“Sons Of God” and the Road to Grace (Romans 8:12-17) -- By: Kenneth W. Yates
JOTGES 19:37 (Autumn 2006) p. 23
“Sons Of God” and the Road to Grace
U. S. Army
Ft. Jackson, South Carolina
I had just entered my second year of seminary when I was given an assignment to do an exegetical paper on Rom 8:12–17. While writing and researching the paper, I experienced a great deal of difficulty over a particular issue. I did not realize it at the time, but this passage, and the difficulty I encountered, produced my first step towards adopting a grace theology.
The class in which this assignment was given was on the Book of Romans. I did not know much about the book, but we had covered the first seven chapters in class before I started writing my paper. Even in my ignorance, it seemed clear to me that chapter 8 was a chapter on Christian living. In fact, all of chapters 6 through 8 seemed to deal with sanctification.
In these chapters, the Christian is given a choice. In chapter 6, Paul commands the believers at Rome to “not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts” (v 12). In v 13, the apostle tells them that they are not to “go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness.” To the contrary, they are to “present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”
The believer has the choice as to whom he will serve. He can serve sin and experience death, or he can serve God and experience righteousness (6:16). In very plain language, Paul makes it clear that the believer has this choice. In 6:19 he once again commands them to “present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.”
In chapter 7, Paul discusses his own struggle. While some maintain this chapter deals with Paul’s experience as an unbeliever, it is much more likely he is referring to his struggle as a believer. It would be
JOTGES 19:37 (Autumn 2006) p. 24
strange for him to discuss his life as an unbeliever in a section that deals with Christian sanctification. In addition, 7:21–22 can hardly describe the struggle of an unbeliever.
Chapter 7, then, describes Paul’s experience dealing with the issues he discussed in chapter 6. How does a believer present the members
of his body as instruments of righteousness resulting in sanctification? Specificall...
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