On the road so very briefly: Romans raises the question how do we live a holy life. Sanctification. The big answer Paul gives is that we can only live a holy life if we break free from the power of sin. The smaller answer (ch. 12-16) is how the broken free from sin life is lived in particularities.
Here is the thing: churches argue over whether Luther/Sanders/Calvin/Wright/Council of Trent/Etc is right re justification by faith/covenantal nomism/etc but as best I can tell NOT ONE CHURCH which is assured it rightly understands Romans has actually demonstrated a consistent break from sin in the way its member lives. All struggle with sin. None has the recipe for holiness sorted.
Have we focused on the wrong part of Romans?
I don't think the writer of Romans had sanctification sorted either ( in the "freedom from the power of sin" sense of the word rather than the "set apart" sense of the word) bearing in mind his assessment of himself as the chief of sinners. Perhaps that highlights the importance of a clear view of being-right-with-God through faith, as well as the call/command to be Christlike.
I agree with you, including the importance of being clear about what being right with God through faith means (and for which Romans is considerable help).
My point, put slightly differently could be, "How about we rejoice in being justified by faith in Christ (and not by anything else), along with rejoicing in the inclusion of the Gentiles among God's people and the power of the Spirit to break the power of sin, and get on with some theologising about how to live a sanctified life (instead of persisting in wrangling over Wright, Sanders and co)?
You are aware, Peter, that for many years I have touted Rom 12:1-2 as the absolute fulcrum around which the entire Letter turns. A suitable translation (mixed from the various EVV) wld be:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercies [crucially 11:32, the argument’s climax], to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual/reasonable worship. Do not be conformed to this world [aeon], but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Then we have Rom 6:17, that the Roman Christians “had obeyed from the heart (the) form of teaching to which (they) were committed/handed over”. E.G. Selwyn remarks: “the phrase connotes a limited course of instruction, which followed definite and settled lines.” Selwyn, The First Epistle of St. Peter: The Greek Text with Introduction, Notes and Essays (2nd ed. London: MacMillan, 1947) at 389. Essay II is found on pages 365–466. All of this Essay presents the NT catechism, which bursts through at various points in the Epistles, and which Selwyn reconstructs along form-critical lines.
QED: here I suggest we have the NT means of sanctification for which you are seeking. And of course, it is utterly trinitarian in its basis. See further now my Scripture Workbook that accompanies The Lion, the Dove & the Lamb in press with Wipf & Stock.
I had not forgotten!
And, yes, Paul joins 12-15 with 9-11 which itself is a question-being-tackled from earlier in Romans.
I am also aware that some "recipes" for holy living (I seem to recall a book I read years ago by Norman Grubb) pay particular attention to Romans 12:1-2, joined with Romans 6 and the concept that we gain victory over sin precisely by understanding that we have died with Christ as living sacrifices.
Though as the old joke goes (and quite a bit of my life), the problem with living sacrifices is that they keep getting down off the altar!
I think Peter that old joke is attributable to a sermon by Augustine.
I didn't realise he listened to the old BBC radio comedies :)
Could it have been an outtake from the Hippo Gazette?
It is a good man indeed who succeeds in surrendering the "old man" to Christ in one shot. As for me,I have often found the "lizard on my shoulder" waiting back at my pew seat, to climb back onto my shoulder.As Paul said:"I, the chief of all sinners".
Glen; welcome to the club!
The interesting thing about this “chief of sinners”, Glen, is that he clearly advocates sanctification. He also seems to present a way for this to be realized. After all, no-one is placing Romans in the Deutero-Pauline category that I know of! And so, while I fully appreciate your sentiments (and those of St Aug), the matter before us still remains ...
Quite agreed,Bryden. I was not intimating that sanctification is not posssible; but that it requires much faith and determination.The "death of the old man" can be a long arduous task.As Lewis says: "The Divine Surgeon might have to perform more than one operation."
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