Summary: One of the most underrated struggles we have as Christians is that between the Spirit of God in us and the flesh trying to pull us back into ways that are not like God. If you experience that dissonance between what you want to be like and what you are li
We are conceived in bondage to a liar who wants only to steal kill and destroy us. He wants us to stay as far away from God as possible. We do what is not like God by default, it is our programming to do so. You would think that laws telling us how to behave would lessen the chances that we would do wrong. While that’s true to a limited degree, in reality, the presence of a standard not only shows us how far we’ve fallen but actually increases the pull towards doing what is contrary to that standard because of our programming and the lies of the enemy that make us think that we are acting in our best self interest (which is naturally anything that moves us away from dependence and trust in God).
In chapter 6 Paul talked about how we died to sin with Christ on the cross. In chapter 7 he uses the analogy of the death of a spouse. Even as that separates us from the marriage vow, so too did Jesus’ death on the cross separate us from our “marriage” to sin and that old programming.
Chapters 7 and 8 are really one unit. Chapter 7 is about our struggle against sin while we live as redeemed humans in these decaying bodies, and chapter 8 talks about our victory over that fleshly nature through Christ.
1 – 3
A dead person does not and cannot follow the law. When we die we can no longer act in accordance with the law or against it. That doesn’t absolve us for being judged for our obedience or disobedience. Heb 9:27-28 … it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment. But if you could die and escape judgment, that would be really cool.
He uses the analogy of the law of marriage. A woman (or man) is bound by law to be faithful. If they sleep with someone else while their spouse lives they violate the law. But if the spouse dies they can marry another and sleep with them and not violate the law.
So Paul uses that analogy to declare us free from the requirement of the law through the death of Christ and frees us from our old self to be married to Christ.
4 – 6
The law doesn’t die, but we die to being under its jurisdiction. The “fruit” we bore while under the law was death because the law became a “to do” list rather than an affirmation of our character—why? Because as born sinners we can’t help sinning. When told not to touch we automatically want to touch—that’s the human fleshly nature. The knowledge of sin through the law, and then our disobedience of it by our programming, led to death because we consistently do what is not like the character of God and are thus excluded from His presence. It’s a vicious cycle—knowing what God is like but not being able to be like Him. So we die with Christ and are set free from that cycle. No longer do we attempt to mirror God’s character using the dirty, scratched mirror of the external obedience (or lack thereof) of the flesh, but we mirror the character of our new husband because he has placed His Spirit inside of us and given us new life.
So in the remaining portion of this chapter Paul deals with three types of people—and highlights the inability of the law, or a moral code, to make us like God. Sinners (7-14), law keepers (moralists—15-22), and even redeemed humans (23-25).
7 – 14
The law is not sin; it just identifies sin for us. And like I said before, when we know something is wrong, our sinful nature wants to go right out and do that very thing. It’s the same sort of draw that the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil had on Eve. The more she dwelt on it, the more benefit she thought she would get by eating it and the more unfair God became for keeping it from her. It was a lie, but that’s how the enemy works: he makes doing what is wrong seem beneficial, and then accuses us for failing when we give in. We wouldn’t have any of that knowledge were it not for the revelation of the character of God through the law.
Being “alive” apart from the law (9) basically means that I didn’t know how dead I was until I knew how much I had fallen short of God’s character. Without the law, sin goes unnoticed.
In verse 10 Paul is probably thinking of Lev 18:5 “You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.” But as we have seen, we can’t live by them in the flesh, we realize how we cannot obtain that promise but instead are faced with the opposite—death.