Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives?
(a) Do you not know? By now you should know.
The “do you not know?” phrase was one of Paul’s rhetorical trademarks. He uses this phrase four times in his letter to the Romans (Rom. 6:3, 16, 7:1, 11:2) and ten times in his letter to the Corinthians (see entry for 1 Cor. 3:16).
(b) Brethren. In the New Testament, the word brethren typically refers to Christian brothers and sisters (Heb. 2:11). Occasionally Paul uses the word in reference to his fellow Jews (Rom. 9:3). Since Paul is writing to the church – (all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints” (Rom. 1:7) – the former meaning is implied here.
(c) Those who know the law. The church in Rome had a mix of Jewish and Gentile Christians. Nobody knows who planted the church, but it may have been a Jew who had been in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10). In any case, the Roman Christians, like many Christians today, were familiar with the Ten Commandments and the laws of Moses.
(d) Jurisdiction. The original word is the same word that is translated as dominion or master in Rom. 6:9 and 6:14. The law and sin had dominion over you.
For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband.
(a) Bound by law. Imagine a woman who is married to a moral but stern man. Her husband constantly finds fault with her but never lifts a finger to help. This describes our relationship to the law. The law points out our faults and condemns us as sinners.
The bad news is Mr Law is always right. Every accusation he makes against us is true. Mr Law is a good man, but this is not a good marriage. Living under Mr Law’s roof is a wretched existence for those who are less than perfect.
(b) Her husband. In this illustration, the husband represents the law. Before we came to Christ, we were bound to the law.
The Jews were bound to the old covenant laws of Moses, while the rest of us were ruled by the dictates of our consciences or religions. Manmade religion says we must keep the rules or be condemned, but the good news of grace says we are bound no more. In Christ, there is no more condemnation (Rom. 8:1).
(c) If her husband dies the wife is released from her marriage. The law did not die, but we died to the law so that we may be joined to another (see entry for Rom. 7:4).
(d) She is released from the law. Similarly, we have been released from the law. Since we died to the law, we are no longer under the jurisdiction of the law (see entry for Rom. 6:15).
So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.
(a) An adulteress. Paul uses strong language to make a strong point – we can be under law or grace but not both.
We died to the law so that we might be joined to another (see next verse). A Christian who runs back to the law (their former husband) is committing spiritual adultery. Running back to the law is cheating on Jesus.
(b) She is free from the law and so are we. We do not need to follow the Ten Commandments; we do not even need to know the Ten Commandments. Being free from the law does not mean we are lawless or lawbreakers. It means we are governed by something infinitely better, namely the indwelling Spirit of Christ.
(c) She is not an adulteress. A widow who remarries cannot be accused of infidelity.
We who have surrendered fully to the grace of God are sometimes called antinomian, as though we were unfaithful to the law. “Grace preachers are opposed to the law.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Like Paul, we believe the law is good (Rom. 7:12). And like Paul we believe that Christ is the end or culmination of the law for all who believe (Rom. 10:4). Since we have died with Christ, we are free from the law.
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.
(a) My brethren; see entry for Romans 7:1.
(b) You also were made to die to the Law. The believer has no relationship with the law.
Mr Law did not die, you did (Rom. 6:3–4). “Through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God” (Gal. 2:19). Your obligation to the law is history.
In Romans 6:2 Paul says we died to sin, but here he says we died to the law. Which is it? It’s both. Since the law is the strength of sin, dying to one means we have died to the other.
(c) Through the body of Christ. The moment you were baptized into Christ, you were baptized into his death (see entry for Romans 6:3).
(d) So that you might be joined to another. Jesus came to win you to himself. Your relationship with Mr Law came to an end so that you might be joined to Mr Grace.
Mr Law was a merciless and judgmental husband, always criticizing and never helping. How much better is Mr Grace. Whatever he asks, he supplies. Whatever he requires, he does. Unlike the heavy yoke of Mr Law, any burdens placed on you by Mr Grace are easy and light (see entry for 1 John 5:3).
(e) To Him who was raised from the dead. Jesus is the first-fruits of a new creation that will never die (1 Cor. 15:23). The everlasting life that Christ enjoys is a guarantee of everlasting life for all who are in Christ.
(f) In order that we might bear fruit for God. Intimacy (being joined with Christ) leads to fruitfulness.
In the previous chapter Paul said we were raised with Christ so that we might walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). This new life is a fruitful life. The fruit we bear do not come from striving but are a consequence of abiding in the vine (John 15:4). As we rest in Jesus, he bears his fruit in our lives.
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.
(a) While we were in the flesh. While we were unbelievers, disconnected from the life of Christ (see Rom. 8:9).
To be in the flesh is to live solely from our connection to the physical world. It is walking by sight instead of faith. It is being mindful of worldly things and having no regard for the things of the spirit. See entry for The Flesh.
(b) The sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law. The law stirs up the desire to sin.
If the first purpose of the law is to reveal our sinful state (Rom. 7:7), the second purpose of the law is to inflame sin. The law is not sinful, but it encourages us to rely on ourselves. “Do this. Don’t do that.” The righteous demands of the law excite the flesh and extinguish faith. Instead of trusting in the Lord, we start writing checks our flesh can’t cash.
Those who think the remedy for sin is to preach law are seriously misguided, for the law can no more cure sin than gasoline can extinguish a fire. The only remedy for sin is the grace of God (Rom. 6:14).
(c) At work in the members of our body. Our minds and bodies are the battleground where we encounter the temptation to sin.
The members of your body connect you to the physical world. Our members are not sinful, but they can be used for sinful purposes. This can happen when we gaze with our eyes, lie with our tongues, and harbor lust in our hearts (Matt. 5:28, Jas. 3:10). See entry for Romans 6:13.
(d) Fruit. We are all bearing fruit of one sort or another. When we yield to sin, we bear fruit for death; when we live out of our union with the Lord, we bear fruit for life (see previous verse).
(e) Fruit for death. When we offer the members of our body to sin, we reap a harvest of death (Rom. 7:24, 8:10). Sin damages our health, our mental well-being, our relationships, and our world.
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.
(a) Released from the Law. Just as the widow has been released from her marriage, we who died with Christ are no longer under the law (Rom. 6:14). You should have no doubts about this. Those in Christ have been released from the law (Rom. 7:2), are free from the law (Rom. 7:3), and have died to the law (Rom. 7:4).
(b) Having died. Your inclusion in Christ’s death and resurrection is an historic fact. “We have died with Christ” (Rom. 6:8).
Having hammered this point seven times in the previous chapter, Paul slips in a quick reminder: you died with Christ. You do not need to die daily for you have died once and once will do the trick. See entry for Romans 6:2.
(c) To that by which we were bound. We were all bound to the law in one form or another (Rom. 7:2).
(d) Newness of the Spirit is synonymous with newness of life (Rom. 6:4). We died with Christ so that we might have new life and walk in the new way of the spirit. It’s a totally different way to live. One with the Lord, we have a new heart with new desires. Indeed, we have the very mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16).
(e) The Spirit. The word spirit appears only once in Romans 7, but is mentioned 21 times in Romans 8. In the next chapter Paul will unpack what it means to walk according to the spirit (see entry for Rom. 8:4).
(f) Not in oldness of the letter. God prefers relationship to rules.
Christianity has nothing in common with the ritualistic observance of old laws, but is a relationship that is daily experienced by walking in step with the Spirit.
(g) The letter refers to the law written in ink and on tablets of stone (2 Cor. 3:3). While the ministry of the law condemns and kills, the way of the spirit gives life (2 Cor. 3:6–7).
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.”
(a) Is the Law sin? The law is not sin, but living under the law will produce sin in your life.
Since the law is not of faith (Gal. 3:12), and anything that is not of faith is sin (Rom. 14:23), living under law is inherently sinful.
(b) I would not have come to know sin. Like a mirror, the law reveals our true state before God. Like an x-ray, it reveals the tumor of sin.
Further reading: “What are the three uses of the law?”
(c) I would not have known about coveting. The law removes all our excuses.
When we sin, we may tell ourselves, “I didn’t know it was wrong,” or “everyone’s doing it, why can’t I?” But the law pulls no punches. “That is sin.” It gives us knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20). In doing this, the law reveals our bondage to sin (Rom. 7:14).
Like the man in the Matrix, we do not know we are prisoners. Then the law comes along, revealing our captivity. “You do not do what you want to do. You crave what you do not have. You say things you regret. You are insecure, fearful, and captive to the appetites of the flesh.”
You may have thought, “I’m basically a good person,” but the law says, “No one is good except God alone. You have fallen short of the good life for which he made you.” As we listen to the accusations of the law we realize this is true. “I covet. I lie. I slander. I’m not such a good person after all. I am indeed a prisoner of sin.”
(d) “You shall not covet.” This is the Tenth Commandment (Ex. 20:17).
But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.
(a) But sin. Sin desires to enslave, deceive, and kill you.
Paul is not talking about sin as a verb, but sin as a noun. Sin is a diabolical power that wants to rule and ruin you. See entry for Romans 6:14.
(b) But sin… produced in me coveting of every kind. Sinful desires bear the fingerprints of a tyrant called Sin (Rom. 6:12).
If we judged covetous Paul by outward appearances, we might dismiss his as a sinner. “Look how much he covets.” But Paul’s heart was to obey the law. The desire to covet did not come from him but from sin itself. If we wanted to help Paul, we would lift off the heavy yoke of law that stirs up sin and give him the grace that teaches us to say no to ungodliness.
(c) In me; see entry for Romans 7:17.
(d) Through the commandment. The law stirs up sin. See entry for Romans 7:5.
(e) Apart from the Law sin is dead. Since the law inflames sin, the way to be free from sin is to stop living under the law and submit to the grace of God. Cut off the fuel and the fire will go out.
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.
(a) I was once alive apart from the Law. Once upon a time, I thought I was doing okay. Then the law gave me knowledge of sin and I became a dead man walking.
Imagine a man who does not know he has cancer. He feels fine and fully alive. But after a routine check-up and an x-ray he discovers the awful truth.
(b) When the commandment came, sin became alive. The law does not create sin. It reveals the sin that is already there (Rom. 3:20).
(c) This commandment, which was to result in life. “I thought if I kept the commands of scripture, I would be a good person. I thought I would have a good life.”
(d) Proved to result in death for me. When the full weight of law is laid upon the bones of our weak flesh, the result is death (2 Cor. 3:7). The problem is not the law; the problem is us (Rom. 8:3). The law dares us to take on an enemy we cannot overcome.
(e) Deceived me. It was a trick! We thought we were doing the right thing by embracing the good and holy law, but really we were bending over and allowing Sin to kick us. We allowed ourselves to be seduced by the promise of a better life. “If I just keep the rules, God will bless me.” When in truth, we were opening the door to dead works and sin.
(f) It killed me. Death is the inevitable consequence of living under law.
The law does not help us overcome sin; the law helps sin overcome you. It does this by demanding that we perform day in and day out, with no time off for good behavior.
Urged on by the merciless law, we try and try again until we are broken and our promises are exposed as futile. Eventually we collapse, and from our once-proud mouths we whisper words of defeat. “I can’t do this. What a wretch I am. Who will rescue me from this prison of death?” (Rom. 7:24).
Further reading: “What is the purpose of the law?”
So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
(a) So then. Let’s get this straight; the problem is not with the law which is good, but my inability to keep it. The law is good but my flesh is weak (Rom. 8:3).
(b) The law and the commandment refer to the general and the particular. “Every detail of the law is good, right down to the least commandment.”
(c) The law… is holy and righteous and good but it has no power to make you holy and righteous and good.
There are many things that are good which are not good for you. The law is good, but only if used properly (1 Tim. 1:8). The law is not your guide for holy living or a substitute teacher for the Holy Spirit. Try and live under the law and you will put yourself under a curse (Gal. 3:10).
Further reading: “When doing good is bad for you”
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.
(a) That which is good… that which is good is the law (see Rom. 7:7, 12, 16). Paul takes great pains to explain that the law is not the problem; sin is the problem. The law is good; sin is bad.
(b) Become a cause of death for me? Although the law is known as the ministry of death (2 Cor. 3:7), it is not the law that kills, but sin. “Sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me” (Rom. 7:11).
(c) Sin would become utterly sinful. Sin is dangerous, but we don’t know how dangerous it is until the law shows us.
We may think, “I’m a good person,” and the law replies, “you are not good enough.” We get indignant. “Just tell me what to do, and I will do it.” From that moment we are doomed. We have discarded faith and opened the door to sin. The result will be either condemnation if we fail, or pride if we succeed.
For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
(a) The Law is spiritual. The law is holy and heavenly to the extent it reflects the divine character of God. But we are cut from different cloth. As earthly creatures, we cannot begin to measure up to the heavenly standard. The law is perfect, but it can’t make us perfect (Heb. 7:19).
(b) But I am of flesh. I don’t sin because I’m a bad person, I stumble because I am a creature of unspiritual flesh. I can no more live up to the holy standard than a fish can fly.
(c) Sold into bondage to sin. Those who are enslaved to sin cannot escape from death row.
Theologians argue over whether Paul was describing himself as a former sinner or a Christian who stumbles in sin. We should have no doubt that those who have died with Christ are freed from sin (Rom. 6:7). You belong to Christ, not sin. So in context, we might say that Paul is describing the struggles of his former life as a law-loving Pharisee. He tried to do the right thing but failed because he was a slave to sin.
However, the principle is universal. Whenever we lean on our flesh we curse ourselves. Walking after the flesh can take many forms, but Paul is describing someone who relies on the law. Plenty of churchgoers are struggling with sin because they are living under law. Although Jesus set them free, they remain captive to sin. Like the Galatians, they have submitted themselves to a yoke of slavery (Gal. 5:1). A Christian who belongs to Jesus but acts like a slave of sin is a confused Christian indeed. They need to reckon themselves dead to sin and alive to Christ.
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.
(a) What I am doing, I do not understand. I don’t know why I do the things I don’t want to do.
(b) I am not practicing what I would like to do. I want to be a good person, but I fail.
(c) I am doing the very thing I hate. I am sinning, and I hate that.
Paul’s lament will be familiar to any victim of performance-based religion. “I make promises to God but I break them. I resolve to do better, but I fail. No matter how hard I try, I never succeed.”
But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.
(a) Do… do… do. The words of performance-based religion appear again and again in Rom. 7:15–21. Religion says, “Do, do, do,” but the gospel says, “done, done, done.”
(b) The very thing I do not want to do. In context, Paul is talking about coveting (Rom. 7:8), but we might substitute anything we hate doing. “I hate it when I lose my temper, lie, or worry.”
(c) I agree with the Law. “My conscience agrees with the law. I know full well that I’m doing wrong.”
(d) The Law is good. For the fourth time in five verses, Paul reiterates that the law is good.
Thank God for the good law that gives us knowledge of sin and reveals our need for Jesus. Blaming the law for our mistakes is like throwing stones at the x-ray machine.
So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
(a) So now. Let’s draw these threads together.
(b) No longer am I the one doing it. When I walk in the flesh, I open the door to sin.
If I agree that the law is good, why do I break the law and do the very things I don’t want to do? It is sin taking advantage of the fact that I am walking in the old way of the flesh instead of the new way of the spirit.
This is not about avoiding responsibility for your actions, but recognizing the conflict between your old master and your new one. Your old master sin seeks to enslave and devour you, but as a defeated enemy he cannot touch you unless you open the door and invite him in.
Sin can’t force you to disobey God, but Sin will try to trick and deceive you (Rom. 7:11). Sin will tell you that you must keep the law to please God. “The law teaches you how to live.” Buy into this lie and you will fall from grace. You will no longer be walking by faith. You will end up doing the very thing you don’t want to do.
(c) Sin which dwells in me. The influence and effects of sin are experienced in our flesh (our bodies and minds). When we yield our members to unrighteousness, we lose our freedom and allow sin to move in (Rom. 6:13–14).
Christian, you do not have a sin nature or a sin virus inside you. The only thing that dwells in you is the mighty Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9, 11, 2 Tim. 1:14). Your body is his holy temple (John 14:17, 1 Cor. 6:19). But your body also connects you to the world, where sin resides (Rom. 5:13).
The temptation to sin comes from without (from the tempter) and is experienced within (in the flesh). Sin tempts us through images, sounds, and thoughts. Sin tries to engage with us through our natural senses – what we see, hear, and touch. The passions or desires of sin seek expression in “the members of our body to bear fruit for death” (Rom. 7:5).
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.
(a) Nothing good dwells in me. My flesh is incapable of living the good and spiritual life that I desire. That which is imperfect can never achieve perfection.
Some read this verse and conclude that our flesh is evil or we have a sinful nature or a sinful parasite. Your flesh is not evil. Your mind and body are good gifts from God. They are tools that can be used as instruments of righteousness or unrighteousness (Rom. 6:13). Nor do you have a sinful nature. Although older versions of the NIV Bible translate the word flesh this way, you do not have a nature inclined towards sin. One with the Lord, we are partakers of Christ’s divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4).
Some describe sin as a disease or virus living within us. This metaphor can create the impression that your body is a disease-ridden husk. But if our flesh is riddled with sin, how can we glorify God in our bodies (1 Cor. 6:20)? How can we present our bodies as holy sacrifices to the Lord (Rom. 12:1)? If you have been infected with anything, it is the righteousness of God. Your body belongs to you, and you are righteous and holy.
Others say your spirit is saved but your physical body remains unsaved, which is like saying God only does partial salvations. You are either born again or you need to be. If you are saved, then you are saved. The work is done. But you are more than your body. Your mortal body is an earthsuit useful for transporting you to church and Starbucks.
Your enemy wants to divide and conquer. Satan wants you to think that you have two natures inside you, a good one and a bad one. He wants you thinking that you are infected with sin and there’s nothing you can do about it. When you sin, he will point the finger and say, “You are a sinner. Your fruit are bad because you are bad.” It’s not true. You are not a bad person. You are not even half-bad. In Christ, you are all good! You are as pure as the driven snow. There’s no shadow in your Father, and no shadow in you.
Saint, you need to understand that the desire to sin is not from you. “I am doing the very thing I hate” (Rom. 7:15). I don’t want to do it means it is not my desire to sin. Where does this desire come from? Sin! “I am not the one doing it” (Rom. 7:20). And where is this desire experienced? In the flesh.
Your flesh is not inherently sinful, but it is in your flesh – your body and mind – where you feel the influence of sin.
(b) My flesh. My mind and body. The parts of me that are unspiritual.
We can distinguish between our flesh, which is a good gift and useful tool, and walking after the flesh, which is a path to frustration and death (Rom. 8:4–6).
(c) The willing is present in me. I want to do the right thing. I want to do good (see next verse).
(d) But the doing of the good is not. I am incapable of living up to God’s standard. No matter how hard I try, my weak and unspiritual flesh cannot elevate me to the kind of life that God desires for me.
Asking my flesh to be good is like asking my shoes to dance. It can’t happen. But just as I can put something inside my shoes that will make them dance, God puts something inside us that makes us good – his Spirit.
For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
Frustration is the fruit of walking after the flesh. “Wretched man that I am!” (Rom. 7:24). But it is wrong to conclude that frustration is normal for the Christian. The path of the righteous is characterized by peace and joy, not frustration and despair.
If Christians are frustrated trying to live the Christian life, it is because they are trying to live the Christian life. They’re trying to produce fruit, do the right thing, and live up to the standard, but it’s just not happening. They feel like yo-yos – up one day, down the next. When they fail to perform they promise to try harder and then they fail again.
Here’s the good news: Only One person ever lived the Christian life and it wasn’t you. Christ is your life. He wants to live his life through you so stop trying and start trusting. Life is not meant to be a series of mountain-highs and valley-lows. You are seated in heavenly place with Christ.
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.
(a) If I am doing the very thing I do not want, I have become a slave to sin. I am no longer free. I want to go one way, but I go the other. I want to do the right thing, but I do the wrong thing (Rom. 7:15). It’s not my will; it is sin exercising its desires through me.
(b) I am no longer the one doing it. It’s not you; see entry for Rom. 7:17.
(c) Sin which dwells in me; see entry for Rom. 7:17.
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.
(a) Principle. A better translation would be law in the sense of a predictable pattern. “Whenever I try to do good, I end up doing bad.” Paul is describing the law of sin; see entry for Romans 7:23.
(b) Evil is present in me in the same way that sin is in me. The temptation to sin and the effects of sin are felt in our flesh (see entry for Rom. 7:17).
There is evil all over the world, but the evil you know is the evil that touches you. It’s in the image that you see, the lie that you hear, and the thought that comes to your mind. The pleasures and pains of sin are felt in our flesh.
(c) The one who wants to do good. Once again, Paul contrasts his good desires with the evil desires of sin.
“I want to honor God with my life. I want to be a good spouse and a good parent. I want to be a good boss. I am a good person with good intentions, yet I stumble and do the very things I don’t want to do” (Rom. 7:19).
For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,
(a) I joyfully concur with the law. I delight in God’s commands. I take pleasure in obeying the Father.
(b) The law of God is the word of God.
The law of God has a double meaning, depending on which covenant you are under. In the old covenant, the Jews referred to the law of Moses as the law of God (Jos. 24:26, Neh. 8:8) or the law of the Lord (Ex. 13:9). However, the law codified by Moses was but a shadow of a new covenant reality (Heb. 10:1).
In the new covenant, the law of God is synonymous with the word of God. The word of God is the way by which God makes himself and his will known. God has revealed his will through the Law of Moses and the prophets, but the primary way God reveals himself is through his Son.
When Saul the Pharisee concurred with the law of God, he meant he obeyed the law of Moses (Php. 3:6). But when Paul the apostle concurred with the law of God, he meant he took pleasure in obeying God the Father.
Paul had no interest in living under a rigid law. “We are not under law but under grace” (Rom. 6:15). He preferred relationship to rules. He walked in the new way of the Spirit rather than the old way of the written code (Rom. 7:6). In the old covenant, God’s word (his laws) was written on tablets of stone. In the new covenant, his word is written on our hearts and minds (see entry for Heb. 8:10).
(c) The inner man is the true you.
Elsewhere Paul compares about the new self (created in righteousness and holiness; Eph. 4:24) with the old self (who was crucified with Christ; Rom. 6:6). Here he is talking about the inner man (your spirit and soul) which can be contrasted with the outer man (your mortal body). Your body may be aging and dying, but your inner self is growing from strength to strength (Eph. 3:16). “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16).
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.
(a) A different law… the law of my mind… the law of sin. All this talk about laws can get confusing. Remember, Paul was writing to people who knew the law (Rom. 7:1). The Romans processed new revelation through legal lenses.
A different law means a different principle or a different government. “With my mind, I want to obey the law of God, but my body is subject to the influence of sin.”
(b) In the members of my body. Our physical bodies are the battleground where we encounter the influence of sin. See entry for Romans 6:13.
(c) Waging war. The influence of sin conflicts with my desire to obey God.
We have an inner self (our spirits) and an outer self (our bodies) and each is influenced by different forces or laws. The inner self wants to walk in step with the spirit, but the flesh experiences the temptations of sin.
(d) The law of my mind. My inner man (my spirit) is born again and desires to obey God (Rom. 7:22).
(e) Making me a prisoner. If I offer my body to sin, I become a slave to sin (Rom. 6:16). I will not lose my salvation, but I will lose my freedom.
(f) The law of sin refers to the rule or influence of sin.
In the same way a sheriff is the law of a town, the world is in thrall to the rule of sin (Rom. 6:14, 20. “Sin entered the world… sin reigned through death” (Rom. 5:12, 21). The fruit of sin is death which is why the law of sin is also called the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2).
Although Christians have been freed from sin (Rom. 6:7), they subject themselves to the law of sin whenever they walk after the old ways of the flesh (Rom. 6:16). One way they do this is by putting themselves under the yoke of law (Gal. 5:3–5). A Christian who sins won’t lose their salvation, but they will lose their freedom and reap the destructive consequences of their actions (Rom. 6:21, Gal. 5:1).
The good news is that a great King has disarmed this old tyrant which is why Paul can say things like, “don’t let sin reign” (Rom. 6:12), and “sin shall not have dominion over you: (Rom. 6:14).
(g) Sin which is in my members. The influence and effects of sin are experienced in our bodies.
The law of sin is not your old nature (which has been crucified with Christ; see Rom. 6:6). But the old regime of sin seeks to influence us through our natural senses. Our members are not sinful, but they can be used for sinful purposes. See entry for Romans 6:13.
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
(a) Wretched man that I am! When I rely on my flesh, I end up doing the very thing I don’t want to do and the result is utter frustration. See entry for Romans 7:19.
(b) Who will set me free? I am not free, I want to be free, but I am incapable of setting myself free. I need a Deliverer who will set me free.
Who will set me free from the grip of sin? The wrong answer is you. Your flesh is too weak to lift you out of the miry clay. Another wrong answer is what. There is nothing you can do, no formula you can follow, that will bring you lasting victory. The right answer is Who. God’s solution to your sin problem is Jesus.
(c) The body of this death, also known as the body of sin, is our physical body, the battleground where we engage with sin (Rom. 6:6, 13).
The body of death is not referring to our old self, which was crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6), but our lowly bodies which subject to death and decay (Php. 3:21).
(d) Death. When we offer the members of our body to sin, we bear fruit for death (Rom. 6:16, 21, 7:5). Death comes in many forms. Gluttony leads to obesity and heart disease. Gossip leads to broken friendships. Immorality leads to sexually transmitted diseases. Lust leads to adultery and divorce. Covetousness leads to anxiety and stress.
Paul is not saying he wants to be rid of his body. He’s saying that walking after the flesh leads to death which is experienced in our bodies (Rom. 7:5).
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.
(a) Thanks be to God. Any victory we experience is all credit to God. It is his grace alone that empowers us to say no to ungodliness and live righteous lives (Tit. 2:11–12).
What has God done? God has made you a brand new person and given you a brand new life. He has given you his mighty Spirit that you might walk in the new way of the spirit rather than the old way of the flesh. Your part in this is to respond by faith. You have to choose to walk in the new way of the spirit and refuse the temptation to old walk in the flesh.
(b) Through Jesus Christ our Lord we can have lasting victory over sin and walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4).
(c) So then. Let us recap. I find myself pulled in two different directions; my mind is inclined towards God, but my flesh is too weak to resist sin. On my own, I can’t win. But I am not alone.
(d) With my mind. I want to do the right thing. I joyfully concur with God’s rule and reign.
(e) The law of God refers to the word of God. In context, we might substitute Jesus the Living Word (see entry for Romans 7:22). Only with the aid of Christ, can we live the life that God calls us to live.
(f) With my flesh. Our natural resources are insufficient for resisting sin. Try and live the Christian life, perhaps by keeping the rules, and you will end up doing the very thing you don’t want to do (Rom. 7:19).
(g) The law of sin refers the government or influence of sin; see entry for Romans 7:23.
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- Romans 7:1
- Romans 7:2
- Romans 7:3
- Romans 7:4
- Romans 7:5
- Romans 7:6
- Romans 7:7
- Romans 7:8
- Romans 7:9-11
- Romans 7:12
- Romans 7:13
- Romans 7:14
- Romans 7:15
- Romans 7:16
- Romans 7:17
- Romans 7:18
- Romans 7:19
- Romans 7:20
- Romans 7:21
- Romans 7:22
- Romans 7:23
- Romans 7:24
- Romans 7:25