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23. Romans 7: “The Law of Sin”
Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ –Evening Service on 10/18/2012
(edited Nov 2019)
This little study could also be titled: “I Need to REMEMBER That I’m in Love!”
Verse 1: “ Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?”
Laws are for the living. . . If a hearse is speeding in route to a graveside funeral, let’s just say, and the Police pull it over. Well, they walk up and notice that a taillight is broken and then the smell of marijuana and cocaine comes pouring out the window as it’s rolling down. The Officer looks inside the hearse and notices one driver and one passenger in the front seat and a coffin in the back. WHO DOES HE GIVE THE TICKETS TO AND ARREST? Answer: Only the living! The corpse gets off – Scott Free!
I like God’s illustration better through the words of Paul:
Verses 2-3: “ For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.”
Christ came to this earth as a man on a specific mission. And part of that mission was to break up our relationship with the Law. Or, you might say, to break through the Laws of Religion to save us from it. And He accomplishes this through His Cross and Resurrection:
Verses 4-6: “ Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”
Escape from the power of the Law can never be achieved in the natural realm. We must die to this life and be born all over again to escape. But, wait a minute, aren’t religious ordinances, generally, a good thing?
Verse 7: “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.”
Yes, God’s Law is a good thing, a holy thing. BUT it is useless to me because I’m not a holy thing. Listen to how Paul says this about himself:
Verses 8-14: “ But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.”
And what’s true of Paul is surely true of you and me, beloved. Therefore, religion can save no one. Religious rules can’t save anyone.
Verses 15-17: “ For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.”
Don’t even think about starting a new religion either, please. It won’t work. No matter how lofty your ambitions might be. It will fail and fall. YOU, yourself, will eventually ruin it all! How? Again, we turn to Paul:
Verse 18: “ For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”
Your sinful flesh and mine accompany us to every church service and religious activity we attend. No wonder they can so easily become spiritual battlegrounds. Do you agree? Religion without the direct intervention of the living Father, Son and Holy Spirit is as empty as any other activity in this world. There is nothing wrong with proper religion, per say. The problem is us:
Verses 19-21: “ For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.”
The mind wants rules and may fully intend to obey them. But our flesh will NEVER surrender to the rules! Not ultimately. Not in this life.
Verses 22-24: “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 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. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
The cycles of religion and law depend on our own strength to work. “Just say no” soon becomes a trap, a deadly game that can’t be won.
But, within a believer, Christ busts through this cycle to make a way where there was none before. And it’s not a way of rules, laws, and religion. It is way of Love:
Verse 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.”
For Paul, or any of us, there is no ultimate victory until we fully latch onto and HOLD onto Christ. Onto what Jesus has done to prove His Love for each of us. Then we can declare WAR on our flesh as He did on His for us!
Victory is not to be found in just saying no to this or that sin. Victory is found when you say “YES!” to His Love.
Then the Cross becomes a wedding ring for you. And your cross (see Matthew 16:24-28) becomes His wedding ring, also.
Can a Born-Again Christian still sin? Definitely. But, win or lose, we declare war on our flesh daily, as He showed us. And our relationship with Christ covers all sin. Once we reach Heaven it will be as if our sins never even happened! So we, even now, can rightfully focus on Christ’s Love for us, not sin or religion. Praise God!