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John 3:16

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Please explain Romans 7:14-24

Thursday, 29 March 2012 22:20 Bolaji 'Theo' Douglas
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14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that pin me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Made righteous by faith and not by the Law:

For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith. – Romans 1:17.

Trying to read Romans 7 all by itself would leave you tied up and possibly lead into error the sort that make people to blaspheme while quoting Paul. The truth is his letter to the Church in Rome should be read as a whole and never be taken on chapter by chapter basis. People should always remember that Paul never broke his letters down to chapters; this was done to facilitate easy reading.


Paul in his letter to the Church in Rome was actually addressing the issue of Salvation and he took on the Judaizers who claim that Salvation was by merit and comes strictly by the keeping of the law, they claim that faith was not enough to obtain salvation. To them salvation comes through strict adherence to the laws of Moses (not limited to the 10 commandments alone, but this also includes all the rituals of circumcision and abstaining from unclean food etc). The bone of contention remains how is man saved? By the law or by faith, how is man declared justified and righteous before God, keeping the law or as an act of grace from God received through faith.

So Paul took them on in this letter by taking them on the genesis of it all and what God’s salvation sets out to accomplish and how man can come into it. Paul in Romans talked at length about the problem of sin, the genesis of it all and concluding that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

He declared that all men are sinners before God, both the one under the law and the so called Gentile;


Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. – Romans 1:32.

While they (Judaizers) were feeling cool that they had salvation under the law, Paul made it clear to them that they were wrong, he pointed out to them that if those who claim to be saved were still doing the things that unsaved people were still doing, they were merely hypocrites

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.  So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? – Romans 2: 1-4

For God does not show favoritism. All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.  For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. – Romans 2:11-13.

What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. – Romans 3:10-11.

Having succeeded in making them understand that even though they have the law they were still not saved, he reminded them about Abraham whom God declared righteous, he asked them if Abraham was declared righteous on the account of the law or by faith. Of course the answer is , it was by faith, there was no law to obey by Abraham, he was declared righteous on the account of his faith.
Paul went on to make them understand that they had gotten the issue of the law wrong, that the law was not given to make them righteous, rather it was given to reveal to them their sinful nature. In chapter 5 he delved into the genesis of the sinful nature and how all humans came to inherit that nature and were subsequently declared sinners by the act, even before the nature begins to rear it’s head. I don’t want to make this into a book, but having laid down that foundation let me go to Romans 7.

The first question we need to answer here is , who were the people that Paul was addressing here?

Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? – Romans 7:1

He was addressing those who were under the law, those who believed that they were saved merely by keeping the law, and those who believe that keeping the law would make them righteous before God. He then went on to regale them about the struggle they had with keeping the law and how they were unable to do so, because there was another law operating in them through the sinful nature. He used the man in Roman 7 to illustrate the struggle that took place between the law of righteousness and the law that was ruling over his sinful nature. He called this law the ‘Law of sin and death’, this was the law that all humans both Jews and Gentiles inherited from Adam (Romans 5), the very law that made all men to fall short of the glory of God and condemned all men.

He declared to them that as long as they had the sinful nature they were in no position to keep the law of righteousness even though it was given to them, they cannot keep it because of the law (law of sin and death) that was ruling over their sinful nature, so powerful was the hold of the law over the sinful nature that it overruled the man’s desire to keep the righteous laws of God every time. As a result the man found himself in this situation:

 

For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.  If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.  For I know that pin me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.

This man that Paul used in this test case, found himself in a dilemma, his sinful nature was destroying him, using the same law that God told him ‘if you keep you will be blessed’ (Deuteronomy 28). The law of sin and death turned the heat on him by overruling the desires of his heart to keep the laws of God, by making him to disobey the law instead, thus finding himself under the curse of the same law, the curse came about when God said ‘But if you do not obey and keep the law...’. The un-regenerate man saw a dilemma here too powerful for him to comprehend, his only option was to cry out:

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! – Romans 7:24 -25.

The man realised at that point that the law could not save him, it was never meant to be, the man then realised that his salvation and the path to being declared righteous lies in God’s revealed Salvation – Jesus the Messiah.

The dilemma which the man in Romans 7 found himself in, was resolved in Romans 8:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. – Romans 8:1-4

Here Paul went on to explain the solution to the dilemma of the man who tried to work his way into salvation by working his way into God’s righteousness. The answer to the problems posed by sin and sinful nature can only be solved in Christ Jesus and man can only earn this righteousness by faith in Christ Jesus.

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. – Romans 10:4

The struggles encountered by the man with his sinful nature and the futility of trying to please God as depicted by the man in Romans 7, the accruing guilt, the sense of condemnation and feeling of despair were all part of the plan and the path that leads to the salvation which God has revealed through Christ.

For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope  that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. - Romans 8:20- 21

All that this man needed to do was to turn in repentance to Christ and believe in him through faith for the salvation of their soul. This applies to also to every man and woman in need of God saving grace revealed as the gift of salvation.

The truth is Paul’s letter to the Church in Rome is a must for every born again believer, if they can crack it their faith would be richer and a number of mysteries surrounding their cherished faith would be laid bare. While I cannot explain everything here because i want to keep it as brief as possible, there remains a lot of information in the following chapters 4,5,6, that can be explored in order to get a better context and foundation upon which chapter 7 stands. I pray that the Holy Spirit himself will give you that illumination to see the riches of the mystery that the man Paul set out to explain with his letters.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 March 2012 22:50
1 Peter 1:18-19
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”

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