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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Romans 7

Verses 1-12

  1. Intro:
    1. When asked to account for the sleeping giant Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines (asleep some 500yr), a research scientist from the Philippines Department of Volcanology observed, "When a volcano is silent for many years, our people forget that it's a volcano and begin to treat it like a mountain"
      1. Like Mount Pinatubo, our sinful nature always has the potential to erupt, bringing great harm both to ourselves and to others.
        1. The biggest mistake we can make is to ignore the volcano and move back onto what seems like a dormant mountain.
      2. Never forget, your old nature is a Volcano…not simply a mountain!
    2. Let’s fly at 30,000 feet for a minute & look down at Romans.
      1. Justification is an accomplished event for the Christian (ch.’s 3-5)
      2. Now Paul is describing the process of the believers Sanctification (ch’s 6-8).
        1. Rom.6 = Freed from Sin. Rom.7 = Freed from Law. Rom.8 = Free to Live by the Spirit.
      3. Does free mean easy? No way. Positional freedom in Christ doesn’t guarantee constant experiential freedom from our sin nature.
    3. As Paul used the analogy of slavery in ch.6, now he uses the metaphor of marriage to illustrate our freedom from the law.
    4. Outline:
      1. The Law is Dead to Me (New Husband, New Fruit, New Service);
      2. The Law:Reveals(Sin),Arouses(Sin),Ruins(the Sinner),Reflects(the Sinfulness of Sin)
  2. THE LAW IS DEAD TO ME! (1-6)
    1. NEW HUSBAND! (1-3)
    2. We haven’t only died to sin(6:2) but also to the law(7:4).
      1. Thus, the law no longer wields authority over us.
      2. Paul laid down the principle that the law exercises lordship over a person only as long as that person “lives”.
        1. Death cancels the Law’s claim upon that individual.
      3. To illustrate this he uses the covenant of marriage.
        1. A married woman is legally bound to her husband as long as he lives.
          1. I got a call as a brand new Pastor in the early 90’s from Romaine (Chuck Smiths Assist Pastor). That usually wasn’t good. “Mr. Bell, do you marry people that are already married?” A lady had come in that was married to a person I was doing pre-marital counseling with. He said it was divorced. We discussed the divorce. We stopped the counseling.
          2. No, you can’t marry someone that is still married!
        2. But if he dies, she is free to marry another man.
        3. She is “released” – katargeo; to render inoperative, abolish.
          1. (i.e.) She is completely absolved or discharged.
            1. Ps: it can be seen as a special thing if a widow/er remarries right away. “Marriage was good to them”!
      4. The death of the believer took place when by faith that person became identified w/ the crucified Christ.
        1. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Gal.2:20
    3. Think about it…If a marriage must be based on laws instead of love, it is going to make for an unhappy home.
      1. We were in bondage to sin & written regulations. Law was our old master. Now we are set free to serve our New Master in a new way, in the Spirit.
      2. Be true to your husband, Jesus Christ!
    4. NEW FRUIT! (4,5)
    5. The sinful passions our old nature only brought forth fruit to death. Our death to the Law, our remarriage to Christ brings forth fruit to God.
      1. NLT, As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God.
    6. The purpose of this death then is not to make us a widow/widower, but that we might belong to another husband!
      1. Our Savior becomes our new “husband”!
      2. Why? That, we should bear fruit to God!
      3. Roy Hession in The Calvary Road said, “We are not called upon to produce the fruit, but simply to bear it.”
    7. NEW SERVICE! (6)
    8. Now, we will serve in the newness of the Spirit.
      1. No longer serving from guilt. No longer from a “have to” mindset. No longer from a “trying to please Him” standpoint.
  3. THE LAW: REVEALS, AROUSES, RUINS, & REFLECTS! (7-12)
    1. ​​​​​​​Johann Wolfgang von Goethe [YuHan Wufgan von Goo-Ter] (German poet, dramatist, novelist, scientist) said, “God had enough for a saint & a devil, and He put it all in me.”
      1. Maybe you’ve felt the same at times in your Christian walk.
    2. Believers, do you long to live on a higher plane? - But do you find yourself constantly being dragged to the abyss of disobedience by the power of sin?
      1. Struggle & conflict are typical of Christian experience. Defeat & Despair don’t have to be!
    3. THE LAW REVEALS SIN! (7b)
    4. (7) If the law cannot change us or control us...What good is it?
      1. ​​​​​​​To reveal sin, and it does its job well!
      2. Example the Law revealed Covetousness as sin. Covetousness is simply craving more of what you have enough of already. (Haddon Robinson)
    5. A stick plunged into a stream will at once show the direction of the current.
      1. A law plunged into our heart will at once show the direction of our flesh nature.
    6. THE LAW AROUSES SIN! (8)
    7. (8) Taking opportunity – (lit.) Taking a starting point.
      1. ​​​​​​​A base for military operations for an expedition. (LKGNT)
        1. Paul knew sin had a base camp in our souls which is constantly carrying out missions against us!
        2. It’s hard fighting an enemy on their soil…but even harder to fight against hidden terrorist in our own country! And such is sin!!!
          1. A hidden terrorist is hard to spot because they’re not easily identifiable. They don’t wear a uniform, but purposely blend in with the rest.
          2. They do their best to remain hidden and are spread all over the world.
          3. There are also "sleeper cells" which means that they are dormant or on standby. One of the purposes of these kinds of groups is to simply blend in and remain undetected until they are told to carry out their attack.
            1. Thus our sinful nature lurks in our souls. It isn’t always easily identifiable. It remains hidden. It is spread all over our mind, soul, body. It lies dormant or on standby. It blends in & remains undetected until it is ready to carry out its attack against us or others.
    8. Paul learned that the Law even aroused evil desires in him!
      1. Wow! If something as holy as God’s law(12) can arouse sinful desires, what wicked sinners we must be!
      2. Can your conscience relate to these thoughts…
        1. “I know Adultery to be wrong, but as I watch this TV show I find myself rooting for this couple as they seem so right for each other, even made for each other!”
        2. “I know that is not how a Christian should behave by talking with his fists, but man can he fight!”
      3. Yes we know unmistakably that knowing God’s laws arouses evil desires in us also!
        1. This is also what gives it the characteristic of transgression!
      4. The Law brings out the worse in us, but Love brings out the best in us!
    9. THE LAW RUINS THE SINNER! (9-11)
    10. (11) Sin...deceived me – The trouble with trouble is that it usually starts out as a whole lot of fun.
    11. THE LAW REFLECTS THE SINFULNESS OF SIN! (12,13)
    12. (12) Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.
      1. And yet it reveals sin(7), provokes sin(8), & results in death(9-11)
      2. What does this bring to light concerning the character of sin?
        1. Wow! It is powerful!
    13. So is our problem a Law problem or a Nature problem? (Nature problem)
    14. Slide #16 1st Example: If I place in a bottle, Baking Soda (representing our Nature)
      1. It is still & quiet until another substance is added.
      2. If I then pour Vinegar (representing the Law)
        1. It begins to smoke & bubble up, but not from the fault of the vinegar, but from the nature of the Baking Soda which will not endure it.
      3. Thus proving, the law is not at fault, but our evil & wicked nature is!
    15. 2nd Example: It’s a sunny summer day & you decide to jump in the water at the beach in Oceanside. It feels great. While swimming you notice a sign on the pier, “No swimming sharks in the water!” Your day is ruined.
      1. Is it the signs fault? - Are you angry w/the people who put the sign up?
      2. The law is like the sign. It is essential & you should be grateful for it. – But it doesn’t get rid of the sharks!
    16. 3rd Example: When you read Wet Paint, Don’t touch what do you immediately want to do? Or, “No U-Turns”, “Keep off the Grass”.
    17. St. Augustine tells in his Confessions (pg.29) that he stole pears from a pear tree…& didn’t even like pears!
      1. He did it because it was forbidden!
      2. Growing up in Whittier, our house backed up to Monte Vista H.S. - Me & my friend Steve committed breaking & entering for Tennis Balls! [& neither of us played tennis!]
        1. It’s not a Law problem...it’s a nature problem!
    18. End: Remember, our old nature is like a Volcano not just a mountain!
      1. But look what God can make from an old Volcano!
        1. Lake Pinatubo!

Verses 13-25

  1. Intro:
    1. Title: Chipped Saints!
      1. What do I mean? Show pic from Belize.
        1. St Peter Claver, Catholic Church(Garifuna). St Peter Claver was a Jesuit from Spain who became the patron saint of slaves, race-relations, & African-Americans.
        2. Claver would head for the wharf as soon as a slave ship entered the port. Boarding the ship, he entered the filthy and diseased holds to treat and minister the badly-treated, terrified human cargo who had survived a voyage of several months under horrible conditions. He assured the slaves of their human dignity and God's saving love.
      2. Paul gives us a peek into his mind/heart/soul with his personal testimony of what it is to be a “chipped saint”.
        1. Paul was not your standard high gloss painted saint. Expressing some prissy piety!
        2. No, he revealed & lived a real, raw, authentic, genuine, honest Christianity.
        3. Are you a painted/polished saint or a chipped saint?...I think you’ll be able to relate to Paul this morning.
    2. So, our Title is Chipped Saints. Our Outline: The Confusion; The Corruption; The Conclusion; And ending with The Real Question & The Only Answer.
      1. This is a passionate piece of writing. Please feel the emotion he experiences in trying to live up to God’s standards.
      2. Feel the disheartening, aching frustration that happens to good christians...even super Christians!
  2. THE CONFUSION! (13-16) Paul’s frustration is twofold.
    1. ​​​​​​​He doesn’t do what he wants to do; & He does the things he doesn’t want to do.
      1. It’s, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hide” Christianity. [or, Dr. Paul & Mr. Saul]
    2. Here’s the key: When a believer tries to live a life that is pleasing to God in his own strength, he will fail every time; but, that very failure makes him ready for God’s grace.
    3. Note, he moves now to the 1st person singular. (me, 13)
      1. This is Paul’s real day-to-day struggles & his own experiences [YES, he was saved at this time]
      2. How pompous for any Christian who says they don’t struggle with the old sin nature anymore! - Don’t you struggle with this problem daily? Desiring to be that good Christian, yet totally frustrated from falling on your face?
    4. (13) So in vs.12 we saw the law was good. Here sin is bad. And from vs.7-25 is the relationship between the redeemed person’s sin nature & the law.
    5. Sin…exceedingly sinful!
      1. Why didn’t he call sin “exceedingly dark”, or “exceedingly horrible”, or “exceedingly deadly”? (or, horrid, hideous, heinous, vile)
        1. A: Because, there is nothing as bad as sin…so, he had to call it by its own name.
  3. THE CORRUPTION! (17-20) He realizes the total corruption of his old sinful nature
    1. ​​​​​​​(17) Wait a minute Paul, are you avoiding personal responsibility for your actions?
      1. No, he is speaking to the base desire, not the action itself.
        1. He’s not saying he does not do it, but that its not what his deep inner self, renewed in Christ, wants to do.
    2. (21) Evil is present with me – The more we grow in Christ, the more aware we become of our sin and the more we hate it & want to be rid of it.
      1. Like Isaiah Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts. (6:5)
      2. Like Job I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes. (42:5,6)
      3. Like John When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. (Rev.1:17)
    3. “Lord, teach us to love what You love & hate what You hate.”
  4. THE CONCLUSION! (21-23) He understands the daily struggle within him.
    1. ​​​​​​​The old nature, always attempting to do wrong; The new nature, always attempting to do right.
      1. The principle Paul recognizes is that he is a man with 2 natures:
        1. One delights in the Law of God. The other wages war against God’s Law.
        2. This refers to everything w/in us that is more loyal to the world & self than to God.
        3. Remember, Inward conflicts show us we are spiritually alive!
          1. It shows there is some life in the soul that hates sin!
  5. THE REAL QUESTION! (24)
    1. ​​​​​​​(24) Who will deliver me from this body of death?
      1. He isn’t asking, “what must I do?” but, “who will deliver me?”
      2. Deliver me – Paul was not attacking his sin; this sin was clearly attacking him!
        1. He wasn’t like a soldier who was leading an attack; He was a soldier asking to be rescued from the hands of the enemy.
        2. He’s pinned down calling in air support!
      3. Sometimes Sin flies at us like a lion springing forward [or a cocker spaniel pup]
      4. Sometimes Satan & his minions are jealous of the celestial Spirit within us!
    2. What 3 things don’t in themselves…help us stamp out sin?
      1. Knowledge of what the law demanded! (9)
      2. Self-Determination from sin! (15)
      3. A Profound Christian Experience! (22-25)
    3. O wretched man that I am – [or, O wretched christian man that I am]
      1. Wretched = a miserable distressed condition. Paul at the end of himself.
      2. Just like John’s picture of the Laodicea church...Rev.3:17 Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'; and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.
    4. Paul has come to the end of himself, which is a great place to be.
      1. Jesus said, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
        1. Or, Blessed are the bankrupt. Blessed are the wretched.
  6. THE ONLY ANSWER! (25) Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.
    1. ​​​​​​​What 2 things then are needed in this battle?
      1. A Deliverance from the condemnation, which the law of God pronounces.
      2. A Power within, greater than that of sin, to enable us to do God’s will.
        1. Both are provided in Christ (as Paul will show in ch.8).
        2. Rom.7 doesn’t provide a complete picture of Paul’s spiritual experience.
          1. In fact it prepares its readers for ch.8 - It sets the stage for the triumph of ch.8.
      3. As we recognize our inability to live up to our deepest spiritual longings…this leads us to cast ourselves upon God’s Spirit for power & victory!
    2. The Holy Spirit within us helps us to do what God wants us to do and to be what He wants us to be.
      1. We can keep our love relationship w/the Lord alive & exciting, & thus producing righteousness instead of wretchedness!
      2. Becoming like Christ is a lifelong process. Thus, that is why Paul likens Christian growth to a strenuous race or a tiring fight.
      3. Sanctification is a gradual process that repeatedly takes the believer through this reoccurring sequence of failure through dependency upon self to triumph through the indwelling Spirit.”
        1. The Christian life is a battle, but the war is already won.
        2. The struggle is just part of the journey!
        3. D. L. Moody, “When I was converted, I made this mistake: I thought the battle was already mine, the victory already won, the crown already in my grasp. I thought the old things had passed away, that all things had become new, and that my old corrupt nature, the old life, was gone. But I found out, after serving Christ for a few months, that conversion was only like enlisting in the army - that there was a battle on hand.”
    3. In Victor Hugo’s last novel, “Ninety-Three” is about a ship is caught in a storm. The frightened crew hears a terrible crashing sound below. Immediately the men know what it is: a cannon has broken loose and is crashing into the ship’s side with every smashing blow of the sea! Two men, at the risk of their lives, manage to fasten it down again, for they know that the unfastened cannon is more dangerous than the raging storm.
      1. Many people are like that ship, their greatest danger areas lie within their own lives.

Prayer: Chipped saints? Yes we are. But Lord, we have only one desire, that in the end we will be simply a chip off the ol’ block!

Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Romans 7". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/romans-7.html. 2017.