ROMANS, CHAPTER 7
Romans 7:12-13) [NIV] So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
QUESTION: Do we then conclude that there is something wrong with the Law?
ANSWER: Of course not! God wrote this Law! The Law is absolutely, in every way, holy! Every last commandment of the Law is “holy, righteous and good.” THERE IS NO FAULT IN THE LAW!
QUESTION: Why does “the very commandment that was intended to bring life” bring death”?
ANSWER: Paul will answer that question in Chapter 8.
13) [NIV] 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.
QUESTION: Did the Law kill us?
ANSWER: No! Sin killed us by utilizing the Law to tempt us to do the forbidden.
QUESTION: What is the purpose of the Law?
ANSWER: The purpose of the Law is to define sin (vs. 7), and to show how horrible sin is by showing us how sin worked death in us through our breaking the Law.
On To This Week’s Lesson:
Romans 7:14-25) [NIV] We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.
(KJV) but I am carnal, sold under sin.
(CEV) But I am merely a human, and I have been sold as a slave to sin.
(GNB) but I am a mortal, sold as a slave to sin.
(GW) but I have a corrupt nature, sold as a slave to sin.
QUESTION: If the Law is so good, then what’s the problem?
ANSWER: You and I are the problem; we’re not so good!
QUESTION: What does “sold as a slave to sin” mean?
ANSWER: Sin has purchased us as slave. In the flesh we are totally under the control of sin.
Concerning “sold as a slave to sin,”
“This expression is often adduced to show that it cannot be of a renewed man that the apostle is speaking. The argument is, that it cannot be affirmed of a Christian that he is sold under sin. A sufficient answer to this might be, that in fact, this is the very language which Christians often now adopt to express the strength of that native depravity against which they struggle, and that no language would better express it. It does not, mean that they choose or prefer sins. It strongly implies that the prevailing bent of their mind is against it, but that such is its strength that it brings them into slavery to it” [Barnes].
“Therefore by I here he cannot mean himself, nor any Christian believer: if the contrary could be proved, the argument of the apostle would go to demonstrate the insufficiency of the Gospel as well as the law” [Clarke].
QUESTION: Is Paul referring to that time in his life when he wasn’t a Christian, or when he was one?
ANSWER: Both! Paul is trying to get believers to understand that the Law demonstrated to us all that the flesh is corrupt, and that man cannot live righteously through the power of the flesh; i.e., through gritting our teeth and trying harder. The flesh failed before the cross, and the flesh fails after the cross!
15) [NIV] I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
16) [NIV] And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.
17) [NIV] As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.
QUESTION: Do only unbelievers face this struggle?
ANSWER: Any Christian reading this knows the answer to the above question. The answer is, “No!” Christians face this same struggle. We want to pray more; we don’t. We want to read the Bible more; we don’t. We want to give more to the church; we don’t. We don’t want to hold grudges; we do. We don’t want to harm others with our words and actions; we do. Did a redeemed Jimmy Swaggert want to go to a hotel to meet a woman? No! He did! Does that mean he’s an unbeliever? No! It means he is a broken believer.
QUESTION: Are we then saying, as Adam Clarke suggests, that this is demonstrating “the insufficiency of the Gospel as well as the law”?
ANSWER: Absolutely not! A thousand times, “No!” The power of the Gospel is real; and it is sufficient. Christians simply need to learn how to better tap into its limitless power.
QUESTION: In what way am I agreeing with the Law when I’m doing the very thing I hate?
ANSWER: The reason I hate the thing I’m doing in this struggle is because the Law has taught me that it is wrong. By experience, I now know it to be wrong because of the great conviction of sin my actions produced in me.
QUESTION: What does “it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me” actually mean?
ANSWER: Note the following comment:
“This leads to the conclusion that the culprit is not the new man in Christ, but the sinful, corrupt nature that dwells in him. But we must be careful here. We must not excuse our sinning by passing it off to indwelling sin. We are responsible for what we do, and we must not use this verse to “pass the buck.” All Paul is doing here is tracking down the source of his sinful behavior, not excusing it” [BBC].
NOTE: The power of sin at work in the members of my body, even though I’m a Christian, can overpower me with the desire to sin when I am not being vigilant.
QUESTION: What does it mean, in regards to this subject, for a Christian to be vigilant?
ANSWER: It means that we must always walk in the Spirit; i.e., we must always stand firm on the truth of the Gospel, we must believe that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” [II Corinthians 5:17]. We must walk in faith; i.e., we must believe what God says to us through His Word.
18) [NIV] 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.
QUESTION: What is Paul telling us in this verse?
ANSWER: Paul is telling us that we will not triumph in our struggle against sin by looking inward to our own abilities. Our self-determination will not win this battle. The required strength does not come from the who-we-are as an individual, but rather, from the who-we-are in Christ.
19) [NIV] 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) [NIV] 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.
QUESTION: What is Paul doing here?
ANSWER: He is restating his conclusions in verses 15, 16, and 17.
21) [NIV] So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.
QUESTION: What does this conclusion, “when I want to do good, evil is right there with me,” mean to you and me?
ANSWER: He said, When I want to do good,” in other words, when I take matters into my own hands I will always discover that “evil is right there with me.”
NOTE: Again, we will not find the strength to overcome by looking inward to our own abilities. When I try to live the New Covenant with an Old Covenant strategy, I WILL ALWAYS FAIL! My strength doesn’t come from my trying harder, but it comes by my believing God’s promises. If I believe I’m a new creation, I will live like a new creation.
22) [NIV] For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;
23) [NIV] 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) [NIV] What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
QUESTION: What causes this struggle Paul is talking about in this chapter?
ANSWER: As a Christian I like God’s rules in my intellect; I know they are right. However, I discover “another law” at work in the members of my body; a natural law that longs to give in to my passion to sin. Human effort fails to consistently do what my intellect, as a believer, wants to do because my passion to sin, that is a result of having a fallen nature, is stronger that my passion to do what my intellect tells me is the right thing to do.
QUESTION: What does Paul cry out as a result of this?
ANSWER: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
25) [NIV] 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.
QUESTION: How does Paul conclude this chapter?
ANSWER: He reiterates what the struggle is.
Walk of Grace Chapel, Council Bluffs Church