Romans 7:1-13- The Law Defined
Explanation- As we move to our next section, Paul seeks to define further the relationship that the believer now has with the Law. In a masterful way, Paul compares our relationship to the Law with that of a woman whose husband has died. No longer is this woman bound by the same laws that she was when her husband was living, but upon his death, she has been freed from any marital obligation to this man and is able to pursue another husband if she should so choose. So first, Paul gives an example of a slave/master relationship in chapter six, and now he is giving the example of a husband/wife relationship. What this illustrates is that now, having been freed from the law, we are able to pursue a new ‘husband’ without hindrance. At one time, we were very much alive to the law and therefore bound to it like a woman is to her husband while he lives. Once the free gift came and we experienced the death of Christ as having been credited to our account, we were no longer bound to the law as we once were. The man who has died is freed from the Law, so we who have died with Christ are no longer subject to it either. In our time of living in the flesh, our sinful desires were aroused by the Law. Rather than seeking deliverance from sin upon introduction to the Law, we dove headfirst into all kinds of debauchery. Death was the fruit of our lives and every act was one of treason against the righteous God. When the grace of Christ entered our lives, we were at once released from the captivity of the Law’s demands and are now free to serve God in Spirit and not by keeping the works of the Law, which no man can do.
Shall we say then that the Law is sin because it produces death in me? God forbid! The Law’s purpose is to reveal the sin that is already present within our hearts. How would I have known what it is to covet if the Law did not say, ‘Thou shalt not covet…’ (Ex. 20:17). It is sin that takes hold of the commandment and creates in me a desire to do the opposite of what it prescribes. Without God’s Law being given, sin is dead, for it has nothing to disobey. At one time, Paul goes on to say; I was, ‘alive apart from the law.’ As we know, death reigned from Adam to Moses (Rom. 5:14), even when there was no law. Death was the curse placed on mankind due to the disobedience of Adam. So the consequence of sin has always been present, but the knowledge of sin has not. But when the Law, which promises life to those who obey it fully, came it met with the sin already present in the human heart and produced rebellion against what was written. It is not the Law that is evil, for the Law is the holy, righteous, and just standard by which God Himself adheres, and in turn, expects from His creation. The problem is not with the Law; the problem is with sin in the human heart. This is why the righteous must live by faith.
Application- Sin is the root cause of all our misery. We can never blame God or the Law for the evil that we do because it is God’s perfect Law that brings to light our evil. The command, in a sense, is neutral; it has no power in itself to save or condemn me. The Law confronts what is already present in my heart and exposes it for what it is; lack of conformity to the will of God. Therefore, God and the Law are above reproach, and I alone am to blame. As we consider this, let it fill us with gratitude that God has provided a way of escape from the Law’s demands by sending Christ to fulfill it perfectly. Where we were held in bondage under sin because of the light of the Law, Christ was perfectly adherent to all of its requirements, and in His death has passed His obedience on to us. In the sight of God, we now live as though we have never sinned. The Father looks upon us and sees the work of the Son credited to our account. This is why we can have such great hope and confidence before the throne of God, namely because we come into His presence wearing the gifted robes of the Son!