Romans 7 (1) Or do you not know, brothers--for I am speaking to those who know the law--that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? (2) For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. (3) Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. (4) Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. (5) For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. (6) But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. (7) What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, "You shall not covet." (8) But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. (9) I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. (10) The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. (11) For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. (12) So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. (13) Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. (14) For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. (15) For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. (16) Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. (17) So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (18) For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. (19) For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. (20) Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (21) So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. (22) For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, (23) but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (24) Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (25) Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.To bend these Scripture verses to their own corrupt purposes, however, faulty expositors must blind themselves to a large part of this passage. For example, vss. 1-3 provide plenty of fodder for those who search for Scriptural loopholes. Or do you not know, brothers--for I am speaking to those who know the law--that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
Though the phrases, she is released, she is free, and she is not an adulteress seem to hold out the promise of freedom from responsibility, the last half of vs. 4 specifies God's purpose in giving us the liberty of His grace: ... so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.
What a shame our Bible translators placed a chapter-break after vs. 25, giving the impression that it stands alone: So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. What fantastical permission Paul's confession seems to give the libertine to obey any carnal impulse. With chapter 8, however, its actual meaning becomes clear.
The beautiful promise of chapter 8 vs. 1, taken by itself, could encourage libertines to continue the tragic mockery they began through exploiting chapter 7 for their own evil purposes. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. That's plain as day, isn't it? that we can't be condemned for anything we do. But vs. 2 should begin to dash their hollow fantasy. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
Vss. 3 and 4 continue explaining, in simple terms, exactly why Jesus had to suffer such a ghastly death: For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
In a brief detour, we need to notice that chapter 6 vs. 12 explores the same redemptive theme: Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Alright, "sinner saved by grace," how would you distort that verse for permission to keep sinning?
Warping Scripture to grant us approval to wollow in the world's effluence, effectively blasphemes the God of our salvation, whose absolute holiness prevents Him from participating in any way with evil works. Chapter 6 states later in the clearest terms how wrong that idea is: What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
Returning to chapter 8, we continue reading all about the absurdity of construing Scripture to give us permission to live in the flesh, with vs. 8 summarizing the point: Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. If that needs explaning, are indicates a state of existence that, in this case, cannot please God.
Chapter 8 continues: You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. Try, for a moment, sticking with simple logic to interpret and apply this verse. Who is the "you" specified here? The answer is, those of you who have been reborn in the Spirit of God. If you are in God's church, that "you" is you!
Vss. 11-14 continue our simple logic: If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. The full implications of this verse deserve much deeper investigation. But for now we can see how the things of the spirit impact the flesh. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
So, what of this Christian liberty we keep hearing preached? Vs. 15 explains: For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" Contrast slavery with sonship. Both roles infer involuntary responsibility or duty. The first imposes external compulsion, the second, responsibility of birthright. The first, from being owned, the second, from owning. And unlike natural birthrights, becoming God's adopted child is your choice. The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (vs. 16 & 17)
How likely is it, then, that those for whom Jesus died to redeem from sin, should continue living in sin? According to God's word, that is entirely unlikely.
Do our fleshly lusts so easily deceive us, that we continue "hedging our bets" by participating in religious activities, while the balance of our life shouts self-indulgence? The liberty we have in Christ is not freedom to sin, but freedom to live in a way we never could have even conceived without Him: And that way is holiness!