Released from the Law
7 Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
The Law and Sin
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
Romans 7 Commentary
by Hank Workman
The ways of God hold many paradoxes.
If you want to be great, you must become a servant. Stories throughout show God called people to lead and yet they were riddled with doubts and questions. They were very unlikely heroes or would have been not even considered by their record of success before. He also calls for us to be Holy as He is Holy – and yet we’re so sinful. We stumble bumble along making erratic decisions we pay for. And there are so many other paradoxes with God as He deals and interacts with us as His children.
In this very well-known chapter Paul lays out the ongoing struggle with sin. He’s very honest as at one point he speaks of what he wants to do he can’t seem to carry out and what is wrong he does. He refers to himself as a wretched man.
This battle with sin reaches into every Believer, no matter how many years they’ve walked with Jesus. It’s ongoing and demoralizing.
The Message has some very real statements throughout this chapter.
“I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable.”
Within this chapter, Paul lays out 3 lessons he’s learned in his attempt to deal with the sin that is always pushing its way in. Knowledge is not the answer. Self-determination and working in our own strength doesn’t bring success. And becoming a Believer doesn’t stamp out all the sin and temptation we face.
Satan is crafty with the traps he sets before us. They’re tailor-made for each of us as they play to our weaknesses. Consequently, we have a knack for making excuses on every level as we give in. The only hope, and let’s get real – this aspect is incredibly hopeless if we were to concentrate on our ongoing failures, the only hope is found in Jesus Christ.
God’s provision for us to live the life He’s calling of us, way beyond the scope even of our own mindset, is found in the power of the Holy Spirit. It takes us recognizing this ongoing battle within and being honest about it. Sometimes that’s the biggest hurdle we face. But it’s also once we’ve recognized this, giving of ourselves to Him continually. It’s also seeking Him above all even as we are neck-deep in ourselves.
Becoming like Christ is a lifelong process. It requires our continual work on the relationship we hold with our Jesus. It absolutely takes a change of mindset only the Holy Spirit can bring, and continuing to surrender our sinful nature to Him even before the battle rages. We can never grow lax on any of these levels.
The ways of God hold many paradoxes – one of which faces us in the mirror every morning. His calling upon our lives is sure. His hope for us is greater than we would ever be able to believe. And He believes, yes He absolutely believes in each of us despite the sinful nature we contend with. In our own strength, we are wretched. In His strength we will find and live within the victory He believes we can.
Romans 7 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
What is the purpose of the law? In Romans 6 we saw the law cannot make us righteous. In Romans 7, we read that the main concern of God is if we are bearing fruit or not. As we read on in Romans 7, we find that the law cannot produce fruit. It cannot justify us before God, and it also cannot change us to produce a life pleasing to God. After hearing all this, some might think, what is the law good for? Paul was one step ahead of us…
Shall we say, then, that the Law itself is sinful? Of course not! But it was the Law that made me know what sin is. If the Law had not said, “Do not desire what belongs to someone else,” I would not have known such a desire.Romans 7:7 GNB
It’s natural to ponder, is there something wrong with the law since it cannot produce any of these things? Paul says no, it’s quite the opposite. We would not know sin at all if it were not for the standard of the law. The law constantly works ahead of us because it shows us the impossible dilemma of achieving God’s standard.
Striving in our own strength to follow a standard that cannot be achieved produces all kinds of problems for us. It pains me that there are still many people who think that Christianity is a religious list of do’s and don’t. Satan has been successful in convincing people that Christianity is no different than any other works-based religious system. Paul writes of how creating such a list actually brings more temptation because we are enticed by the desire to do something that we are prohibited to do.
But by means of that commandment sin found its chance to stir up all kinds of selfish desires in me. Apart from law, sin is a dead thing.Romans 7:8 GNB
Towards the end of this chapter, Paul takes all these thoughts and wraps them up in a big package to show us why the law fails to deliver us. It’s not that we lack the knowledge or will to defeat our sinful nature. We know the law, and we desire to follow it in our hearts and in our minds. However, we create a cycle of insanity when we continually try to harness sin because it always reveals our shortcomings.
What an unhappy man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is taking me to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who does this through our Lord Jesus Christ! This, then, is my condition: on my own I can serve God’s law only with my mind, while my human nature serves the law of sin.Romans 7:24-25 GNB
The power found in Jesus’ death and resurrection will produce victory. His strength allows us to actually fulfill the desires we have to serve God in our minds as well as resist our human nature to serve sin. The life of sin that previously gratified us becomes dead, and the life of obedience to God which seemed so elusive now becomes so near to our hearts. This does not mean we will always see drastic changes overnight, but that through the constant work of the Holy Spirit, we unravel our sinful nature as we tether our hearts to Jesus Christ.