Romans Chapter 7

November 1, 2012

This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on Romans. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.

You can listen to the study by clicking here

Romans 7:1-25 (NIV)
1 Do you not know, brothers–for I am speaking to men who know the law–that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? 2 For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. 3 So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man. 4 So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. 5 For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 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. 7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. 13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful. 14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Romans 7:1-4

We are legally freed from the Law. Paul uses marriage as an illustration. A married couple is bound to each other under the Law until one of them dies. The death of a spouse frees the living partner to remarry. In the same way, our union (Jesus the bridegroom we are the bride) with Jesus is a type of marriage, so when He died we were legally released from any obligation to the Law. God considers us to have “died to the Law through the body of Christ” (Romans 7:4), and so to be free from any past obligation to live “under” it.

Romans 7:5-12

Why is it so important to understand that we are freed from the law? Because our “old nature/sin nature/sinful passions” is actually aroused by the Law.

You know how this works. It’s like telling a child not to touch the cookies that were just made because they are for the company coming later. Now, the child wants the cookie even more. The forbidden seems far more desirable.

When we approach life as interpreted through the Law, all marked off by “do’s” and “don’ts,” our old sinful nature is charged with energy.

But since we are “not under Law,” we can relate to God in a new way. This new way is by the Spirit, who speaks to us directly from within. And, while Law energized the old nature, the Spirit energizes the new nature.

Romans 7:13-25

Paul then talks about the futility of trying to live under the law. Of trying to please God in our own strength. It always fails. We have wanted to do good. We’ve tried to keep what we saw as good laws or rules, and we’ve known the shame and agony of failure. Paul’s own words express these feeling we all know so well:

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

This is more than the cry of one desperate man; it describes the experience of all Christians struggling against sin or trying to please God by keeping rules and laws without the Spirit’s help. We must never underestimate the power of sin and attempt to fight it in our own strength. The evil one is a crafty tempter, and we have an amazing ability to rationalize (tell rational lies to try and justify) our sin. Instead of trying to overcome sin with our own human willpower, we must take hold of God’s provision to overcome: the Holy Spirit, who lives within us and gives us power. And when we fall, he lovingly reaches out to help us up.

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