The Man of Romans 7
Introduction: Last week, we learned that upon baptism in Jesus, we "died to sin." ( Romans 6:2) We learned that this meant that we were "set free from sin." ( Romans 6:18) How did that work out for you this past week? Did you find that you had a sin-free week? Did you enjoy living a perfect life? If not, what do you think is the problem? If you had paid closer attention last week would you be free from sin? Or, are you having a problem measuring Paul's writings against the reality of your life? Since the Bible is the true and faultless word of God, we need to dig deeper to find out what God is trying to teach us. Let's dive into Paul's continuing message!
- Read Romans 7:1. How many sins do dead people commit? (None.)
- Would you say that had more to do with them being dead, than with the authority of the law?
- If so, how do you explain Paul's statement?
- Read Romans 7:2-3. The woman here is alive. How is the woman's freedom an illustration of the law not having authority over dead people? (It is the man who would complain if his wife married another man. The law gives him authority to make a claim over his wife. But, when he dies, neither he nor his wife are bound by his legal claim. The legal authority dies with the person.)
- Read Romans 7:4. Let's work out this analogy. Who represents you in Paul's analogy? The wife, the dead husband or the new husband? (The wife.)
- Who represents the dead husband? (The law?)
- Who represents the new husband? (Jesus - "Him who was raised from the dead.")
- If your relationship to the law is just like the relationship of a wife to a dead husband, what does that say about your obligation to the law? (Its claims have no authority over you.)
- Later on, Paul talks about the commandment against coveting. If the law against coveting is like a dead husband, can I covet all I want? (The authority of the law was this: if you broke it you would die. When Jesus died, those who accept Him in baptism died. Thus, the authority of the law against coveting(that you would die)has no force. The penalty has been paid.)
- If what I just wrote is true, what about the last phrase of Romans 7:4 "in order that we might bear fruit to God?"
- Is it God's fruit to covet? (Of course not! Instead of avoiding coveting because we would be killed for it, we now avoid coveting because of our love for God.)
- Is everyone free from the law? (If you have not died with Jesus in baptism, then the authority of the law is over you and you will die for your sins.)
- New Service
- Read Romans 7:5. Does the law cause me to sin? (Not by itself. Paul says that when our "sinful nature" was in charge of our lives, then the commandment against coveting caused us to covet.)
- Does that seem right to you? Have you ever seen a beautiful car or interesting rock formation with a sign "Don't touch?" What came to mind? (Touching!)
- I was recently in a wonderful car museum. There were absolutely no signs saying "Don't touch." I thought "They must have such a law. They have it at other museums!" The fact that the no touching law must exist made me struggle with whether I should touch. (I did, once, furtively!)
- Read Romans 7:6. Are we free to sin however we want? (No. We "serve in the new way of the Spirit.")
- "Serve." What does that mean? (Recall what we studied last week. Romans 6:17-22 told us that we are now "slaves to righteousness." The benefit of being a slave to righteousness is that it "leads to holiness." Romans 6:22.)
- What does that say about sin? Need we no longer be concerned about it?
- Paul's analogy has us married to a new husband: Jesus. What doe our new husband say about sin? (This takes us to the absolute heart of things. Jesus died because of the requirements of the law. Our understanding of this, our love for Jesus because of what He has done, means that we want to obey Jesus. Instead of seeing "don't touch" signs at the car museum, we now love the car and do not want to harm it by touching it.)
- The Law and Me.
- Read Romans 7:7-11. Is the law bad? (No. The law is good because it shows me God's will. It illuminates sin.)
- If the law is so good, why is it such a problem? (Because I cannot keep it. It showed me the way of right living, but I could not do it on my own. This meant I would die because of the requirements of the law.)
- Read Romans 7:12-13. If the law is not bad, what is it? (Holy, righteous and good!)
- Some Christians say the law is done away with. Does that seem right to you based on what we have read? (No. The law is great. The law is our instructor. The law shows the holy standard of God. We are just not under its authority because we died when Jesus died. Thus, the law can no longer kill us as long as we remain in Jesus.)
- Read Romans 7:14-20. Why is it that I cannot keep the law? (The law is good and I am not.)
- Notice Romans 7:14 says that I am a "slave to sin." I though we learned last week ( Romans 6:16-18) that I am no longer a slave to sin but a slave to righteousness. Which is it? (I think that Paul is talking about the natural man.)
- Romans 7:20 says "sin" made me do it, not me. Does that mean we are not responsible for our sins?
- Read Romans 7:21-24. Does Paul sound like he is writing about how he used to be or how he is now? (Sure sounds like now.)
- When we decided that Paul was previously writing about the natural man, that should be in the past, right? (Apparently not!)
- Read Romans 7:25. Is Paul a slave to sin and a slave to righteousness? (Sadly, yes! He has made the mental decision to follow Jesus. His body has not yet been converted!)
- Are we in the same boat? (Praise God for these clarifying words of Paul. Paul previously wrote ( Romans 6:6 "our old self was crucified with [Jesus] so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should not longer be slaves to sin." That suggested that the sin battle in my life showed me that I was not up to Christian standards. But, Paul's admission that he, too, has this sinful nature which gives him trouble every day makes me feel a lot better.)
- Notice Romans 7:22-23 again. Does anything we have studied mean that we can safely ignore God's law? (Paul says a "war" is going on in our lives. We need the law to remind us of God's standard. We need God's Spirit to lead us in His way. But, we are still in a war against sin in our lives. Praise God that the law has no authority over us. When we find that we are still making mistakes, still caught up in sin, the good news is that we have already paid the law's penalty through Jesus Christ our Lord! That does not, however, release us from the responsibility to still war against sin in our life. Rather it gives us the motive to wage war, with the power of God's Spirit, against the sin in our lives.)
- Friend, do you see that you cannot win the war against sin? Do you see that eternal death is your fate? The only way out is to accept Jesus' life and death on your behalf. Will you today accept Jesus' offer? Will you be baptized, if you have not been already, so that the penalty of the law in your case has been paid and you can look forward to life eternal?
- Freedom in Christ.