“If you are burdened by weariness, even a weariness to the point of despair in trying to work for God’s acceptance of you, in trying to get God to forgive you, and trying earn His favor, in trying to condition His grace, then Paul has some remarkably good news for you in this great passage. On the other hand, if you are not burdened by your sin, and a sense of your inadequacy, and if you think that you commend yourself to God, apart from Jesus Christ, then Paul has some ominous news for you in this passage. ” Ligon Duncan
This passage is easily outlined. Verse 1 is Paul’s statement of a principle. Verses 2 and 3 are Paul’s illustration of that principle. And verses 4 through 6 are his application of that principle .
In Romans 7:1-6 Paul explains how it that we are not under law but grace. The principle is that death sets you free from the legal obligations of the law. He says the law is binding on a person as long as he lives. The law cannot be a solution to our sin problem as we have already violated it and it is permanently binding. How then can we restore our relationship with our heavenly Father?
In vv 2-3 marriage is used as an illustration. The bride is legally tied to her husband until death. Then the laws of marriage are no longer binding. She can then marry another man. The metaphor here is that dying to the law frees us to be married to Christ. If you are in Christ you were joined to him on the cross. If you are not in Christ, then you are still in the old “marriage” to the law. Because we were linked to the covenant of works with Adam, we are all obligated to perfect obedience, complete obedience, and all of us have failed under that arrangement.
If the law doesn’t save, what is its purpose? (Romans 7:7-13). There are three uses of the law.
Paul is dealing here with objections, ideas that come up against his teaching.: He says we are not under law, under grace. So what good does the law do?
- The Law Defines Sin For Us (v.7) Only God can reveal what is a sin, right and wrong. His law reflects his own character.
- The Law Stirs Up Sin in Us (v.8) We are rebellious, we want to be the rulers of our own life.
- The Law Exposes Sin in Us (v.9-11) One purpose of the law is to expose how deep our sin really goes (which is deeper than we think). Paul is saying that when the law really registered with him, he realized his sin was internal. The commandment about coveting made him realize that it was a matter of the heart, and he had never kept the law.
Paul acknowledges that his old self still wants to sin, that it is not easy to keep the law. The Christian life is an ongoing struggle between the old self and the new self. The old self just won’t go away quietly! However, this struggle is normal for the Christian, and actually the mark of a Christian.
“Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (v.24-25). This verse gives us the solution, our rescuer.
1Pe 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Isa 12:1 You will say in that day: “I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me.
Paul is setting the stage for the next chapter that will deal with the triumphant life we can live in the Spirit of God, in spite of our weaknesses. And that is where we will head next week!