Study Notes: Romans 7

In the concluding statements of Romans 6, Paul describes the regret that oft accompanies a life of persistent wrongdoing – “But then what benefit (return) did you get from the things of which you are now ashamed? [None] for the end of those things is death (Verse 21).” Do you recall the feeling? It was as though you wasted your life and wished you had straightened out sooner.

Chapter 7 then opens with a continuation of Paul’s long-running argument about how a Christian can no longer live under the Law. It is an impossible endeavour as the Law does not apply to “dead” people and we are partakers of Jesus’ death to sin. Verse 1 reads: “Do you not know, brethren—for I am speaking to men who are acquainted with the Law—that legal claims have power over a person only for as long as he is alive?” Verses 5 & 6 remind us that walking in the reality of being dead to sin requires the operation of the Holy Spirit within us: “Likewise, my brethren, you have undergone death as to the Law through the [crucified] body of Christ, so that now you may belong to Another, to Him Who was raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God. When we were living in the flesh (mere physical lives), the sinful passions that were awakened and aroused up by [what] the Law [makes sin] were constantly operating in our natural powers (in our bodily organs, in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh), so that we bore fruit for death. But now we are discharged from the Law and have terminated all intercourse with it, having died to what once restrained and held us captive. So now we serve not under [obedience to] the old code of written regulations, but [under obedience to the promptings] of the Spirit in newness [of life].”

Those who assume that adherence to a code of dos and don’ts will save them for sin are setting themselves up for disappointment and regret. Only a humble dependence on God’s Spirit can help a Christian overcome sin. Therefore, the best gift you can give a new Christian is to teach them how to develop a personal relationship with God. That is what makes Christianity come alive for them. Verses 15 to 18 capture the moral conflict of trying to live above sin in one’s own strength. Without the Holy Spirit’s help, an individual fights a losing battle with nature – “For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.] Verse 18”

Finally, in the concluding verses (22 to 25), Paul explains why born again Christians still sin. Two natures are at war within them as long as their spirits dwell in their bodies. But God provides grace to temper the desires of the body. I quote, “For I endorse and delight in the Law of God in my inmost self [with my new nature]. But I discern in my bodily members in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh a different law (rule of action) at war against the law of my mind (my reason) and making me a prisoner to the law of sin that dwells in my bodily organs in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh. O unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from the shackles of this body of death? O thank God! [He will!] through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One) our Lord! So then indeed I, of myself with the mind and heart, serve the Law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”

PS: If you’d like to learn about my personal God Walk, you should read this. To begin your own God Walk, simply say a short prayer now asking Jesus to walk with you and acknowledging him as your Saviour. Then, begin to read the Bible for yourself to become acquainted with God’s thoughts. (My “Bible Study Notes” on this website may help.) Email me if you have questions.

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