“A breakthrough moment”
(Review written for 'Romans 1 - 7 For You (ebook)')
I have always known that Romans contains the most treasured truths of Scripture - salvation by faith alone, in Christ alone by grace alone - but have often struggled to see this shine out through the complexity of the letter. Until now. Keller unpacks even the most complex verses in the first seven chapters of Romans with a clarity which not only helps with comprehension, but also painfully points out how it is personally relevant. I am already looking forward to the second volume!
My breakthrough moment came in Keller's exposition of Chapter 7 whereby the Apostle Paul realises he is 'dead' in his sin because of his inability to keep the commandment "You shall not covet". Keller explains that this commandment tripped him up because it refers to an inward attitude of the heart, rather than an external action. He explains that coveting is an idolatrous longing for more than you have, failing to love God enough to be content, and therefore the essence of sin. This helped me to understand how none of us can keep the law perfectly and save ourselves. We all have idolatrous drives and desires and are indeed dead in our sin.
In addition to understanding that we cannot save ourselves, I have come to understand that we cannot obey by ourselves either, despite our best efforts! Keller's exploration of the rest of Chapter 7 draws out that it is only the Spirit's power that can conform us to the likeness of Jesus Christ. Through his Son God has rescued us, and through his Spirit he is changing us. "Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Rom 7:25)