THE EPISTLE OF ROMANS - Part 12 of 15 - Romans 7:12 - 8:8
In Romans 7 we have seen how the Apostle Paul is addressing those “who know the law” (Romans 7:1). He is speaking in the first person in chapter 7 because he was personally experienced with being under the Law of Moses. Verses 7 through 25 refer to a man who is struggling to live for God by his own ability, “in the flesh.” The solution to struggling in this manner is through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We have also seen that in chapter 6 we have been baptized into Christ Jesus and our new master is the grace that has been given through the Lord Jesus Christ’s redemptive work. Trying to live for God by our fleshly abilities we cannot please God (Romans 8:8). Believing regarding Christ’s redemptive work is what pleases God because without believing it is impossible to please him, (Hebrews 11:6a).
The Bible was written for those who desire to know and walk with God. We all essentially know what is right and wrong. We also know that God would have us do what is right, holy and just. But, how does one live rightly, holy and justly? The world has systematically conditioned us to look at our own abilities to “do” what is right. “Be loving and kind!” “Live by the Ten Commandments and your life will be blessed.” “Remember the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We’ve been steeped in a “good works” environment so that we think that this is how we are supposed to live for God. Everyone knows within himself that it is right to do right things. The problem lies in the inability of the flesh to carry out this desire.
We’ve already been told from Romans 6 that to live rightly, holy and justly is to submit to our new master of the grace of Christ. This is how we serve righteousness unto holiness (Romans 6:19). The Law was never intended to bring the result of holiness, doing rightly. The Law, instead, magnifies the sinfulness of sin (Romans 7:13), showing the one under the Law of his inability to keep God’s standard (Romans 7:15-20). Chapter 8 is going to show us that the key to living rightly, holy and justly is in walking in the spirit, in the newness of life which is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:2). This is God’s way for the righteous requirements of the Law to be fulfilled in us (Romans 8:3). Living according to our new life in Christ we please God (Romans 8:8).
The Apostle Paul is pointing out in Romans 7, not only the struggle of one who is trying to live for God by his own ability (apart from Christ), but the failure of one who tries to do so. Failure is eminent apart from Christ. Christ is the solution to the problem (Romans 7:24-25a).
The conclusive answer to the third question of Is the Law sin? is given in verse 12
Romans 7:12 - 13 “So that the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and righteous, and good. 13 Did then that which is good (the Law) become (a cause of) death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might be shown to be sin, by working death to me through that which is good; ––that through the commandment sin might become exceeding sinful.” (ASV)
- that it might be shown to be sin See also Romans 3:20b, 5:20, 7:7-11.
- There is nothing wrong with the Law of Moses. It is perfect. The flaw which produced death (no life with God) in the people under Law wasn’t the Law, but indwelling sin.
Romans 7:14 - 20 “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I do I know not: for not what I would, that do I practise; but what I hate, that I do. 16 But if what I would not, that I do, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 So now it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (as a source), that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but to do that which is good [is] not. 19 For the good which I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I practise. 20 But if what I would not, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me.” (ASV)
- This section shows us the struggle of trying to live for God by fleshly ability apart from Christ. We noted in Part 12 that “Christ” and “the spirit” are not noted in chapter 7 from verse 7 through verse 24. In addition, there is another astounding point. Notice how many times the words “I,” “me” and “my” appear: over 40x. Who is central to these pronouns? We are no match for the power of sin. Only Christ is.
- For we know that the law is spiritual Then to keep the Law is to be spiritual. But we can’t forget what has already been addressed in this case for Christ in Romans. 3:9 & 3:23 make it clear that all are under sin and all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Then nobody becomes spiritual by trying to keep the Law of Moses (or any other set of laws). Yet Galatians 6:1 says, he who is spiritual… Then, there has to be a way given by God whereby we can be spiritual. The general answer is given in Romans 7:25a. The more specific answer is given in 8:2 and following.
- but I am carnal, sold under sin Paul writes of himself here, I am… sold under sin. He has to be speaking of the time before he was baptized into Christ Jesus, before he believed on Christ. He is NOT speaking of believers in Christ as being in this struggle, but of ones who are under law. This phrase refers to being sold into slavery to sin as in Romans 6:20. But in 6:20 it speaks of the time after our baptism into Christ Jesus, that we were slaves of sin.
- Paul reiterates again that the law… is good in verse 16. Then again he reiterates the problem of trying to live for God in the flesh. The problem is sin dwelling in him. He genuinely desires to do what is right but can’t find the strength within to carry it out due to indwelling sin.
Romans 7:21 - 23 “I find then the law, that, to me who would do good, evil is present. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind (the inward man), and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members.” (ASV)
- I find then the law The unbending, unyielding standard that, to me who would do good, evil is present.
- For I delight in the law (the unbending, unyielding standard) of God after the inward man: The inward man is the conscience naturally knowing what is right and wrong (Romans 2:14-15).
Romans 7:24 - 25 “Wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then I of myself with the mind, indeed, serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (ASV)
- Wretched E. W. Bullinger defines this as, “Enduring toil and hardship, as from severe bodily effort, then, the state arising from this, wretched, miserable.” Does this not describe someone under the burden of law?
- Wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me Notice the tenses of these verbs. He is speaking as one who is under law and hasn’t yet submitted to Jesus Christ as Lord to live for God. Also, anyone who is still putting themselves under law instead of under reality in Christ is caught in the same trap of wretchedness.
- out of the body of this death? This is a graphic and horrifying analogy of one who is under the bondage of law. A form of capital punishment in Paul’s day was to tie a corpse face to face with the criminal: hands to hands, arms to arms, waist to waist and so on. Then he was left in the wilderness to die. It was said that you could hear these criminals screaming in the wilderness for deliverance. Being under some system of law to live for God is like being tied to death – face to face. Where is the deliverance?...
- I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. The verse seems to end here, and maybe with this phrase in capital letters. God has given only ONE solution to the problem of the many methods to which people try to submit to living for God; CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD.
- So then I of myself with the mind, indeed, serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. Here he reiterates his struggle of trying to live for God by his flesh apart from Christ.
Romans 8:1 - 4 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for (as an offering for) sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (ASV)
- Based on the word “therefore” this shouldn’t begin a new chapter. It is further explaining that our deliverance from law is from God (not within ourselves) through the Lord Jesus Christ. Based upon this truth…
- There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines condemnation as “the judicial act of declaring one guilty, and dooming him to punishment.” See also Luke 23:40, John 3:17-19, John 5:24 where through believing on Jesus Christ we have no judgment against us, Romans 5:16 & :18. The KJV translation of this verse is a travesty, resting "no condemnation" upon our ability to walk in the spirit, instead of Christ’s finished work. "in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" does not appear any of the older Greek manuscripts until the end of verse 4.
- For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death This is the unbending, unyielding standard or government (law) of the spirit which is life in Christ Jesus. Barnes NT Notes: "for a law often means anything by which we are ruled or governed." Weymouth translates this as “for the spirit’s law – life in Christ Jesus”
- Life in Christ Jesus is what God has given to be our standard, to govern us.
- · A standard: “That which is established by sovereign power as a rule or measure by which others are to be adjusted.” (Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary)
- This new government transcends the old government of sin and death like enough thrust transcends gravity. Thrust doesn’t eliminate gravity, it overpowers it. The old government has been being addressed in chapters 6 and 7. See also Galatians 5:16, Romans 8:13, 2Corinthians 3:18, Romans 12:2 and Titus 2:11-12.
- For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh The flesh is weak, unable to keep the Law. Again, the Law wasn’t given to make its subjects perfect (Hebrews 7:19, Acts 13:39, Romans 3:20 and Galatians 2:16). The main purpose of the Law was to show the sinfulness of sin (Romans 7:7-11 and :13), to magnify the unbeatable problem of the power of sin, so that man’s need of the Christ’s substitutional death would be obvious (Galatians 3:21-24). The RSV; “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do” (which is make man righteous, perfect). See also Romans 5:6 & Hebrews 8:7-8
- God (effected), sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for (as an offering for) sin, he passed sentence of condemnation on sin in the flesh From NOYES Translation. God is just. If the problem of sin came through the flesh (Adam’s choice to disobey God), then the solution for sin also came through the flesh (Jesus’ choice to obey God). Romans 5:18-19.
- that (in order that) the ordinance (the righteous requirements) of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit We all know that the Law is holy, righteous and good. But how is the Law fulfilled? By trying to live up to its demands? No! The Law is not fulfilled in us who live for God according to the flesh (trying by our abilities apart from Christ), but instead, to live for God according to the spirit, which is life in Christ Jesus (v. 2). We are under the new master of grace and righteousness through Christ.
Romans 8:5 - 8 “For they that are after (according to) the flesh mind (think) the things of the flesh; but they that are after (according to) the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace: 7 because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be: 8 and they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (ASV)
For they that are after (according to) the flesh mind (think) the things of the flesh; but they that are after (according to) the Spirit the things of the Spirit. “According to” shows a standard. These two standards are addressed in verse 2.
- · The standard of the spirit is life in Christ Jesus.
- · The standard of sin and death incorporates the two categories explained in Romans 6:16-23 and 7:1-24, either going our own way (Isaiah 53:6 and Romans 1:18-32) which is to live under sin as our master, or to try to live for God by way of law (Romans 2:1-20 and chapter 7). These two categories of liberty or legalism are elaborated upon in Paul’s following epistles. Living under liberty as in, “I can do anything I want. It’s grace” is death. So also is, living under any system of law to try to live for God. Either living for self or trying to live for God by law produces death.
- For the mind (thoughts) of the flesh is death; but the mind (thoughts) of the Spirit is life and peace As we walk in our new life in Christ we become sensitive to its fruit. Therefore, it becomes easier to recognize when we are thinking according to the flesh. There is a natural desire in our brethren to live in the realm of our new life in Christ. All else becomes distasteful.
- because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be When someone is trying to live for God by their flesh they become frustrated and judgmental, critical of self and others (Luke 18:9-14). They eventually think of God as a judgmental God, and as a result, he becomes their enemy, one who is against them.
and they that are in the flesh cannot please God. Trying to live for and please God by our own abilities apart from Christ is futile. We soon discover that we can’t quite aspire to perfection because the flesh is weak.
- Trying to live for God by our flesh (under law) was described by someone as standing on a rock on the shore of the Pacific Ocean near San Francisco and trying to jump out to reach Hawaii. Nobody can come close to the goal. The ones who jump the furthest find themselves deeper in the problem.
- God sent the solution to this problem – Jesus Christ.
The first use of the word “sin” in the Bible gives us deeper insight when Romans 7 is understood as being spoken to those who know the law. The first use of “sin” is in Genesis 4:7b, Sin is crouching at the door, and its desire is you. Sin is a personified enemy like a lion crouching, ready to pounce on us. What gives this enemy its power against us? The Law (1Corinthians 15:56). What liberates us from living for God by the standard of sin and death? The standard of the spirit (life in Christ Jesus). Praise God that we have been married to him who is raised from the dead, and are therefore, freed from the bondages of sin (Romans 6) and freed from the bondages of law (Romans 7).
If anyone desires to live for God only two methods are given:
- Try to abide by some kind of standard of doing rightly.
- Abide in Christ’s redemptive work.
All who are baptized into Christ Jesus are acquitted from every error through the propitiation of Jesus Christ. Our record is wiped clean from every way in which we fell short of perfection. Therefore all of us are now righteous. God holds nothing against us. Every one of us has been joined to God, having been justified. All have died with Christ, have been buried with Christ and have been raised with him in order to live in newness of life.