Law And Gospel - And Law?

[Commentators remain exegetically faithful when they refrain from] interpreting Romans chapters 6-8 as being aimed primarily at producing good deeds in the life of the justified. . . . Interpreters who cannot resist this temptation rush prematurely into that favourite area of opinio legis, namely, sanctification in the narrow sense.  In other words, they hurry to take up that topic which deals so directly and immediately with what all children of Adam love and cherish the most: their selves and their good works. . . . Such interpreters find a find a way to make the Good News of justification by grace through faith (presented in Romans chapters 3-5) into a launching pad for Law, haranguing the justified about the moral obligations under which God's grace has place them.  Thus the comfort of baptism's external (extra nos) assurance of the forensic, sacramental, and eschatological reality of life with Christ - a comfort given into and for the Christian's current experience of his wretched inner conflict (Romans 7) - is turned into an instrument of Law, a club with which to beat down the wretched struggling simul iustus et peccator with more reminders of God's high expectations for his behaviour.  In short, such expositors preach Law after Gospel, undermining all of the comfort of the Gospel of Baptism.

The expositor of Law and Gospel wisely resists the temptation to preach another word of Law behind the Gospel.  Paul himself would say "it must not be!"  His theology [in the Epistle of Romans] leads from Gospel to baptism to Spirit and to worship.  When he does speak of the Christian's behaviour, he does so under the category of worship in everyday life (Romans 12-16).  There the key concepts are love and Spirit, letting one's self be put into his place in the order of creation, and exercising self-control and humility.  This is fruit of the Spirit, the life of Christ in his body, the church.  This, too, is an opportunity for a demonstration of the power of the Gospel at work in the concord of the visible communities.  But the truth that the Gospel "is the power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16) does not depend on that concord for verification.  That is what Paul argues here (in Romans chapters 5-8), as he asserts the reality of the change of lordship.  That the Christian's life is now placed under the call of a "should" (e.g., Romans 6:4) is a corollary of Paul's argument, but it is not the paraenetic goal of the apostle's letter.

Excerpt taken from: 
Jonathan F. Grothe, The Justification of the Ungodly: An Interpretation of Romans - Second Edition (St. Caharines, Ontario, Canada: 2012), 280-281.  Additions to the quote are in brackets.  

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