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    Welcome to our website. Peace and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be your abundance and God bless you greatly. We wish to introduce.

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  • Romans Chapter Seven

    5

    Seventh Chapter of the Letter of Paul to the Romans

    Introduction

    The seventh chapter of the epistle to the Romans is a very important chapter that is part of an entire discourse that Paul is presenting regarding the present position and relationship of the believer with sin and righteousness.

    This chapter is part of an important trilogy regarding the victory of the believer over sin,that began really in the precedent chapter 6 and is now continuing and it will come to its conclusion in chapter 8.

    In chapter 9 Paul, although presenting his most convincing argument regarding the existence of the doctrine of sovereign election in salvation, however, changes gears. He shifts his focus from the Gentile church to the relation between the church, God and the nation of Israel, this will continue to chapter 11.

    It is important to note continuously that in the original documents of Scripture chapters and verses did not exist. These were only later placed into the various translations to facilitate the reading, the finding and the memorizing of Scripture.

    Although very useful for many reasons, chapters and verses and especially the chapter divisions in the various books can be detrimental at times, for instance when the author was presenting a continuing thought in his writings.

    This is true in the first 8 chapters of Romans as well.

    Chapters 9-11 as well are one unit of thought, but we will find in the end that all of this epistle is really not an assortment of separated thoughts rather, even though some topics seem to change, they are all one flowing connected thought.

    What Paul did was present a continuous thought in these chapters that if they are taken as separated chapters they lose a lot of their strength and the meaning. They can be thought of as a different thought that has no connection to what was said previously, while instead all needs to be understood as a unit of thought and needs to be understood and viewed together.

    So when we read these chapters let’s pretend that the chapter divisions are not there and let us look at what Paul is saying as one unit of thought. Doing this we will understand much better what Paul is trying to communicate.

    It must be said that chapter 7 has also been given different interpretations by different people. There are two main thoughts regarding the interpretation of this passage.

    The first thought or interpretation is that in all of this chapter Paul is referring to himself and others prior to their conversion and not after.

    The second thought is that Paul is referring part of the chapter to himself and the readers prior to their conversion and part of the chapter refers to himself and the readers after their conversion.

    I personally favor the second interpretation of the chapter, and I will demonstrate why Scripture itself demonstrates that only this can be the right interpretation.

    Paul, in this chapter, continues the thought he began especially in Romans 6:14-15 and following,

    14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!

    Paul explained in chapter 6 what it meant to be dead, with Christ, to sin. How Christ destroyed the power of sin, the dominion of sin, the old self, the natural man, the sinful nature died.

    Now Paul explains to us what it truly means to be dead to the law. It is basically the same principle of being dead to sin [Romans 7:1-6].

    Paul then explains how the law operated and operates in the life of a person that knows it.

    [Romans 7:7-14].

    Paul also explains why a believer continues to sin even when he has been set free from the power of sin and of the law [Romans 7:15-24].

    In [Romans 7:25] Paul begins to tell us how we can have victory over our body which still contains sin, this thought continues in detailed fashion in chapter 8.

    Romans Chapter VII from Verse I to Verse VI

    1 Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? 2 For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. 4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another– to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. 5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. 6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.Romans 7:1-3 Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? 2 For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.

    We will take these first three verses to begin with and examine them as a unit. Paul begins specifying that he wants those brothers who were aware and knew God’s law to know specifically something very important in regard to the law.

    This however today must not only be seen as given exclusively to Jewish believers who no doubt knew the law of God but also to other believers who in time even after their conversion have come to know God’s law.

    However, here Paul is addressing those who in some way had come to know God’s written law. These could have been Jewish believers or even other Gentile believers who had come into the knowledge of the law even prior to their conversion, see for example the Ethiopian eunuch [Acts 8:27-28], Cornelius the Roman centurion [Acts 10:1-2], Timothy half Jewish and half Greek [Acts 16:1],[2 Timothy 3:15], Lydia a woman from Thyatira [Acts 16:14]. Certainly there were many more like them in the church of Rome, people that somehow were knowledgeable of God’s law prior to their conversion.

    Even we, those who are in Christ now, who perhaps did not know God’s written law before and are saved by grace only through faith in Christ, now have come to the knowledge of the law of God by studying the Scriptures and or through evangelism.

    It is important for us as well to learn what this chapter really means if we want to be set free from legalism, not set free from obeying the law of God from the heart, because God has written His law in our hearts now [Ezekiel 36:25-27],

    [2 Corinthians 3:3-6].

    It is important for us to know all this because many believers or religious folks have fallen and fall into legalism, which is the observing of the Old Testament law in order to somehow find favor in God’s eyes, or by ignorance thinking as many of the Jews of Paul’s days, that the law had to be added to grace, in other words to be added to Jesus [Acts 15:24] .

    Nothing can be further from the truth. In many subtle ways even Christians today think that what they do in their religious exercises and observing the law causes God to love them more.

    This is not so, God loved us to the extreme when we were still sinners [Romans 5:6-10], now He loves us as His children [1 John 3:1],[1 John 4:17-19] and He loves us all in the same way, He cannot love us any more than He does [Romans 8:31-39] no matter what we do or not do, He loves us when we obey and when we disobey, no more no less.

    It is obvious that He will be more or less pleased with our walk and will discipline and correct every one of His children when they disobey, without exception or partiality either [Hebrews 12:5-11].

    Make no mistake, however, God has no favorite sons or daughters, there is no partiality or favoritism with Him. In fact, these are strictly forbidden in the church [James 2:1-13] as they are not at all part of God’s character [Romans 2:11].

    So by observing the law draws no particular favor with God. God is truly pleased only in what His begotten Son Jesus Christ has done and all we do as Christians is fruit that He bears in our life so we cannot take any credit for it, for it is begotten in us through the grace of God and the Holy Spirit in us [John 15:1-8],[Galatians 2:20-21],[Ephesians 2:10].

    Therefore God will not consider us more or less righteous just for observing the law and therefore love us any more than He already does in Christ and through Him.

    In fact, while we were still sinners Christ died for us [Romans 5:6-10], so that, if when we were sinners He gave demonstration of the supreme love He had for us, how much more will He love us now that we are His children?

    The answer to this question is found in [Romans 8:31-39].

    Therefore, we who somehow know God’s law must realize what Paul is saying in this chapter. It will be important for everybody’s Christian walk to know what Paul is teaching us in this chapter regarding the law of God.

    Paul now says that the law of God has dominion upon who is under it, in other words, the law as sin also has a dominion in man.

    Sin and the law have dominion, reign, the law rules the life of the person who is under it, it makes that person subject to it. Sin enslaved us and dominated us. Now the law does the same thing.

    God expects that His whole law be obeyed and fulfilled by every person that is under it, subjected to it.

    In reality we have seen that every man somehow is subjected to obedience to God’s law, whether it is by proper knowledge of the written law or by the knowledge of God’s law through the conscience.

    So as the word of God tells us whether by written law or by conscience [Romans 2:14-15], every human being in the world is under sin and found guilty before God as a transgressor of God’s law [Romans 3:9-20].

    So while the person lives, the standard of God, His law, makes the person be under its demands and its requirements.

    This is very bad news as Paul demonstrated previously that both Jew and Gentile are under sin and cannot be justified by the works of the law [Romans 3:9-20].

    Everybody is under condemnation for the transgression of the law of God, the law causes this in every single human being [Colossians 2:14],[Ephesians 2:15].

    The Scripture confirms that sin is lawlessness and whoever commits sin commits lawlessness. Sin, in other words, is acting in transgression of the law, breaking the law, being without law.

    This confirms the universality of lawlessness in mankind as all mankind is sinful continuously, slave to a sinful nature that leads to being a constant lawbreaker.

    1 John 3:4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.

    Now Paul draws a parallel, a comparison between the union of a husband and a wife to the dominion of the law with a person as we could say this also of sin.

    A man and a woman who are married are one, united in an unbreakable tie while both are alive.

    In fact, such unbreakable is the tie that if one or the other marries another while they are still alive this is considered adultery.

    In this case Paul compares the husband to being a law for the wife, so that now the wife is under the law, the authority if we want, of the husband.

    That is exactly the example that Paul wants to bring to our attention. The woman is bound to the law, or the authority of the husband and this union can only be made void by the death of the husband, in other words, when there would be a change of authority. The wife then would be no longer bound to the husband because the husband died and therefore so did his authority on her.

    Now this woman who is freed from the tie that bound her to her husband can marry another man and not commit adultery because she is no longer united and no longer under the authority of the previous husband. She is freed by death to marry another.

    Paul draws now another comparison, so it is with those who have been freed from the authority and the bondage of the law.

    Now having died with Christ, as we saw in the previous chapter having died with Christ we died to sin and this death undid the power and the dominion of sin in our life.

    The believer having died to sin, actually died as well, the old self died with Jesus so that the power of sin is also really dead in the life of the born again believer.

    This now has happened also with the demands of the law, the believer has died with Christ not only to sin but also to the demands of being righteous by obeying the law, as such the authority of the demands of the law are no longer binding upon the person as to make that person righteous nor to make that person be under the curse of the law for the transgression of the law.

    Romans 7:4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another– to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.

    Now another death, of the same kind has occurred. Not only we died to sin in Christ, now still through the body of Christ we died to the law as well as to sin, so that now we can be married, united together forever to a different authority and be owned by another, namely Jesus Christ Himself, Him who was raised from the dead. So that now we, having died with Him and having been risen with Him as well, can now bear fruit to God whereas before we could not.

    This is the same exact concept we saw in regard to sin in the previous chapter, see commentary of:

    Romans 6:1-11 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Romans 6:20-22 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.

    The same exact concept of what it means to be dead to sin is exposed here by Paul. In the same way it means for us to be dead to the law through the body of Christ [Romans 7:4]. A good explanation of this concept is found in the next chapter:

    Romans 8:2-4 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

    We will see in more detail what all this means when we arrive at this portion of Scripture, nevertheless, it suffices to see how the word of God tells us that Jesus’ work of redemption, His life, His death and His resurrection, did something great in our life.

    His Spirit of life set us free as it regenerated us, it made us alive with Christ from our spiritual death and set us free from the law of sin and death. The observance of the law could not do any of this because the weakness of human sinful nature could not obey the law. So God did what man could not do, how?

    He sent Jesus, His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. In the likeness of sinful flesh only, because He knew no sin

    [2 Corinthians 5:21], He is the only righteous One as He lived in perfect obedience to the will and the law of God

    [Matthew 5:17-18],[1 Peter 1:18-19],[1 Peter 3:18].

    He, in His body, took the sin of the elect and condemned their sin in the flesh and in so doing fulfilled all of God’s law and its requirements taking upon Himself our sins, all the transgressions of God’s law as well as obliterating our sinful nature, so that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

    In other words, the righteous requirement of the law were fulfilled by Jesus but are imputed to us, so that they are fulfilled in us who are not natural men any longer, rather who are born again of the Spirit, we who walk according to the life of the Spirit, we are spiritual beings no longer natural ones and are in Christ [Romans 8:9-10].

    The law and all its requirements has been dealt for us by Jesus Christ so that His righteousness for having fulfilled the law in Him has now been imputed to us who are born of Him.

    So not only the condemnation of the law which was against us has been taken away in Christ [Colossians 2:14], but also the fulfillment of the law by Christ has been imputed to us as though the law was fulfilled by us as well.

    Being united now to Christ’s death we died to the power of sin and also we died to the law and its condemnation and requirements. Being united to His life and having His life we are united, in other words married to Him, so that we can now bear fruit to God.

    Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

    Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

    This describes our salvation by grace alone through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit and having been justified by His grace (used as a synonym of faith in our salvation, see also [Romans 5:1]), we become heirs of eternal life. This is the description of how we got saved and our position, the next passage describes our salvation in what it generates in the life of the regenerated person.

    Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

    Once again we see that the fruit to God is two-fold, eternal life and good works in both cases. This is the fruit to God that Jesus’ resurrection has wrought in us, being married to Him, united to Him in His death and resurrection, this is the fruit to God that is produced, in both cases and in all cases it is ONLY by God’s grace.

    Romans 7:5-6 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. 6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.

    Now we must realize one very important concept here as Paul begins to unfold it before us.

    First of all as we said before, herein lies the same concept regarding the law that was described for us in the previous chapter regarding sin.

    We did see some of that already at work in the verse before [Romans 7:4] and we did comment in that instance. However, since Paul presents us again with this comparison we shall take another look at it as well.

    Paul now says when we were in the flesh”. Very important, he uses the past tense, we were in the flesh. The use of this indicates that this WAS a condition that now is no more.

    Interesting because here we must also understand that there is a difference in Scripture between being in the flesh as to walking in the flesh. We have to realize that the use of the word flesh is not always the same, it does not always mean the same thing.

    Here Paul says when we were in the flesh, we were in the flesh indicates the fact that we now are no longer in the flesh.

    What does this mean?

    Here Paul is talking about being in the flesh as in the state of the person before their regeneration, before their conversion, when we were still in Adam by nature, when we were natural men and women devoid of the life of the Spirit of God, spiritually dead in other words.

    This is what it means being in the flesh, being in it means being in an unsaved state, still possessing a sinful nature and not a divine one.

    That is also why Jesus said in

    John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

    He also said this very important truth in regard to the life of the Spirit

    John 3:3-8 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

    Very, very interesting things that Jesus says to Nicodemus. It is tempting to do an exposition of this entire passage, we cannot do it here. It suffices to say in the context of the verse we are examining in [Romans 7:5] being in the flesh means not being yet born again of the Spirit, which is the state that Jesus is saying one must be in if they expect to enter the kingdom of God.

    Once again, being born again is receiving a new nature, a divine one. It means, as we saw in the previous chapter, to have died with Christ, died to sin and made alive in Christ through His resurrection. This is the description of the difference between being in the flesh and being in the Spirit. It is also the difference between walking in the flesh and walking in the Spirit.

    So being in the flesh, remaining a natural man, walking in the flesh and having a sinful nature profits nothing as Jesus says. So one must be born again, must become a spiritual being, this is possible only with God’s intervention in a person’s life, solely by His grace.

    OK, so when we were still in the flesh, in our natural state, spiritually dead, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.

    When we were in that state of spiritual death, the sinful passions were aroused by the law of God. In other words, our sinful nature already programs us to do nothing but sin in most cases of our life and behavior. Our behavior when we are dominated by the power of sin, as we saw, makes us always make decisions based on our sinful desires and passions not God’s will and word.

    However, here Paul is saying that although we automatically already behaved in such a sinful way, more sinful passions, in other words the desire to sin even more is awakened, aroused, excited by a specific thing, not Satan, not the world, not our flesh, rather the law of God.

    So the law does not curb the desire to sin in a natural person it instead arouses the sinful passions, it wakes them up and stirs them up in such a way that they increase in strength and become more uncontrollable.

    This is the effect that the law of God has on the unredeemed persons, on the sinful nature of people. Have you ever heard some sayings such as, “The more you are prohibited to do something or not to have something the more you want to do that or have that which is prohibited?” Or, “Laws or rules are made to be broken”.

    In the unredeemed human being, that is, still natural, still slave of their sinful nature, in these persons, it works this way. The law causes people to desire to do all the more that which is prohibited. If it’s prohibited the desire to do such prohibited thing becomes such a strong attraction to the sinful nature that it becomes uncontrollable, something that must be done at all costs.

    Paul declares, in fact, in

    1 Corinthians 15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.

    The law is what sin draws its strength from. The law is that which gives even more strength and desire to the sin already present in the sinful nature.

    This principle most likely works because of the fact that after man rebelled against God, he has come to the personal knowledge of good and evil. Since man has therefore become a slave to sin in his nature, he or she cannot choose to do good. In fact, the word of God tells us that there is no one who practices goodness, no, not even one [Romans 3:12].Why, because man cannot and does not want to. The sinful nature is caused by spiritual deadness. The human spirit is separated from God, therefore it does not perceive goodness in the same way that God perceives it, nor does it have the life of God to perform real goodness.

    This is all because of the fact that being in rebellion to God mankind wants to be independent of God and His law. God’s Law is good by the way, just because it arouses sinful passions in man it does not mean that the law is bad. In fact, Paul will talk about this later on in this chapter [Romans 7:7],[Romans 7:12].

    Man separated from the life of God sees everything that God considers good as bad and everything that God considers bad instead man considers good. That is what arriving to the knowledge of good and evil does in a radically corrupted and depraved nature, in a spiritually dead person. It makes man desire to always do what is contrary to God and to want to disobey God.

    This is the description of man that we find in [Romans 1:28-32],[Romans 3:10-18] and how Isaiah describes the behavior of man in

    Isaiah 5:20-24 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight! 22 Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink, 23 Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away justice from the righteous man! 24 Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble, And the flame consumes the chaff, So their root will be as rottenness, And their blossom will ascend like dust; Because they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

    Those who call evil good and good evil are those who reject the law of God and despise His word and that my friends is everybody that still is not born again, who is a natural man, who has a sinful nature.

    This is why the law of God in an unsaved person causes the sinful passions to be aroused and to be desired all the more.

    Paul then goes on saying that the law aroused the sinful passions in us which were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.

    These sinful passions all the more aroused by the law did something, they were at work in our members. What are our members? In Scripture the word members is used to describe our physical bodies.

    We see this word amply used to describe a body or bodies in Scripture, [Romans 6:13-19],[Romans 7:5],[Romans 7:23-24], especially in this last passage we see the exact correlation between the words members and body,

    Romans 7:23-24 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

    See also [Colossians 3:5],[James 3:6],[James 4:1]. So it is clear that the word members in most cases is to signify bodies, because the various members or parts of our bodies make up the whole.

    So the sinful passions aroused in our bodies caused our beings, our bodies, to bear fruit to death.

    What does this mean? We had seen before that the wages of sin is death [Romans 6:23], so that all that sin is and all that sin produces leads to death, spiritual and physical death.

    We also know by the word of God that those who sow in the flesh, in other words those who sow out of their sinful natural nature, reap corruption [Galatians 6:8], corruption is another word that describes death,

    see also [Acts 2:27-31],[1 Corinthians 15:42].

    Anything that has to do with sin only produces fruit onto death, spiritual and physical death, that is the only fruit we can expect to bear out of sin.

    We did see this concept exposed also in our study of chapter 6.

    Romans 6:20-22 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.

    Now Paul continues saying But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.

    Amen, praise God for this truth, but now, Paul started verse 5 saying when we were still in the flesh , now he says but now, there has been a change of status, a change of position, of relationship.

    Before we were still in the flesh producing fruit onto death, but now, praise God, now that we are in Christ something happened.

    What happened now?

    We already saw the beginning of this back in chapter 6. Now Paul reiterates the same concept of the previous chapter, we have been delivered by the power of sin, the slavery of sin, by dying to sin with Christ [Romans 6:2-7], see comments there.

    Here Paul says we have been set free or delivered from the law, how were we delivered from the law?

    What does it mean to be delivered from the law?

    The same way we were delivered from the power of sin we were delivered from the power of the law, by death, Christ’s death and also our death.

    We who are now alive in Christ also died to sin in Christ and we died to the law in Him as well. We died to all that we were held prisoners by, sin and also the law, both held us captive.

    We died remember? Now we can be married to another, Jesus, and be under His authority and power, which is freedom, instead of that of sin, death and the law, without counting also Satan, the world and our flesh.

    Galatians 2:19-20 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

    Here in this passage, we must note also that, the word flesh does not indicate at all the state of being in the flesh, or being still a natural person, not a born again person. So we must be careful to look very carefully at ALL of the context surrounding this word, flesh, as not to misunderstand what it means.

    Here Paul is referring to flesh as to the flesh of the body and not the state of an unregenerate person.

    We have seen what it meant to be delivered from the power that sin had over us. Now in this last passage Paul says through the law he died to the law that he might live to God, what does this mean?

    Well, he does explain this a bit in [Romans 7:9-11]. Sin already has killed us spiritually in our nature and is killing the body gradually as well. However, the law brings the knowledge of sin and this arouses the desire to sin all the more so that the law which is good and holy and righteous, because the natural man cannot obey it, confirms that we are actually dead and in essence it places us all the more in the condition of deadness to God. It confirms that we are dead, in essence it kills every possibility of hope a man has to obey it to become righteous by it.

    This is bad news for the legalistic person and the religious because it condemns their self righteousness, but it’s also good, because the law gives the awareness of our sinfulness and our sate of deadness and most of all our inability to obey it and our constant desire to transgress it. This is so that through the conviction of the Holy Spirit and His regeneration He brings us to the comprehension of our condition of utter sinfulness and hopelessness. This is good because then, becoming dead to all this in Christ but made alive in Him through His resurrection, we may have spiritual life in order to live for God.

    However, how are we delivered from the law and how did the law hold us hostage or prisoners, what power did the law exercise over those who are under it ?

    First of all, those who are under the law are held by the law itself to obey all of it.

    Galatians 3:10-14 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

    Cursed is every one who does not continue in ALL things which are written in the book of the law to do them. This is the demand of the law upon all men. It is impossible to accomplish such a feat so much so that Christ had to do it for us, redeemed us from the curse of the law, the curse that is on every single person as just one transgression of the law is the transgression of all of it.

    James 2:10-11 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

    This by the way includes all men, those who have knowledge of the written law and those who are under the demands of the unwritten law, or better yet, the law of God written on the hearts of all men [Romans 2:14-15].

    The Scripture confirms that sin is lawlessness and whoever commits sin commits lawlessness. Sin in other words is acting, behaving, living in transgression of the law, breaking the law, being without law.

    This confirms the universality of lawlessness in mankind as all mankind is sinful continuously, slave to a sinful nature that leads to being a constant lawbreaker.

    1 John 3:4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.

    By the way, ignorance of the moral written law does not exonerate anyone to obey it.

    Let’s say you go in a foreign country where you do not know the laws of the land but you transgress the law of the land. Does your ignorance of the law exonerate you to obey it? If you are caught and tried, does that mean that you will not be sentenced for having transgressed the law?

    No, not at all, you will be found guilty by the law itself as a transgressor of the same. Perhaps the judge would take into consideration the fact you did not know the written law and give you a reduced punishment, nevertheless you will be punished.

    With God it works the same way. In fact with God, who is even most merciful and gracious, this is even worse. Why?

    First of all, with God the question is not IF you are caught transgressing His law, the issue is you WILL get caught.

    Secondly, God is also absolutely just and righteous and must punish according to perfect justice and righteousness according to His standard, perfect obedience to His law.

    A human judge could be more tolerant and also more permissive than God is, as a human judge can and may rule not according to the law itself but according to his personal bias in the case.

    God is not like that, God does not have any personal favoritism toward any man. So, when someone who does not know the written law and transgresses it, notice I said when and not if, because everybody transgresses God’s law even if they are not aware of the written code; so when a person transgresses God’s law, and they will come before the judgment seat of God they will still be found guilty of transgressing God’s law and will pay for the transgressions committed. They will be condemned to a reduced punishment, nevertheless always eternal punishment it will be.

    Reduced in intensity by their limited knowledge of the law, nevertheless eternal, not temporary. There is no such thing as purgatory. God’s punishment is as His salvation, eternal.

    Luke 12:46-48 And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

    Those who know the written law and transgress it will receive the greater level of punishment than those who did not know it because they have a greater knowledge and therefore have a greater responsibility to obey the law. The more knowledge one has the more revelation one has, the more revelation one has the more responsibility is required, and the more knowledge and responsibility one has the worse the punishment will be, see also [Hebrews 10:26-30].

    That is why to reject the Gospel, Jesus, the only way to have the transgression of the law of God forgiven and the guilt of sin removed permanently and reject He who is the greatest and last source of divine revelation continuing in unbelief and in rebellion and disobedience to it after having had the knowledge of its truth, reckons the worse intensity of eternal punishment possible.

    All mankind we have seen is found guilty before God and all mankind has God’s moral law written on their hearts, so that even by their conscience they have the knowledge to have broken God’s law. For every time they transgress a commandment of God’s law even not knowing the written law, they have the knowledge that the action they committed is a violation of God’s law written in their hearts. All this occurs through the conscience.

    So that, even that way, there is an awareness of the law of God and having transgressed it, so that even without knowing the written law man can be without excuse before God [Romans 1:18-19],[Romans 2:14-15],[Romans 3:9],[Romans 3:19].

    So what we are saying or rather what God’s word says, is that, the law, whether written and known, or unwritten but still known through conscience, holds all mankind under its demands of complete obedience.

    This is a very, very bad problem for mankind. Why? Because mankind cannot and does not want to obey God’s law.

    The problem is, and we have seen this extensively already, that man is born with a sinful nature and sin is alive and present in every person, we did study this already. In essence, when man is born he or she has first of all already sinned through Adam [Romans 5:12]; and therefore, have sin in their being, in their nature, therefore already all are guilty of sin. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory [Romans 3:23].

    However, when man through the awareness of conscience and the knowledge of the written code realizes the breaking of God’s law, at this point the person becomes truly and actively responsible before God of transgressing God’s law through being accountable or responsible of transgressing it.

    We understand then that God’s law has demands, it demands mankind every where to be entirely and always obedient to it [Colossians 2:13-14],[James 2:10-11].

    These demands are humanly impossible to be all and always obeyed, because of the sinful nature in the person,

    see [Romans 8:3],[Romans 8:7].

    So as we did mention before several times, the demands of the law were fulfilled by Jesus in behalf of those for whom He died [Matthew 5:17-18],[Romans 8:3-4].

    He, therefore, redeemed us from the curse of the law as we read also before in

    Galatians 3:10-14 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

    Not only had Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life and therefore fulfilled the moral law of God, He also fulfilled entirely the ceremonial law of God, but He paid in full the price of our transgressions of God’s law [Isaiah 53:4-6] so that He, the only righteous One, died in place of the unrighteous and the ungodly sinners and transgressors of God’s law, namely us all.

    This is so that by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, we who believe in Him might have the righteous requirements of the law fulfilled in our behalf and our guilt, judgment and condemnation be paid for completely through what Jesus did.

    [Romans 8:1-4],[Romans 3:21-26], [2 Corinthians 5:21],[1 Peter 3:18],[1 John 2:1-2].

    So these where the demands of the law of God which bound us to complete obedience to it, but as we have seen already in countless passages, no man could ever obey.

    Therefore, the condemnation of all men is righteous and just. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection set us, who believe, free from the demands of the law and the consequences of the transgressions of the law of God, namely sins, and their guilt, as well as setting us free from the power of sin and therefore of the law. The power of sin is that which held our will captive to its power and demands, kept us slaves of disobedience and rebellion, which is lawlessness [1 John 3:4],[James 2:10].

    The power of the law is its demands of complete obedience which man in his flesh cannot obey and the increase of the willingness and the desire to transgress the law and rebel against God’s will. This is how the law which is good became a curse to man. Jesus set us free from all of this.

    so that having been set free from all this we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.

    We who have been set free by Jesus, from the power of sin and the demands and curse of the law, having ourselves died together with Christ to all this, now that we are no longer under complete bondage of these things, we can, we should, serve God in the newness of the Spirit and not in the old way the letter or the law required.

    First of all, does this mean that we are not required to obey God’s moral law, His commandments any longer?

    Not at all! Remember we did look at all this concept in chapter 6.

    We are not free to live lawless lives at all. After all, that was the contention of the legalistic Jews of the day and also the libertine attitude of the antinomians (anti-against, nomos-law), those who claimed that one had the liberty to live practicing sin and still claim salvation.

    The Scripture confirms, in fact, that sin is lawlessness and whoever commits sin commits lawlessness. Sin, in other words, is acting in transgression of the law, breaking the law, being without law. This confirms the universality of lawlessness in mankind as all mankind is sinful continuously, slave to a sinful nature that leads to being a constant lawbreaker.

    1 John 3:4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.

    Therefore, no, we are not free to live lawless lives, we are not free to transgress God’s law.

    Rather, what it does mean is that we are freed by Christ to live in the newness of the Spirit.

    What is the newness of the Spirit compared to the oldness of the letter or the law?

    This is the same exact concept that Paul discloses for us also in [2 Corinthians 3:3-18].

    It really means two things.

    The first one is, that faith in Jesus’ work of redemption is the only thing necessary to be made right with God, in other words, to be declared righteous by God and that it is the Spirit’s work in us, through Jesus’ work.

    The Spirit that applies Jesus’ work by grace through faith in Jesus alone and not the observance of the Mosaic law in order to be considered righteous before God [Acts 15:24].

    The Old Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, required that the person be completely and always obedient to it in order to satisfy God’s law, His moral character. We did see though that this is impossible for any man (except Jesus) to do.

    However, we did see that prior to the Old Covenant or the Mosaic Covenant if we will, God’s way to deal with man was really the same as it always was and is even today, in other words, by His grace through faith which would bring about true fear and love for Him, see this concept in the OT prior to the giving of the law [Genesis 6:5-8]. Noah was saved by God’s grace through faith. Faith proved that Noah received God’s grace as he did believe and obeyed God and built the ark, and this was also and only by God’s grace obviously.

    So was the situation with Abraham. God chose Him first [Nehemiah 9:7]; and therefore, it was by grace only that Abraham believed God, and God then imputed his faith to him as righteousness [Genesis 15:6].

    The law or Mosaic Covenant was given by God to Israel to prove their lack of obedience, faith and love for God

    [Deuteronomy 26:17-18] and to prove that man cannot obey God’s righteous requirements no matter how hard he tries [Deuteronomy 5:28-29],[Psalm 81:8-16],[Romans 8:3-4],[Romans 8:7].

    Acts 13:38-39 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; 39 and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.

    The law was also given to be a shadow or a partial revelation of the person of Jesus Christ and His work of redemption until He came, it bore witness of Him [Luke 24:25-27],[Luke 24:44],[John 5:39-47],[Hebrews 10:1-10].

    Therefore, only God through His grace alone can provide righteousness for man through faith in Jesus’ work and this through and by His Holy living Spirit and not through the works of the law [Romans 2:25-29],[Romans 3:19-26],[Galatians 3:24-25].

    The law is a precursor, a tutor, a teacher which is to lead us to the knowledge of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, the only One who can justify thus the only One who can bring man into a living and sanctified relationship with Him through Him and through the work of the Spirit [Galatians 3:21-29],[Galatians 4:1-7].

    This is why the New Covenant in Christ was necessary [Hebrews 7:22-28],[Hebrews 8:1-13],[Hebrews 9:1-28],

    [Hebrews 10:1-25].

    The New Covenant in Christ worked out by God’s grace through the power of the Holy Spirit does not require the observance of the law for righteousness at all. It requires the work of Jesus only, His righteousness and God’s grace and faith, that translates all into a new law, that is really not a new concept at all. In fact, the word of God says that love is the fulfillment of the law [Romans 13:10], but God’s love is only poured out in our hearts by the indwelling of Holy Spirit [Romans 5:5].

    This new law is God’s love and grace through Him which brings about through the Spirit faith and love for God in the believers.

    The first new thing the Spirit does is He convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment [John 16:8-11] and regenerates the sinner [John 3:5-8], so that being born again by the Spirit of God, we become new creations, all the old things have passed away [2 Corinthians 5:17] and we also receive the authority and power to become children of God [John 1:12-13] and be declared righteous by Him and before Him.

    Ezekiel 36:25-27 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

    Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

    The new work of the Spirit, the newness of the Spirit is so aptly described in the two passages we just read. In this newness we serve God.

    The second thing it means is that the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as well as His ascension were all part of the work necessary to set us free from the power of sin, death, Satan, flesh and the law that acted together with the power of sin to render man all the more sinful.

    By sending the Holy Spirit in a new capacity is to indwell and baptize the believers in Christ thus forming the church, the body of Christ. This was a new concept, because all this, in other words the church, was a mystery in the Old Covenant, revealed only now by and through the Holy Spirit [Ephesians 3:3-9], [John 16:13-15].

    This is all a new work of the Spirit of God, a work that is wrought by Jesus’ work of redemption, such work was not part of the Old Covenant, the oldness of the letter but of the newness of the Spirit.

    Romans 8:1-4 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

    Having been set free from all our enemies, sin, death, Satan, the world, the law and the flesh, by Jesus, we are set free now; we have the liberty not to sin but to serve God in the newness of the Spirit and to serve Him according to His will in sanctification all the days of our life.

    This is beautifully described in two specific passages:

    Luke 1:67-75 Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: 68 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people, 69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David, 70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have been since the world began, 71 That we should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us, 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant, 73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham: 74 To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.

    He swore to Abraham, not to Moses, verse 72; this is the promise of the New Covenant in Christ and the newness of the Spirit, so that being freed from all our enemies we might serve Him in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life.

    Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

    The Spirit baptized us into Christ making us an inseparable part of Him, of His body and of one another [1 Corinthians 12:13].

    So this is what it means to serve God in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the law.

    It means being in Christ which means to be regenerated by Him, having the Spirit of Jesus, being baptized by the Holy Spirit into Christ, sealed as we may say by the Holy Spirit [Ephesians 1:13-14],[Romans 8:9].

    It also means not to seek to be righteous and seeking God’s favor and approval by obeying the law. We are loved by God solely because we are in Christ by His grace and the love He bestowed upon us when we were still sinners. Now we have become in Him God’s beloved children [1 John 3:1-2], how much more will He love us now that we are His children [Romans 8:30-39] .

    We now operate under a new law, the law of the love of God in the life of the Spirit of God, we obey God’s commandments because He loved us first and loves us so much as His children, such is that, we now love Him and love our brothers and sisters. This is the love of God [1 John 4:12-21],[1 John 5:1-3] at work in us through the new work of the Holy Spirit [Romans 5:5] in the New Covenant in Jesus Christ.

    Romans VII Verses VII to XII

    7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. 9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. 12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.

    Paul asks a very good question now. As in many cases during his writings Paul comes up with questions that readers might come up with in reading his comments, objections let’s say that a human being, especially those who are perhaps spiritually immature, would come up with.

    We have already seen this type of system of teaching Paul uses, asking questions to objections people may come up with regarding the things he is saying. See for example [Romans 3:1-9],[Romans 3:27:31],[Romans 4:1-3],[Romans 6:1-2], [Romans 6:15-16].

    He does this all throughout his writing, see for example [Romans 8:31-39],[Romans 9:14-24] because he anticipates the spiritually immature human question, perhaps even obvious objections at times and questions people will come up with. So to avoid all misunderstandings and to save time, he deals with the questions himself, without waiting for them to have to ask him.

    In light of what he stated previously,

    Romans 7:5-6 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. 6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.

    he now asks,

    What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary,

    Because the law arouses in us sinful passions, does this mean that the law is sin? Or it is sinful because it causes this? Paul answers, absolutely not! On the contrary, in fact, it’s the opposite. This proves, in fact, that the law is good and the commandment holy and that it is the human being that is, in fact, unable to obey it. In fact, not onlyunable to obey it but rather willing ever so much to sin all the more, so that it is the person who is sinful and unholy.

    How can the law be sin when the law is the reflection of God’s character and will? It cannot be. Because if God is righteous and holy then how then can His law not be? Impossible!

    He now explains a very important thing, a concept upon which he already began explaining back in

    Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

    The law has four purposes.

    One: To demonstrate God’s Holy and righteous character.

    Two: The knowledge of what sin is, warning mankind of what and what they should not do bearing the danger and

    consequences of their disobedience.

    Three: To show mankind the impossibility of obeying all of the law always, which is the requirement of the law, so to bring us to Christ, God’s grace.

    Four: To testify of Jesus Christ.

    In fact, Paul explains to us in

    1 Timothy 1:8-11 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.

    We see then that through the law God wants mankind to realize their sinfulness, it is not an instrument for the righteous person, born again of the Spirit person, rather for the lawless, the unrighteous, the sinners, those who live contrary to the sound doctrine of the glorious gospel of the blessed God.

    For what purpose? To show them their sins so that they recognize their sins, to understand the gravity of the consequences of their state of sinfulness, the unrighteousness of their behavior and lifestyle. To do what? To lead them to repentance through the Gospel [Luke 24:36-47],[Acts 17:30-31], to lead them to the grace and mercy of God in Christ Jesus of whom the law testifies and to obtain a righteousness that comes from God and not from the works of the law or any other human attempt

    [Romans 3:20-26].

    The law is therefore necessary to convince man through the Holy Spirit’s work [John 16:8-11],that they are in the state described in [Romans 1:18-32] and [Romans 3:10-18].

    For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”

    Exactly as we did say previously through what God revealed to man within and the conscience, every man knows that he does wrong when he does something according to the transgression of God’s law because God’s law is written in man’s hearts [Romans 1:19-32],[Romans 2:14-15].

    Although man has this partial knowledge, without the written law, he does not know exactly what is the particular sin he commits. He has guilt and knows that what he did is wrong according to conscience, the knowledge of God’s moral law written within.

    We see this to be true in Scripture where even before the law was given to Moses [Exodus 20:1-17] man knew to have done wrong through the conscience, knowing even that this wrong was against God Himself, see [Genesis 42:22],[Genesis 39:9],[Exodus 10:16-17].

    So man can arrive at a partial knowledge of his sins and know his guilt, but without the law the knowledge of each individual sin and sinful behavior according to the spirit of the law could not be known.

    Knowing sin, mankind is constrained by the law itself to obey it, while he is shown the magnitude of his transgressions to the law of God. Such law shows him to be a sinner and impotent, not able to obey it, because if we fail only in one point of the law we are guilty of having transgressed the entire law

    James 2:10-11 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

    This passage we just read tells us some very important things, that every commandment is transgressed when just one is transgressed because they all are a violation against Him, the law giver, namely God.

    In addition, every commandment is actually connected to each other at least by one common denominator if not more than one in some cases, see comments on [Romans 1:30-31].

    The main common denominator however is this, that when we transgress one commandment even if it is one that speaks about the relationship between men, it transgresses the main one against God [Exodus 20:3] because in doing so we commit idolatry against God through our disobedience, rebellion and stubbornness by persisting to do things our way and not God’s way.

    In other words, behaving like this we say that we are god, we are lord over our life not Him, thus we always transgress the first commandment.

    Our sin is always and foremost against God besides against others and ourselves.

    1 Samuel 15:22-23 Then Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.

    So through the law we arrive to the knowledge and details of every specific and possible transgression against God. The importance of all this is to confirm to man his utter inability of becoming righteous through the works of the law thus condemning man in unrighteousness and making him guilty before God. This leads man to see his need of the mercy and grace of God in Jesus Christ in order to obtain forgiveness of sins and to be justified before God, in other words, to have the guilt of sinfulness removed and declared righteous before God.

    Paul continuing says,

    8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. 9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.

    Once again Paul explains that sin given strength by the law produced in him all manner of evil desire. Here he speaks of himself before coming to the knowledge of the law through the Spirit of God, in the newness of the Spirit, being born again.

    The law, the commandment in the law, the letter, produced in unredeemed, legalistic, self righteous Paul all manner of evil desires and so it does in everyone.

    We have commented this concept earlier in the comments of [Romans 7:5], see comments there in regard to how this works.

    Paul says, for apart from the law sin was dead. How can this be since every human being is born in sin, has a sinful nature, is a complete slave to sin, does nothing but desire to sin?

    It is possible, in fact, where there is less knowledge of God’s law or societal laws which are not based almost entirely upon God’s moral law to find that sinful desires are not as aroused in some people as those in a society where the knowledge of God’s law is greater.

    Granted that even according to [Romans 1:18-32] we realize that the people even without the knowledge of the law are full of iniquity and that they give themselves to idolatry therefore denying God the creator even though they have knowledge of His existence. This God sees it as wickedness even without them knowing the written law and he does not justify this behavior.

    These people still practice sinfulness even though they do not know God’s written law and they are not ever innocent before God, not at all.

    However, now societies like this are less and less in the world. Why? Because, for the most part as the Gospel advanced in the world and as it advances, the church brings into society together with the Gospel also more and more knowledge of the law of God.

    The greater part of human society’s laws for example are based upon God’s law and the church as we said brings the law of God into the society.

    This, however, does not decrease sin it increases it, as we see that the word of God is explaining to us here. This is so that in reality sin, which is always alive in man and is always practiced, Paul says by the law this sin is aroused, awakened, increases the desire of man to sin, therefore making sin look all the more and actually more alive compared to when the law is not known or is not present. The law does not curb sinfulness it arouses it in unredeemed mankind. Where there is sin present the law increases the desire to practice it.

    Sin is always alive in unredeemed mankind but where there is no law it seems as if it is dead. When the law is revealed and sin is known for what it is the desire to sin, to have and to do what is prohibited, becomes alive, very alive, making people sin more and more.

    Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,

    The law entered and sin increased so it does everywhere there is unredeemed man.

    9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.

    What did Paul mean in these two verses? How was he alive if we are all dead in our sins and trespasses [Ephesians 2:1-4]?

    Paul also answers this with a much more humanly practical approach. He explains what the law did to the person who thought to be spiritually alive and righteous by trying to observe the works of the law.

    Paul already explained to the readers the impossibility to be justified and to be righteous before God through the practice of the law. He explained it thoroughly in Romans chapters 2 and 3. (See comments there).

    However, the self righteous and legalistic person who tries to achieve and believes to be able to achieve righteousness through observing the law thinks to be spiritually alive, righteous and blameless before God [Philippians 3:4-6].

    In reality, they are not spiritually alive but dead. However, they deceive themselves into thinking they are spiritually alive and righteous, they appease their conscience through religious and legalistic works, observing the law and they achieve a standard of righteousness all of their own.

    They do not realize that they are still spiritually dead. They try practicing the law outwardly and literally while missing completely the spirit of the law, which is understood only spiritually and by the Spirit of God which they do not have.

    Paul is, therefore, speaking not in terms of being without the written law, in other words, without the knowledge of it, rather being without the spirit of the law. This is, in fact, what Jesus was communicating during His ministry, the real spirit of the law. This is the law of God written by the Spirit of God in our hearts after we are born again [Ezekiel 36:25-27].

    This spirit of the law brought by Jesus, who was filled with the Holy Spirit, did not make one less responsible of keeping it, it made a person all the more responsible of keeping it and it lifted up the bar of the law’s requirement higher. He did not lower it, He rendered the law even more impossible to keep without the new birth, the newness of the Spirit [Matthew 5:17-20],[Matthew 5:21-48].

    By doing this Jesus uncovered even more the self righteousness of those who thought were righteous and just by trying to observe the law. In addition, Jesus uncovered and condemned the religious system that was created by making man’s traditions equal to, in fact considered even above the law of God [Matthew 15:1-9].

    These traditions were observed by the religious of His day and were commanded to be observed thus creating an entire system of self righteous religious observances that were really never commanded by God. In fact, Jesus condemned that system of religion as well as the observance of the law as a means of becoming righteous before God.

    Mark 7:8-9 For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men–the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.” 9 And He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.

    So when the real spirit of the law, the real commandment came to bear upon those who were deceiving themselves to be righteous through the law itself, the commandments of the law killed even more every hope of that person to become righteous by it.

    If you notice that is exactly what Jesus did and then also what the apostles did [Acts 6:8-15] and [Acts 7:1-60], for 17 times in the Gospels is recorded the fact that Jesus condemned the religious and legalistic Jews by calling them hypocrites, not righteous. Here’s just a few references [Matthew 6:5], [Matthew 15:17] and seven out of seventeen are here [Matthew 23:13-29],see also [Luke 12:56].

    This is why the religious hated Jesus and hated the disciples as well. He brought true conviction through the real commandments of God’s law. Jesus brought the spirit of the law that bore upon the religious and legalistic Jews in such a way that it was slaying them, it was killing them, it was killing their religious system in which they had placed their hope for justification as they were deceiving themselves into thinking they were righteous by observing the law and their traditions.

    The more Jesus brought death through the law, the more He was preaching grace to draw them to Him and the more He did this, the more they sinned against Him, to the point of wanting to kill Him and the disciples as well [Mark 3:6],[John 5:31-47], [Acts 6:8-15] and [Acts 7:1-60] thus proving in greater insight what Paul is transmitting to us in this chapter.

    John 5:16-19 For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” 18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.

    The commandments of the law condemn and kill those who are under them, they do not justify them by the practice thereof.

    So, Paul says when the commandments came, sin revived and he died. The law, the commandments, killed Paul and his self righteous religious system while he sinned all the more against God and thus died all the more.

    Deceiving himself to be alive, he, convicted by the Spirit through the law, died. He was confirmed to be spiritually dead with he law that slew him continuously. The more he tried to be righteous by the law the more he sinned, the more he sinned, the more he died, the more he died, the more he sinned.

    So that the commandment he thought by observing it was that which was giving him spiritual life instead killed him, brought death and condemnation instead of life and justification.

    Sin then taking occasion by the commandment deceived Paul and by it killed him.

    Paul, when a Pharisee, was deceived into thinking that the law, the commandments brought life and justification, while it was the sin which energized by the law was causing him in reality of sinning against God and of being dead to that very law he thought was giving him life.

    That is the exact concept we just talked about. The Pharisees, the scribes the teachers of the law, were deceived into thinking they were righteous before God, but in reality they sinned against God and transgressed all the more the law they thought they obeyed. I believe that is the deception Paul is talking about here.

    Verse 12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.

    Paul, however, now born gain of the Spirit, now serving God in the newness of the Spirit and not the oldness of the letter, admits that the law is holy, the commandment holy and just and good. He says this because the law, as we said before, is a reflection of God’s holy and just and good character and so then if the law giver is these things so is the law.

    The problem is another, it’s man who is unjust, unholy and evil, not the law. That is the point of the following verses by the way and we shall see what Paul says in this regard.

    Romans VII Verses XIII to XIV

    13 Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.

    Paul once again asks a question that in some person’s mind might arise. He asks, Has then what is good become death to me?

    The answer as in all the other cases is Certainly not!

    Even though the law arouses in the sinner even more desire to sin, the law itself is not evil nor has the law itself become death to the person that transgresses it. The law is good because the law giver is good. Anything that belongs to God and that proceeds from God is good, and therefore, is not the cause of death.

    But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.

    In fact, we see this principle described for us very well in

    James 1:13-17 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

    Very clear principle. God cannot be tempted by evil nor does He in any way tempt anyone. Therefore, the law being a reflection of God’s character, is good as He is good and it is not the law itself that tempts man to transgress it. This is eloquently explained in this passage as well. Each one is tempted when they are drawn away by their own sinful desires and enticed, not by the law, rather by their own sinful desires controlled by their sinful nature. When these are conceived they give birth to actual sin and this sin bring forth death.

    Therefore, the law is good and it comes from God so it is not the law that brings death, rather the desires of the sinful nature in man or, as we will see ahead in this chapter, even the sin present in the body, even the body of the born again Christian.

    In fact, James continues saying what? Do not be deceived every good and perfect gift is from above comes from our heavenly Father. In other words, God is good. The law comes from God, so it is good, therefore, it is not what becomes death to the person, it is sin in man’s nature which revived by the knowledge of the law becomes all the more desirable to practice and this brings us back to James 1:14-15.

    It’s not that which proceeds from God that is death, it is sin in man that produces death.

    Once again the intent of the law is to make people aware of the sinfulness of sin.

    Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

    1 Timothy 1:8-11 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.

    The law is good as Paul says if used lawfully, in other words, for the right reasons to make sin known to bring people to see their state of deadness and condemnation and to bring the same to the grace of God and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

    The law does not bring death in itself neither can it bring life though.

    Galatians 3:20-22 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

    It is sin that brings death not the law itself, so that everybody is confined by the law under sin, but it is sin that is death not the law. This is what Paul is saying when he says But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good.

    The law making sin all the more sinful, in other words rendering sin known for what it is. As we explained before, the sinful nature is completely and radically rebellious against God and what God perceives as good, such as His law, since the sinful nature affects completely the will of the sinner who is its slave, desires and constrains the sinner to sin all the more against what is really good, what God considers good, even His law, which is good.

    Let us remember and never forget that mankind through Adam and Eve’s rebellion has inherited a sinful nature that enslaves completely those who have it, everybody that is. This is because mankind in a state of spiritual deadness, separation from God and His life and goodness cannot understand, discern, what is truly good and what is truly evil the way God sees it.

    In fact, we have seen several times that being completely enslaved by sin mankind calls what God calls good evil and what God considers evil good and also mankind desires always to be rebellious against God. This is what happened when sinful man got to have the knowledge of good and evil, indeed Satan in a way was right when he said to Eve,

    Genesis 3:5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

    The only problem with this is that Satan did not explain the consequences of knowing good and evil with a sinful nature, separated from God and so mankind did become like God, but how? Becoming themselves their own little gods, living in rebellion and disobedience to and independence from God, determining for themselves enslaved by a sinful nature a nature always bent on rebellion against God to decide what is good and what is evil according to their own desires and their own sinful nature. Nature that is always in conflict with what God truly considers good and what God truly considers evil.

    Thus, this is what Isaiah says in [Isaiah 5:20-24].

    This my friends is not only transgression to all of God’s law but always transgressing the first commandment, which is not to have any other gods besides God Himself, that is idolatry. This is how every single person in the world is idolatrous because this is man’s basic problem, this is the sinful nature’s problem.

    This is how the law, which is good, renders sin more sinful by provoking the sinful nature to disobey God’s law and to make sin to be even more desirable to commit, such as Paul says But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.

    It’s sin in man’s nature that is producing death not the law.

    Paul continuing says For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.

    Here Paul confirms what we have also been saying in the comments of the past verses. The law is spiritual. What does this mean?

    It means that the law cannot be observed,obeyed by a carnal person, which is in fact what Paul is saying in this section of the verse. The law can be obeyed only by those in whose new heart has been re-written the law.

    We must understand that this is exactly what Jesus and the Scripture has been teaching us until now. A carnal man, sold under sin is a not a spiritual person, not a born again person, not a new creature. This is also why Paul had mentioned previously that we must serve God in the newness of the Spirit and not the oldness of the letter. A person who is a slave to sin, in other words sold under sin, cannot obey the law because the law is a spiritual thing.

    Paul himself mentioned that the natural man cannot understand nor practice the things that are spiritual.

    1 Corinthians 2:13-14These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

    A spiritual man on the other hand has been regenerated, made into a new spiritual creation that is able both to receive, know and practice spiritual things. It is obvious even as we look at it from a logical stand point. A natural, carnal person, sold under sin and a slave to sin by a sinful nature, can only receive that which its nature desires and allows him to understand and receive, namely sin, rebellion and disobedience.

    A spiritual person, a new creation, regenerated by God with a new divine nature on the other hand can, in fact as this last passage claims, understand, know and practice spiritual things as they are taught by the Holy Spirit Himself and understood spiritually with a new heart and a new spirit.

    We see once again that this truth is exposed in,

    Ezekiel 36:25-27 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

    It is also important understand the depth of what this passage is saying in the light of all that we have previously seen. We can see that at the end of verse 25 the Lord is saying that he would cleanse those whom He will regenerate form all their idols. Do you remember what we had said previously? Who is the greatest idol we worship? Well, if you remember we said that all of the transgressions to every commandment of God’s law is idolatry. Why? Because we declare ourselves gods by doing as we please. So we are the greatest idol we worship in the place of God. When the Lord regenerates us, however, we confess that He is Lord, He rightly receives the lordship He deserves and we cease to want to commit idolatry, in other words to do as we please independently from God and His law.

    This is the requirement to be able to practice God’s law, not in order to receive justification through the practice of the law that we have in and through Christ, rather to obey God from the heart, a new heart and a new spirit, with the Spirit of God working in the life of the regenerated person that will cause the spiritual person to walk in the word of God, namely His statutes and His judgments.

    The law of God will be therefore re-written on the new heart of the spiritual person, this by the way is the circumcision of the heart described also in,

    Romans 2:29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God. See also [Colossians 2:11-13].

    In fact, in Jeremiah 31:33 it says, But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

    Not only this is the covenant made with the house of Israel, this is the description of the New Covenant of which are part also all other people of the world.

    This passage says that God would put His law in the mind and write it on the heart of the regenerated, born again, spiritual person.

    So that in essence the law of God was first written on the tablets of the stoney heart of the carnal man, sold under sin [Romans 2:14-15].

    This is what I believe the representation of the stone tablets upon which the commandments were written also represent, in other words, the stoney heart of man [Ezekiel 36:26],[Matthew 13:19-22].

    However, on a stoney heart the law is written but out of such it cannot be observed, the law cannot be obeyed by a heart of stone.

    Now, when the Lord changes the heart of man, He gives him a new heart, a heart of flesh and He writes upon this new heart His law.

    Then at this point the law can be obeyed from the new heart, in love toward God, not to seek any longer justification from obeying the law, rather out of faith in Christ, obedience to His law because of love for Him who loved us first [John 14:21-24], [1 John 4:7-19], [1 John 5:1-3], all this is done through the Spirit of God.

    This is the work of the Spirit in regeneration, and not the human self righteous justice sought through the law, as the legalistic Jews and the religious, that even today, were and are attempting to still do while remaining carnal and sold under sin.

    This is Paul’s argument we find written also in,

    2 Corinthians 3:2-9 You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. ([Ezekiel 36:25-27],[Jeremiah 31:33]) 4 And we have such trust through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? 9 For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.

    2 Corinthians 3:17-18 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

    Such things the law cannot do, only the Spirit can do, making us into spiritual persons who want to, desire to obey God’s law out of love for Him. Setting us free from sin and the law so that through the Spirit we are transformed by the word of God also into the image of Christ. This the law alone cannot do.

    This is why the law is spiritual and can only be understood spiritually. This is why the Pharisees, teachers of the law and scribes could not comprehend the true spirit of the law nor could they obey the law the way God had intended it to be, they were carnal and sold under sin while the law is spiritual intended for the spiritual man.

    These two realities are incompatible one with another.

    In fact, that is also what Paul was saying in,

    1 Timothy 1:7-11 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm. 8 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.

    The law is not made for a righteous person, why? We did already explain this beforehand, however suffices to say, that a righteous person is not made righteous by the law or the observance of it, rather by the Spirit of God, by God’s grace through faith in Christ whom, as we have already seen, has fulfilled God’s law in behalf of all those who are in Him [Romans 8:1-4] and has delivered the elect of God from the curse that the law had pronounced upon the transgressors, namely all human beings, sold under sin [Colossians 2:13-15].

    Therefore, now we who are in Christ are no longer carnal or sold under sin rather we are new creations by the Spirit of God in whose hearts and minds the law of God has been re-written. This was true about Paul also.

    Romans VII Verses XV to XXV

    15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

    It becomes obvious as we read the next ten verses that Paul now has changed position in his exposition of the relationship between the law and himself, or anybody else for that matter.

    It seems evident that after explaining the relationship between the believer and sin in chapter 6, claiming the victory of the believer over sin, and the fact that we are now under grace and not under sin or the law, also in chapter 6.

    After eliminating the power of sin chapter 6 and now in the first part of chapter 7 having also eliminated the curse of the law in the believer’s life one last question has to remain imbedded into the mind of the believer. In fact, it is a question I believe every born again person at one point or the other has had to ask themselves.

    If we are born again, spiritual men and women, if we are dead to sin and made alive to serve God in righteousness and holiness, if we are no longer slaves to sin’s power, if we have a new nature and the old one has passed away, if the we also died in Christ to the demands and curse of the law and we have been set free from all this as well, why in the world do we still sin?

    Paul now does not ask the direct question, why do we then still sin? Rather he gives us a practical illustration of his feeling regarding the question, his behavior in the matter so that though this illustration he explains exactly what is happening in the life of a born again believer who has real victory over sin and over the law but that for some reason often, too often still acts contrary to the demands of God’s law and His word.

    Paul begins saying in fact,

    15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.

    Paul is now saying that he is asking himself, as well as we all do, I do not understand what I am doing now. Why is it that that which I desire to do I do not practice and that which I hate I do? Why do I still sin?

    So when I sin still, when I do what I hate and I do not do what I want to do, I do agree that the law is good. This is also the first step to repentance and confession of sin, as we see described in [1 John 1:9].

    When I confess, in Greek to agree with, that which I am doing is not good, sin, transgression of God’s law, I agree that the law of God is good.

    Now here we must specify what we have been saying all along that all those who are still natural, carnal men and women do not ever desire to do what God requires nor do they hate transgressing God’s law. So this description that Paul is giving us here cannot be attached strictly to him prior to his conversion, rather after. This fact Paul is describing here is also the point he was making in

    Galatians 5:16-18 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

    This will also be a strong point in what Paul is saying also in the next verses and the next chapter as well and we will talk more about this concept. Here in Galatians he is talking to believers, born again Christians. So what does he mean then by not fulfilling the lust of the flesh. What flesh is he talking about? The sinful nature or something else? Well remember that the born again, regenerated person, does not have the sinful nature any longer, we studied this in chapter 6. What does he means then? Well, this is exactly the point Paul is making in this section of chapter 7. He will, in fact, have to explain in better detail why this occurs.

    Paul explains it like this now, it is not I, he says, that sins but sin that dwells in me. Is Paul evading the responsibility of sinning?

    No! Not at all! The concept I believe he is making by saying this is the same described for us in

    1 John 3:9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

    This is in effect what Paul is saying the spiritual man, he who has been born of God does not sin, does not want to sin, wants to obey God’s law, does not live in an unbroken pattern of sinfulness as the old self with the sinful nature did, yet we still sin what in the world does this mean?

    Paul tells us why sin that is in us causes us still to sin. But wait a minute, did we not say that the believer died to sin? Did we not say that the sinful nature, the old man died, was crucified with Christ? Where is sin dwelling in me now?

    Paul now tells us where sin is.

    17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.

    You see there are still two beings alive in the born again believer or should we say two parts to the same being.

    Our old man is dead, our sinful nature and a new creation is born, the spiritual man but the problem is that our flesh, this time meaning our natural body, the body we use to live in this world is not spiritual but is still natural, earthly, unredeemed.

    God for now redeemed our inner man, our spirit, not our body. Our natural body however is not to be confounded with our sinful nature also called flesh in the Bible.

    We have seen even previously that the unredeemed part of our being, our earthly bodies, will have to undergo a transformation in the future, at Jesus’ return, either by resurrection transformation or through live transformation at His coming.

    This is confirmed and described for us in [1 Corinthians 15:42-53].

    So until this transformation has taken place the body, our natural body is, as the word of God tells us, corrupt. Why?

    Sin corrupted it, our sinful nature although now destroyed, dead, crucified with Christ, has corrupted our flesh as well, our earthly body.

    This is why the Bible tells us that the spiritual man has to subject the natural body to be obedient to the Spirit. This is something we must do as spiritual men and women in obedience to the word of God and the Spirit.

    That is what Paul is saying in [Galatians 5:16-18] and what he did tell us in

    Romans 6:12-14 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

    Sin is alive in the body although the sinful nature is dead, crucified with Christ. This means that the new man does not have to sin any longer where as before we had no choice, we had to, we wanted to.

    Now this is no longer true, however, now who we yield to we will obey, now we have a free choice, we are no longer slaves to the power of sin and yet there is as Paul puts it another law present in us, the law of sin in the body.

    This is the evil within the regenerated believer, however the good news in regard to this new law of sin as we will see is twofold, we can overcome it in two ways and we will see how ahead.

    Now Paul says that in his flesh, his body, not his nature at this point, For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells.

    Nothing good dwells in the body, evil, sin is in the unredeemed body, this is why we still sin even as believers. When we yield to the desires of the body, corrupted and programmed by the sinful nature we sin.

    That he is talking about his body however and not his sinful nature is evident by two things.

    The first thing by which we know he is speaking of the body and not the sinful nature is the context of the passage in which Paul is speaking. He speaking about the body, see the following verses of this chapter where it becomes evident he is speaking of the unredeemed body of the believer and not the sinful nature.

    Romans 7:21-24 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

    You see how he distinguishes between the two, the spiritual man and the natural man. This is the ongoing battle in the life of the believer, ongoing to the day of our death and subsequent resurrection or transformation of the living earthly bodies of the believers at the resurrection of the believers.

    The second reason that we know that Paul is speaking about the body and not the sinful nature is the fact that in Romans 6 , see comments there, he already talked about the fact that the believer has been set free from the power, the slavery of sin, the believer died to sin, the old man has passed away, all things have become new.

    We see that Paul in the beginning of the chapter is speaking about the unredeemed man using himself and the law as examples. Now, however, he raising the issue of why it is that being that we who are born again have died to sin’s power, are set free from the slavery and the power of the sinful nature, have been set free from the curse and demands of the law, and still we sin.

    The language is pretty clear here, this does describe us all, born again believers, new creations, who desire to do God’s will but often find ourselves still transgressing His law. We love God’s law and His word but we still at times perform that which we hate and the good we wish to do we do not do.

    Romans 7:18-22 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.

    How many times we have asked ourselves this question? Why do I still go on sinning? Why is it that I desire to do God’s will all the time but so often I find myself doing the opposite. This does grieve us, often it even gets us to question whether or not we are truly saved. It upsets us, we have this ongoing battle with the evil that is still present within.

    To have this battle in us is a good thing. Do you remember before you knew God? Before you were born again did you at all question why you sinned? Did it bother you to sin? Did you have pleasure in the things of God? Where you interested at all in serving God and obeying His law? There was no battle with sin was there? We sinned and we did not even think about it, we loved to sin, and except for a little voice within, our conscience that accused us which we buried, silenced with even more sinful behavior [Romans 1:18-19], we sinned without caring at all if we transgressed God’s law.

    Now, however, this is not so any longer. Now there is a struggle, there is a continuous battle going on, the battle is the flesh, the sin in the body that wages war against the Spirit so that we do not do the things we want to.

    Galatians 5:16-18 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

    It is good to have this ongoing battle in our life because when there is a battle it means that we are spiritually alive. Those who do not have this battle ongoing in their life are not spiritually alive as there is no need to battle sin when still under its power and when it is still desired to be practiced. No battle no life, no battle no Spirit.

    Now let’s take the entire passage from Romans 7:20 to 24

    Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

    Let’s break this passage down and see what Paul is saying exactly.

    Paul just finished saying verse 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.

    Then in the last part of verse 20 he says this it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

    What is Paul saying here? Is he denying personal responsibility of sinning? No that cannot be, because if he were doing so he would be contradicting other Scriptures that says this,

    1 John 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

    So no, Paul is not saying he is not sinning, it is he who is sinning, it is however not the new man, the inward man, the born again person that sins, it’s the unredeemed body that conceives sin and if we do not make our body subjected to the Spirit and our inner new man we will sin, why?

    If we do not renew our mind in the word of God, we will give in to the desires and demands of the body which is still unredeemed and still contains sin because it was programmed by the sinful nature to sin and because it is the part of us that is still connected to the earth, to the world [Romans 12:1-2].

    That is why even though we will not die spiritually because the spiritual man is redeemed, born again, most likely the majority of believers will still die physically, that is why the body still gets sick, why there is disease, because the natural, earthly body is still corrupted by the sin it contains, although we already died to the power of sin, the sinful nature and also that which gave sin it’s strength the law, the body is still alive and still desires to sin.

    The Bible tells us that the believer’s natural body sown in death and corruption will be raised again in glory, a spiritual body, same kind of body Jesus has. The bodies of those believers who will still be alive at the coming of Jesus, will not die but will be transformed into new spiritual bodies. This is the final glorification and eternal state of the believers, this is when God completes our salvation.

    However, it is Paul that is sinning, just it is not the inner man Paul but the outer man Paul but the inner man Paul is responsible for what the outer man Paul does. This is very clear from what Paul had already said in

    Romans 6:12-14 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members (bodies) as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

    God hold us responsible for the sin we commit in our bodies, it is us who sin, not anybody else. We have the responsibility as we just read to not let sin reign in our mortal bodies and not to present our bodies as instruments of unrighteousness rather to subjugate them to the new creation and the Spirit of God. This is the same concept Paul describes for us in [Romans 12:1-2].

    We see this responsibility and concept evident also in other verses we previously studied, such as

    [Romans 6:1-2],[Romans 6:15-16].

    Even here we see that the body Paul is talking about is the mortal, earthly body. Basically the new spiritual man is trapped in the old earthly body which contains sin. The new born again man is a prisoner, if we may want to use that term, chained to the rotting corpse of the earthly body which still contains sin and evil.

    However, the new man, the born again person given power by the Holy Spirit now can overcome and subjugate the flesh, the natural body because the power of sin and the strength of the law are eliminated.

    We are called to obey the Spirit and the word of God with our bodies, because even our body now no longer belongs to us but it has been bought by God awaiting transformation, glorification in the resurrection at Christ’s coming

    [1 Corinthians 15:42-53]

    1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

    By the way not only the born again being, our spiritual man is chained to our body and lives in it as a tent [2 Corinthians 5:1-4],[2 Peter 2:13-14] but the body is, however, the temple of the Holy Spirit, where the Spirit of God dwells, how much more then are we responsible not to allow sin to reign, to prevail in our bodies?!

    1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

    Here Paul is speaking of physical destruction not eternal punishment, look at the context in the previous verses and see also  [1 Corinthians 11:30-32].

    The wages of sin are what? Death, so then the spiritual man because he is redeemed in Christ, is saved from eternal death for that is the part of us that is eternal and the spiritual man is the one that is born of God’s seed, he cannot sin any longer, in the sense that it is that part of us that Paul is also describing in this section of chapter 7, I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind

    25 I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

    However, the body who still sins and is still responsible for the sin it practice has to be then subjected to the physical death, as we said the wages of sin are death. The sins of the born again believer have been forgiven, all of them so that the spiritual man will live forever. The body that is tied to this present world that will be destroyed, that is cursed, has to die to be transformed and it dies because of the sin that is still present within.

    It definitely is us who sin, and we are responsible of that sin done in the flesh, the body that is. However, the inward man, the born again man delights in the law of God. The inward man desires to obey the law of God and does obey it when he or she walks by faith and obedience to God’s word and yields to the Holy Spirit’s will.

    However, the desire and the ability to do God’s word now exist in the mind of the spiritual person,the born again person, where as before there was no desire and no ability to obey God because we were completely enslaved by the power of sin of our nature and our bodies.

    Yes it is true, where as before in our mind we never served God rather we served sin and therefore commanded our bodies to sin with a mind that was utterly controlled by the sinful nature, now in our mind we long and desire to serve God and have the power of the Holy Spirit to obey those new impulses and desires. Now as we have been set free from the slavery and power of sin we do have a real choice as to who we will yield obedience to, God or the desires of the flesh, the body in this case, in which body evil, namely sin still dwells.

    This is true free will, now that we are redeemed we really have it, before we had it but only partially because it was entirely corrupted and enslaved by sin and the uncontrollable desire to sin so that we always chose to sin neither could we choose not to. Now instead we have a completely free will because it is not under the complete control of sin rather we can choose whose control it will be under, either sin present in our body or the Holy Spirit within.

    We still do sin but do we have to? No we do not. While when we were still sinners, in other words had a sinful nature, we not only had to sin we wanted to sin, had the overwhelming desire to do nothing but sin. Now we have other desires and other propensities, now we are free to choose but we do not have to sin and when we do we have forgiveness by God’s grace. That is what John says in

    1 John 2:1-2 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

    Paul now continues saying Romans 7:24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

    This is the believers predicament now that our inward man, the new creation is spiritually alive it dwells within a body, a shell, the Bible call it a tent. The problem with this as we have seen in the text is the following, in this earthly body sin still dwells. Sin does not have the power and the dominion it once had through the sinful nature, nevertheless it still exists as Paul said, there is yet another law in the body, sin, evil is still present. So that Paul still realizes that the body is still wretched because of sin. There are two men living now in one being, actually there are three persons living in our being, the body which is the last vestiges of what ties us to sin, to the world, the new spiritual creation, our spiritual being, Paul calls the inward man, and the Holy Spirit who dwells within.

    (This is why a true born again believer cannot be possessed by a demon, because within the born again believer dwells the presence of God through the Holy Spirit and demons and God cannot dwell in the same place.)

    However, a person can be oppressed because the body can be affected by demonic activity as we all as a mind that is not being renewed by the word of God or living in disobedience to God can be affected negatively by the lies and influence of the enemy, this is why believers can be depressed and have all kinds of psychological disorders as well.

    So, Paul says, what a wretched man I am, meaning the physical man, the body, is wretched, is still corrupt because of sin which dwells within it.

    Paul considers the body, the physical body, a body of death and why does Paul in the previous verse say that he is brought captive, prisoner in other words, to the law of sin in the body? In realty it is so, the body is the only part of the believer’s being that is still subject to death and corruption because of sin within and that keeps the spiritual man in a certain type of captivity or prison.

    This is why in a certain sense physical death is a liberation for the spiritual man, the new spiritual being, the inward man. Paul, in fact, says this in

    2 Corinthians 5:1-4 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.

    Why does Paul use these expressions?

    It seems that back in Paul’s day as some kind of death penalty, there was a certain macabre custom, to chain a dead body to a prisoner so as the dead body would decay through time the decaying juices filled with bacteria would begin to corrode and corrupt the alive person chained to this corpse and eventually in time the alive person would die as well. Not only but this decaying body would also be a weighty encumbrance difficult to carry around, causing pain, distress and agony while giving off foul odor and making one’s living miserable. A real believer is frustrated, is often desperate because of the sin that is still present within his or her life.

    Hence, we can certainly see that this is in line with the suffering language we read in the previous passage of

    2 Corinthians 5: 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.

    Therefore, Paul asks who can deliver us from this body of death? Who can deliver us from this weight, this pain and distress of sin in the lives of people who hate this struggle with sin because they hate sin’s presence, those who want to obey God’s word but often are tripped up by this corpse they are carting around?

    25 I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

    Paul says I thank God! God is once again the solution to this problem, through Jesus Christ our Lord we not only thank God but we thank God we have deliverance from this body of death through and by Jesus Christ.

    God through Jesus Christ has delivered from every thing we were enslaved by.

    Jesus delivered from:

    The sinful nature and therefore the power of sin.

    Death, spiritual and also physical as we will be resurrected and changed also physically.

    The curse and the demands of the Law.

    The world.

    Satan and his power.

    Now the flesh, the body’s sinful desires.

    Jesus did all this for us who believed in His name. How did Jesus deliver us from the sin of the body?

    Jesus through His Spirit gives us the strength and power to actually win the temptations and not to commit sin when we yield to Him in obedience. Jesus already gave us victory by actually taking away the sin from us. How many sinful behaviors and how many sins Jesus already took away from out life, many, very many.

    Jesus also gives us victory by not counting sins and their guilt against us any longer, this is the victory in our life, we have forgiveness for when we fall and fail. This brings us comfort and strength. Certainly our sins we commit in the body will in some way bring about from God some kind of correction, discipline, even harsh at times, this is not judgment but correction and discipline done for our good. This discipline and correction is designed to bring about more righteousness and holiness and actually strengthen us and encourage us [Hebrews 12:5-13]. Our flesh, our body can be judged by God even severely not our inward man because our inward man is born of God, redeemed and justified.

    1 Corinthians 11:29-32 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

    You see, that is the point in the believers’ life, the victory over the sin is still present. We could be ill or even die physically, because of the sins committed in the flesh, however we do not sustain the same type of judgment and condemnation the world will suffer. If we judged ourselves Paul says,in other words, if we repented and stopped the sinning in the body we would not be judged at all, but when we are judged by God, Paul specifies now, we are not condemned but chastened by the Lord, so that we are not condemned with the world. This passage is a passage that assures us of not being condemned, it assures us of the permanency of our salvation. We could be and we will be chastened even severely with illness and even physical death if God deems it necessary, but we will not be condemned with the world. Our destiny will remain eternal life with God,

    see also [1 Corinthians 5:4-5].

    Jesus delivers us from this body of death, through forgiveness of sin when we fail and sin. Jesus delivers us from the discouragement of having to deal with the evil and the sin still present in our bodies by strengthening us and encouraging us through discipline and forgiveness. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. This is our victory even over the sin committed in the body because we have been set free from the law of sin and death still present in the body by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

    So, in fact, this is exactly how the next chapter begins, is it not ?

    Romans 8:1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.