In chapter 6 of Romans, we talked about how in Christ grace abounds! But that doesn't mean sin is inconsequential. Is there something wrong with the law then? No! The law is good. (vs 7 and 13). It is a common teaching in the modern church that we are not under the law anymore in the New Covenant. However, I'm afraid that Old Covenant and Old Testament are confused in people's minds (I'm still trying to stop equating the two in my thinking), because the Old Testament is just as authoritative as the New in teaching us the law of God. 7:1: "Or do you not know, brethren..., that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?"
Moving into chapter 7 now, we are going to study the misstep that can be taken in the opposite direction-- that law is the solution and "the stricter the Christian life, the more holy I am."
In the first part of the chapter, Paul uses a marriage analogy to help explain our relationship to the law. By the end of the chapter we will see that he is trying to get us to realize that there is not something wrong with the law at all, but something desperately wrong with me.
This analogy has many different interpretations and many ways to get side-tracked, but let's look at it. Read the the chapter a few times. It seriously took several weeks for this to "click" with me, but it makes so much sense now. There are 4 generally accepted views of who this man who is struggling in verses 14-25.
1) That he is an unregenerate man, totally lost and telling his story of confusion.
2) That he is an awakened to the truth, unregenerate man. Like Pilgrim at the beginning of Pilgrim's Progress. He's aware of his sins, struggling to do right, but he is not yet converted.
3) He is a regenerate man, but carnel and not victorious over any sins-- immature in his Christianity.
4) That this is a picture of the spiritually mature Christian's life as he does normal battles with sin, trying to emerge from the rock into a beautiful sculpture.
When we study these verses in context, it becomes pretty clear that since Paul has been talking to the regenerated, maturing man this whole time, he's also speaking about him here. Romans 7 is so applicable to us because it deals with anyone who is struggling with doing God's commands on his own. The rich young ruler. The Christian who has access to God, but is trying to live by the law alone from time to time. Although this does describe the struggle that believers can/do have, but this does not characterize the Christian! This is for those specific areas of problem that God deals with in a personal manner with us. This passage is describing the flesh rising up, resisting the command of God. If we try to deal with this with the law by making more rules for ourselves or setting higher "standards" or whatever, then we are going to get into trouble because this law is going to aggravate our flesh. We cannot do this alone.
Couple of things here:
- The law is impersonal. The law is good, but you cannot have a relationship with it. You can, however, have a relationship with the Law Giver.
- The law provides no power to us. Our flesh is weak. The power is in the gospel where righteousness is revealed.
- The law cannot remit it's own penalty. It is objective fact. It does not judge, but shows you exactly who you are.
But, the gospel provides Someone who paid our penalty for not keeping the law-- why would we want to put ourselves back under that? We have a Savior! We need to reckon ourselves dead to the law, reckon ourselves alive in Christ, and deal with life by the power of God.
Some applications from this overview of Chapter 7:
1) We are not to pitch a tent and camp out and say, "this is where I am" in our sin and not strive for better. Remember chapter 6: Sin cannot have dominion over us!
2) We can't be so self-deceived to think that the exciting, vibrant life described in the coming chapter 8 is going to be the totality of our Christian life, because we are still in the flesh. The law will aggravate that flesh. You know-- mom says "don't touch the wet paint" and the 2-year old immediately wants to, even if he didn't know it was wet.
The only way to escape this sinful flesh is to flee to the cross of Christ over, and over, and over. We need accountability, totally. More laws? Nope. We do not gain victory through regulation, but through the heart of the matter in Christ. "...For you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you."
Romans 7 is proving the powerlessness of the law to deliver me from the power of sin. More government laws, more standards in the homeschool community, more family rules that try to control the outer man are not the answer. Let's not try to fix ourselves with regulations-- let's turn to Him!
Eliza J dress with matching cardigan and belt: thredUp: $30
Shoes: Payless: $12
Headscarf: Leftover fabric :)