We continue our study of Paul’s letters in Romans to Philemon. In Romans 6 last week, Paul instructed us to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God. In Romans 7, Paul continues to explain how we are released from the law and bound to Christ:
Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.
For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.
v. 4-6 (NASB)
Paul explains that even though the law aroused sin in us, the law was not bad. It was given for our good.
What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
v. 7-12 (NASB)
As Paul explains above, if apart from the law sin is dead, why did God make the law? If we were once alive apart from it, why did we ever need it?
Paul explains the answer in the following verse:
Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.
v. 13 (NASB)
I believe the purpose of the law was to show us our need for God. The purpose was to reveal how evil sin is so we would choose to follow God to life instead of the devil to death. Before I knew Christ I didn’t see a need for God. I didn’t see or understand the effects of sin. I didn’t know I had an enemy who was deceiving me trying to lead me to his fate. Once God got hold of my heart, and I started reading His Word, my spiritual eyes opened to see sin for what it is. Gaining knowledge of sin drew me closer to God. The knowledge of sin changed my desires to detest evil and cling to what is good (Romans 12:9).
If we detest sin, and no longer desire it, why do we still sin?
Paul ends the chapter explaining why we sin even though we no longer desire it:
For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.
But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
v. 14-25 (NASB)
Paul understood his deep need for Christ. He knew that nothing good was in him. His sinful flesh was a reminder of how helpless he’d be without Christ. Instead of allowing his flesh to have dominion over him, and being depressed by his sin, he rejoiced that Christ set him free.
As Paul explained above, the battle is against our minds. The Bible says to cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5, KJV).
We can’t turn from sin by just setting our minds not to sin. Believe me I’ve tried, and it doesn’t work. We turn from sin, and win the battle Satan wages against our minds, by rejoicing that Christ has set us free from sin. I didn’t understand this when I first started following Christ. I wanted to change and not have sin rule over me, but the more I tried to do good, the worse I became. As I was sitting in a parking lot one day, worn down and depressed that I was not changing, I cried out to God for revelation. A minister was on the radio that moment explaining how we can’t change ourselves. God showed me that instead of putting my faith in Him, and relying on His Spirit to change me, I was relying on my flesh to change me, which was impossible.
You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.
Galatians 5:4-5 (NIV)
The law shows us how sinful our flesh is, so we can turn to His Spirit to free us from our flesh and transform us. The devil attacks our minds to keep us depressed in our sin and take our attention away from God and the work He wants to do through His Spirit in us. We must remember this whenever we are reminded of our sinful flesh. We can take those depressing thoughts captive and rejoice that He who the Son has set free is free indeed (John 8:36).
We praise You for making a law and revealing how evil sin is so we would see our deep need for You. Fill us with joy in Your Holy Spirit that we have been set free. Sin no longer has a hold over us. When the devil reminds us of our sin, remind us to take captive those thoughts and rejoice that Your Spirit is doing a wonderful work in us. We rejoice in Christ that we are truly free.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!
How did God speak to you through Romans 7? Is there anything He revealed that you would like to share with others?
*This series will continue next Monday as we study Romans 8. Have a blessed week rejoicing that you are free in Christ!