Sequeira and Waggoner on Romans 7:14-25

Posted May 24, 2012 by Corey McCain in Everlasting Gospel Hits: 2,849

 

This article is to show how RBF works according to Pastor Jack Sequeira and E.J. Waggoner. Are they preaching the same thing? It is based on Romans 7:14-25.

Sequeira presents Romans 7:14-25 as a converted or unconverted Christian. His main point though is to present the passage as a converted Christian who is trying to keep the law apart from Christ. He is basically saying that Christ is in the converted person but the person is not relying on Christ to keep the law. When he gets to Romans 8 he presents the converted Christian as someone who is relying on Christ.

Sequeira begins with:

 In this chapter we’ll be talking about whether Paul in Romans 7 was referring to the pre-converted Christian or the post-converted, the believer or the unbeliever. The reason why there is so much controversy over this passage is because the devil knows that these passages are crucial to an understanding of the gospel, and especially the doctrine of righteousness by faith. But I am not going to leave these passages alone because I know what it meant to my ministry and to my Christian life and I want the same things to happen to you….

 

I absolutely agree with him on that point.

..modern research is coming to the conclusion more and more that Paul is speaking of neither the converted nor the unconverted. He has one thing in mind, the person who tries to live a good life independent of God. And that can apply to the believer, or unbeliever of course…

Sequeira presents a message that claims you can be in Christ yet still trying to keep the law apart from God. Basically you can choose to walk in the flesh and the Spirit while remaining converted. More on this later. He says this passage in Romans can be for either or because of this reasoning. You will see that his primary argument on the passage is that of a converted Christian.

Verse 15: “For what I am doing I do not understand, for what I will to do, that I do not practice, but what I hate, that I do. If then I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.”
We see that there is a conflict here between the mind, which wants to do good, the will which has chosen to do right, and the nature which will not comply. Now if you haven’t had this struggle, you should question your conversion because I believe that Paul had the believer in mind….

 

 

When he says “believer in mind” he is referring to a converted believer and not a professed believer who is unconverted. He lists some of his arguments. One of them is:

1.       Chapter 5,6,7, and 8 of Romans is dealing with the Christian, not with the pre-converted man….

 

Below he tells you that Romans 7:14-25 is a “Christian experience” and by this he means one who is converted.

But I want you to notice that Romans 7:14 to 25 is not the end of the Christian experience. The real experience of a Christian should be Romans 8, “Life in the Spirit.”…

 

He then tells us that Romans 8 “should” be the Christian experience rather than “is” the Christian experience. This is because he believes that both can be experiences for a converted Christian. 

“Now if I do what I will not, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.” Read verse 22 with verse 23 to get the context: “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man (my mind, which has surrendered to the gospel, which has accepted Christ, loves the law, wants to keep the law, has chosen to keep the law) but I see another law, (another force, another principle) dwelling in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” Sin is not only what we do, but sin is what we have in us, what we are. But I have some good news for you; there is no condemnation for those of you who are in Christ Jesus….

Above we see that he shows a converted Christian wants to keep the law but he is overcome or in bondage to his sinful nature and he presents what he calls good news that you’re covered by Christ while in bondage. Sin is certainly what we have in us and we certainly sin in ignorance/mistake but is a Christian really in “captivity to the law of sin”? That is does our nature force us to knowingly do wrong when Christ lives in us or has he freed us from the law of sin?

Paul in his conclusion of Romans 7, says, “So then, this is the truth about me apart from Christ. This is my position if I try to live independent of Christ. I myself can serve the law only with my mind.”

You may think Sequeira is talking about Christ being out of the person but he isn’t. He is talking about a person who has Christ in them yet they don’t follow Him as they are trying to walk in the flesh yet Christ still is in them. He explains this a little more below:

Now the word, “I myself” in the Greek is “ego.” But Paul did not use simply the word “ego.” He used another word, “autos ego” which is much more emphatic that the English brings out. It means, “Left to my own, in and of myself, apart from Christ, whether before or after conversion it doesn’t matter, I am totally incapable of keeping the law in practice, because my flesh, my human body will only serve the Law of sin. I can only keep the law in terms of desiring to keep it, delighting in it, and wanting to keep it, and choosing to keep it. But in actual practice, I myself, left on my own, cannot keep it.”

 

As he clearly states this can be “before or after conversion it doesn’t matter”. He then lets us know the following:

But we will discover when we go to Romans 8, that the righteousness of the law can be fulfilled in us if we walk no longer in the flesh, in our own strength, but in the Spirit. And that’s the glorious picture of Romans 8…..

 

We can have the Romans 8 experience if we choose but walking in the flesh does not mean we are lost according to Sequeira.

Paul does not say that the Christian walking in the flesh is lost. He does say that a person walking in the flesh is on dangerous ground because we read in verse 6: “For to be carnally minded is death.” The Greek actually says, “To be carnally minded leads to death.” Now what does the word “carnal” mean? The word “flesh” in Greek is “sarks.” The word Paul uses for carnal is “sarkicos,” which means “a mind controlled by the flesh” or we would say in English, “fleshly mind.” In other words, if you let your mind dwell on those three basic drives of the flesh that is what it means to be carnally minded. If your mind is always preoccupied with the things of this world, the material things of this world, then you are walking in the flesh and if you do that it will lead you to death. To be carnally minded is dangerous, because the flesh is the tool of Satan that he will use to eventually pull you out of Christ.

In the end he lets us know that if we walk in the flesh Satan will “eventually pull you out of Christ.” When? How much wrong doing before I am pulled out of Christ? Is there a time frame? These questions are impossible to be answered in this view of RBF. It will always lead to a church full of people who are all saved and we do not have to deal with the sin problem amongst us. Here is a real world example that shows what Sequeira is saying:

We had a teacher in the mission field who once told me a very interesting experience in her own life. She said when she was in college, she had one desire, and that was to be a missionary. So she became friendly with a student who was a Theology major, because he had the same desire. They decided to get married even before they finished college and then in the last year of his schooling he changed his major Theology to Engineering.
She was very disappointed that he had changed his major but he felt that he was not called to the ministry. He graduated, got and excellent job, and was an active member in the church, in fact became an elder. Then sometime later his workmate said to him, “why don’t we go out golfing?” and this man said, “I have never played gold in my life.” But he went golfing anyway and he liked it. So they went once a week; there’s nothing wrong with that. The trouble was he began to crave for it and so they went twice a week. That was not enough and then they went three times a week. The third time was Wednesday so he stopped going to prayer meeting. Then he was going four times a week, and would come home dog tired and then Sabbath became time for lay activities; he didn’t have time to go to church. He slept on Sabbaths, and very seldom came to church.
His wife saw that he was very gradually slipping away from Christ and she realized that if this continued he would be lost so she pled with him, “Please, don’t you see what’s happening to you?” but he would not listen or take advice. Finally she went to the Lord, after spending three days in fasting and prayer and she said, “Lord, I don’t care what you do to him; please I want him in heaven. I can see that he’s slipping away from Christ, do whatever is necessary.” She was on her knees, pleading with the Lord, when the telephone rang. It was her husband’s firm. He was in a tank welding where some gas was not removed, and he went to sleep and died in the tank. God laid him to rest. She believed, and I believe she’s right, that God laid him to rest as the only way of resurrecting him in the kingdom. She told us, “When I discovered that there was no longer any need for me to remain at home I applied for mission service” and there she was in Ethiopa.
God will do anything to save us but if we keep walking in the flesh, we are following the road that leads to death because the flesh has no right to live. That is the clear verdict of the Bible. The only place for the flesh is the cross. Galatians 5:24 says: “Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with all its desires.” “But if you walk in the Spirit,” says Paul, “you have peace and you have life” because the life of the Spirit is a life that brings peace and victory; it brings the righteousness of the law. Verse “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God."


Waggoner presents Romans 7:14-25 as someone who is not converted. He presents this person as a man who is in bondage. He presents the end of the chapter and chapter 8 as Christ giving the sinner victory over his lost condition.

"For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not; for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I." Rom. 7:14, 15. {June 24, 1886 EJW, SITI 374.8} Again we must caution the reader against supposing that in these verses Paul is relating a Christian experience. Up to this point he has shown how any a person is convicted of sin. He has related the experience of one who, when the law convicts him of sin, does not turn from the light, but honestly desires to obey. Now he proceeds to give the experience of one under conviction, until he is made a free man in Christ. He uses the first person and the present tense in order to make the narrative more vivid, as he portrays the sinner's struggle for freedom. It was once a present matter with him, and is the experience that all pass through, though with various modifications, before they find peace with God. {June 24, 1886 EJW, SITI 374.9}

 

 

Very plain but here is another:

In the latter part of the chapter, the apostle shows what that oldness of the letter is from which we must be delivered. "I am carnal, sold under sin." We do great violence to the apostle Paul, that holy man, when we say that in this he is relating his own Christian experience. He is not writing his own experience now that he is united with Christ. He is writing the experience of those who serve, but in the oldness of the letter, and while professedly serving God, are carnal, and sold under sin. {March 19, 1891 EJW, GCDB 174.3}

 

Notice Waggoner says “We do great violence to the apostle Paul, that holy man, when we say that in this he is relating his own Christian experience.” Earlier Sequeira said this was a “Christian experience”. Waggoner tells us below that Christians are free to do what they wish to do:

Slave .-"But I am carnal, sold under sin." One who is sold is a slave; and the evidence of the slavery in this instance is very plain. Free men do that which they wish to do. Only slaves do that which they do not wish to do, and are continually prevented from doing what they wish to do. "For that which I do, I allow not; for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I." A more disagreeable position can not be imagined. Life in such a state can be only a burden. {April 23, 1896 EJW, SITI 260.62}

 

Waggoner presents this passage as “A more disagreeable position can not be imagined. Life in such a state can be only a burden.” The purpose of Paul’s passage is to show us how conviction works and to recognize we are not converted. Notice this below:

Convicted, but Not Converted .-"If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good." The fact that we do not wish to do the sins that we are committing shows that we acknowledge the righteousness of the law which forbids them. But conviction is not conversion, although a very necessary step to that condition. It is not enough to wish to do right. The blessing is pronounced upon those who do his commandments, and not upon those who wish to do them, or who even try to do them. Indeed, if there were no higher position for a professed follower of the Lord than that described in these verses, he would be in a far worse condition than the careless sinner. Both are slaves, only the latter is so hardened that he finds pleasure in his slavery. Now if one must all his life be a slave, it is better for him to be unconscious of his bondage than to be continually fretting over it. But there is something better; therefore it is a blessing that we are convicted of sin, and that our slavery is thereby made as disagreeable as possible. {April 23, 1896 EJW, SITI 260.63}

 

Waggoner says “It is not enough to wish to do right.” The blessing is pronounced upon those who do his commandments, and not upon those who wish to do them, or who even try to do them.” While Sequeira had said “my mind, which has surrendered to the gospel, which has accepted Christ, loves the law, wants to keep the law, has chosen to keep the law” is converted yet is in captivity to the law of sin. Waggoner goes on to show us that this process of being in bondage lets us know the law is our friend so we can find Christ to be delivered:

A Body of Death .-… But although the law seems to be pitiless, it is nevertheless our best friend. It holds us to a sense of the dreadfulness of our bondage until in anguish we cry out, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" We must be delivered, or we perish. {April 23, 1896 EJW, SITI 260.65}

 

Below Waggoner shows us the unconverted man serves the law of God with his mind but is walking in the flesh and that this is not a state of actual service to God:

A Divided Man .-"So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." That is, of course, while in the condition described in the preceding verses. In purpose he serves the law of God, but in actual practice he serves the law of sin. As described in another place, "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye can not do the things that ye would." Gal. 5:17. It is not a state of actual service to God, because we read in our next chapter that "they that are in the flesh can not please God." It is a state from which one may well pray to be delivered, so that he can serve the Lord not merely with the mind, but with his whole being. …{April 23, 1896 EJW, SITI 260.67}

 

Waggoner shows we must be delivered from this condition which he goes on to show below is when we are converted and receive the Life of Christ which is a Law greater than the law of sin, freeing us from sin:

Law of Life in Christ .-The law without Christ is death. The law in Christ is life. His life is the law of God; for out of the heart are the issues of life, and the law was in his heart. The law of sin and death works in our members. But the law of the Spirit of life in Christ gives us freedom from this. Mark that it is the life in Christ that does this. It does not give us freedom from obedience to the law, for we had that before, and that was bondage, and not freedom. What he gives us freedom from is the transgression of the law. {April 30, 1896 EJW, SITI 275.50}

 

These are two different gospel messages as you can see. One is endorsed by God leading to freedom from sin while the other is a message of bondage disguised under the cloak of peace and safety. Sequeira’s message is to bring peace to the heart of the sinner and make him feel comfortable in his sins yet it is masked with a message of “eventual” victory. I use to believe this but I now find it to be very dangerous and deceptive. If anything gives us comfort with sin we will always have comfort in it all the way up to the point of probation closing. These people at that time will realize victory was in Christ well before this point if they had only believed it. Unfortunately it will be too late at that point. Adventism may have issues with things Sequeira says but in reality the message is the same. It is a message that does not accept Christ has lived in human flesh though they say He did, gaining victory over it and will again do it in you from the moment you are born again. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (1 John 3:9)