Romans 7:7–25 (CSB) What should we say then? Is the law sin? Absolutely not! But, I would not have known sin if it were not for the law. For example, I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, Do not covet. And sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind. For apart from the law sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life again and I died. The commandment that was meant for life resulted in death for me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good. Therefore, did what is good become death to me? Absolutely not! But, sin, in order to be recognized as sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that through the commandment, sin might become sinful beyond measure.
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold as a slave under sin. For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. Now if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one that does it, but it is the sin that lives in me. So I discover this law: When I want to do what is good, evil is present with me. For in my inner self I delight in God’s law, but I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am serving the law of God, but with my flesh, the law of sin.
God alones saves us from this body of death.
We were never meant to be saved by the law of God. We were always meant to be saved by God himself.
Once you start to engage Romans and get to this passage in chapter 7 and you might want to consult other teachers and commentaries. When you do, you will then discover in your studies that many people disagree on what exactly Paul is talking here. All the commentary can be boiled down to schools of thought:
- Paul is talking about an unbeliever’s struggle with sin.
- Paul is talking about the Christian’s struggle with sin.
Now, the way I phrased those options should automatically tell you which camp I am in. It is foolish to suggest that Christians' never struggle with sin. Furthermore, while the unbeliever might dislike and grieve and try to abstain from the effects of sin, without the Holy Spirit, you are not going to struggle with your own sin.
Now, my interpretation of this passage might be own opinion. But note verse 22:
Romans 7:22 (CSB) For in my inner self I delight in God’s law,
The inner self of the unbeliever never delights in God’s law.
Paul will go on to say in the next chapter of Romans:
Romans 8:7–8 (CSB) The mindset of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit to God’s law. Indeed, it is unable to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Apart from Jesus Christ from the sovereign grace of the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit, the unbeliever has no hope in pleasing God.
Matthew 11:25-27 (CSB) At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, because this was your good pleasure. All things have been entrusted to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal him.
Christ reveals God to man. Plain and simple.
John 14:6–11 (CSB) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” “Lord,” said Philip, “show us the Father, and that’s enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been among you all this time and you do not know me, Philip? The one who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who lives in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Otherwise, believe because of the works themselves.
John 1:18 (CSB) No one has ever seen God. The one and only Son, who is himself God and is at the Father’s side—he has revealed him.
Now that Christ has revealed the Father–the ESV says, “He has made him known”–what does God the Father look like?
Matthew 11:28-30 (CSB) “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Turn to Galatians 2. Here are three things for us to consider and obey:
1. Stop turning to your obedience as a sign of salvation:
Galatians 2:15–21 (CSB) We are Jews by birth and not “Gentile sinners,” and yet because we know that a person is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we ourselves have believed in Christ Jesus. This was so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified.
2. Know that the law of God only exposes you to be far from God. Your obedience cannot save you.
But if we ourselves are also found to be “sinners” while seeking to be justified by Christ, is Christ then a promoter of sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild those things that I tore down, I show myself to be a lawbreaker. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live for God.
3. Died to the law. Bury your sins. Crucify with Christ.
I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.