Theologians throughout history have debated whether or not
Paul is referring to a converted Christian or a non converted Christian in Romans
7. There are several reasons that lead you to believe that Paul is talking
about a converted Christian. First, from Verse 14 onward, Paul moves from
a past tense to the present tense. He would not have done that, if he was not
speaking to his post-converted experience. Secondly, Paul's reference to his
tremendous struggle completely contradicts what he said about himself as a
Pharisee in Philippians 3:7. The contrast to the verse in Philippians and
in Romans 7:24, is dramatic and completely contradictory to his
pre-converted experience. Thirdly, in Romans 7:22, Paul refers to his
delight in the Law of God. It is not normal for an unconverted man to delight in
the Law of God. Romans 8:7, states that the natural man is enmity with
the Law of God. Fourthly, if you notice the context of Romans 5,6,7,8,
all deal with the Christian. In light of that fact, he would not immediately
turn to his non Christian experience. Fifthly, statements such as in Romans
8:23, speaks about groaning and in Galatians 5:17, he refers to the
struggle between flesh and Spirit. The statements agree with Romans 7,
and the Christian experience.
I. Our human nature is incompatible with God's Law.
· When you take Romans
7 as a unit and if you ask the question "Is Paul referring to the
believer or the unbeliever" you miss the whole point. Paul is proving a
very different and important point.
· God's Holy Law (which
is good, spiritual, and righteous) compared to sinful human nature, (which is
the same in both the believer and the unbeliever), are incompatible.
· If you look at the
true issue Paul is dealing with, you can see the irrelevance of whether or not
Paul is addressing the believer. You still have human nature and it is
incompatible with God's Holy Law.
· The fact that God's
Law and human nature are incompatible, means that we can never be saved by the
works of the Law.
· Paul states in Romans
6:14, that a Christian is under grace. We have been delivered from under
the Law. The statement Paul made in regard to the Law and grace put his
physical life at risk. The Jewish Christians referred to Paul as a heretic,
because they felt he was against the Law. It was clear that Paul was not
against the Law; he was against legalism. We should all understand the
difference between the law and legalism. The legalist has the belief that you
are earning salvation by obedience. We see the reaction of the people against
Paul in Acts 21:28. Paul had to explain his comments and why he said
what he said. Paul is speaking to a specific group in Romans 7, those
who know the Law.
II. Paul starts by stating clearly that the Law has dominion over man.
· The word dominion
means rulership. As long as you are living, you are under the Law. Once you
die, the Law no longer has a hold on you.
· The Law Paul is
referring to is the moral Law. Paul is including the whole Law because the
Jews did not make the distinction between the ceremonial Law and moral Law.
Many Christians do, the same today. Paul is speaking about the moral Law as we
see in Verse 7.
III. Marriage is until death.
· Paul delivers a
difficult illustration in Romans 7:2-3. We need to properly understand
this illustration. When a woman marries a man, she stays with him until he
dies. The bible teaches that marriage is until death.
· The word bound in Verse
2, means more than, "she is stuck with him". The word also means
that she is under him by the terms of the Law.
· We see in Ephesians
5:25, that Husbands are to love their wives, as Christ loved the Church.
If we do that, there will never be abuse in a marriage.
· When God created Adam
and Eve, they were created equal. When sin came, God gave them another Law, as
we see in Genesis 3:16. The husband also became the ruler over the
· The problem in Romans
7:2, is that the woman has found another man. The man she has found is
wonderful and she wants to marry him.
IV. What is the problem with the first marriage.
· There are three
problems with the first marriage. First, her husband is not sympathetic. When
she makes a mistake, all he wants to do is punish her. Second, the job of the
first husband is not to help his wife, rather to order his wife. He was not
sympathetic, he ordered her around, and he would not help her. Third, all he
did was command of her obedience, and when she disobeys he condemns her, so
she is always under guilt.
V. Now she finds another man.
· She can't marry him
because he is a fine man and he won't commit adultery by marrying her. She
says I wish my first husband would die.
· The problem is the
first husband can't die. The reason the first husband can't die is because he
is the Law. We were married to the Law. We were under the jurisdiction of the
· To be clear, the Law
is good and Holy. The problem is the Law can't sympathize with us. The Law
cannot help us as stated in Romans 8:3. All the law can do to us is
stated in Galatians 3:10. Cursed is the one that does not obey. To live
under the Law is to live under fear.
· We immediately think
how wonderful it would be to marry the second man. The second man is Jesus
Christ. First, Jesus can sympathize with you. Hebrews 4:15, states that
Jesus can understand and sympathize with us. Second, He can help us. One of
the most beautiful aspects of Christ is the third point; He does not condemn
us. Romans 8:1, says that we are not condemned.
VI. The problem we now face is that the first husband will not die.
· We see this point
stated in Matthew 5:18. The wife does not have a solution. The woman
wants the husband to die, but he will not and cannot die.
· Those who say the Law
is done away with, do not understand that the Law cannot die. The Law is
eternal. The second man says I can't marry you, you are still married to your
· The first thing, that
the second man says, is that He must make the first marriage null and void. As
a result we face two problems. First, you can't get the first husband to
commit adultery because, the Law is good and Holy and will not sin. Secondly,
he won't die. No matter how you look at it, from the human point of view,
there is no solution.
· Christ then says I
have a solution. The wife says, what is the solution? Christ says, why don't
you die? The wife says, if I die how can I marry you? He says, I don't mean
die by yourself, let me take you and put an end to you. When I put an end to
you, I will annul your first marriage. Then I will raise you up and you will
be my wife. In Romans 7:4, we find the solution. The woman wants the
husband to die; in application it is the woman who dies. It is us, those who
have been under the Law, who die. When we die in Christ, we have been freed
from the marriage to the law.
· The death of Christ
was a corporate death. Christ died for all mankind. When we were baptized, we
were baptized into Christ's death. We are delivered from sin and the Law, when
we accept the death of Christ as we see in Romans 6 and 7.
· The Law is still
there, but we are no longer married to the Law. The Law can say, you obey me
or else you will die. You say to the Law, I am no longer under you
jurisdiction. That does not mean that we can do as we please. You are not a
widow, you are simply married to someone else.
· Notice the entirety
of Romans 7:4. We see what the second husband has to say about the
fruit we are to bear in John 15:1. Under the first marriage you live
under rules, do's and don'ts. Under the new marriage you are to bear fruit by
abiding in Christ as stated in John 15:4-5. If you are married to
Christ, you will abide in Him.
VII. We must understand that we are to produce fruit and be obedient.
· We are to do what is
right and good in the eyes of God and according to the Law. We do this in
Christ. He is the vine, we are the branches; if it doesn't come through Him,
it does not work. Romans 7:5, further details Paul's point. In the
flesh, means before we died.
· The only fruit you
bear under the Law is sin. In that case we end up in death. Once you accept
Christ and become His bride, you see what occurs in Romans 5:6. We are
delivered from the Law.
· To God, bearing fruit
is not only doing something good, it is doing good with the right motive. We
obey God because we are praying to Him. We are in Christ, we love Him, and are
filled with His Spirit. When all that occurs, then bearing fruit is automatic.
· We will bear the
right fruit because we are connected to the vine. Don't focus on the fruit,
focus on being in the vine, and we will do what is right.
· We have a God who
saves and does not put guilt on us every time we fall. God says the reason you
fell is because, for the moment you stopped abiding in Me. Let that be a
reminder, only when you abide in Christ, can you bear fruit.
· We have been
delivered from the Law as Paul covers in Romans 7:6. The new marriage
does not mean sitting idle; we should be serving. Under the Law you serve the
Law for one reason; you serve it out of fear. You are afraid of punishment and
the curse. The newness of the Spirit means you serve God out of love and
Paul wanted to be a slave of Jesus Christ, and to serve Him
because Christ was his friend and Savior. We keep God's Law because we love Him.
We are in Jesus Christ and we are His slave because we want to be. You cannot be
married to both men, that would be committing adultery. When you have accepted
Jesus Christ, He will not divorce you just because you may stumble, fall, and
commit sin. He still loves you; He loved you long before you ever married Him.
He died for you long before you ever accepted Him. When you fall, you feel
terrible because you have hurt Christ. The Christian person hurts when they have
hurt their wonderful loving husband. The Law and Christ are not enemies. The
problem is, the Law and the sinful nature are enemies. The problem is not the
Law. The Law is Holy, good, spiritual, and righteous. The problem is that in the
first marriage we are sinners incompatible with the law; therefore, that
marriage can never work. Christ gives assurance, hope, and produces fruit; that
fruit is in harmony with the Law. What we fail to keep in the first marriage is
now in harmony, with what we keep, and what we are in Christ. The second
marriage is a wonderful marriage. We are in the Everlasting Covenant, where the
Law is written in our Heart. It is part of our delight and desire. How wonderful
it is to abide in Christ!