Delivered From the Law, Rom 7:1-13

Delivered from the Law Rom. 7:6 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO

In Rom 7:6 Paul says, Now we are delivered from the law.  For a law abiding Jew, being delivered from the law would be unthinkable.  As we saw in our study of Galatians, Jews were trying to put Gentile Christians back under the law by commanding that they be circumcised and keep the law of Moses [Acts 15:1, 5].  So, Paul’s purpose in the first part of Romans 7 is to show that, at salvation we are, in fact, delivered from the law.  And he shows why being delivered from the law is actually a good thing.

We are delivered from the law because sin uses it to kill us.  And in order for us to serve God in “newness of spirit,” [Rom 7:6] we have to be delivered from the law.  We are delivered from the law:

By our death in Jesus Christ – Rom 7:1-4 – Paul uses the example of marriage and the law’s dominion over a man and woman in marriage to demonstrate how we have been delivered from the law.  When a man and a woman marry, they become husband and wife.  Only death can sever their union [Rom 7:1-2].  When the wife’s husband dies she is loosed from the law of her husband and is free to marry another man [Rom 7:3].  If she marries another man while her husband is still alive she “shall be called an adulteress.”

This illustration from the law helps us to understand what happens to us when we get saved.  Before we are saved, our body cleaves to our soul like a husband cleaves to his wife [Eph 5:31].  When we get saved, our body, like the husband in this illustration, is dead in Christ [Rom 6:3-6] and is separated from our soul [Col 2:11-12].  Because we “are become dead to the law by the body of Christ” our soul, like the wife, is free to marry Jesus Christ, “who is raised from the dead,” [Rom 7:4].  Thus, we are dead to the law and free from the law and alive unto God.

Note: Paul is illustrating how we are delivered from the law by death.  Therefore, this passage doesn’t contemplate divorce and makes no statement for or against it.  Further note: Divorce is allowed in cases of fornication [Matt 19:9] or desertion [1 Cor 7:10-15].  In either of these cases, once the couple is divorced, the man is no longer “her husband” even though he is still alive, and she is not “his wife” [Hos 2:2].

To serve in newness of life – Rom 7:4-6 – before we were saved “we were in the flesh” according to Rom 8:8-9, and we served “in the oldness of the letter.”  That is the law told us what we were forbidden to do and what we must do, but there was no power in the law to give us the strength to keep a commandment.  The law defined the “motions of sin,” such as adultery and murder, but was powerless to stop them.  Sin working in our members brought forth fruit unto death [Rom 6:23].  David, one of the very best men in the Old Testament and a man after God’s own heart, knew better than to commit adultery and kill a man.  But with sin working in his members he did both.

Now that we are saved, we are joined to “him who is raised from the dead.”  With Jesus in us, and with our old man dead [Rom 6:6] we can “bring forth fruit unto God,” by serving “in newness of spirit.”  This is something we could not do until we were dead, Christ was in us and we were delivered from the law.  As Paul said in 2 Cor 3:6, “the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

Here is a summary of some distinctions between serving in “the letter” and serving in “newness of spirit,” as pointed out by David Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

  • The law was written in tables of stone but the Spirit is written in fleshy tables of the heart [2 Cor 3:3]. One is external; the other internal.
  • Under the law, a “vail is upon their heart,” [2 Cor 3:15]; in the Spirit “the vail shall be taken away,” [2 Cor 3:16]. That is now we have an understanding of the law and a vivid view of sin they never had.
  • Under the law, they served the letter [2 Cor 3:6]. In the Spirit we understand the “spirit” of the law, making verses like Matt 5:21-22, 5:28, and 22:37-40 plain.  See 1 Tim 1:5 and Gal 3:24.
  • Under the law, in their ignorance, they were trying to produce their own righteousness [Rom 10:3]. In the Spirit, the righteousness of Jesus Christ is a gift [Rom 5:17].  The motive in the first is to escape judgment [self-preservation]; the motive in the second is to please and glorify God [1 Cor 6:19-20].
  • Under the law, we are in the “spirit of bondage” to the commandments [Rom 8:15]. They are a grievous and heavy burden.  In the Spirit, we receive the “Spirit of adoption,” and the commandments are now not grievous [1 Jn 5:3] because of the love of God.  The work of the Spirit accomplishes our sanctification which the law could never produce.
  • Under the law, the law was weak through the flesh [Rom 8:3]. In the Spirit, the righteousness of the law can be fulfilled in us [Rom 8:4] because we are partakers of his divine nature [2 Pet 1:4].
  • Under the law, the motions of sins work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. In other words, there is a progressive spiral downward.  Many kings in the Old Testament ended their reigns worse than when they started.  In the Spirit, there is a progressive improvement in the new man until we are changed into the same image from glory to glory [2 Cor 3:18].

To cut off sin’s advantage – Rom 7:7-8a – the law was given so we would know what sin is.  Like Paul said, “I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.”  Yet it is not the fault of the law that we covet.  But rather sin takes advantage of the law and uses it to stir up “all manner of concupiscence in us.”  Concupiscence is strong desire or lust in an evil context.  It’s like telling a child, “No,” or posting a sign that says, “Keep Out.”  These just awaken a person’s curiosity and turn his desires loose.

To cut off sin’s death – Rom 7:8b-11 – taking the last part of verse 8 and all of verse 9 literally and doctrinally, we find this truth.  “Without the law sin was dead.”  That is sin is dead until we have “knowledge between good and evil,” [Deut 1:39].  Sin is dead by virtue of the fact that, “where no law is there is no transgression,” [Rom 4:15] and “sin is not imputed where there is no law,” [Rom 5:13].  So, we are alive “without the law.”  It is for this reason that babies are “safe” and don’t go to hell before they have the knowledge of sin.  As Jesus said in Mk 10:14, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

Then Paul said, “… when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.”  Literally, Paul’s spirit died, as did Adam’s, the moment that he transgressed the law and sin was imputed to him.  By the law, we are all “dead in trespasses and sins,” [Eph 2:1].  Paul doesn’t blame the law for this death since the law “was ordained to life,” [Rom 7:10; Deut 6:24-25].  Rather, he blames the deception of deadly sin [Rom 7:11].

Conclusion: Paul concludes that there is nothing wrong with the law.  It is holy, just and good [Rom 7:12].  Therefore, that which was good was not made death unto me, but rather sin worked death in me by that which is good, [Rom 7:13].  By virtue of the law, sin has become exceeding sinful.  Now that we know what sin is and how horrible it is, we should be directed by the law to the Lord Jesus Christ as sin’s only remedy [Matt 1:21; Jn 1:29; Jn 8:36; Gal 3:24].