The True Christian Serves the Law of God with the Mind but the Law of Sin with the Flesh

by Mike Ratliff

24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:24, 25 NASB)

As I thought it would, my last post, Antinomianism, caused some backlash. Every time I have posted on that topic it causes something to happen like that. I was accused of things that as far as I know are not true and was told that that article was heretical. At the opening of it I stated, “Antinomianism means “opposed to law.” Antinomian views are those denying that God’s law in Scripture should directly control the Christian’s life.” The one doing most of the accusing demanded a verse stating where God’s law in Scripture should directly control the believer’s life. The first one I thought of was Romans 7:25 (above). 

For a more in-depth exegesis of Romans 7:7-25 you may want to read “The Conflict of Two Natures” from February 29, 2012. The reaction to Antinomianism was not surprising, but the accusations went on and on and would be impossible for me to address here nor would I attempt it. The main issue I wanted to address from the “rant” was the above objection. Yes, Christians are under Grace and are not saved by keeping the law. However, the passage I was exegeting in 1 John from that post (and all of 1 John really) makes it clear that any form of antinomianism is not of God. So, if we are saved by grace, but are called to be obedient to serve the law of God with our minds, how does this work?

Here is what I do. I take Romans 12:1,2 literally:

1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1,2 NASB)

Through that, I apply Romans 12:3-8:

3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:3-8 NASB)

From that and the work of God’s sanctifying grace, the marks of a true Christian are made manifest in me more and more as Paul shows in Romans 12:9-21:

9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. 20 “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21 NASB)

This is a summary; a beginning of what goes much deeper. We keep the law of God in our minds by loving one another and putting other’s needs above our own. We love others the way the Lord loves us.

Soli Deo Gloria!

14 thoughts on “The True Christian Serves the Law of God with the Mind but the Law of Sin with the Flesh

  1. This problem is widespread Mike, I have been accused of everything from preachin calvinism to Lordship salvation when I insist believers will in fact live in opposition to their old ways, walking in obedience to God’s word and
    fleeing sin, especially sexual sin. The person who attacked the biblical truth I presented insists we have ‘freedom in Christ’. To speak out against sin is hateful, unloving, and judgmental. Of course, this person was a ‘Christian’. I see exactly what our Lord meant when He warned repeatedly on deception.

    Stay strong brother

    lyn

  2. Amen and amen! Mike – right on Lynn – amen. People do not want to work out their salvation (there’s another GREAT opportunity for certain people to get tripped up!) with fear and trembling. They mostly want to coast along, enjoying the ride, because they have their “golden ticket” and “God’s favor”. Marvel not if the world hate you – it hated our Lord Jesus first. If the world loves us, we need to repent. We ought to love the people in the world and preach Christ to them.

    I am reminded of a wonderful picture of the early church, from a chapter in John T. Christian’s History of the Baptists: http://defendingcontending.com/2011/08/16/a-beautiful-picture-of-the-early-church/

    May we see ourselves rightly – as blood-bought children of the king of Heaven, and learn from those who have gone before – to look for a city and a home whose builder is God!

  3. Lyn, yes and thank you my sister. You nailed exactly what was going on here. You know that even though we are saved by grace through faith alone not works, there is God’s precision at work there. The accusations I receive is that it is wrong to hold to the Doctrines of Grace while also teaching that we must be free from bondage to dead religiosity. I see no problem with that myself, because I know the hearts of those like my own pastor who would rather die than bind people up with dependance upon religious works rather than faith. Sigh… It is when I am obligated to attend a “church” that is all about “Free Will” that I see those in real bondage and are comfortable in their man-focused religiosity. My brethren, God is Sovereign if we do not worship and serve with that fact at the center, we have a religion made of filthy rags.

  4. Lyn said it well. All I can say is it’s just like when a person get’s married. We’ve made a covenant with the other person. We would not get married and then say to our spouse~ ” Honey I love you no matter what I do and regardless of how I live”~Nope that’s not love-love is the fulfillment of the law~

    The “love only” doctrine is the enemy of true Christianity, of the Bible, and of the souls of men. It is not biblical love at all. Nor is lawless love Christlike.

    He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him. . . . If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” (John 14:21,23-24)

  5. I am a “babe” in Christ and have so much to learn. I’ve never understood why Christians argue about antinomianism (why some argue that we should be able to do anything since we are free from the law). Even I, a relatively “new Christian”, know we cannot go on living as if we are not saved. Why would anybody *want* to live like an unregenerate man unless they truly have not been regenerated? I want the Lord to destroy my old nature and make me new in every way!

    There are times when I get feeling cozy and then I find myself crying out like Paul did in the above verses (Romans 7:24, 25). How wretched I am! Just when I feel I am getting it and I start to get too big for my britches, the Lord sure humbles me! I am so glad the Lord loves me like that!

    Thank the Lord for teachers like you, Mike. Keep on!

  6. Marlene, you have it right my sister. Keep on walking in submission to the Lordship of Christ as you are doing seeking the will of God in all things and God will sustain and keep you. I do not promise you that the road ahead will be “easy” for mine certainly has not been. However, the Lord has never abandoned me and has always kept me and drawn me into the truth as I walked in repentance every day.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  7. You got backlash because you were telling the truth! Keep up the good work. God will take care of the details. Thanks.

    Wallace

  8. Hey Mike, when the lord brought me to himself(12 years ago), i was a changed man, but there are still things in my life that grieve me, but is it normal for me to be constantly in this battle? im always fighting against worldliness and lusts in my mind and sometimes i dont always win. I just want to hear from a fellow brethren who has been with the lord for long,is this normal?

  9. Amen Mike thanks for your love for the bretheren.

    Jesus is so kind, patient and gentle with us as he works that dross slowly to the surface and teaches us how to hate those very things that grieve us and we battle with. Look to Jesus and see how he loves you and me and is always so faithful even when we are faithless ~

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