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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Romans 7

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-25

Romans 7:1-3. Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress, but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

He merely states this as an illustration.

Romans 7:4. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

While we were under the law, we could not come into the bonds of the new covenant, — the covenant of grace. But, through the death of Christ, we are dead to the law, and therefore we are set free from the principle and covenant of law, and we have come under the covenant of grace.

Romans 7:5. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.

Sin is the transgression of the law. Therefore, out of the law, by reason of our corruption, springs sin. And, in our past lives, we did indeed find sin to be very fruitful. It grew very fast in our members, and it brought forth much “fruit unto death.”

Romans 7:6. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

No longer is the message to us, “This do, and thou shalt live.” No more are we slaves under bondage; but we have come into a new state, we are free, rejoicing in the glorious liberty of the children of God; and what we now do is done out of a spirit of love, and not of fear. We are not seeking after holiness in order to be saved by it, neither do we seek to escape from sin because we are under any fear of being cast into hell. We have another spirit altogether within us.

Romans 7:7. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid.

Nay, so far from being sin, the law is the great detective of sin, discovering it, and letting us know what sin really is.

Romans 7:7-8. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence.

Or, “covetousness.” The very fact that God said to us, “Do it not,” wrought upon our nature so that we wanted to do it, and that which God commanded, which was a matter of indifference to us while we were in ignorance of his will, became, by reason of the depravity of our hearts, a thing to be resisted just because he had enjoined it upon us. Ah, me! what wicked hearts are ours that fetch evil even out of good!

Romans 7:8-9. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

“I did not know how sinful I was until God’s commandment came to me.

Sin seemed to be dead within me, and I thought myself a righteous man; but when the law of God came home to my heart and conscience, and I understood that even a sinful thought would ruin me, that a hasty word had the essence of murder in it, and that the utmost uncleanness might lurk under the cover of what seemed a mere custom of my fellow-men, — when I found out all this, sin did indeed live, but I died so far as righteousness was concerned.”

Romans 7:10-13. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid.

“If I sinned the more when God’s commandment was revealed to me; and if, by the light of the law, sin was made more apparent to me, and became so exceeding sinful that it drove me to despair, and so to commit still worse sin; the fault was not in the law, but in sin, and in me, the sinner.”

Romans 7:13-14. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual:

The law of the Lord is a far higher thing than it seems to be in the esteem of many people. Talk not of it as a mere “decalogue.” It has far-reaching hands, and it affects the secret thoughts and purposes of men, and even their stray imaginations come under its supremacy. “The law is spiritual.”

Romans 7:14. But I am carnal, sold under sin.

“I am carnal.” There is the source of all the mischief, — a disobedient and rebellious subject, not an irksome law. The law is good enough, it is absolutely perfect; “but,” says the apostle, “I am carnal,” — fleshly, — “sold under sin.”

Romans 7:15. For that which I do I allow not:

The man himself does that which is evil, but his conscience revolts against it.

Romans 7:15. For what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

This is a strange contradiction, — a man who has grace enough to will to do good, and yet does it not. There are two men in the one man, — the new nature struggling against the old nature. This must be a renewed man who talks in this fashion, or else he could not say that he hated sin; yet there must be a part of him still imperfect, or else he would not do that which he hates.

Romans 7:16. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

“If I do that against which and my conscience rebel, so far, the better part of me owns the goodness of the law, though the baser part of me rebels against it.”

Romans 7:17. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

The renewed man still stands out against sin. His heart is not wishful to sin, but that old nature within him will sin even to the end.

Romans 7:18-19. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

Oh, how often have men, who have been struggling after holiness, had to use these words of the apostle! The more holy they become, the more they realize that there is still a something better beyond them, after which they struggle, but to which they cannot yet attain; so still they cry, “The good that we would we do not: but the evil which we would not, that we do.”

Romans 7:20. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

The true man — the newborn man — is struggling after that which is right. The real “I “, the immortal “ego”, is still pressing forward, like a ship beating up against wind and tide, and striving to reach the harbor where it shall find perfect rest. Oh, what struggles, what contentions, what rightings, there are within the men and women in whom the grace of God is working mightily! Those who have but little grace can take things easily, and swim with the current; but where grace is mighty, sin will fight for the mastery, though it must yield ultimately, for there can never be any true peace until it is subdued.

Romans 7:21. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

Speaking for myself, I can say that, often, when I am most earnest in prayer, stray thoughts will come into my mind to draw me off from the holy work of supplication; and when I am most intently aiming at humility, then the shadow of pride falls upon me. Do not gracious men generally find it so? If their experience is like that of the apostle Paul, or like that of many another child of God whose biography one delights to read, it is so, and it will be so.

Romans 7:22-24. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 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. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

These are birth-pangs, the throes and anguish of a regenerated spirit. The Christian man is fighting his way to sure and certain victory; so, the more of this wretchedness that he feels, the better, if it be only caused by a consciousness that sin is still lurking within him, and that he longs to be rid of it.

Romans 7:25. I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

This exposition consisted of readings from Romans 7, and Romans 8:1-4.


Verses 7-25

This is Paul’s own account of his inward conflicts. He longed to conquer sin. He wanted to become a free man, and live always a godly and holy life, but he found that there was a battle within his nature.

Romans 7:7. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

There are some who hope to overcome their evil propensities by the law. They think that if they can know and feel the authority of the law of God, that will have an awe over their minds, and they shall become holy. Now the law is in itself supremely holy. It cannot be improved. We could not add to it, or take from it without injuring it. It is a perfect law. But what is its effect upon the mind? When it comes into an unrenewed mind, instead of checking sin, it causes sin. The apostle says that he not known lust, except the law had said, “Thou shalt not covet.” There is a something about us which rebels against law the moment we come to it. There are some things we should never think of doing if we were not prohibited from them, and then there becomes a tendency at once in this vile nature of ours to break the law.

Romans 7:8. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.

If there had never been any law, there could not have been any sin, because sin is a breaking of law. The law is good. We are not speaking about that. The law is necessary, but, still such is our nature that the very existence of law argues and creates the existence of sin. And when the law comes, then sin comes immediately. “Without the law sin was dead.”

Romans 7:9. For I was alive without the law once;

I thought that I was everything that was good. I imagined that I was doing everything that was right. I felt no rebellion in my heart. I was alive.

Romans 7:9. But when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

I kicked at that commandment. My holiness was soon gone. The excellence which I thought I had in my character soon vanished for I found myself breaking the law.

Romans 7:10-13. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But, sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good: that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

There was sin in his nature, but he did not know it. But when the commandment came, then that evil nature said, “I won’t keep that commandment,” and it took occasion at once to show itself by breaking that commandment. It was something like a medicine which many a wise physician has given to his patient. There is a deadly disease in the internals of the man, and he gives him a medicine that throws it out. You see it on the skin. You feel the pain of it. It would have been his death anyhow. It can only be his death now; but now it is a part of the process of the cure to bring the disease where it can be seen. And so the law comes into a man’s heart, and because of the rebellion of his nature, he kicks against the law and sins. It does not make him sinful. It only shows that he was sinful, for a perfect law would not make a perfect man sin. It would lead and guide him in the way of holiness. But a perfect law coming into contact with an imperfect nature soon creates rebellion and sin. It is an illustration that is not good throughout, but still it is of some use. You have seen quicklime; and you throw water on it. The water is of a cooling nature. There is nothing in the water but that which would quench fire, and yet when it is thrown upon the lime the consequence is a burning heat. So is it with the law cast upon man’s nature. It seems to create sin. Not that the law does it of itself, but, coming into contact with the vicious principles of our nature, sin becomes the product of it. It is the only product. You may preach up the law of God till everybody becomes worse than he was before. You may read the ten commandments till men learn what to do in order to provoke God. The law does not create holiness. It never can.

Romans 7:14. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal,

Fleshly.

Romans 7:14. Sold under sin.

Even now that I have become a Christian and am renewed by grace.

Romans 7:15. For that which I do I allow not:

I often do that which I do not justify, which I do not wish to do again, which I abhor myself for doing.

Romans 7:16. For what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

This is the believer’s riddle. To say that this is not a believer’s experience is to prove that the man who says it does not know much about how believers feel. We hate sin, and yet, alas! alas! we fall into it! We would live perfect lives if we could, we that are renewed. We make no justification for our sin: it is evil and abominable; yet do we find these two things warring and fighting within.

Romans 7:16. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

My inmost heart, says the law, is good, though I have not kept it as I wish I had, yet my very wish to keep it is the consent of my nature to goodness of that law, and proves that there is a vitality about me which will yet throw out the disease, and make me right in the sight of God.

Romans 7:17. Now then it is no more I that do it,

The real “I,” the true “I,” the new-born “ego.” Thank God for that—to have a will to do good, to have a strong, passionate desire to be holy. “To will is present with me.”

Romans 7:17. But sin that dwelleth in me.

I would be earnest in prayer, and my thoughts are distracted. I would love God with all my heart, and something else comes in and steals away a part of it. I would be holy as God is holy, but I find myself falling short of my desires. So the apostle means.

Romans 7:18-20, For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me: but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it,

The true and real “I.”

Romans 7:20. But sin that dwelleth in me.

Oh! this accursed indwelling sin! Would God it were driven out. We do not say this to excuse ourselves-God forbid—but to blame ourselves that we permit this sin to dwell within us. Yet must we rejoice in God that we are born again, and that this new “I” the true “I,” will not yield to sin, but fights against it.

Romans 7:21. I find then a law,

Or rule.

Romans 7:21-24. That, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 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. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

Now, the more holy a man gets the more he cries in this fashion. While he is low down in the scale, he puts up with sin, and he is uneasy, but when he gets to see Christ and get somewhat like him, the more nearly he approximates to the image of his Master, the more the presence of the least sinful thought is horrifying to him. He would, if he could, never look on sin again—never have the slightest inclination to it, but he finds his heart getting abroad and wandering when he would tether it down, if he could, to the cross and crucify it there. And so the more happy he is in Christ the more desperately does he cry against the wretchedness of being-touched with sin, even in the least degree. “Oh! wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

Romans 7:25. I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

It will be done. I shall be delivered. I shall be perfect.

“Oh, blissful hour! oh, sweet abode!

I shall be near and like my God.”

Oh! to be without fault before the throne, without tendency to sin without the possibility of it, immaculately clean, with a heart that sends forth pure waters like the river of life that flows from beneath the throne of God! This is our portion. We are looking for it, and we will never rest until we get it, blessed be his name. “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Romans 7:25. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God;

With the new mature.

Romans 7:25. But with the flesh the law of sin.

With the flesh—this old rubbishing stuff that must die and be buried, and the sooner the better. With my old corrupt nature I serve the law of sin. But what a mercy it is that the next verse is, that, notwithstanding that, “There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.”

This exposition consisted of readings from Psalms 51. and Romans 7:7-25.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Romans 7:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/romans-7.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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