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).