THE LAW, THE WARFARE, AND THE VICTORY
I. THE AUTHORITY OF THE LAW (vv. 1-6).
II. THE MINISTRY OF THE LAW (vv. 7-13).
III. THE INABILITY OF THE LAW (vv. 14-25).
In the book of Romans Paul speaks much about the law. The same continues to be true in chapter seven.
Those who believe that by keeping the law one can attain God’s favor are “Legalists”. A “Legalist” has a set of do’s and don’ts that he/she tries to maintain, and more often expects others to maintain. Instead of obtaining God’s favor, however, she/he obtains her/his own and becomes condemning to others who do not meet their standards. The “Legalist” also soon discovers some things about himself which they may or may not confess.
The Christian is not under the ‘dominion’ or rule of the law; he/she is under grace. The ‘Old law’ was written in stone. The new becomes new, now, and only because it is written in our hearts. It is no longer an obligation, duty, nor means of gaining God’s pleasure, but longing desire, and pleasure of the Christian.
THE AUTHORITY OF THE LAW (vv. 1 – 6).
“To be under the law means that I must do something for God; to be under grace means that God does something for me.”
The laws authority is over us only so long as we are unredeemed, and it is condemning us. The unredeemed man is still totally self-ruled, and the law does hold him/her in its dominion.
Paul uses an illustration of this in marriage. According to the law, when a woman is married; and this applies to men too; to a husband – or a man to wife – she/he is bound to their spouse as long as the spouse lives. If they marry someone else while the spouse is still living the man or woman commits adultery. If the spouse dies they are no longer married, and are free to marry another. Paul is not addressing the issue of divorce and/or remarriage; he is using a known and familiar law to illustrate the authority of the law.
Notice, that, nowhere does Paul say that the law is dead. Instead, he writes, “Ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ.” No longer are we under the dominion – the rule, and condemnation – of the law, but under the majestic love and grace of Almighty God; Jesus Christ having lived in complete obedience to the demands of the law, and met the requirements of the law in His death on the cross. On the cross all the demands of holy God to redeem fallen mankind was finished.
Believing Jesus Christ, trusting Him we are born again. We have received a ‘New Spirit’. It is not the spirit of man, but the Spirit of God, and He revives or resurrects our spirit and empowers and enables us to walk in the Spirit, rather than trying to please God through obedience to the law.
THE MINISTRY OF THE LAW (vv. 7 – 13).
Some might think that if God never gave any laws we all would be better off. However, we would not know sin, unless there is law. The law was given for the benefit of mankind, not to harm us. Without law we would still be condemned, separated from God, and miserable.
Is the law sin? Paul writes, “God forbid”, “By no means”. Before Paul trusted Jesus he believed he was blameless before the law. He knew the words of the law forwards and backwards, and believed himself right with God, because he ‘Kept the law’ – outwardly.
The law causes sin to come into the open. It opens eyes to see how far we are from God’s expectations. Sin even increases with the law. As human beings we do not like rules and regulations; so when we know of a law instead of obeying it we see if we can get away with disobedience. Doing so increases the condemnation of the law.
The ministry of the law, then, is to show us that we are sinners; we are condemned, and fall far short of God’s expectations. When sin becomes sinful to us, then, the law has done its work.
THE INABILITY OF THE LAW (vv. 14 – 25).
Sin is enjoyed by the unredeemed. They enjoy their ‘freedom’ of living without realizing their actual blindness and bondage. They can enjoy sin until the law of God awakens them to their plight.
Even Paul enjoyed the life of a Pharisee. As a Pharisee he enjoyed the honor and respect given him by people. His ego was really sailing, because he knew the law. He prided himself in his ability to be ‘Pleasing to God’ by keeping the law.
Remember the law is good and holy. It does not cause sin, but neither can it deliver the sinner from sin.
When a person becomes a believer something amazing takes place. This redeemed individual receives a desire to walk with God – in agreement with Him. He no longer desires his own selfish way, but God’s way. He realizes that he cannot please God by doing, but only by believing.
With this reborn person a war, a struggle, if you will begins also. Although no longer under the dominion of the law the body of flesh desires sin while the mind – the will – desires God. The things my mind wants to do for God, I do not do. The things I do not want to do that are displeasing to God, I do. This struggle was not there before a person is redeemed. This is clearly a reference to a redeemed individual. She/he has a desire for what is godly, holy, and good. She/he has the desire to shun all that is evil. These are not in the life of the unredeemed.
This brings us to realize that the law is unable to redeem us; it only condemns us.
Who can deliver us from this struggle? Like Paul, “Thank God through our Lord Jesus Christ”.
-Tim A. Blankenship