tone of Paul's writing to the Romans. The mean and violent God as depicted in the verses of the Old Testament do not align themselves or resonate strongly with the Son of God, Jesus Christ. There appears a big disconnect between the philosophies of "an eye for an eye," and the more gentile "forgive them, they know not what they do." There is no Golden Rule in the Torah, as slavery, rape, pederasty, genital mutilation, murder, torture and many other abominations of human interaction are proclaimed as divine law.
To confuse matters worse, the exchange on Mt. Sinai between Moses and God in Exodus does not align with these ideas as, honor truth and respect are hallmarks of the Ten Commandments. It appears there is an intent to deceive and create wonder within the minds of the readers of these scriptures as not everything is clearly understood nor congruent with logical and rational thought.
The Use of Parable
Paul's letter to the Romans as highlighted by Chapter 7 has a feeling of intellectual frustration being expressed into an almost resigned attitude about accepting Christ. A total change of thought is documented from the helpless lines in the beginning of the verse to the brief and affirming idea of the closing passage:
-Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
The teachings of Christ are self-evident but require mediation and thought. Paul's stance against the rationality of law is in accordance with Jesus' form of teaching through parable and story. Matthew 13:24 is explicit about this fact:
-All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable.[footnoteRef:9] [9: Matthew 13:34]
Also Mark's testament includes this idea when it was written:
-All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable.[footnoteRef:10] [10: Mark 4:34]
Codes and secrets were important to the early Christians much like they are today where solemn oaths are taken to prove such loyalty and faith.
Today's hyper-material world that bases almost all of its decisions with too much emphasis on science and positivism has lost the more nuanced benefits of the spiritual life as taught by Jesus Christ. Those who know the secrets of parable and can in fact know and internalize the message by way of myth and story, have a decided advantage in negotiation the rough seas of life which include obeying silly and often inhuman laws, that do indeed deceive as Paul warns about.
Self-Realization of Christ Consciousness as the Key to Salvation
Once these ideas about self-realization, the illusion of material and the dwelling of the Spirit of Christ awakens inside and from within, the Romans verses in question become much more clearer and more practical to employ. Essentially Paul is putting man's law in its proper prospective and is letting his audience know, that although the laws are absurd, obey them at your own peril.
It is important to highlight that Paul neither advocates nor dismisses the laws themselves as something that must be obeyed, rather the subjective interpretation of the law is much more important. In other words, the Spirit of Jesus Christ and your faith in his ability to lead you to the promised land of correct decision making should ultimately be referred to when making decisions about what laws to obey.
Laws, in and of themselves are like parables. These parables according to Paul are not sinful and full of sin at the same time until the Christ intervenes and makes things in balance. To emulate Christ means to break man's law when he sees fit and to obey it when it appears to be the right thing to do. For many this is too much to handle and the true essence of this teaching will often be overlooked. This is predicted by Christ himself as he warned his followers to be careful what is revealed to the dirty and unwashed masses. He referred to these types of people as sub-human pigs:
- Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.[footnoteRef:11] [11: Matthew 7:6]
- Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words.[footnoteRef:12] [12: Proverbs 23:9]
- and He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs."[footnoteRef:13] [13: Matthew 15:26]
Paul, knows this lesson himself and in his letters to Romans, he himself spoke in parables in order to protect not only himself, but his brothers in Christ who were destined to spread the Word in a mysterious way. The Lord works in the most mysterious ways, and Paul's equivocation of sin and law are fine examples of how parable can be used to great effect and promote the essence of the teachings.
Talking snakes in magical gardens are nice parables but should not be taken at face value for historic value. The historic truthfulness of the teachings of Christ often work against the best interests of those teaching themselves because so much is lost in the effort to rationalize the events. Turning water into wine and healing lepers are things that can be done today and happen every day. This does not ignore the spiritual content or the miraculousness of the events, but suggest that Christ is nothing more than a role model that should not be worshipped but rather looked to for guidance, much like a friend.
Romans 7: 7-25 does indeed offers some friendly advice as Paul attempts to help others see the inanity of the law and the realness of the internal world within. Piper (2001) helped describe this in another way when he wrote "Paul's aim in Romans 7:7-25 is to support the teaching, up to this point in the book, that the Law of Moses - or the law written on the heart of all men - is powerless to declare us righteous before God and powerless to make us righteous before God. We are sinners by nature and by action.…