“Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?” (Romans 7:1).
We are already told in Romans 6:14 that the believer is not under law, but instead, under grace; and in a series of recent articles in Romans 6, we took a look at one dimension of that principle by illustrating the law as freedom from bondage, and then the reality of lordship in the blessedness of being a bond slave to Christ. Here, Paul appeals to Jews who have been raised and trained in the Law.
[NOTE: I believe that he addresses the Jew specifically because these believing Jews, who have been trained in the Law of Moses rather than merely knowing, or are familiar with the Law of Moses, will be able to teach those less familiar with the Law. See Hebrews 5:12].
The law has rule and dominion. It has authority because it comes from God. Yet, although it has authority, it has no authority over one who is dead. Its commands and demands are useless upon those who obviously cannot carry them out, either actively or passively.
“For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man” (Romans 7:2-3).
So Paul uses an illustration with which the Jews can easily relate: marriage. From the Jewish understanding of the Law in Genesis 2, Genesis 38, Deuteronomy 25, &etc., they recognized that if a husband died, the wife is not under any obligation to that dead husband. The Sadducees tempted Christ in Matthew 22 with the hypothetical man having a wife, but after he died, the wife went to brother after brother as each one died, for a total of seven brothers. If the man who died had no brothers, the woman was free to marry whomever she wished. This seemed to be a fairly common understanding in Christ’s days, as well, as before and after.
“Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (Romans 7:4).
This may seem a contradiction to some because the previous example speaks of one living and one dead; the living one being free to marry another. Yet, this speaks of the dead being free to marriage in the context of resurrection (Romans 6:4-6). Though we are crucified with Christ in His death and burial when we are saved by God’s grace, we are also raised in the likeness of His resurrection, free to marry another, which is none other than the Lord, Christ. Note also, it is we who have died unto the law and not the law unto us. “The law is… holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12), because, again we must remind ourselves, it comes from God.
“For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death” (Romans 7:5).
These two verses give us context for what Paul is talking about, as well as amplifying his illustration of marriage and death. First, the context is that “we were in the flesh”; that is, we were in the flesh before we were saved (and most especially speaking to his Jewish brethren, the exclusive “we,” yet still applicable to every soul saved by grace); we were under the law and its authority (past tense). As a result of being in the flesh then, the fruit that came forth from our lives was not “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [or] temperance” (Galatians 5:22, 23). Instead, the fruit which we bore were “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like,” because these are the fruit of the flesh unto death, and “they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).
“But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter” (Romans 7:6).
Now that we are in Christ, we serve God, not by keeping every element of the law (oldness of the letter), but instead by living a resurrected life unto God by “the newness of the [indwelling Holy] Spirit.” Christ’s atoning death was our deliverance when God’s grace brought us identification, justification, redemption, and regeneration by faith in Christ alone.
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Read the previous article in this series, “Tendency toward Extremes” (Romans 7:1).
Though we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we are not all-powerful spiritual supermen. This new life is called a new birth (“born-again”) because the new creature in Christ is a spiritual babe. As infants we must mature, learn to crawl as babes, waddle as toddlers, and walk as children, before we can ever learn to run, and specifically as one running in a race. As we grow we have a tendency toward one extreme or another.
Grace is an eternal truth that carries with it all the power of heaven, so when we are delivered from the bondage of sin and death through Jesus Christ, justification by faith may be exhilarating to our souls because of truth’s freedom, and thus we may have a tendency toward licentiousness; that is, treating grace as if it were a license to sin. Romans 6:1-23 confronts that very issue: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue to sin, that grace may abound? God forbid” (Romans 6:1, 2).
When the Holy Spirit reveals that tendency of license to us, we may tend to offset that extreme with legalism; that is, treating grace as if it must be maintained by certain works from the laws and ordinances of the Bible. The apostle Paul addresses this in Romans 7:1-25.
Pharisaical and popish religion carries legalism to an even greater extreme by adding traditions to Biblical law, and calling that grace! Those man-generated traditions are certainly not graces as blessings from heaven, neither is it grace that bestows salvation from God. Any legalism perverts grace, and pharisaical or popish traditions, especially, deny the truth of justification by faith alone (sola fide).
“Christian” cults carry legalism even further than the Pharisees or the Popes by removing grace altogether and imposing unbiblical rules and regulations upon its subjects in order to be justified in themselves, by themselves.
Therefore, as we read through Romans 7 we will recognize that not only does a struggle exist for the soul saved by grace, but moreover, this struggle must exist between flesh and spirit, and between license and legalism, for it is in that struggle we face daily that keeps us ever clinging to the truth of Cross of Jesus Christ.
In the next several doctrinal articles we will examine three main points from Romans 7:1-13.
1. The RULE of the Law.
2. The ROLE of the Law.
3. The RESTRICTIONS of the Law.
It may be more functional or helpful to view them this way:
1. The Law’s AUTHORITY.
2. The Law’s UTILITY.
3. The Law’s INABILITY.
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Read the previous article in this series, “Set Forth to Bear Fruit for God’s Glory” (Romans 6:21-23).
“What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”—Romans 6:21-23
“Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death” (Romans 6:21, NASB). Good works and righteous deeds do not precede salvation. It is written,
“The labour of the righteous tendeth to life: the fruit of the wicked to sin.” —Proverbs 10:16
All the unsaved, reprobate, and unredeemed person can do is sin. It is written,
“Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” —Titus 1:15
“But now, having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life” (Romans 6:22). “But now,” that is, now that we are saved, “being made free from sin, and [having] become [slaves] to God,” the evidence that our salvation was truly the blessed and miraculous resurrection of our souls from the dead by the Holy Spirit is that there is fruit, which He brings forth through us.
Does this mean that the soul saved by grace will not commit sin? No, we’ll see that struggle and that warfare a bit more when we get to Romans 7; yet, because there is a struggle, we need to recognize that there is a submission unto God, an obedient surrender unto Christ. Jesus said, “I am the Vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). To paraphrase some of our older confessions of faith, concerning “Free Will” we read this:
“When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage under sin, and by His grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good. Yet, because of his remaining corruptions, he does not only or perfectly will that which is good, but also will that which is evil.”
—A Puritan Family Devotional, 1689 London Baptist Confession (edited in modern English), pg.56, para.3
To abide in Christ, the true Vine, to bear good fruit, is to be reminded of God’s blessed grace in becoming and being a bond slave unto Christ: Deuteronomy 15:16, “…if he say unto Thee, I will not go away from Thee; because he loveth Thee and Thine house…” In other words, we say, “I love my Master’s house…” We have a desire to abide with Him (to use the language of Deuteronomy 15), or “abide in” Him (to use the language of John 15).
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). All sin deserves death; it matters not what kind: original sin, actual sin, small sins, and enormous sins. Every sin must be condemned, as all sin deserves death because it opposes a holy God. The natural outcome of sin, apart from the grace of God in Christ and the intervention of the Holy Spirit, is pain, and ultimately death. Sins wages are death, as opposed to life, receiving every bit of payment for its transgression against an infinitely holy God.
A saved man receives eternal life as a free gift from God. Eternal life through Jesus Christ is not a thing which man deserves; for sinful man deserves death. Eternal life through Christ is not something man has earned; for this gift from God comes as a result of God’s love, mercy and free and sovereign grace alone. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
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Read the previous article in this series, “The Reality of Godly Slavery” (Romans 6:19-20).
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“I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.”—Romans 6:19-20
In other words the apostle says, “I’m putting this in simple human terms for you because that fallen nature you still possess even though you are saved, and the all the principles pertaining to it, is weak.” Our slavery is a spiritual reality, but the members of our flesh must come under that reality and become submissive to the One who paid the debt we couldn’t possibly pay. Sin did not save us from the wrath of God. The law did not save us from the wrath of God. Jesus Christ has saved us, redeemed us, purchased us, and reconciled us; therefore, we yield to, submit to, and obey Him. Our submission and obedience is done with genuine gratitude (Romans 6:17, God be thanked); and with overflowing love of the Holy Spirit shed abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:5). Because Christ is our Master and has purchased us with His blood, He has every right to command us to yield to God unto righteousness and not to yield to unrighteousness unto sin (Romans 6:13). Because we are blessed to be accepted as bond slaves by Christ, His commands are not a burden, as it is written, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3). Additionally, this is why boring the bond slave’s ear through on the doorpost is significant. The ear bored through is a reminder that every entrance and departure from the Master’s presence means that we must crucify the members of the flesh, we must listen attentively to the Master’s commands, and we must carry out those commands sweetly, completely, immediately, and reverently for the love of the Master who has redeemed us for Himself.
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Read the previous article in this series, “Slaves to Christ” (Romans 6:16).
A Children’s Book
Including a Fable for Kids—
The Tortoise and the Hare; Also Games, Puzzles, Videos, Coloring Pages & More
Download FREE Videos from this Children’s Book!
A Children’s Book is small in size, yet BIG in…
- FUN, FUN, FUN
>>>WHAT YOU AND YOUR CHILD CAN EXPECT:
A FUN FABLE FOR KIDS
The fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare” is the featured story in A Children’s Book. This is one of the classics included in Aesop’s Fables. Full of humor, insight, and wit, the tales in Aesop’s Fables champion the value of hard work and perseverance, compassion for others, and honesty. Age-old wisdom, colorfully illustrated and simply narrated, Jon J. Cardwell retells this classic fable through metered rhyme in a way that will be enjoyed by children of all ages.
A POEM FOR KIDS
“The Tortoise and the Hare” is narrated in metered rhyme, and using common meter in particular. Common meter is the timing used in such notable hymns as “Amazing Grace,” “Joy to the World,” “Am I a Soldier of the Cross,” and “Alas, and Did My Saviour Bleed.” Metered rhyme has been found to be an excellent memorization tool for children and adults alike. It aids and increases learning in comprehension and also in the general recall of facts and information.
Activity pages are also included in A Children’s Book. The activities educate, promote logic and stimulate the imagination. Your child will be entertained and educated with games and puzzles, which can also be downloaded and printed out from links provided in the book.
Coloring pages are also included in this book. With links provided for downloadable pages that can be printed out, you can allow your child several hours to exercise colorful creativity from the stories he or she has learned.
IMAGINATION AND CREATIVITY
Children love to tell stories. A portion of this book also contains a “Tell Your Story” feature that is illustrated without dialogue so that your child’s imagination and creativity may be stimulated as they craft their own story about the pictures they see. Parents, you can encourage your child with questions about these illustrations so that they can make up their own story, including some back story about the characters in it. Encouraging your child to create a story not only stimulates your child’s imagination and creativity, it also aids in comprehension in all kinds of study forms.
AUDIO AND VIDEOS
Audio and video allows your child to hear and/or watch the fable over and over again, naturally developing reading, learning and comprehension skills.
The illustrations are big and colorful, and the book’s dimensions (8.5″ x 11″) make this a GREAT tool for story telling times in group settings.
If you want a beautiful, educational and entertaining book for your child, DON’T DELAY, GET YOUR COPY TODAY!
Get Your Copy Today!
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