Tuesday, June 29, 2010

“Body of Death” - February 24th, 2009

Apparently this post has been linked to by another ministry (who's commitment to truth we admire and respect) who debate the description of the Body of Death quoted below. If you have any more info on this topic please leave it. As mentioned, the Aeneid, Freeman's Manners and Customs of the New Testament and many other sources and speakers use this illustration from history. More info would be appreciated! Thanks!
Rom.7:24-25 - “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” When Paul described his sinful nature with the phrase “Body of Death” he was writing to the Romans who understood that term. The description below is quoted from Hearts of Fire Reproductions (Their sources being The Aeneid, 8.484-8.488, Freeman, p. 537 and Gill on Rom. 7:24) - “Roman society knew a gruesome form of capital punishment (practiced primarily by Etruscan pirates in Northern Italy) in which the body of the murdered person would be chained to the murderer (hand to hand, face to face, etc.) In the hot Mediterranean sun, the body would quickly decay, spreading not only rancid odor but also deadly infection to the murderer. The doomed criminal would carry this awful burden until the decay and infection from the corpse finally ended his own miserable existence. It was only possible to be freed from the horrors of this punishment if someone else chose to carry the body in the place of the murderer, carrying it to his death.”
Paul used this phrase understanding and acknowledging a few key issues. First, He (as well as each of us) was a wretched man, deserving God’s wrath just as the murderer in the previous example deserved the gruesome punishment administered. Second, the “Body of Death” was disgusting, naturally inescapable for the law breaker and it resulted in death (true of all sin). Third, Jesus provides the escape, having taken on Himself the penalty of my sin, so that I can now live in freedom and life, not in bondage and death. When Paul makes this third point in v.25, he does so somewhat peculiarly. He doesn’t say Jesus can or will free me (indicating potential victory) but instead says, “thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord” (assuring victory to the believer). You only say “thanks” for what you’ve already received. In other words, Paul describes our struggle with sin in Romans 7, concludes with the powerful analogy of the “Body of Death” and then reminds us that Christ has already provided the victory for us (Gal.5:1, Col.2:14). It isn’t that Christ will free me in the future but that He already has, having given me all that I need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3); all that remains is for me to walk and live in the victory I have already been given (Rom.8:37) and the righteousness He has already secured for me (1 Cor.1:30). Paul concludes reminding us that the sinful nature is subject to the law of sin (and once again, that is why it must die) but in my mind, the new man (2 Tim.1:7, 1 Cor.2:16), I’m a new creation (2 Cor.5:17) and a slave to God’s law and righteousness.

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