LIFE UNDER THE JEWISH RELIGION
Romans 7: 7-14
Romans 7 is a very interesting chapter. The subject of the chapter is “Life Under the Jewish Religion.” Or, “Life Under the Law of Moses. How was it to live under that law? The Jewish religion was a subject of great interest to the early Christians. Most Jews rejected the Christian religion, and many of the Jews who became Christians thought they were bound to observe the religion of Moses, as well as the religion of Christ. Although many Jews became Christians in the first century, nevertheless they were greatly disturbed over their relationship to the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic law in general; and it is still a problem to many even in the 21st century.
To educate both Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians as to their relationship to the law of Moses, he gives a most interesting discussion of the subject in Romans 7 and Romans 8 In Romans 7 he describes how it was to live under the law of Moses, and in Romans 8 he tells us how it is to live under the law of Christ. Most interestingly, in Romans 7 Paul describes his own life when he lived under the law of Moses, and in Romans 8 he describes how it is to live under the Christian religion. Versed 9-12 are the key verses in the passage, “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died, and the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment deceived me, and by it killed me. Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.”
When Paul said, “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died,” the only time Paul was without the law of Moses in his lifetime was when he was a baby and in early childhood. At that time he was not an accountable being to God. Jewish children were not accountable to God until they reached a responsible age and knew right from wrong. During this time period Jewish children had no sin, but when they became old enough to know right from wrong and accountable for their conduct, sin took hold of their lives. That is what Paul meant when he said, “I was once alive without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.” He became a sinner under Jewish law and died spiritually, that is, sin separated him from God very early in life. We learn from these words that life under the Ten Commandments was no picnic. Jewish life under the law of Moses left much to be desired.
I would like to discuss how it was to live under the law of Moses in a very unusual way. Let us suppose that when we came into existence the law of Moses was still a valid religion. Let us suppose we were born into a Jewish family and began our life's journey. Jewish boys were circumcised on the eighth day of their lives, in order to become descendants of Abraham and become heirs of the promises God made to Abraham. and his descendants. Uncircumcised boys were rejected from being of the lineage of Abraham and the promised blessings(Genesis 17:14).. No boy was a true Jew who had not been circumcised. This made them a member of the covenant God made with Israel on Mount Sinai. Jewish girls were added to the Old Testament church at the time of birth.
At the period of babyhood and early childhood, Jewish children were in a state of innocence and were not born sinners. The Jews did not believe that Jewish children inherited from their parents the supposed original sin of Adam and Eve, as is wrongly taught in many churches today. God has never found fault with the innocent. No one is guilty of sin in the state of innocence. The souls of Jewish children who died in the state of innocence went into the unseen world where the soul of their father Abraham went to await the resurrection. . Jesus called that place paradise. In verse 9 when Paul said, “I was alive once without the law, “ he referred to the time in his life when he was in the innocent state. He was alive spiritually in the sense he was free from sin. and acceptable to God. Little children are free from sin in their innocent state of existence. It is a horrible falsehood to charge innocent children with having any kind of sin, original or otherwise. God will not punish little children who have never sinned. Such was the state of existence of young Jewish children in early childhood. Every Jewish child started life as one of God's chosen people in the world. Strictly speaking, the child began life as a child of God in God's Old Testament family.
Passing from the state of innocence, the Jewish child entered the state of accountability, during which time he or she became responsible to God for their conduct. Paul referred to the time of accountability by these words, “When the commandment came, ” when he became aware of God's commandments. Verse 9 says, “I was once alive without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.” The commandment that came was the Ten Commandment law, and every Jewish child old enough to know right from wrong, old enough to believe and obey Jehovah became responsible for their conduct. The Jewish child at this time entered the “Ten Commandment” period of their lives. The commandment came to Paul when he began to realize his individual responsibility to Jehovah. This is when sin revived or came alive in his life. When he said, “I died, ” he
means he died spiritually because he became conscious of disobeying the laws of God as given by Moses. The Jews under the law Moses did not believe they inherited sin from their mother. They did not believe in hereditary depravity, as wrongly taught by the Roman church and most all Protestant churches today. The Jews knew they were not sinners from birth. They became sinners at the age of accountability. They acquired a sinful nature, not born with it. After the flood God said to Noah, “I will never again curse the ground for man's sake, although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth..”(Genesis 8:21). That scripture clearly tells us when all children acquire a sinful nature. Children are not evil from birth, but from their youth. Jews in their youth were obligated to keep the Ten Commandments. When a rich ruler asked Jesus what to do to inherit eternal life, He said, “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments”(Matthew 19:17). That was the way to heaven under the Mosaic religion. In the days of youth Jews entered into the period of life when it was required of them to keep the Ten Commandments. When young people arrived at an accountable age, they became responsible to God's laws. . Ecclesiastes 12:1 says, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, I have no pleasure in them.” Jewish young people failed to recognize this truth, and thus fell into sin early in life. All young people make the same mistake today. Jewish young people became sinners at the age of accountability, and after this, things went from bad to worse. Under the Mosaic religion, there was an almost universal inability to control the physical body with its evil desires. This was true of adults and moreso with the young.
Paul tells us in verses 7-12 how sin got the best of him when he was a youth. He did not blame the law of Moses for his sin. Had it not been for the law, he said he would not have known that covetousness was wrong. He learned it was wrong when the law said, “You shall not covet.” Sin produced in him all manner of evil desire. The commandment which was to bring life, he said, “ I found to bring death,” that is, spiritual death. Sin separates people from God and results in God's disapproval.
In spite of the sinful condition of the Jewish people and their inability to control the evil desires of the body, God was willing to forgive them. Jehovah had a very generous system of forgiveness, but it was necessary to receive God forgiveness only through the Jewish priesthood and the High Priest. The people were so sinful God could not deal with them one on one. God did not ignore a single transgression of His will during the 15 centuries the Jewish religion was in effect. There were all
kinds of sacrifices for this sin and that sin. In Hebrews 2:1-3, Paul reminds Jewish Christians how God responded to any and all violations of the Ten Commandment law by saying, , “Therefore, we(Christians) must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away, for if the word, (Mosaic law}, spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation.” This was a warning to Jewish Christians that Jehovah will require just as strict obedience in the Christian religion as He did in the Jewish religion of olden time. All Jews who made a sincere effort to keep the Ten Commandments, and faithfully used the Jewish system of sacrifices when they failed, received forgiveness and remained in God's favor, in spite of much disobedience. It is a lilttle known fact that Jews under the law of Moses were forgiven by the blood of Christ, who was allegorically symbolized in all of their animal sacrifices. When a Jew offered one of animals as a sacrifice for sin, unknowingly, he was exercising faith in the death of Christ on the cross. No Jew ever received forgiveness from Jehovah except by the blood of Christ. God's forgiveness under the law of Moses was directly related to the future death of Jesus, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the whole world. The Jewish Messiah died for the sins of both Jews and Gentiles who lived before Christ and after Christ. . God used the blood of Christ to forgive Jews even before it was shed. All Jews who were faithful to the law of Moses before Christ died on the cross will go to heaven, but no Jews will go to heaven since Jesus died on cross except Christian Jews. I hope you will not charge me with being your enemy because I tell you the truth. Eternal life was one of the promises of the Jewish religion, given to Abraham by promise(Genesis 12:3). Paul could not understand why Jewish Christians wanted to go back to that law which they were never able to keep. The greatest weakness of the Jewish religion was that it did not give the people the moral strength and stamina to control the sinful desires of the body. It is now the law of Jehovah God that there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved, but the name Jesus Christ. Consider what I say and the Lord give you understanding.