The Way - Day 114 (Romans 7)

Daily Reading:
Romans 7
Don't forget to journal in your Foundations Book!
Daily Reading Audio Commentary:
Today's Question or Action Step:
Paul tells the Romans that God's law is good and perfect, but the enemy uses it to take advantage of us, deceive us, and bring us spiritual death.  Where does Paul find his hope in verse 25 after his lament in verse 24? Do you typically find yourself following Paul's example?
Weekly Memory Verse(s):
OPTION 1: Psalm 37:23-24
OPTION 2: Proverbs 15:22-23
OPTION 3: Matthew 5:47-48
Further Study Resources:
Study Guide for Romans 7 (Enduring Word - David Guzik)
Pastor Tom's Journal on Today's Reading:
Romans 7:1-12
Paul is certain that there may be some misunderstandings by his Jewish readers, especially since he has emphasized that a person who is saved by grace through faith is no longer under the law (6:14). But he was very careful to mention that the law was still necessary to provide a knowledge of right and wrong for those who were yet to believe; however, obedience to the law, which no one has kept perfectly, has no power to bring salvation but only condemnation. When Paul writes to the church at Galatia, he explains the significance of the law and faith:

"But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith
which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor
[teacher] to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But
after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons
of God through faith in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:23-26).

To help his Jewish readers have a fuller understanding of this truth, Paul draws their attention to a simple concept about the law - a man who is alive is still obligated to keep the law, but when he dies he is no longer bound by the law. In order to simplify what he is saying, Paul uses an illustration of a woman who is married to a man. According to the law, the woman is still married as long as her husband is alive; however, upon her husband's death she is freed from that law (7:1-3). In the same way, Paul's readers had "become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another--to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God" (7:4). When a person professes faith in Jesus Christ, he dies to the penalty of the law and has "been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter" (7:6). So, when a believing sinner is freed from the penalty of the law (death), the Holy Spirit produces new life through the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Speaking from his personal experience with the law, Paul quickly reminds them that "I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, 'You shall not covet'" (7:7). Instead of producing righteousness through exposure to the law, Paul said that "sin, taking opportunity by the commandment [of the law], produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead" (7:8). Knowledge of the law actually made Paul's rebellious heart more prone to evil desires (7:8); and when he finally began to understand the law's moral requirements, he also realized he had no power to keep the law perfectly (7:9). Paul ultimately discovered that his attempts to keep the law could only "bring death" (7:10).
Therefore, Paul's Jewish readers should not view the law as evil, but rather as the means by which God exposes the wickedness of a sinner's heart and causes him to seek righteousness outside of his own human effort. At the point when a sinner recognizes he has broken God's moral law, he is then ready to receive God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Romans 7:13-25
Thus far in his letter to the Roman Christians, Paul has mostly focused on providing his readers with a fuller understanding of their salvation through Jesus Christ. His written words in Romans 1:18-3:20 revealed that all men, regardless of nationality, are sinners who are void of righteousness and deserving of God's condemnation (current and future). In Romans 3:21-5:21 Paul rejects human effort as a way of finding forgiveness and then presents faith in Jesus Christ as God's provision for sinners to receive righteousness. Following faith in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Paul writes about the demonstration of that righteousness in the life of the Christian, which is called sanctification (Romans 6:1-8:39).

One of the major obstacles to Paul's Jewish readers was that the law of God did not seem to be needed since it could not bring salvation; however, Paul was careful to point out that the law is necessary because it provides God's standard of right and wrong (7:7). The purpose of the law was to bring the knowledge of sin, but seeking to obey it could never bring righteousness since no man could perfectly keep it (Romans 3:10-18, 23). Therefore, we can safely conclude that the value of the law is that it alerts our conscience to sin and forces us to seek righteousness outside of human effort.

Paul declared to his readers that "the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good" (7:12), which meant that the law itself is an accurate reflection of God's holiness and man's sinfulness. Some might mistake the law as the thing which brings death, but Paul wanted them to know that it is rather sin which brings death (7:13). Explaining Romans 7:13 the Bible Knowledge Commentary by John Walvoord and Roy Zuck says,

"The principle of sin, not the law, becomes death to an individual (5:12).
But sin uses the commandment, the good thing, as an agent or instrument to keep on producing death in a person and thereby sin is seen as utterly sinful.
The internal principle or nature of sin uses the specific commandments of the
law of manifest its true nature as opposed to God and to demonstrate
its power within individuals" (New Testament Commentary, p.467).

Paul simply declares, "the law is spiritual [comes from God], but I am carnal, sold under sin" (7:14). It is here that Paul begins to explain life following repentance and justification. The law brings the knowledge of sin and so a person seeks forgiveness and mercy from God. God willingly forgives those who ask, but does this mean that they will never sin again? No. A struggle between the new inner self (desires to obey God) and the old selfish flesh (desires to follow sin) rages in the heart of a believer. Paul details his own struggle after having faith in Jesus Christ:

"For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not
practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to
do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who
do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my
flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform
what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do;
but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will
not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me" (Romans

Paul was certainly not making excuses for his own sin, but he was declaring the reality of his own struggle between the flesh and the spirit. There is a war going on inside of each one of us. The law of sin wants to pull us back into a lifestyle contrary to our new life in Christ (7:21-23); however, through Jesus Christ we can fight against these evil desires (7:24-25). This fight can be frustrating at times, but we must consistently submit ourselves to the ways of God and ask for His help in the struggle.

Dear God, the war between good and evil inside of me is sometimes very discouraging. I try to do what is right, but it seems like I'm always being pulled back into sin. I know that this battle is not an easy one so I pray that You would provide the strength I need to endure temptations and trials