Lesson 77: "We Are Delivered From the Law" (Romans 7:6)
Welcome to lesson # 77. Turn to Rom. Ch. 7. \A/ "Being now justified by the blood of Christ, we V Y shall be saved from the wrath of God through him" (5:9)
i.e., through Jesus our Lord. Hold on to that verse. Back in Ch. 6 we learned that through Jesus Christ and through baptism INTO Christ we are freed from our past sins. Through that same act of baptism we become servants of righteousness, raised to walk in newness of life. We learned in 1:18 that the wrath of God is upon all those that "Hold the truth in unrighteousness" Thus, to be free from the wrath of God; one cannot hold the truth of God in unrighteousness. We must have the truth of God and we must obey that truth (called the gospel). The gospel is the power of God to save. When our old man is crucified and buried in baptism (6:6), the body of sin is destroyed. Thus, Christians are free from the wrath of God and Christians are free from past sins. We must reckon ourselves to be dead unto sin, i.e. we resolve to sin no more. "And if any man sin, [I John 2:1] we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." By confessing our sins and asking for forgiveness; John said: "He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
John wrote that the Christians. Thus, we have learned that by faith in Jesus, we can be saved from the wrath of God and we can be freed from our sins.
In the 7* Chapter, Paul shows that we are free from the law; i.e., Christians are free from the Law of Moses or what is commonly called the 10 commandment law. In v. 1-3, Paul gave a common illustration, using the law of marriage. Now, please note! Paul is not teaching on marriage. Paul spanned over into the sphere of marriage law to take his illustration for making this point; so, don't try to turn it around. And, to be fair, do not take this illustration (or any illustration) further than Paul took it. That's the surest way I know to distort the gospel. Alright, let's begin by reading the first three verses, which contains Paul's illustration. Are you ready? Here we go, beginning in Rom. 7:1, let's read:
"Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law), how that the law hath dominion over man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath a husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man." Alright, first off I think I should tell you: David Lipscomb, in his commentary, says there is a difficulty in translation in v. 1 here in the King James Version (KJV) and quotes Greenfield as giving a better translation. Greenfield translated the last of this first verse like this:
"The law hath dominion over a man so long as it is in force, and no longer."
In other words the law, in Paul's illustration, ceased to be in force as a result of the death of the woman's husband. And a woman cannot be subject to two husbands at one time. When a woman's husband dies; she is then free to marry another. That was a common point of marriage law, and still is today. Now, what's Paul's point? What is he illustrating? Let's read v. 4 - 6, three more verses. Have you got your eyes on it? And don't forget! Who was Paul writing to? The brethren at Rome, right? Let's read beginning in v. 4.
"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter."
Of course, I think you remember, we have alluded to this fact many times, that the law of Moses was supplanted and superceded by Christ's law. Paul reiterated that over and over in refuting the Judiazing doctrine in writing to the Corinthians and the Galatians. And, even though we have no evidence that doctrine was a problem in the Roman congregation; it's only natural Paul should emphasize this point here from the stand point of general knowledge and also to make the Roman Christians aware and sensitive to the false Judiazing doctrine, if and when it arrived in Rome. "The oldness of the letter"
At the end of v. 6 is a reference to the law of Moses. Many Jews having been reared under the Law of Moses and under the influence of that law, had a built-in conscience or inclination to follow that law in a traditional way of life. It seems only natural that the semi-informed and those with childhood sentimentalities would cling to the old ways and were therefore hesitant to recognize that another law (the law of Christ) had now superceded the law of Moses. Thus, pointing up the need for this teaching. In v. 6, Paul said it plain: "We are delivered from the law" i.e., freed from the old law. How are we freed, Paul? You "Are become dead to the law by the body of Christ" We are added to the body of Christ, the church, by baptism. It was through Christ's death that we were made free from the wrath of God, and through our baptism into Christ and through his death we are made free from sin, and Paul has now carried it one step further: through our Lord's death we are made free from the law, i.e., the law of Moses. In writing to the Ephesians; Paul illustrated it like this: "In Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained hi ordinances..." (Eph. 2:13-15). To the Colossians, Paul said this:
"Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us. [i.e., the ten commandments law], which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, [are you listening?] nailing it to his cross..."
Then, anticipating I suppose, that some who resisted giving up the old law; and further some would likely ask (as they do today): but, do I have to? Is it a sin if we don't? Paul began to discuss that law to reinforce his point. So, we'll read v. 7-12. Please read!
"What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shall not covet But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good." Some again may have misrepresented Paul as saying the law was sin. So, Paul sought to lay that objection to rest. He asked the question rhetorically, straight out, for his readers to answer: "Is the law sin?" (v. 7)
Then, as he did back at the beginning of Ch. 6, Paul answered with a scathing: "God forbid," i.e., by no means is the law sin, definitely not! Without the law, sin, or the transgression of God's law, would not have been known. The law defined sin and made sin comprehensible to man, thus spelling out what was expected of man. Paul had said that already (3:20). Where there is no law there is no sin, just that simple. That's the thought at the end of v. 8. And, that has been said before also (4:15,5:13). Of course, as we have said before; God gave some law(s) before the ten commandments. But, Paul here, makes reference to the ten commandment law. This is evident from the fact that Paul quoted the last of the ten commandments, at the end of v. 7, as the object of his illustration. "Thou shalt not covet."
Now, if you'll take the time to comb down v. 7-12 on your own; you'll find Paul's point is this: the law was not sin. The law was given by God to improve the quality of life for man. The law was given to prepare man for a better home. The law was given to bring man closer to God. Thus, the law was holy, just and good (end of v. 12). The problem was in the sin and transgressions, not in the law. The law was spiritual, he said down in v. 14. The problem was with keeping it. Paul said, "I am carnal, sold under sin." (v. 14) That goes back to Paul's personification of sin as a slave master back at the end of chapter six. We'll get back to this, but, let's tie it in the rest of the chapter. Verses 13-25! Let's read the rest of the chapter. Please read with me! Beginning in v. 13: "Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sine, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do, I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do L If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh), dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not For the good that I would, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."
OK, now, I want to ask you — what did Paul say in v. 13 - 25? Did you get it? Most of us have to read this section several times, just to begin, to get a handle on what Paul is saying. I'm not sure I have it in as clear focus as I would like. Paul's point is something like this: Paul was speaking from experience. First off, you should notice this section is all in first person. Remember, part of Paul' s life was under the law of Moses. And Paul admitted he was very zealous in the Jewish religion (if you remember Gal. 1:14). From his experience, Paul found the law of Moses hard to keep. To keep it conscientiously, Paul even found it somewhat paradoxical or contradictory, i.e., compared to Christ's law of the law of faith, as Paul called it (3:27). Paul said he delighted in the law of God after the inward man (v. 22). Do you remember coving the beatitudes in Matt. Ch. 5? The old law was stated primarily in terms of outward conduct. Emphasis was upon results in terms of outward behavior: Thou shalt not kill, and thou shalt not commit adultery. Jesus used these two (of the ten commandments) in the sermon on the mount to illustrate the inner man concept, as we called it. Now, I'm not saying they were not to put everything into it; back under the law. Of course, they were. This is evident in Deut. 6:6 and other places. But, in the O.T. where the law was contrasted with the law to come (i.e. in prophecy), that contrast usually centered upon the new as being more mental, or associated with the inward part of man. Read Jer. 31:3 Iff, Isa 2:2ff, Zech. Ch. 13 are a few examples. The new law (Christ's law) is different. Under Moses' law, atonement involved offering animal sacrifices. They offered sacrifices for sins; but, there was a remembrance of sin in those sacrifices from year to year (Heb. 10:3). We learned in Rom. Ch. 6 that Christians bury their past sins. Of those past sins, God said: "I will remember no more." (Heb. 8:12) Christ died for their sins under the old system, just as he died for our sins on this side of the cross. But, the system of faith is different, you see. Verses 14 - 25 shows the hopelessness of those under the old law and the ineffectiveness of the law to give deliverance from sin. Paul (it would see to me), gave this discussion for the benefit of the Roman brethren and for those of us who tent to want to obey in a legalistic way, i.e. feeling we can workout our salvation as wages. Through the remainder of the chapter, reference is made back to Paul's example of covetousness: "Thou shalt not covet" (v. 7)
Notice down through the chapter he used the word "commandment," several times. The bible teaches that we are to trust God. That's called faith. It's easy for us to desire the promise of life, i.e. the prize. What am I talking about? Heaven! Salvation! ...to the extent that we try to earn it, i.e., as wages. In doing so (now I sense Paul might have had this experience under the law of Moses), as paradoxical as it seems; we can be covetous, even of the gift we call salvation, to the extent that we may find ourselves disobeying God, as Paul did when he was dragging Christians to prison, for example. We are to serve Christ, yes! But, HE is our Master! Don't forget it! We must let him call the shots, i.e., we must serve by faith in Jesus Christ and not by establishing our own righteousness as Paul said his Jewish brethren were trying to do (Rom. 10:3). In thus doing, one may find it leads to disobedience like Adam and Eve. They understood that they were to obey God, but, then they saw an opportunity to be their own god, so-to-speak, i.e. Satan beguiled them into believing they could be wise like God. Remember? The concept of righteousness based on works of obedience leads a man to trust in himself instead of God. Paul said, in other words: sin is sneaky. While thinking we are serving, we can dig our own grave, if we are not careful. Notice how Paul said it in v. 11;
"Sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me."
i.e., (if I understand what Paul is saying) he discovered he was so zealous to DO SOMETHING for God; he found himself ignorantly and inadvertently disobeying another command; namely covetousness. God has granted salvation as a gift, you can't work it out. But, Jesus said: if we love him and will keep his commandments (John 14:15). So, it conies down to service by faith and service by love; not just keeping laws, not just doing something. Perfect obedience is not possible. We therefore present our bodies a living sacrifice. This is our reasonable service (Rom. 12:1). Faith comes by hearing. Paul said: "With the mind I myself serve the law of God" (v. 25)
Even Christian service brings on a kind of mental distress in one sense; but, if you can get this in focus, Paul turns the coin over, so-to-speak, in Ch. 8. Much more needs to be said on this, but right now let's give way to that old clock on the wall. Have a good day.