Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

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Romans 7

September 25th, 2011 by Vic

September 25, 2011

“The Law is Good”

Romans 7


Chapter 6 of Romans says in several different ways that sin no longer has any power in the Christian’s life.  The Christian has died to sin.  He has identified with the death of Christ and is born again.  The Christian has switched masters.  He used to be a slave of sin, but now by faith he has accepted the fact that Jesus has paid for his release from sin and the Christian has now become a love slave of Christ.  A kingdom change has taken place in his heart.


Like a jeweler evaluating a precious gem, Paul is looking at several facets of this new life in Christ.


Paul has told us in this letter already that sin has been defeated.  So the next question is, if sin is dead, if I am serving a new master, why do I keep sinning?  Why can’t I keep from doing things I know I should not do?  I have committed my life to Christ, but I still sin.  I do not plan to sin.  It just seems like I can’t always control my anger.  It just seems like I can’t control my thoughts.  I just sin without thinking.  I feel so sorry when I do.  What is wrong with me?  Is not my old self really crucified with Christ?  Have I really been born again?


Paul answers that in Chapter 7.  It is not an easy answer.  It involves a renewing of the mind as Paul says again in Romans 12.  He says there is no such thing as a sinning Christian, but Christians can sin.  How do you explain this paradox?  If you are dead to sin, if you have been buried with Christ, how can you sin?  There should be no sin in the Christian’s life, but there can be.  How come?

Chapter 7 explains this paradox.  Chapter 8 tells us what we can do about this paradox.


First you need to understand the law.  7:25 identifies God’s law and the law of sin.  They are not 2 laws but two facets of the same law.  When you are born again spiritually, the law of sin and death no longer has authority over you.  You follow the law of the Spirit.  The next chapter tells us the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death (8:2).



Twice Paul uses the word ‘brothers’.  This is a sensitive subject and Paul is identifying with his readers.  This is the first time that Paul has discussed the law and its relation to sin and death.  The Law is a delicate issue to discuss with Christian Jews.


Paul uses the Jewish marriage law to illustrate our relation to sin.  The law is perfect.  The law could be compared to a woman’s marriage with Mr. Perfect.  The perfect husband would be tall, dark, and handsome.  He would pick up his socks, take clothes out of the dryer, clear off the table after meals, shave every day, keep a regular job, come home at the same time every day, etc.  You get married and soon you realize he expects you to be perfect.  He can see the dust on top of the frig.  He has specific requirements for his perfect diet.  You’re expected to have a perfect hair style.  The house must be spotless.  You realize you’ve married a tyrant.  You pray about it and the next day he dies of a heart attack.  You are free to marry another husband.  You marry Mr. Love.  Then you know that this was God’s plan from the beginning.  It is all about a relationship of love not law.


The law is perfect, but no one could keep it.  The woman is used to illustrate the impossibility of initiating a divorce.  Only the man could file for divorce.  For the woman only death can release her from the law of marriage.  Death affects relationships.  The law of marriage does not die, but it no longer affects a widow.  Jesus died to set us free.   Death affects a person’s relation to the law.


You were married to the tyrant of sin.  Christ died.  By faith we identify with the death of Christ and die to our sin.  We become the bride of Christ.  The death and resurrection of Christ eliminated any legal claim the power of sin has on us.  6:8 says we died with Christ so we could live with Him.  In Him we have life and have it abundantly.


The woman does not change when her husband dies.  She can have the same home, job, friends, etc.  But the law says she is different.  The law puts her in a new category with a new label.  She is single.  She is free from all the marriage rules that bound her to her husband.  Her memory was not erased, but she is free from that law.


The law is still there, but a death has changed her old relationship with the law.  Paul says that illustrates our relationship with God.  The power of sin was destroyed by the death of Christ.  Our relationship to the law of do’s and don’ts has been changed by Christ.  It has no become the royal law of love, the law of the Spirit, whose fruit is holiness characterized by good works.


“You were put to death in relation to the law” (4).  Death liberates from the Lordship of the law and the ‘body of sin’ (6:6).  God did it.  We are passive recipients.  By faith we receive.  A major change in the ages has been accomplished by God through the death and resurrection of Christ.  The purpose was that we might belong to another Master.



Where did sin come from?  How long had Adam and Eve been in the garden before they sinned?  How long had satan been in the garden before he tempted Adam and Eve?  When did sin come in the garden?  After God gave the commandment.  Was the commandment sinful?  No, it was for our good.  However, satan used the law to introduce deceit, disobedience, and sin.   Man became separated from God and controlled by his sinful nature.  He became a slave to his passions.


Now we who have died to sin are free in Christ.  Our union with Christ is intimate and relational, not legal do’s and don’ts, but love.  Our former relationship with the law of sin is powerless.  We are united with Christ in an intimate love relationship.


When you became a Christian, what part of you died?  Your spiritual part was already dead in sin and it came alive.  So what dies?  Your relationship with sin (self) dies.  The relationship dies so that it is no longer self who lives but Christ living in us.  We die to selfishness.  When we were spiritually dead, our self was sitting on the throne.  Now as a Christian, God is on the throne of our heart.  Self was dethroned so why are we still tempted to selfishness?  We still have a choice to be selfish.  The law is still telling us not to eat the forbidden fruit and self-destruct.  The law still says obey God and live.


We still have a body that wants to be fed.  Our body desires to be in charge.  We must present our body daily as a living sacrifice to let our bodies know we have a new Lord.  Our motivations and purpose in life has changed.  In Christ the power and spiral of sin is rendered powerless.  The venom in the sting of death was exhausted in Christ.  By faith in Christ, your relationship with sin died.


Life in Christ is a love relationship.  Relationships require time, trust, honesty, belief, giving and receiving.  We are a new person in relationship with Jesus.  We belong to Him.  We have the law written on our hearts.


Do you want to experience a love relationship with the Creator of the Universe?  Don’t unite yourself with someone else.  Be a faithful bride.  As the thirsty deer pants for the water, pant after God.


Paul explains.  In the beginning, satan had already been cast out of heaven with his angels.  Sin was present at creation, but sin had no means of attack until God said, “Don’t eat this fruit!  It is not good for you.”  Sin used the word of God that was given for man’s good to tempt man.  Adam was deceived and broke God’s law.  Adam’s desire for self‑satisfaction is the root of all sin.  When we try to take the place of God and assume we deserve more than we are receiving, we begin to self-destruct.


God gave the Law to Moses.  The law gives us a standard outside ourselves.  It did not take sin long to use the law given to Moses to tempt the people to sin.  The people made a golden calf.



The word opportunity in 7:8 (αφoρμηv) is a military term and literally means the starting point, or the base of operations for an expedition.  The commandment gave sin a base from which to attack man.


The law was given to promote life; it would lead to abundant life in relationship with God.  The law should have directed man to everlasting life.  But with sin the law is distorted to make man his own god.  Sin turns man’s desire in upon himself rather than focusing it on God.


The “I” in verse 9 is Paul describing what was true in the time of Adam and is true in every person including himself.  For the child and humanity there was an age of accountability when sin sprang to life and “I” died.  The law triggered in man a death-bringing process.


The law was intended to limit man’s inquisitiveness but sin used it to stimulate inquisitiveness.  The law was intended to promote life, but it brought death.  Sin deceives man, making God appear the liar.  Sin deceives man by misrepresenting God’s motives.  The instruction that was intended to promote life was distorted to sound like the arbitrary command of a dictator fearful of losing his status.


The law is still intended to benefit man.  It shows what sin really is.  The law reveals the deadly consequences of sin.  The law did not just say, “Don’t eat that fruit”, it also pointed out why disobedience would be bad for us.  Trying to live by the law is frustrating.  We need God’s help to keep the law.  Sin is a transgression against a known law of God.  Knowing the law does not give us power to keep the law.


There is a parallel between the giving of the law which gave sin its chance to make man captive to death, and the release from the law in Christ which ends the rule of both sin and death.



The law is holy, righteous, and good.  It’s from God.  God gave it to us.  It is a reflection of the character of God.  It states the requirements for our relationship.  It is a standard and measure; the owner’s manual for a good life.  The law unmasks sin and reminds us it leads to death.


Why do Christians sin?  We still have the law.  We can still be tempted.  We still live in the flesh.  Satan is the deposed captain still shouting orders, but having no power.  As a Christian you have been crucified with Christ.  In Christ you have the power to choose not to sin.


Just as when you were a sinner and you gave the members of your body to serve sin, so as a Christian you have the responsibility of giving your members to serve God.  Just as the OT priests could sanctify the equipment they used to serve God, so you can sanctify or set aside the members of your body to serve God.


What Paul is saying in this chapter is that the laws of nature are still with us.  If you eat poison, you get sick.  If you cut your arm, you still bleed.  There are still plenty of weaknesses that sin can use as a bridgehead to tempt you.


In 7:14 Paul says that knowing the problem can’t help you.  There is a duality in the law and in us.  There is a fleshly side of man that is related to Adam and leads to dust.  There is a spiritual side in Christ that leads to abundant living and eternal life. When I became a Christian I became more conscious of my sins.


Why am I having trouble living according to the law of the Spirit?  Because I still belong to this world.  I don’t have my resurrected body yet.  When I forget who I am in Christ and fail to honor God, I fall.


In 7:15 Paul says being self‑disciplined is frustrating.  You have to live by faith.  Christ has forgiven my sin, made all things new, right now in the flesh.  God likes flesh.  He created it.  My heart is changed, but my hormones are still in me.  The Bible says, “Sanctify yourselves.  Put off the old.  Put on the new.”  But there is a discrepancy between my willing and my doing.



I do what I don’t want to do.  It is not the desire of my heart, but I am still responsible for my sin.  I am unavoidably attached to this age of Adam which will ultimately die.  I don’t want to sin.  I don’t want to grieve the heart of God.  The “I” as flesh sometimes feels powerless against temptations.



Paul did not start a monastic order.  He did not go to a cabin in the woods.  But he identifies the frustration of a sensitive Christian.  Trying to keep yourself from sinning will exhaust you.  We’ve all found that the law, which should promote the good seems to bring about the opposite.  Trying to do good and fulfill a list of do’s and don’ts does not work.  The law doesn’t defeat sin.



Who can rescue me from this body of death?  Paul has used some legal terms in this chapter and may be alluding to the Roman practice of tying a dead body to a man guilty of murder.  Often the murderer would die of diseases carried by the corpse tied to him.


Paul may be suggesting before you were a Christian you were carrying around a dead corpse.



Jesus died to set you free from the rotting body of sin and death.  Jesus can clean you up and keep you from all sin.  You do not have to sin.  If we walk in the light as Jesus is in the light we have fellowship and His blood cleanses us from ALL sin (1 John 1:6-2:1).


God is the source of our deliverance.  Sin has been defeated.  Final victory comes when we are resurrected with Christ.


8:1 If you have a humble heart for God, in Christ Jesus there is now no condemnation.  You may sin and make many mistakes.  You may sin more often than you want to, but there is not condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  God has always been quick to forgive unintentional sin.


If you are a Christian and you find yourself struggling with sin, ask Jesus to send His Holy Spirit to cleanse your heart from all selfishness and make you whole.  Ask Jesus to sit on the throne of your life.  Take some time to look in the face of Jesus and hear Him say, “Neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more.”  John 8:1-11

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