Paul was seemingly singing this song in Romans Seven. He was constantly reminded of the Law of God and how he failed to meet it. Similar to when we are pulled over by a policeman, who reminds us of our failure to obey the Law! Just like this man discovered:
A male driver is pulled over by a cop and the following conversation takes place:
Man: What’s the problem officer?
Cop: You were going at least 75 in a 55 zone.
Man: No sir, I was going 65.
Wife: Oh Harry. You were going 80.
(Man gives his wife a dirty look.)
Cop: I’m also going to give you a ticket for your broken tail light.
Man: Broken tail light? I didn’t know about a broken tail light!
Wife: Oh Harry, you’ve known about that tail light for weeks.
(Man gives his wife a dirty look.)
Cop: I’m also going to give you a citation for not wearing your seat belt.
Man: Oh, I just took it off when you were walking up to the car.
Wife: Oh Harry, you never wear your seat belt.
Man: Shut your mouth, woman!
Cop: Ma’am, does your husband always talk to you this way?
Wife: No, only when he’s drunk.
Romans 6 deals with freedom from sin. Romans 7 deals with freedom from the law. Romans 6 – how to be delivered from sin. Romans 7 – deliverance from sin is not enough-we need deliverance from the Law. Paul reveals a new discovery in Romans 7: I am in the flesh (vs. 5) I am carnal (vs. 14) and in my flesh dwells no good (vs. 18)
The discovery is that when we are in the flesh, we cannot please God (Romans 8:8)
When we first come to the Lord as our Savior, and then we give ourselves to Him, we feel we must do something for the Lord. So we start out seeking to do his will. We start reading the Bible. We start having regular time of prayer and devotion. We perhaps start tithing. But as time goes by, we forget to read and pray. Money gets tight so we don’t tithe as much or maybe we stop. It seems the more we try to do the will of God, the more we fail. We may re-dedicate ourselves, or try something less intensive, but then we fail that as well.
We get to the point where we exclaim, this is just the way I am, no good thing dwells in me, I guess I just do the best with what I’ve got. And we feel frustrated, or we feel apathetic, or we feel despaired.
We find ourselves in Romans 7. We are despairing because we see there is no way we could please God the way we think He wants to be pleased.
The trouble is we do not know deliverance from the Law!
I. The Power of the Law:
A.The Law Dominates As Long As You Live
VS 1-3: 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? 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. 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. Romans 7:1-3
The Law Does Not Apply to Dead People!
- Dead men pay no taxes
- Dead men can’t be incarcerated!
- A wife is no longer married when her husband dies.
1. Christians are Dead to the Law
VS 4: 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. Romans 7:4
The Law is not dead; the Law has not been done away with. But WE are dead to the Law! Our death has made us dead to the claims of the Law. The Law is not dead; it simply has no claims upon our lives because our old man is dead. The law has no jurisdiction, power, rule, authority, or dominion over the true believer. The believer is dead to the law and the law is dead to the believer. The law simply does not exist for the believer.
What a shocking truth, but that is exactly what Scripture is declaring! We are no longer under the law and its accusing finger, no longer under it’s…
- Guilt and shame
- Condemnation and punishment
- Discouragement and frustration
- Tension and pressure
- Sense of failure and unworthiness
- Sense of disappointment
The Law is Alive to those Walking in the Flesh
2. We are Free to Marry Christ
VS 4(Phillips): you are free to give yourselves in marriage, so to speak, to another, the one who was raised from the dead, that you may be productive for God.
We are Free to be productive IN THE POWER OF CHRIST!
- To bear righteousness (Romans 6:21-23; Phil. 1:11).
- To bear converts (Romans 1:13; John 15:16).
- To bear Christian character, the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23; Col. 1:10).
None of these is done in the flesh; none of these is done by following a set of rules. Righteousness is of the Heart, of the inward man. People coming to Christ as Savior is dependent upon the working of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. Fruit of the Spirit cannot be faked; it is the fruit of the Holy Spirit!
3. The Law is Alive to those “in the flesh”
VS 5: 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. NASB
“Motions KJV or passions” is pathēma, “an affection, a passion, impulse.” Vincent says, “Motions was used in earlier English for emotions or impulses. Thus Bacon: ‘He that standeth at a stay where others rise can hardly avoid motions of envy.’ “”Did work” is energeō, “to be operative, put forth power, be at work.”
The emotions or impulses of sin, stirred to activity by the law, were operative in the members of our bodies with the result of the production of fruit, this fruit being with respect to death, identified with death, thus, characterized by death. Wuest
We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers–and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 1 Timothy 1:9-10
The law not only points out sin, it actually arouses feelings and stirs the emotions to do the forbidden. Sinful feelings are actually “stimulated” (enērgeito) by the law in our members. When the law prohibits and forbids something, it actually creates within us…
• an interest • an attraction • an excitement • an appeal • a tug or pull • a fascination • a seduction • an arousal
There is within man something that makes him want to do what he is forbidden to do. When he is restricted or fenced in, he wants to break through the restriction or fence.
We will see that as long as believer’s walk in the flesh, they will still be subject to these stirrings, these impulses, these motions of sins. James reveals this in writing to the fleshly Christians reading his letter:
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1:14-15
B.We Follow a New Way When We are “Born Again”
VS 6: 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. Romans 7:6
1. Believers are “delivered” (katērgēthēmen).
We have been discharged from the law. We stand clear of the law. All claims have been dissolved!
2. We Serve God through the Holy Spirit
Galatians 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
- To live by rules is to live a dead religion. Death produces death.
- To live by the power of the Holy Spirit is LIFE.
- We do not serve God by following the letter of the law.
II. The Purpose of the Law
A.The Law Exposes our Sin
VS 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.” Romans 7:7.
The Law is to make us aware that we are sinners. We need a Savior.
EXAMPLE: The Law revealed that Paul had a problem with coveting. He never knew it to be so until he read the Law. When people know the Law, they know they are sinners. Guilt is though the law.
When I was pastoring in Edgerton, I went knocking on doors and if a person allowed, I would ask them a couple questions.
Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever taken something that didn’t belong to you? Have you ever looked lustfully at another person?
Most of the time they would answer yes to each of the questions. Then I would say, then by your own admission, you a liar, a thief and an adulterer? What do you think God thinks of that?
They would mumble, well I guess he doesn’t like it.
I would ask, if you are a liar, a thief and an adulterer, would God let you into His heaven when you die?
Most of the time they would answer, well, yes.
I would say why would he? They would say, because overall I’m a good guy or something to that effect.
Then I would say, but God’s word says that the man who sins will surely die! How could He let you into His heaven and be true to His own Word?
I’ll never forget this one Law student that I talked with. He came to this point where he was aware of God’s standard and he was aware of his violation of that standard, but he looked at me and said, “Aw, that doesn’t apply to me;” and then he said “I’ve got to go!” and he closed the door.
The Law is given so that men and women would see that they are lost. All we can do is hold that Law up, and pray the Holy Spirit convicts them to the point where they realize they need Jesus Christ!
B. The Law is the Revealing Standard
VS 8-9: 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; Romans 7:8-9.
1. The law reveals the fact of our sin
- That men are not in a right relationship with God.
- That men are not in a right relationship with other men.
- That men are living selfishly, thereby dooming themselves.
- That men are coveting and lusting, thereby destroying their world and their future.
- That men are displeasing God and have become unacceptable to Him.
- We will take that second helping of food.
- We will try to keep up with the Jones.
- We will go after the excitement and stimulation of the forbidden.
- We will fulfill the lust of our flesh: “I know that is not how a Christian should behave by talking with his fists, but man can he fight!”
- We will feed the lust of our eyes. Bachelorette – “I know Adultery to be wrong, but as I watch this TV show I find myself routing for this couple as they seem so right for each other, even made for each other!”
- We will satisfy the pride of life. “I just have to have that car!” I just have to have that jewelry!
2. The Law Reveals The Truth Of Our Condemnation And Death.
VS 10-11: 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. Romans 7:10-11
This is a major purpose of the law. By knowing the law the man becomes acutely aware of sin when he breaks the law. It is the law that gives him…
- A painful awareness of sin.
- A sense of guilt.
- A sense of judgment to come.
- A dread of punishment and of death.
During the Second Great Awakening (1790–1840) in early America, the Law was preached by Charles Finney, Lyman Beecher, Barton Stone, Peter Cartwright, and Asahel Nettleton among others. Altar calls were being used then by people anxious about their souls. Finney used the term “Anxious Seat”. Sometimes the evangelist would not have an altar call, and people would be begging to be saved. They were concerned for their souls.
3. The Law Reveals the Way of God
VS 12-13 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. 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. Romans 7:12-13
- The law is holy: set apart and full of purity, majesty, and glory—set apart in that it reveals God’s nature and will—set apart in that it exposes sin, all that is contrary to God’s nature and will.
- The law is righteous: just, fair, impartial, equitable, straight. The law treats a man exactly like he should be treated; it shows no partiality to anyone. It also reveals how a man should treat others. The law is just in that it reveals exactly how a man should live. It shows him how to live in relation to God and to his fellow man, and it judges him fairly and impartially.
- The law is good: it shows man how to live and tells him when he fails to live that way. It exposes his sin and demonstrates his desperate need for a Savior. The law tells man the truth about the nature of man in a most explicit way, and it points him toward the need for outside help in order to be saved.
The Law is a written expression of the Character of God: O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. Psalms 119:97
The Law Does Not Mean Death, The Law Reveals the Sin!
Here in this dish lays Baking Soda (representing man in our natural state). It is still & quiet until another substance is added.
I will now pour Vinegar (representing the Law). It begins to smoke & burn up, but not from the fault of the vinegar, but from the nature of the Baking Soda which will not endure it. Illustrates that the Law is not at fault, but our evil & wicked nature is!
- When you read “Wet Paint. Don’t touch” what do you immediately want to do? –
- “No U-Turns”
- “Keep off the Grass”.
- In Maui as we snorkeled, “Don’t touch the Turtles”, but I just had to touch one!
“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7).
There can be no finger pointing at God. You can’t say to God that “You made me do it, your Law made me rebel” You can’t say the Devil made me do it either. There are no excuses:
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Romans 3:19
III. Paul’s Personal Testimony
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. Romans 7:14-20 (NASB)
1. Paul’s Struggle
Here Paul confesses his personal struggle with sin that dwells in him. Paul is a Christian, and has been for several years now. He knows the truth of HIs new life in Jesus Christ. He knows that his old man was crucified with Jesus, freeing him from the power of sin. He has reckoned this truth so in his life. He counts on Jesus to deliver him from sin. He has presented his body to God.
But what has happened? Instead of the truth of God becoming REALITY in his life, he finds that sin still dwells in him. He does what he doesn’t want to do, and he doesn’t do what he should do.
Does this sound familiar? Anyone else identify with his struggles?
Paul reveals a truth here, while we are spiritual (born again, alive to God) we are still flesh. And this flesh loves to sin. The means to freedom has been secured on the cross, our old man is dead. We don’t have to sin, but there is something about this flesh that makes it powerless when it comes to the power of sin.
2. Paul’s Personal Discovery
a. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh;
When it comes to serving God, when it comes to following Jesus, there is nothing good in us. Any effort we make in this flesh is tainted, is spoiled. There is nothing good in me.
On the one hand, this is good because when we are aware of the struggle, it reveals we are spiritually alive, that we are born again.
- If you don’t have a struggle, if you don’t feel guilt, that probably indicates Christ does not live in you.
- Inward conflicts show us we are spiritually alive!
b. There is a Law of Sin that Dominates his flesh
Just as there is a Law of Gravity dominating our flesh, there is also a Law of Sin that dominates our flesh. The choice we as Christians have is whether we accept this law and live with it, struggling against sin the best we can, or do we desire something more!
3. Paul’s Desperate Desire!
Paul is Desperate for MORE!
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. Romans 7:24-25
IV. The Power of the New Law
Paul has realized that there is a way of deliverance. There is a Law that we can live under that dominates the Law of Sin. This Law is greater than the Law of Sin. And this Law is available to us through Jesus Christ!
This Law will be explored in Romans 8.
Our eyes must be opened to see that sin is not just conduct. When you lose your temper, it is not just you failing to control your temper. When you lose your temper it is the law of sin at work in you. The victory of sin is a law, just as our defeat is a law. If you view sin as simply a matter of conduct then your focus will be entirely on your own self-effort to resist or overcome that sin.
Do you have a problem with smoking? Do you want to quit? Then don’t see it as a habit to be resisted. Don’t see it as an urge to be controlled. See it as a law. A law that governs your life. And then see that you must live by a new Law that is greater than the Law of Sin.
We Need a New Law!
The Law of Sin is powerful. We cannot overcome it in our flesh. Our flesh is subject to its power. Anytime we struggle against sin with our flesh, we are doomed to fail. Just as you cannot escape the pull of gravity by flapping your arms, you cannot escape the law of sin by doing anything in your flesh.
Even mighty Paul made this discovery.
Paul discovered even though he tried, even though he willed it, he could not overcome sin’s power. He tried to be perfect, to not sin, but he failed. Paul discovered that the Law of Sin was mightier than his willpower. He willed and willed, but lost.
Paul came to the conclusion sin was a law that he could not overcome in his own strength.
He needed something else, he needed to learn to walk in a new Law, a Law which had authority over sin, a Law which could govern his life and deliver him from this constant feeling of defeat and failure.
Romans 7 is the revelation of a man who gives up trying in his own strength and realizes he needs JESUS CHRIST!
If you never come to this realization, that sin is a law that you cannot struggle against in with your flesh or your will, then you will always be a Romans 7 Christian. You will live your life in Romans 7.
You will be like the Laodicean’s, who thought they had no need.
Wretched man that I am – Just like John’s picture of the Laodicea church.
Rev.3:17 “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’; and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked;”
Do you want to be a Romans 8 Christian? Then have your eyes opened to the truth that sin is a Law. Then plead with God to reveal to you the Law he wants you to live by, the law that has greater power than the law of sin. Plead with Him to open your eyes to the truth of the Law of the Holy Spirit in your life!
If you do not live your daily life by the Law of the Holy Spirit, we shall see in Rom 8, then you are doomed to a wretched Christian Life, a Romans 7 life-one of ups and downs, defeats and despairs, one of fleshly struggles, one of constant bouts of guilt, one of being tossed to and fro. That is the plight of Christians who walk in the flesh and struggle against the Law of Sin with their flesh.
Thanks be to God there is a Better Way!
Have you come to the place of wretchedness in your life? You’ve come to the place of realizing you have no power to overcome sin.
Then you are ready to live your life by the Law that will deliver you from sin, from fleshly struggles and defeats.
By walking in the New Law, You will experience the Righteousness of Jesus Christ and THROW OFF YOUR WRETCHEDNESS!
Speaking to a large audience, D.L. Moody held up a glass and asked, “How can I get the air out of this glass?” One man shouted, “Suck it out with a pump!” Moody replied, “That would create a vacuum and shatter the glass.” After numerous other suggestions Moody smiled, picked up a pitcher of water, and filled the glass. “There,” he said, “all the air is now removed.” He then went on to explain that victory in the Christian life is not accomplished by “sucking out a sin here and there,” but by being filled with the Holy Spirit.