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Bible Commentaries

Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Romans 7

Verse 1

The apostle had shown, in chap Romans 4:15 , that "the law worketh wrath," and is unable to give justification and salvation. He had further said, in chap Romans 6:14 , that believers are not under law, but under grace. This latter idea he proceeds in the present chapter to unfold, in verses Romans 7:1-45.7.6 ; and while he vindicates the law as "holy, and just, and good," he yet shows the impossibility of gaining through it a victory over sin, in verses Romans 7:7-45.7.25 . He then goes on to show, throughout the whole of the eighth chapter, the blessed state of those who are not under law, but under grace.

The law ; the Mosaic law, as he proceeds to illustrate.

Verse 2

Loosed from the law of her husband ; from the law which, so long as he lived, bound him to her as her husband, and thus bound her to him.

Verse 3

She is free from that law ; the release of her husband from it by death, is her release also.

Verse 4

Ye also are become dead to the law ; in carrying out the comparison, the apostle necessarily changes its form somewhat. He could not well say that the law, which may be here regarded as their former husband, was dead. Instead of that, he says, Ye are become dead to the law; the essential idea being that the death of either party dissolves the relation existing between them.

By the body of Christ ; by his crucified body making expiation for your sins. Thus ye are released from the law as a means of justification before God, so that ye are no longer in this respect bound to it, any more than a woman is bound to her husband after he is dead. Thus the way is prepared that ye should be married to another , even Christ; in other words, should come into a state of justification by virtue of your union with Christ through faith. Deliverance from the law of God as a covenant of works, and from the necessity of obeying it as a ground of justification, is essential to the obeying of it as a rule of duty.

Verse 5

In the flesh ; in their natural state, with no ground for justification except obedience to law, and under the necessity of perfectly obeying it or suffering its curse. Its strict requirements and its awful threatenings, instead of leading them to love and obey it, were the occasion, through their wickedness, of exciting against it greater hatred and more violent rebellion; thus, in the language of the Holy Ghost, "bringing forth fruit unto death."

Verse 6

We ; Christians, who have seen that by the works of the law we cannot be justified, have given up dependence on obedience to it, and are trusting in the atonement and righteousness of Christ for salvation.

Are delivered from the law ; not as a just measure of obligation, but as a ground of justification, and from liability to suffer its curse.

That being dead ; the marginal reading, "being dead to that," is much to be preferred. It is a repetition of the idea that they are dead to the law, as in verse Romans 7:4 .

That we should serve in newness of spirit ; serve God not in external form merely, or from slavish fear, but in spirit and in truth, from love to God and his laws.

Verse 7

Is the law sin? is the law answerable for sin because no one can be justified by it, and because it is made the occasion of increasing the wickedness of those who break it? By no means.

Nay ; on the contrary, I had not known sin ; I had not understood my own exceeding sinfulness, had I not seen myself in the light of the law. By the law was the knowledge of sin: for instance, he had not known lust , the desire of forbidden objects, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet ; not desire what God forbids. As a correct view of the spirituality and extent of the divine law is essential to a right knowledge of one’s sins, ministers of the gospel should faithfully preach it, and show its universal and perpetual obligation, that all may understand their true character, renounce dependence on their own works, and rely for salvation on the rich grace of God in Jesus Christ.

Verse 8

Sin ; his sinful inclination led him to resist the commandment, and the more to indulge evil desires in opposition to its requirements. Resistance to its restraints increased his wickedness, and showed, beyond what he had before seen, his depravity of heart.

Sin was dead ; was in a slumbering state, not active and strong.

Verse 9

I was alive ; in my own estimation, and thought I was blameless as touching the law. Philippians 3:6 .

The commandment ; that which extends to all the thoughts and desires of the soul, and requires them to be holy, just, and good.

Came ; came to be apprehended in its spirituality and extent.

Sin revived ; rose to view in awful and aggravated increase of power and guilt.

I died ; as to all hope in myself from the law, or from my obedience to it. I saw that it condemned me, and that judged by it, I was lost.

Verse 10

Ordained to life ; to give life to all who should perfectly obey it.

Unto death ; because I had broken it and fallen under its curse.

Verse 11

For sin ; sin reigning in my soul.

Taking occasion by the commandment ; as Satan in Eden took occasion of the prohibition to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge.

Deceived me ; as Satan did Eve, and thus seduced me into disobedience. The apostle has in view the blinding and deceiving nature of sinful passion.

And by it slew me ; thus turning the commandment into an instrument of my death, as verse Romans 7:10 .

Verse 13

That which is good ; the good law of God.

Made death unto me? Was it the law which caused his ruin? By no means. It was his own wicked violations of it.

Sin ; this was the cause of his ruin.

Working death in me by that which is good ; by leading me to resist the law, to sin against greater light and stronger motives, and thus become more sinful: such are the effects of human depravity when left to act itself out under the influence of mere law. The fact that the more clearly men in their natural state see the purity and extent of the law of God, the more strenuously they resist it and thus increase their wickedness, shows most strikingly the hateful nature and desperate tendency of human depravity, and the utter fallace of all hope, from the influence of law merely, of ever removing or lessening it.

Verse 14

The law is spiritual ; it requires perfect holiness of spirit; that men should love God with all their heart and soul and mind and strength; and that whatever they do, they should do all to the glory of God. But not even Paul, after his conversion, and after he had been preaching the gospel for years, did all this. So far as he fell short he was carnal, sinful, and needed the grace of God through Jesus Christ.

I am carnal ; fleshly and earthly in my affections, and thus sold under sin ; under its power as a bond-servant. These words describe, first, the state of all unregenerate men; secondly, the condition of believers so far as "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" has not made them free from it. In what follows to the end of the chapter, the apostle describes the painful conflict between the spiritual law of God and the carnal mind of man, in the soul of him who is earnestly seeking to render to the law a true inward obedience. What he says applies in a measure to the awakened and convicted sinner, who, without any clear apprehension of Christ’s grace, is vainly seeking justification from the works of the law; but more fully to the warfare with sin in the heart of the true Christian; for he is spiritual only in part-not a willing, habitual devotee and slave of sin, but sold as a captive against his prevailing inclinations. He is not delighted or contented with his bondage. It is his grief and burden. He has tasted the beginning of liberty, and sighs and struggles for its completion.

Verse 15

That which I do ; in violation of the law of God.

I allow not ; I do not love it, delight in it, or approve of it.

What I would ; to obey perfectly the law of God, that do I not .

What I hate ; to act in violation of it, or in any respect to fail of perfectly obeying it, that I do .

Verse 16

I consent unto the law ; by disapproving and hating all violations of it, and condemning myself on account of them, I show that I approve the law as wise, holy, just, and good.

Verse 17

No more I-but sin ; it is not my habitual inclination, my prevailing desire, to break the law. I do not love transgression, but abhor it; yet in many things I offend, and in all come short of perfect obedience, through the power of temptation and the strength of my own evil propensities, which are not yet entirely done away. Jam 3:2 ; 1 John 1:8 .

Verse 18

In me ; by nature.

In my flesh ; my natural heart, as it is under the influence of law merely, without the grace of God.

No good thing ; nothing spiritually good; even now, under the influences of the Spirit and grace of God, much evil still remains.

To will is present ; I desire to be completely conformed to the will of God.

But how to perform ; to do that which would be perfect.

I find not ; I do not do it; on the contrary, I do as stated in verse Romans 7:15 . Therefore it is true as stated in verse Romans 7:17 .

Verse 21

A law ; a constant tendency to evil, when I desire to be and do that only which is perfectly good.

Verse 22

I delight in the law of God ; love it, and desire perfectly to obey it.

After the inward man ; inwardly, from the heart. I not merely approve of it in my conscience and judgment, but through the grace of God, I love it as the transcript of infinite perfection. Psalms 1:2 ; Psalms 119:24 ; Psalms 119:77 ; Psalms 119:174 .

Verse 23

Another law ; different from my prevailing inclination, my earnest desire.

Warring against ; opposing, hindering, and thwarting the full accomplishment of my wishes.

The law of my mind ; the desires of my heart, inspired by the Holy Ghost. Galatians 5:17 .

Bringing me into captivity ; a loathsome, hated bondage, which makes me abhor myself. Job 9:31 ; Job 42:6 .

Law of sin-in my members ; propensities to evil which, notwithstanding all that grace has done, are not entirely removed. Christians of the greatest experience and highest attainments in the divine life, are not what they ought to be; not what they desire to be; not what they hope to be; not what God has promised that they shall be; and not what through grace, in fulfilment of his promise, they for ever will be-perfect even as their Father in heaven is perfect.

Verse 24

Wretched man ; on account of remaining proneness to sin.

Who shall deliver me ; not the law, not my own efforts, or my abhorrence of myself on account of disobedience-not any expedients which ever have been or can be devised by creatures. Left to these merely, he who is filthy will remain filthy still. What then? Must I perish, or drag on for ever this body of death? No.

Verse 25

I thank God ; for his unspeakable gift. 2Co 9:15 ; 1 Peter 1:8 . There is deliverance-complete, everlasting deliverance from all evil, and all propensity or liability to evil, through Jesus Christ our Lord ; who, though he was rich, for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich, being filled for ever with the fulness of God.

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Bibliographical Information
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Romans 7". "Edwards' Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.