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Three Things to Know

“Wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.’’ Romans 7:24, 25

Good Bible students, who believe the Sacred Scriptures to be the Word of God, have all pointed out that the entire book of Romans can be divided into three great sections: man’s total corruption, both Jew and Gentile after the Fall (Romans 1:18-3:20); the free redemption in Christ Jeans by God’s marvelous grace (Romans 3:21-5:21); and our walk of thankfulness in Christ (Romans 6:1-8:39; 12:1-15:33). Hence, there are three things which we must know to enjoy the only comfort in life and in death. The Heidelberg Catechism stands on solid Biblical ground in Question 21.

We call your attention in this regard to the prelude of the Decalogue which you hear read each Sunday morning in your worship service. Remember to listen very carefully when your minister reads the Ten Commandments. He is reading more than Ten Commandments. He is reading the words of the Covenant of God. Listen to what God spoke from Mount Sinai in the ears of all the congregation. That congregation consisted of old and young; it also had teenagers in it, hundreds and hundreds of young people. Does not God even have a special word that morning for the children and young people in the fifth commandment? And God says really “three things” in this law!! He speaks of:

  1. The house of bondage (Sin’s misery).
  2. Deliverance (It was under blood-sprinkling on the door-posts).
  3. Thank­fulness (Walk by faith in the two tables of the law).

Three things!

Paul speaks of these three things here in Romans 7:24, 25.

A Christian can be very wretched because of his sins. This is the utter wretchedness which the natural, unregen­erated, and unconverted man does not understand or fathom. Paul is speaking here of you and I as we have been redeemed from legal bondage to the law of sin. He employs the figure of marriage of a woman to a man. A woman is bound by the law of her husband as long as he lives; but when he dies, she is free from that law so that she is not an adulteress if she marries another man. Thus it is with the Christian. He has been redeemed from sin that he might belong to God in Christ. The Christian is not under law but he is under grace. However, the Christian is not perfect in this life. He now is indeed dead to sin legally, but in his members there is a mighty working of sin, which takes him captive. The power of sin is broken, but not the working of sin. That makes for a life-long battle in the Christian. This battle intensifies as we grow in grace. We hate sin more and more.

In this raging battle between the old man and the new man we complain that the good what we would do, we do not do; but the evil which we would not do, we do constantly. We are sold under sin. In this battle we measure ourselves by the law of God, even though we are not under the condemnation of the law. And because we would perfectly keep the law of God, which is just, holy and good, but we cannot, we are most wretched. We find that we are poor, wretched, naked and blind. We are in a body which has evil eyes, ears, hands and feet. It is now that we are in a body of death. In this body we sin as long as we are in this life. Yes, in this body, too, we work out our salvation with fear and trembling. But this is a small principle; we begin to live according to all of God’s commandments. It is the battle between the powers of darkness and the new life in Christ in which you engage as covenant young people. You battle this as young people of God. In this battle you must be strong in the Lord in the power of His might.

But then you will learn more and more extensively the three things in this battle!

You will not merely learn that you are most miserable and wretched; you will also learn to cry, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” This is a heart-rendering cry, but it is not from the depths of despair. It is not the Christian who sinks down into utter despair and hopelessness. Not at all. It is really an outcry which waits for the triumphant answer. No, not any human mortal will be able to help and assist us in this utter wretchedness of sin, of trying to overcome sin. All the “counseling” of men will fail to give us the victory which we so earnestly desire to have. We desire total victory over all the hosts of sin and hell. A partial victory will not do. We must be plucked out forcibly by the power which is greater than man’s. It is the power of God which he wrought in Christ in his death and resurrection.

Finally, you must also learn to know right well that He who delivers is Jesus Christ our Lord. Yes, He is our Lord at the right hand of God. He is our Lord because He has redeemed us and claimed us in His cross and resurrection as His own. He is the Lord at the right hand of God’s majesty in glory. His is all power in heaven and on earth. He will surely raise us up in the last day. Then we shall be free from all sin and death and all wrath. The battle will be over when we come in glory; for our death is not a payment for sin, but it is a perfectly dying unto sin, and an ascension to glory.

When we profoundly understand that we are saved thus by the grace and power of our Lord Jesus Christ, then we shall also be thankful. We shall ascribe all thanks and praise to God alone. We shall cast our crowns before him in reverent and holy adoration.

“Thanks be to God”!

That is the joyful outcry of the apostle and of all God’s saints, whether they be young or old.

He is the God who gives the victory. He gives us this victory, over all sin and death through Christ Jesus our Lord, complete and final. He gives this out of mere grace. He gives this by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

Three things we must know more and more! Yes, we must know misery, redemption, and thankfulness — all three, progressively more and more. Paul con­denses them all in this beautiful text from Romans 7.