Summary: This is the third message from a series over Romans 6-11. This series examines the new live we have under God's grace. This message examines the struggle between the flesh and the Spirit.
Tommy Lasorda the former Los Angeles Dodgers manager describes his battle with bad habits: “I took a pack of cigarettes from my pocket, stared at it and said, “Who’s stronger, you or me?” The answer was me. I stopped smoking. Then I took a vodka martini and said to it, “Who’s stronger, you or me?” Again the answer was me. I quit drinking. Then I went on a diet. I looked at a big plate of linguine with clam sauce and said, “Who’s stronger, you or me?” And a little clam looked up at me and answered, “I am.” I can’t beat linguine. Scattered throughout the first six chapters of the book of Romans, Paul highlights the complications that result from the union of the Law and the sinful human nature. Although sin has been talked about quite a bit so far in the book, as we turn to chapter 7 things really begin to get personal for Paul. In a very personal way, Paul sets out for us a picture of the ongoing struggle with sin from his own life. Chapter 7 presents us with the reality of the ongoing struggle as well as some wisdom to help us gain greater freedom from this struggle. Today, we want to discover the valuable principles we can learn from Paul’s own experience.
I. Understanding our personal relationship to the Law.
A. The authority of the law remains over us as long as we live.
1. So far in the book Paul has shown that the purpose of the Law was to point out sin and under the Law sin actually increased.
2. The only way to escape the authority of the Law is to die, the problem is that when we die we face judgment and the penalty for our inability to keep the Law.
3. Paul decides to illustrate this fact by using the marriage relationship. He shows that upon the death of the husband the wife is free to remarry and is no longer under the authority of the first husband.
4. In order for us to be free to have a relationship with God, we must die to the Law.
B. Paul shows that there is a way to die to the Law and escape judgment.
1. In chapter 6 Paul showed that we were united with Jesus in His death, burial and resurrection through baptism.
2. Christ by sacrificing his body and shedding His blood makes it possible for us to die to the Law and be made alive to God.
3. By setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace. (Ephesians 2:15—NIV 2011)
4. Through baptism we actually die to the Law and are resurrected to a new life in Jesus Christ.
5. This change is not something that we have orchestrated through our own power, this is something that God made possible through His power.
II. Bringing the relationship of sin and the Law into proper focus.
A. The Law spells out exactly what God considers to be sin.
1. The Law in no way is sinful. The Law only informs us what sin is, and establishes the penalty for disobedience and the blessings for obedience.
2. The negative effect of the Law is that it stimulates our sinful nature causing an increased desire to rebel.
3. To highlight the idea of desiring Paul focuses on the tenth commandment. We also should note Paul’s tone becomes very personal.
4. Perhaps, Paul chooses this commandment because as a young believer it was something that he struggled with.
5. There is one other possibility, maybe he sees that the other nine commandments are broken through sins that begin with coveting.
B. The Law is not the villain in Paul’s view, sin is the one that seeks to destroy us.
1. Undoubtedly, as Paul mentions the word sin here he is referring to Satan showing that he uses the Law as the point to launch an attack against us.
2. Without the Law sin is powerless, it lays dormant and ineffective. Basically sin for all practical purposes is dead without the Law.
3. Paul illustrates this by showing that before was able to understand the Law as a child he was free from the effects of the Law and the eternal consequences that accompany disobedience.
4. The problem begins to surface as a child begins to understand more and more. This understanding allows sin to literally spring into action.
5. Paul shows that as sin came to life, we were condemned to die because of it.
C. Paul spends some extensive time to show that the Law of God is Holy and right.
1. God is holy, and is incapable of sin so it would be utterly impossible for the Law He authored to be sinful.