Notes from Norman

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by Norman P. Grubb

So Romans 7 gives us first of all Paul’s experience in the past at his conversion. You find Paul’s conversion experience in verses 7-13 all in the past tense telling us how he was caught out by the law. All the laws, all the commandments of God were external except one. They all said, “Don’t kill, steal, don’t be idolatrous, keep the Sabbath.” The tenth one was a spiritual one—“Don’t covet.” And that caught Paul out somewhere in his past experience. Oh, he didn’t steal, he didn’t murder, he didn’t worship idols. “Thou shalt not covet!” You mustn’t even want the thing. Oh, he was caught out. The only spiritual law caught him out and he found lust in his heart. That’s his past experience. That’s how he came through.

Now Romans 7:14 to the end is his present experience. He has changed the tense. Look he has changed to “I am” from “I was.” Up to there it was, “I was.” Verse 14 says, “I am carnal, that which I do I allow not.”

It’s the permanent experience of every one of us when we are out of Romans 8, but not when we are in Romans 8. Romans 7 is the inevitable experience of a person who tries to run his life by himself and you can go back there at any time. Then you are back in Romans 7. But you don’t live in Romans 7; you live in Romans 8. We only come back to Romans 7 when we leave 8. Paul said, “I am there, I myself am there. All my life I am there—if I am fool enough to live there. But I’m not going to live there. I’m going to live in Romans 8. But if I go and pay a visit to Romans 7, well, I’m in Romans 7. When I leave off walking by the Spirit, and begin to walk by my own self effort, back I am in Romans 7 again.”

Karuizawa Japan Conference of 1954
Topic: “The Liberated Self”