Topic: The Christian’s Relationship to God’s Law
Text: Romans 7:1-6
Memory verse: Romans 7:6
On our previous studies on the theme of sanctification in Romans 6, we have already learnt that the believers role is to know who we are in Christ, reckon that what Christ has done for us true and then we are to yield our lives to God. Paul explained in chapter 6 that believers are dead to sin because they are identified with Jesus in His death and resurrection. In 6:1, the question: “Shall we go on sinning?” is answered. Notice that Paul asks a second question in 6:15: “Shall we sin because we are not under law?” He answers this question in chapter 7 and explains that believers are dead to the Law just as they are dead to sin (7:4). Before we closely study Rom 7:1-6, it is essential to get the entire overview of Romans 7.
General Overview of Romans 7
- The Believers’ new Problem with the Sinful Nature (7:1 – 25)
Chapter 7 presents a deeper problem than that of chapter 6. Almost every believer realizes the problem of chapter 6 that his sinful nature drags him down and tries to make him a slave to sin. But few believers have entered into the experiences of chapter 7 which is the humbling realization that we are not capable in ourselves of doing anything good. Many believers live under the Law: they have a set of rules and regulations that they obey very religiously in the energy of the sin nature, and they call this “dedicated living.” How deceived we can be. Only when the Holy Spirit directs our lives from within and we obey out of a heart of love for the Lord is our life really honoring God.
The old nature enjoys being “good,” trying to obey laws, rules and codes. The most deceitful thing about the sin nature is that it can appear so sanctified and so spiritual. However, in reality the sin nature is at war with God. Chapter 6 deals with the sin nature as it generates evil. Chapter 7 deals with the sin nature that through the law tries to generate and to do “good.”
Even Paul the “great Pharisee” (Philippians 3:4 – 6) had to admit in Romans 7 that even his old nature was not subject to God’s laws. Perhaps he did not commit gross outward acts of sin, but he certainly cherished inward attitudes that were contrary to God’s will. The law of God is holy and good, but even a holy law can never control the sin nature of man.
- What does it mean to say: “you are not under law, but under grace”?
What does Paul mean in Romans 6:14 when he writes that – “you are not under law, but under grace”? To be “under law” means that we must do something for God. To be “under grace” means that God does something for us. Many believers are weighed down with religious rules and regulations and good resolutions. They do not realize that it is impossible to find holiness through their own efforts. How tragic it is to see believers living “under law” and striving in their own efforts to please God. They do not know that the new position they have in Christ and the new power in the Spirit (8:3-4) make it possible for them to enjoy victory and blessing by grace. Paul explains this in chapter 7 by giving us three examples.
First illustration on our relationship to the Law: The example of two Husbands (7:1-6)
The marriage relationship illustrates our relation to the Law. The two husbands are the Law and the Lord Jesus.
When a woman is married to a man, she is bound to that man until he dies. Then she is free to marry again. Before we met Jesus, we were bound by the Law and condemned by it. The Law, however, did not “die” when we were saved. Instead, we died in Jesus. We are no longer “married” to a system of laws. We are “married” to Jesus. The Law has no control over us. Our old “husband” has no control over us.
We are now in a wonderful new relationship in and through the Messiah. When we were controlled by the sinful nature, the Law aroused “the sinful passions” that were at work in us (in our old, sinful nature). This produced death (verse 5). But now we are delivered from the Law and can serve Jesus “in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code” (verse 6).
Verse 6 does not suggest that we believers have no obligation to obey God. Actually, our obligations are now greater since we know Jesus and belong to the family of God. The demands now are far greater than under the Mosaic law. For example, the Sermon on the Mount goes beyond outward actions to deal with inward attitudes. The law of Moses found murderers guilty, but Jesus said that hatred is equivalent to murder.
Romans 7:6 teaches that our motivation for obeying is different. Now, we do not mechanically obey a set of rules. Instead, we lovingly, from the heart, obey the Spirit of God who fulfills the righteousness of the Law in us (8:4). Consider how a pianist can play a number perfectly, yet not capture the inner spirit of the song the way another musician can. Our obedience to God is not that of a slave fearing a master, but that of a bride lovingly pleasing her bridegroom.
- Explain the statement that, “we are not under law but under grace.”
- What does it mean to be “married to Jesus”?
- From the example of “two husbands” in Romans 7:1-6, What should be our greatest motivation for obeying Christ?