LAW DOES NOT
Few chapters in the Bible have been subjected to more different interpretations that this Chapter 7 of Romans. The main design of this chapter is to show the insufficiency of the Law to produce peace of mind in a troubled sinner. In Chapters 1-3 Paul showed that the Law was in-capable of producing Justification. In Chapter 6 he showed that Christians were freed from the Law as a matter of Obligation, but yet this freedom did not lead to a licentious life. Freedom is not license.
In this Chapter 7 Paul proceeds to illustrate the tendency of the Law on a man both in a state of nature and of grace; to show that its uniform effect in the present condition of a man (whether impenitent and under conviction, or in a state of grace under the gospel so far from promoting peace), as the Jew maintained, was to excite the mind to conflict, anxiety and distress. He shows us that the Law equally fails everywhere to produce peace and sanctification.
1. In 3::20 it was said that “by the deeds of the Law shall not flesh be justified in God’s sight.”
2. In 5:20 there is a second radical statement about the Law: it “entered that the offence might abound.”
3. In 6:14 there comes a third statement regarding the Law: “Ye are not under the Law.”
In this seventh chapter of Romans, these three points are taken up in reverse order, and show that the Law cannot save from indwelling sin.
a. How and why the justified are delivered from the law (vv. 1-6)
b. If the Law makes sin to abound, is the Law sinful (vv. 7-13)
c. No man is saved by the Law, for no man is delivered from the flesh by it (vv. 14-25)
Whether the composition of the Church in Rome was in the main Jewish, or Gentile, its Bible which it read, and by which it knew God and Christ, was the O.T., the book of the Law. For their own stability, as well as for the means of defense against acute Jewish adversaries, Paul had to make these Roman believers see why the Law was not binding on them in their relation to God. The necessity was the more urgent from the fact that he defends Justification by Faith by these same O.T. Scriptures. So Paul must give them instruction for abandoning an old and divinely established faith for a novel and untried one.
Few chapters in the Bible have been the subject of more decidedly different interpretations than this chapter. And even after all that has been written on it by the learned, it is still made a matter of much discussion. Whether Paul is making reference to his own experience before he became a Christian, or to the conflicts in the mind of a man who is renewed still brings much conjecture and discussion among expositors..
The main design of the chapter is not difficult to understand. It is evidently to show the insufficiency of the Law to produce peace of mind to a troubled sinner. In the previous chapters he had shown that the Law was incapable of producing justification.
1. In chapters 1-4, Paul showed the way in which men were justified by faith.
2. In chapter 5 Paul showed how that plan produced peace, and met the evils introduced by the fall of Adam.
3. In chapter 6 Paul showed that Christians were freed from the law as a matter of obligation, and yet that this freedom did not lead to a licentious life.
4. In chapter 7 proceeds to illustrate the tendency of the Law on a man both in a state of nature and of grace; to show that its uniform effect in the present condition of man, whether impenitent and under conviction, or in a state of grace under the gospel, (so far from promoting peace), as the Jew maintained, was to excite the mind to conflict, anxiety, and distress.
In his previous argument Paul had overthrown most the peculiar opinions of the Jews. Here in chapter 7 he finishes them off and shows that the tendency of the Law, was the same everywhere. It was not to produce peace, but instead it produced agitation, conflict, distress. However, this was not the fault of the Law, which was in itself good, but was the fault of sin (vv. 6-24).
The argument of the Jew respecting the efficacy of the Law; and its sufficiency for the condition of man, Paul overthrows by a succession of proofs relating to justification, pardon, or peace, to the evils of sin, and to the agitated and conflicting moral elements in man. The reader becomes prepared for the language of triumph and gratitude, that deliverance from all these evils is to be traced to the gospel of Jesus Christ the Lord, (v.25).
OUTLINE OF THE CHAPTER
v. 1: The law has power over a man as long as he lives; hat the law reaches to all the branches and latent principles of sin,
vv. 2-3: A wife is bound to her husband only as long as he lives,
vv. 4-7: Christian believers are delivered from the Mosaic law by Christ Jesus, and united to God
v. 8: By the law is the knowledge of sin,..
vv. 9-11: But it gives no power over it,
v. 12: Yet it is holy, just, and good,
vv. 13-24: How it convinces of sin, and brings into bondage, 13-24.
v. 25: No deliverance from its curse but by Jesus Christ.
vv. 1-4: Paul shows that a believing Jew is discharged from his obligations to the Law, and is at liberty to come under another and much happier constitution, viz. that of the Gospel of Christ.
v. 5: Paul gives a general description of the state of a Jew, in servitude to sin, considered as under mere law.
v. 6: he gives a summary account of the state of a Christian, or believing Jew, and the advantages he enjoys under the Gospel.
vv. 8-12: That it subjected the sinner to death, without the expectation of pardon.
v. 13: He shows the reason why the Jew was put under it.