In Romans 1 and 2 Paul concludes that God’s wrath is against all of sinful humanity, Jews and Gentiles alike. Romans 3 and 4 Paul concludes that God’s grace benefits all humanity, Jews and Gentiles alike. Romans 5 unifies us under peace and righteousness with God through work and life of Jesus. Romans 6 gives us a reason to not sin. The person that lived in opposition to God has been immersed into Jesus. Romans 7 gives Christians a basis for our relationship with God.
Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? 2 For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. Romans 7
The law looks back to the Old Testament days when people viewed the commandments as a way to be accepted by God. But if the law is the basis for our relationship to God, then we are in real trouble. A quick reading through the Old Testament will give you a quick glimpse that we will never follow God’s rules. Just look at page 2 of the Bible. “Do not eat from the tree…”
Paul is building from Romans 6, if we are dead and raised to new life, then the way of serving God by a written rule book is no longer applicable. We are released from the law and the punishment associated with breaking it. In the same way, a woman is bound to her husband only as long as he lives, but if he dies she can remarry.
6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. 7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” Romans 7
There is still a basis for service toward God. That way is no longer through the Old Testament law, rather it is by the Spirit in our lives. God’s Spirit dwells in his followers. It is the presence of God that was present with Israel as it passed through the wilderness and filled the Temple. That presence now resides within us. That presence gives us a law and moves us toward Jesus. Jesus actually said the Spirit would lead us into all truth. A great phrase in the bible is, “stiff necked”. A horse that won’t turn to the right or the left, that ignores the reigns is called stiff necked. A Jew that did not obey the commands in the law was called stiff necked. What are you called if you disregard the pullings of the Spirit? Stiff necked. This is how we serve. We obey the commands of the Spirit.
Does this mean we should rip out the Old Testament from our Bibles? Oh no way. We learn so much about God and us. I grasp so much more of Christ-like faith and love by reading the Old Testament. It is critical to understand the value of the Old Testament. Are the laws bad? No. The laws can’t be bad. But we can be bad by not abiding by them. Sidenote: we will begin by looking at the Book of Jonah after Romans!
Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. Deut. 10:16
Going back to the law we see Moses using a metaphor based in the law. The Jews were asked to become circumsiced by God as a symbolic identifier of his people. Moses meditating on the scripture realized that physical circumcision did not cause us to follow God’s rules. He realized that ultimately heart change was needed.
10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. Romans 7
At Brethren of the Feast we set our focus on Jesus and not on the sin. This is why. By focusing on sin in our community groups you allow sin to impact everyone. Focusing not on the ailment, but the antidote keeps us rooted in Jesus. Very important. These commandments were intended to bring me closer in relationship with God. Yet, they only took me farther away. Remember the wages of sin is death. John Sailhammer says this in his NIV commentary, “The moment God’s will is made known, one has the occasion both to honor it in obedience or to rebel against it”.
15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. Romans 7
Paul can be a little confusing as he discusses this new reality. Ultimately, he wants us to understand that we have been immersed with Christ and we no longer are to go on sinning, yet we go on sinning. How do we explain this reality? Paul explains, that somehow the you that is immersed in Christ is being attacked by sin living inside of you. Inside of you is the Spirit and sin. They are at war in you members. You have a new reality and yet the defeated falling foe desires to pull you down to the depths. Do not let him!
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[d] a slave to the law of sin. Romans 7
What is Paul’s response to this truth? Oh how wicked I am. Yet God is there. Isn’t that true of our lives? I constantly fail him and yet he is there. Trust in that today. That no matter your circumstance, those that have put their trust in the God that created all things have nothing to fear, for God is near and is working even when we don’t see it.
We no longer live by the letter of the law rather through the Spirit in the realm of grace. Were you quick to hand out grace this last week or did you expect others to follow your law? What can we do to view our family and friends in the same way Jesus viewed us?
We are focused on the antidote and not the ailment. Discussing sin only further incites in our heart. Why do you find this true in your own heart? What does this tell us about the nature of Sin? How does meditating on God’s grace affect your view of others?
Do you notice a difference in your life when you are focused on Jesus? Why?
What is your response to being immersed in Christ and yet struggling in sin? Our view of Jesus is what impacts our response to Jesus. Do you talk to others about Jesus? Finding opportunities to talk to others about Jesus is scary, but should it be? If we really believe in this amazing grace, shouldn’t we tell others about it?
Paul wants us to understand how a relationship with God operates in light of Jesus. There is still much difficulty with this today. Is the basis for our relationship viewing the Old Testament has a series of tests that if we pass we make it to heaven? Or is the basis of our relationship Jesus? Paul understands that Jesus died that we might have a right relationship with God. Remember, the “righteous shall live by faith”.