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BIBLE STUDY on the book of Romans

Chapter 7

The theme of sanctification began in the latter part of chapter 5 where it was "potential sanctification." Then in chapter 6 we saw "positional sanctification"; that is, identification with Christ in His death and resurrection, as we are to present ourselves to Him, and trust him to live the Christian life through us.

In chapter 7 there are two subjects: the shackles of a saved soul and the struggle of a saved soul. The Law cannot produce sanctification in the life of the believer; it merely shackles it. And my friend, the believer CANNOT produce sanctification in his life by depending on the desire of the new nature. Just to say you want to live for Christ will NOT get you anywhere. You need to present yourself to Him, submit to Him and recognize that you are joined to the living Christ.

An Illustration From Marriage . . . Romans 7:1-6

Romans 7:1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? (KJV)

Most people know about God’s Law. Most people know that laws rule over us in some ways as long as we live. But many people do NOT know that the Law is powerless to save sinners. Sinners are condemned by the Law. Those with the new nature (born again believers) find their obedience to the Law is obstructed by the conduct of their old nature that still resides within. Salvation CANNOT be had by obeying the law. No matter who we are, only Christ Jesus can set us free. Trying to justify ourselves by our obedience, simply makes us slaves of sin. Only the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, can make us free from the law of sin and death. The law condemns us for the sins we have committed; but we are set free from the power that arouses the sin that still dwells within us.

Romans 7:2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. (KJV)

When a woman marries a man, the law binds her to her husband as long as he is alive. But if he dies, the laws of marriage no longer apply to her. When a spouse dies, the law of marriage no longer applies. Because we have “died with Christ,” the law can no longer condemn us.

The day of our believing, is the day we are united to the Lord Jesus. We enter a life of depending on Him, and duty to Him. Any good works we do are from our union with Christ. The branch is united to the Vine; and there is no fruit to God, until we are united to Christ. (John 15:1-5).

Romans 7:3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. (KJV)

As long as her husband is alive, a woman would be committing adultery if she married another man. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law and does not commit adultery when she remarries.

When a person dies to the old life and belongs to Christ, a new life begins. An unbeliever’s mind-set is centered on his or her own personal gratification. They don’t follow Christ, and have only their own self-determination as their source of power. But God is the center of a believer’s life. God supplies the power for our daily living. Our whole way of looking at the world changes when we come to Christ.

Romans 7:4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. (KJV)

The law no longer holds us in its power, because we died to its power when we died with Christ on the cross. We are united with the One who was raised from the dead. Because of this, we can produce good fruit, good deeds for God. When we die to the old life, we belong to Christ. Notice the paradox here: having died, we bring forth fruit.

Romans 7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. (KJV)

When we lived according to our human nature, sinful desires stirred up and were at work in our bodies. We were controlled by our old nature. The Law is like a straitjacket put on us to control us. We, on our own have no desire to keep the Law, and we break it, thus we are doomed by it (Deut.27:26; Gal.3:10).

Romans 7:6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. (KJV)

When we died with Christ, we were released from the law, no longer captive held to its power. Now we can serve God because we are happy to do so, because we should. Not the old way (by the law), but the new way, by the Spirit. We are free from the Law, because we are alive in Christ. Again, notice another paradox: delivered (or discharged) we serve.

Some people try to earn their way to God by obeying the Ten Commandments, attending church faithfully, or doing good deeds. Keeping rules, laws, and customs doesn’t save us, nor does religious rites or ceremonies. We can’t keep our actions pure, because our hearts and minds are corrupt and rebellious. We must look to Christ Jesus Himself for our salvation, which He gives to us ever so freely. When we do come to Jesus, relief and gratitude floods our entire being. Let us be motivated by love and gratitude in all we do and say. Let us willingly and lovingly seek to do God’s will each day we live. Let us serve in the newness of Spirit. Let our hearts be sincere with love overflowing to God and our fellow man. Let our spiritual obedience be from our hearts that have been circumcised through our union with our risen Saviour. (Rom.2:29).

Struggling With Sin . . . Romans 7:7-25

Romans 7:7-8 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. 8But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. (KJV)

Is the Law itself sinful? Of course not! But the Law made me know what sin is. The Law is a perfect standard showing me how wrong my heart and life were. It proves my sins are much more numerous than I had ever thought.

BUT . . . the Law contains NO provision of mercy or grace for my relief. A person is ignorant of human nature and the corrupt, willful state of his heart, if he does not realize that there are many things desirable that are out of reach for us. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, "Do not covet." But, once I knew it, sin took advantage of this law and aroused all kinds of forbidden desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power. The more humble and spiritual any Christian is, the more clearly will he know that this describes the true believer.

Verses 1-6 do not mean that the law is sinful. Paul says that such an idea is certainly not correct. The law showed us what sin is. Paul chose the last of the 10 commandments as an example. It is easy to think that an action may be wrong. It is more difficult to realize that our thoughts can be sinful. To want other people’s possessions is a sin. Paul would not know this until the law told him (Exodus 20:17). So the law is good. It shows us what sin is. But our human nature seems to want things just because God forbids them.

Romans 7:9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. (KJV)

Paul says, "I was fine when I did not understand what the law demanded. But when I learned the truth, I knew I had broken the law and was a sinner, doomed to die."

My friend, sin cheats us. We often think we would be be happy when we have more things. But, many of those things we cannot have. Things cannot satisfy us.

Romans 7:10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. (KJV)

So the law, which was supposed to show me the way of life, gave me instead the death penalty.

Romans 7:11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. (KJV)

Sin took advantage of the law and betrayed me. Sin grabbed hold of the good law and used it to make me guilty of death.

Romans 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. (KJV)

The law itself is holy, right and good. It is humanity that is the problem. The law is holy because God gave it. And God is holy and perfect. So the law is righteous.

Paul uses ‘I’ and ‘me’ in verses 7-13. He spoke there about the past. In verses 14-25, he speaks in the present tense. It is clear that he is describing his own struggles with sin. Most people have had this trouble, I know I have! So Paul speaks for everyone, not just for himself.

Romans 7:13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. (KJV)

Does that mean that the Law that is good, caused my doom? NO! It was sin! Sin took what is good, and through it brought death to me. This shows us we see how terrible sin really is. It uses God's good commandments for its own evil purposes.

God intended for the law to help people. Paul says that the law is good. It is not responsible for death. It is sin that causes death. Sin turns something good into something wicked. Consider, it can turn love into a wrong sex desire. The law shows how terrible sin is.

Romans 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. (KJV)

The law then is good. The trouble is not the law but me, because I am a slave, with sin as my master.

Romans 7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. (KJV)

I don't understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate.

Romans 7:16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. (KJV)

When I sin, I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience shows that I agree that the law is good.

Romans 7:17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (KJV)

It seems that I can't help myself, because it is sin inside me that makes me do these evil things.

Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. (KJV)

I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I can't make myself do right. I want to, but I can't seem to do good.

Romans 7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. (KJV)

I really feel for the apostle Paul. I know exactly how he felt! I feel this way every time I do or say some wrong, hateful, sinful, evil thing! I simply cannot seem to do the good I want to do, but the bad things I don’t want to do, that’s what I end up doing. This to me is a comforting verse. If a godly man like Paul had this much trouble, I know I am not alone.

Romans 7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (KJV)

If I do what I don't want to do, this means it is not the new me who does it; it is the old sinful nature within me.

Romans 7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. (KJV)

So I find that this law of sin is at work within me: when I want to do what is right and good, doing wrong is the choice I make, because of the evil present with me.

Romans 7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: (KJV)

Paul says, "I love God's law with all my heart and soul. My inner being, the new me, delights in the law of God."

Romans 7:23 But I see another law 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. (KJV)

A different law is at work in my body; and this evil law of sin fights against the good and right law which my mind approves of. It seems I am a prisoner, a slave, to the law of sin which is at work in my body.

Paul uses a military description. A law was fighting a war against his mind. The law of his human nature was making him a prisoner of the law of sin. He struggled to obey his conscience. He knew what was right. But he could not do right things.

Romans 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (KJV)

A cry of despair. Have you ever felt like this? How miserable I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is taking me to death? Who will free me from this life that is dominated and controlled by sin?

Romans 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. (KJV)

I thank God for our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Answer! In my mind I truly want to obey God's law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. Only He can free me!

The “law at work in the members of my body” is the sin deep within us. We are SO vulnerable to sin. Everything within us is more loyal to our old way of living a ‘me-me’ (selfish) life, than living for God.

This inward struggle with sin was just as real for Paul, way back then, as it is for us today. Paul tries to tell us what to do about it. Whenever Paul felt completely hopeless, he would go back to the beginning of his spiritual life, remembering that he had already been freed by Jesus Christ. Whenever you feel confused and overwhelmed by sin’s appeal (and you will), do what Paul did: thank God that He has given you freedom through Jesus Christ. Christ’s power can give you victory over sin.

Paul is grateful that he can win the victory over his sinful human nature because of Jesus Christ. Paul will explain in chapter 8 how the Holy Spirit can give to Christians the power to live a holy life.

The Book of Romans

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