Andrew Murray on ‘Serving in the Newness of the Spirit’ #2.7
In chapters fourteen and Seventeen of The Indwelling Spirit, Andrew Murray focuses on Romans 7 and 8 where St. Paul explains the difference between serving in bondage to the law (Romans 7) as opposed to serving in the newness of the Spirit (Romans 8).
We now that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do.
But if Christ s in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you.
Two interpretations of Romans 7
Murray was well aware that some theologians interpreted Romans 7 as the unspiritual condition we lived in prior to becoming Christians. But for Murray, this interpretation does not satisfy. He follows John Calvin’s later interpretation of Romans 7 as well as that of Walter Matthews, among many others.
For Murray, Calvin and Matthews, Romans 7 is a description of the Christian’s struggle to live a holy life. Murray says that not a day goes by when he and most believers fail to get beyond the words:
For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. (Romans 7: 18).
He goes on to say:
Even when kept joyously in the will of God, and strengthened not only to will but also to do His will, he (the believer) knows that it is not he, but the grace of God.
Two simultaneous conditions
Murray now highlights the fact that Romans 7 and 8 does not describe two separate experiences but two simultaneous conditions:
• Romans 8: Where the Spirit of life in Christ makes us free.
• Romans 7: Where we still bear the marks of sin and death.
In other words, our flesh and sinful nature will always be with us. But the victory can be ours through the Holy Spirit who delivers from the power of sin.
Murray’s exposition of Romans 7 & 8
In Romans 7, says Murray, we find the word LAW twenty times, and the word SPIRIT only once, while in the first verses of Romans 8, the word SPIRIT appears 16 times.
For Murray, as already stated, Romans 7 is describing the life of the believer who is still in bondage to the law, and seeks to fulfill the law. To back up this assertion, he mentions four expressions through which the characteristic marks of this state are summed up.
1. A slave to sin
But I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. (Romans 7: 14b).
2. Worldly ('Carnal' in the King James)
Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. (Corinthians 3:1).
As seen from 1 Corinthians 3:1, St. Paul uses the term ‘worldly’ to refer to those Christians who have not yielded themselves to the Spirit. They have the Spirit, but allow the flesh to prevail.
The difference between a worldly and a spiritual Christian, says Murray, is the element that is strongest in them. As long as the worldly Christian continues to strive in his own strength, he does not ‘walk in the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:25).
3. Cannot carry my desire out
For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (Romans 7: 18b)
The above-mentioned verse leads St Paul to say:
For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.’ (Romans 7: 19)
In other words, says Murray, the regenerate Christian has consented to doing the will of God but is not depending on the power of the Spirit to achieve the victory.
But I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. (Romans 7:23)
Murray is of the opinion that this verse points back to what St. Paul said in at the beginning of the chapter:
But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. (Romans 7:6)
It also points forward to Romans 8:2 which says:
Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
Submitting to the Spirit to give victory
Murray has found through experience that almost all believers can testify that their life is not what it should be. All too often they have found the descent into Romans 7 all too real. In relation to this descent, Murray gives us the following rules:
- The uselessness of the human will to be able to work out a divine righteousness in ourselves.
- The need to experience the conscious indwelling of the Holy Spirit as the only sufficient power to come to our aid.
- The need to advance step by step in our walk with the Spirit.
- It is only as the Spirit is known and accepted that we can fully enjoy the riches of grace that are ours in Christ.
- We need to meditate on Romans 8:2 that reveals the secret of our freedom. It is entirely in Christ. ‘Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.’
- We must yield in faith to the indwelling Spirit to receive the power that is available to us in Christ Jesus. His power will then become manifest in our personal experience.
- When we understand the unique place that the Holy Spirit holds in God’s plan of redemption, the need to experience His indwelling will become the first necessity in our lives.
The path we need to walk
According to Murray, this path entails the following:
• By faith, we first have to study and accept all that is taught in Romans 6-8.
• We then have to abide in God’s Word:
If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:31,32)
• The Spirit is to lead and revel the path.
• If you are making little progress, remember this:
It is in utter despair of self that entire surrender to the Spirit is born. It takes patient perseverance to come into the full consciousness of His indwelling presence.
• We need a fresh anointing day by day. Wait on Him and surrender to Him to rule.