The Book of Romans – Jesus Won

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“I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.  I love God’s law with all my heart.  But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.  Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So, you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.” Romans 7:21-25

This scripture describes a man that is trying to be good and holy by their own efforts. Every time they lose the battle because they do not have any power over sin. Paul knows this well; he had tried for years to be good according to the law, but he always failed. Then on the road to Damascus a wonderful thing happened to Paul, Jesus Christ came into his life. He found where the power would come from for the victory over sin and death. “He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. and the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!  Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:4-6) Paul answered the call to follow Jesus and his life changed after that moment.

The legalist says, “Obey the law and you will do good and live a good life.” But the law only reveals and arouses sin, showing how sinful we are. It is impossible for us to obey the law because we have a sinful nature that rebels against the law. Even if I think I have done good, I know that evil is present. The law is good, but by nature, I am bad. The law cannot enable us to do good. The great news is, Jesus won! Now we can have the power through Jesus Christ to live the life that God planned for us.

The Book of Romans – We are Sinners

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“And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.  But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.” Romans 7:18-20

When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, we all became sinners. We blame them sometimes for their sin and disobedience, but if it had not been them it would have been someone else. This was God’s plan for His creation. He knew that Adam and Eve were going to sin. God has a plan. There are no surprises with God. He knows the future.

Paul was a sinner just like we all are. Paul’s problem was not the lack of desire; he wanted to do what was right. His problem was not lack of knowledge; he knew what the right thing to do was. His problem was the lack of power. He lacked power because the law provides no power. The law says, here are the rules and you better keep them. But it gives us no power for keeping them. Paul is not denying his responsibility as a sinner. He recognizes that as a he sins; he acts against his nature as a new man in Jesus Christ. A Christian must own up to his sin, yet realize that the impulse to sin does not come from who we really are in Jesus Christ. Anyone who tries to do good is aware of this struggle. We never know how hard it is to stop sinning until we try. No man knows how bad he is until he tries to be good.

The Book of Romans – The Law is Spiritual

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“So, the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.  But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So, I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.” Romans 7:14-17

The character of the law is described in four words, holy, just, good and spiritual. That the law is holy and just nobody can deny, because it came from a holy God who is perfectly just in all that He says and does. The law is good. It reveals God’s holiness to us and helps us see that we need a Savior.

What does it mean that the law is spiritual? It means that the law deals with the inner man, the spiritual part of man. When we deal with the inner man, our actions change. The law cannot change the outer man unless we first change our inner man. Paul is telling us that we are under the bondage of sin and the law cannot help him out. He is like a man arrested for a crime and thrown in jail. The law will only help him if he is innocent, but Paul knows that he is guilty and that the law argues against him, not for him. Paul’s problem is not lack of desire; he wants to do what is right. Paul’s problem is not lack of knowledge, he has knowledge; he knows what the right thing is. His problem is he has no power. He lacks the power because the law provides no power. Paul accepts responsibility for his sins. He knows that he needs the power in his life if he is going to be free from sin. The start to a walk with Jesus is that we accept our sinful nature and repent of our sin. When we do this the power will come from Jesus Christ.

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul. And you must always obey the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)

“Therefore, change your hearts[a] and stop being stubborn.” (Deuteronomy 10:16)

The Book of Romans – Sin causes Death

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“But how can that be? Did the law, which is good, cause my death? Of course not! Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation to death. So, we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God’s good commands for its own evil purposes.” Romans 7:13

The law exposes and magnifies sin.  Though the law provokes our sin nature, this can be used for good because it more dramatically exposes our deep sinfulness. After all, if sin can use something as good as the law to its advantage in promoting evil, it shows how evil sin is. We need sin to appear as sin, because it always wants to hide in us and conceal its true depths and strength. “This is one of the most deplorable results of sin. It injures us most by taking from us the capacity to know how much we are injured. It undermines the man’s constitution, and yet leads him to boast of unfailing health; it beggars him, and tells him he is rich; it strips him, and makes him glory in his fancied robes.” (Spurgeon) “The law, therefore, is the grand instrument in the hands of a faithful minister, to alarm and awaken sinners.” (Clarke) So that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful: Sin “becomes more sinful” in light of the law in two ways. First, sin becomes exceedingly sinful in contrast to the law. Second, sin becomes exceedingly sinful because the law provokes its evil nature. The law is not what causes death, it is sin that causes death. When we say that there is no sin and reject the law, we go further and further into the trap of sin and it leads to death not just physical death, but spiritual death. Then it leads to eternal death. 

The Book of Romans – The Law is Holy

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“At one time I lived without understanding the law. But when I learned the command not to covet, for instance, the power of sin came to life, and I died. So I discovered that the law’s commands, which were supposed to bring life, brought spiritual death instead. Sin took advantage of those commands and deceived me; it used the commands to kill me. But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.” Romans 7:9-12

In this verse we see Paul saying that he does not understand the law. This was a man that spent his time studying the law and at one time he just knew that the law was the only way to God. He was very zealous for the law. When Jesus touched his life, Paul started to understand the true nature of the law. He understood why God has the law and we need to understand this also.

Sin corrupts the law and defeats its purpose of giving life, once the law is corrupted by sin, it brings death. It isn’t the law that deceives us, but it is sin that uses the law as an occasion for rebellion. This is why Jesus said, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) The truth makes us free from the deception of sin. Sin when followed, leads to death, not life. One of Satan’s greatest deceptions is to get us to think of sin as something good that an unpleasant God wants to deprive us of. When God warns us away from sin, He warns us away from something that kills us.

The law is holy. Paul understands how someone might take him as saying he is against the law, but he isn’t at all. It is true that we must die to sin and we must die to the law. But that should not be taken to mean that Paul believes that sin and the law is in the same basket. The problem is in us, not in the law. Sin corrupts the work or effect of the law, so we must die to both.

The Book of Romans – Coveting

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“Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.” But sin used this command to arouse all kinds of covetous desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power.” Romans 7:7-8

The law is a mirror that shows us how sinful we are. Paul does not use murder, stealing, or adultery in his discussion, he used coveting. Coveting means to desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of others: to covet another’s property. to wish for, especially eagerly. This is the last of the Ten Commandments, and it differs from the other nine in that this commandment is an inner attitude, not an outward action. Covetousness leads to breaking the other commandments. It is a sin that most of us never recognize in our own lives, but God’s law reveals it.

Something in human nature wants to rebel whenever a law is given. Have you ever watched as someone passes by a sign that says, do not touch? Most people will touch. Instruct a child not to go near the water and just where do they go first, near the water. Why?  “For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.” (Romans 8:7) Believers who try to live by rules and regulations discover that their legalistic system only arouses more sin and creates problems. Legalism does not make people more spiritual; it makes them more sinful. Because the law arouses sin in our nature.

“For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power.  But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:56-57)

The Book of Romans – Fruits of the Spirit

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“When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds, resulting in death. But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.” Romans 7:5-6

What stirred up our sinful passions to drive us toward sin? Paul says it was, in fact, the law. While this seems like a controversial claim, Paul will later show how the law both made us aware of sin and increased our appetite for it. Again, Paul insists, the result would be the same: death. The “fruit” or outcome of sin-controlled living under the law is always and forever will be death. This is true both in the sense of the natural consequences of sin, and the eternal penalty of rejecting a perfectly holy God.

The day of our believing, is the day of being united to the Lord Jesus. We enter upon a life of dependence on him, and duty to him. Good works are from union with Christ; as the fruitfulness of the vine is the product of its being united to its roots; there is no fruit to God, till we are united to Christ. The law, and the greatest efforts of one under the law, still in the flesh, under the power of corrupt principles, cannot set the heart right with regard to the love of God, overcome worldly lusts, or give truth and sincerity in the inward parts, or anything that comes by the special sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit. Nothing more than a formal obedience to the outward letter of any precept can be performed by us, without the renewing, new-creating grace of the new covenant.

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.” (Galatians 5:22-26)

The Book of Romans – The Law has not been Abolished

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“So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God.” Romans 7:4

The apostle Peter admits that many of the things that his fellow apostle Paul wrote are hard to understand, and because of this, he warns, some people distort Paul’s writings to their own destruction. “And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction.  (2 Peter 3:15-16). This is still happening today. People—some sincerely and some not—are constantly twisting what Paul said in an attempt to show that the law of God is abolished.

 Paul writes that a Christian is “dead to the law” and is now “married to another.” From these statements, some conclude that God no longer requires a Christian to obey His laws. Unfortunately, those who force such an interpretation on this verse fail to understand the profound truths that the apostle is explaining.

 We have become dead in the eyes of the law! At the time of our baptism, the old man of sin was put to death and buried in a watery grave (Romans 6:4). Because Jesus Christ died in our stead, and we have been buried with Him in baptism, the law regards us as having died. Therefore, the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23) has been paid, and the law no longer has power to condemn us to death for our sins. The law is a mirror that reveals the inner man and shows us how sinful we are. This is the purpose of the law. “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” (James 1:22) The law is to give us a guideline to follow where we know God’s laws and we don’t only read the words of God, we must obey them. The law has not been abolished; it is still in effect today.

The Book of Romans – Death to Our Old Life

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“Now, dear brothers and sisters—you who are familiar with the law—don’t you know that the law applies only while a person is living? For example, when a woman marries, the law binds her to her husband as long as he is alive. But if he dies, the laws of marriage no longer apply to her. So while her husband is alive, she would be committing adultery if she married another man. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law and does not commit adultery when she remarries.” Romans 7:1-3

Paul continues to write about the law. The reason for this is that Paul was writing to the Jews that had been converted to Christianity. They were trained the same as Paul in that the law was the way to heaven. Paul wants the people to understand what happened when Jesus came and died for their sins. He wants people to understand that the law was good but we don’t need the law anymore, because we now have Jesus that is living in our hearts and He will direct our walk with Him. Jesus and the Holy Spirit will convict us of the things that we are doing wrong. Paul makes the point that death ends all obligations and contracts. A wife is no longer bound to her husband if he dies because death ends that contract. Our death with Jesus sets us free from the law. Our motivation and dynamic of our life does not come from the law, it comes from God’s grace through our union with Christ. The law did not die, because God’s law still rules over people. We died to the law, and it no longer has dominion over us. But we are not lawless; we are united to Christ, sharing His life, and walking in newness of life. In my life when I gave my life to Jesus Christ, I did not need the law, because I was dead to my old life and alive in Jesus Christ. I only wanted to do what was right in God’s eyes so that I would please my new best friend, Jesus Christ.

The Book of Romans – Freedom

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“Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:19-23

Whatever you yield to becomes your master. Before you were saved you were a slave to sin. Now that you belong to Christ, you are freed from the power of sin. Now that we have the freedom in Jesus we should be rejoicing in this freedom. I know I was as Paul says one of the chief of sinners. When I was in sin I worked at sinning because I was hunting something that would fill that hole in my heart that was made for God. When I found Jesus and gave my life to Him, I wanted to be a better servant to Jesus than I was to my sinning.

The unsaved person is free, free from righteousness. But his bondage to sin only leads him deeper into slavery so that it becomes harder and harder to do what is right. The Prodigal Son is an example of this. When he was at home, he decided he wanted his freedom, so he left home to find himself and enjoy life. But his rebellion only led him deeper into slavery. He was a slave to the wrong desires, then the slave of wrong deeds, and finally be became a literal slave when he took care of the pigs. He wanted to find himself but he only lost himself. What he thought was freedom turned out to be the worst kind of slavery. It was only when he returned home and yielded to his father that he found true freedom.

“So, he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20) God is waiting on us to return home to Him. This is when you find true freedom.