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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Romans 7

Verses 1-25

The law cannot help (7:1-25)

Through Christ, believers have not only died to sin, they have died to the law also, which means that their lives are now different. Paul gives an example. If a husband dies, the wife is no longer bound to him and is free to marry again. Likewise believers have died to the law so that the bond between them and the law is broken. However, they have been raised to new life and are now united to another, the living Christ (7:1-4). Formerly, they found that the more the law forbids something, the more the human heart wants to do it. But the fruit of that broken law is death (5). Now that they are dead to the law, they can serve God with a willing heart. They no longer live in fear, because they are no longer under the law’s dreadful power (6).
This does not mean that the law is sinful. Quite the opposite; the law is holy, and this holiness shows people how sinful they are. Paul describes his own former experience to show that when there is no law, people do not seem to notice sin. Sin lies motionless, so to speak, as if it were dead. But as soon as people learn about a specific commandment, sin springs to life and stirs up evil desires. It makes people want to do what they are told not to do. Thus the commandment ‘Do not covet’ taught Paul how to covet (7-9). Instead of bringing life, the law stirred up sin which brought death (10-11). The fault lies not with the law, which is holy and good, but with the sinful nature, which is so hopelessly bad that it reacts against what is good (12-13).
Paul refers to his own experience again, to show that the more believers try to live holy lives by keeping the law, the more they fail. Again, the sin lies not in the law but in human beings. They cannot do the things they know they should do; they do the things they know they should not do (14-17). This constant defeat shows the power of indwelling sin and the inability of believers to conquer it in their own strength (18-20). They know that the law is good and they want to obey it, but the law cannot give them power over their sinful nature (21-23). How then can they get the victory? Not through themselves at all, but through Jesus Christ (24-25a).
Before moving on to explain how Jesus Christ gives this victory, Paul summarizes the previous section. The conflict he has described is between the sincere desire to keep God’s law and the pull of the old nature towards sin (25b).

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Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Romans 7". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.