Here are a few additional thoughts from a recent Bible class.
Introduction: Every sincere Christian knows exactly what Paul describes in Romans 7. Though he is describing his life under the Law of Moses, the general principles are the same for the Christian. There is a battle inside the minds and hearts of each person who is trying to live the way God wants him to live. There is one part of us that pulls in the direction of sin, and another part that pulls in the direction of righteousness. Our inability to be perfect, regardless of how hard we try, can be debilitating and discouraging.
I. Dead to the Law, Married to Christ (7:1-6)
A. Paul begins the chapter by introducing an example that will illustrate an important principle to understanding the means of justification. The law (any law) is only binding on a person while that person is alive (1).
B. A married woman, for example, is legally and lawfully bound to her husband as long as he is alive. If he dies, she is released from the law that had bound them together (2-3).
C. Paul applies that principle to the relationship of the Christian to the Law of Moses. The Christian (specifically, the Christian Jew) has become “dead” to the Law of Moses that he might be “married” to Christ (4; cf. Gal. 3:19-25).
D. Since this change has been made, and they are now free “from that which held [them] captive,” they can serve God in a completely new way (5-6).
II. The Civil War (7:7-25)
A. In this section, as he has done before, Paul raises possible objections or questions that some might have, and then he answers them.
B. “Is the Law sin?” (7)
1. In other words, if the Law of Moses has been cast aside because no one kept it perfectly, was the Law of Moses bad? Paul’s answer is, “By no means!”
2. The Law of Moses helped him to understand sin (7-8). But in pointing out the sinfulness of coveting, for example, Paul found himself tempted to covet. His desires found an opportunity through the law to entice him to violate it (cf. James 1:14-15).
3. There was a time when Paul was “alive apart from the law” (probably a reference to his infancy and childhood, before he became accountable). But when he became accountable, sin arose through his violations of the Law (9-11).
4. So the Law – in and of itself – is holy, righteous, and good. It is the weakness of the flesh that gets exploited by law (12).
C. “Did that which is good bring death to me?” (13)
1. No, sin brought death. But the existence of law is what offered the opportunity to sin. Therefore, through repeated violations of the Law of Moses, sin multiplied (13).
2. While the law itself is spiritual, we humans often give in to our carnal impulses and violate the law (14). This is what leads to the civil war in our minds and hearts.
3. Paul often found himself doing the things that he knew were wrong (because the Law said they were wrong) and not doing the things he knew were right (15-16).
4. It was as if sin had completely taken over his entire life. He had the desire to do what was right, but not the ability (17-20).
5. By way of summary, Paul states that even when he wants to do what’s right, evil is always close at hand (21). Though he loves God’s law and delights in obeying it, he is always fighting temptation and often loses those individual battles (22-23).
D. His conclusion: “Wretched man that I am!” (24). He knows that he cannot deliver himself from that wretched condition. So if he will be delivered at all, he will have to be delivered by someone stronger than himself. Who could that be? “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (25).
Conclusion: When we base our justification on the perfect keeping of laws, we will consistently find ourselves exclaiming with Paul, “Wretched man that I am!” We will not keep God’s commands perfectly, no matter how hard we try. So if we will ever be justified, we must look for another way. Thankfully, God has supplied that way through Jesus. In the next chapter, Paul will write of the many blessings of being set free from the law of sin and death.
Introduction: Paul concluded chapter five with a strong statement about the power of God’s grace. “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (5:20). If that is true, some might try to make the case that we should actually sin more in order to obtain more grace. But Paul will counter that idea in chapter six and explain the relationship that should exist between a Christian and sin.
I. Dead to Sin (6:1-14)
A. Paul asks a question that may have been on the minds of some, “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” His answer is an emphatic negative. Those who have died to sin cannot continue to live in it (1-2).
B. Next he explains that when one is baptized, there is a death, a burial, and a resurrection that take place (3-4).
1. We die to the habitual practice of sin when we make up our minds that we are going to believe in, trust, and follow Jesus. We call that “repentance.” While we will still commit momentary, isolated sins, we will no longer live in sin. It will not dominate our lives like it once did (1 John 3:4-10).
2. Having died to the practice of sin, we are buried in water, and raised from the water into a new life (4). This marks the moment that our lives and our status before God change.
3. An important application point as it relates to baptism and salvation: just as Jesus was not raised to new life until he was first buried, it is the same with one who is baptized. The new life begins after the burial, not before.
C. Explaining further, Paul says that our “old man (self)” was, in a sense, crucified so that our sins would no longer enslave us (6-7; cf. Col. 3:9-10; Eph. 4:20-24).
D. Having been released from the enslaving power of sin, we can now live eternally with him (8-10). Therefore, the Christian should consider himself dead to the practice of sin, but very much alive in relation to God (11).
E. The practical application of the “dead to sin, alive to God” principle is that we are not to allow sin to rule us. We are to present ourselves as instruments of righteousness (12-14).
F. The bottom line is that when one decides to become a Christian, he is making a commitment to live differently. One cannot be joined to Christ in baptism and come up from the water content to live as he did before.
1. So if one is living in adultery, he cannot become a Christian and continue to live in adultery (Col. 3:5-7).
2. If one is a thief, he cannot become a Christian and continue to steal (Eph. 4:28).
3. The Corinthians are a great example of this: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
II. Slaves to Righteousness (6:15-23)
A. Just in case someone might try to contradict Paul’s teaching a different way, the apostle closes that door, too. The possible objection: “If we live under the grace of God, then it shouldn’t matter if we sin. Grace gives us license to live however we want, right?” Wrong (15).
B. Paul explains again, but in different words, what he explained earlier. Everyone serves either sin or righteousness (16). The Christians in Rome had been servants of sin, but when they obeyed the gospel they became servants of righteousness (17-18).
1. The “form” of doctrine refers to what Paul described in 6:3-4. “Form” means pattern. There was a pattern that they imitated when they became Christians.
2. Just as Jesus died FOR sin, was buried in the earth, and raised from that grave, we die TO sin, are buried in water, and raised again. This is how one “obeys the gospel” (1 Cor. 15:1-4; Rom. 10:16; 2 Thess. 1:8; 1 Pet. 4:17).
C. Paul admits to using a rudimentary comparison, but it serves his purpose to communicate the necessity of not being slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness (19).
D. When they were living as slaves to sin, they were producing no fruit worthy of praise. Instead, they were producing things that bring shame and death (20-21). But now as slaves of God, they produce fruit that leads to holiness and eternal life (22).
E. Living in sin brings death. But God offers eternal life as a gift through Jesus Christ (23).
Conclusion: Grace is a blessing too valuable to adequately describe. It is impossible to out-sin the power of God’s grace (Rom. 5:20). But that does not mean that we have the right to try (Rom. 6:1-2). Our attitude toward sin should be, “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on” (Prov. 4:14-15).
Introduction: In the previous chapter, Paul used Abraham as an illustration of how one can be justified by faith apart from meritorious works in general and the Law of Moses in particular. In this chapter, he will first mention some of the results and blessings of justification, then he will explain that what humanity lost through Adam it can regain through Jesus.
I. Blessings of Justification (5:1-11)
A. The chapter begins with “therefore,” which is a clear indication that what he is about to write relates directly to what he previously wrote.
B. From 3:21 – 4:25, Paul explained and illustrated what it means to be justified, not by works of merit, but by faith in Jesus. To paraphrase verse one, “Since, then, we have been justified by faith, here are some of the results and blessings of that justification.”
1. We have peace with God (1). Sin creates hostility with and separation from God (James 4:4; Isa. 59:1-2). But through faith in Jesus, fellowship is restored and God turns his back on our sins (Psa. 51:9).
2. We have access into God’s grace (2). Grace is not unconditionally given. We access all of the benefits of his grace when we stop trusting in ourselves and start trusting him (Eph. 2:4-9).
3. We have reason to rejoice in hope and in our sufferings (2-5). It is easy to rejoice in good times, but not so easy to rejoice in bad times. But when we consider the benefits of difficulties, we can improve our outlook (James 1:2-4).
4. We have the indwelling of God’s Spirit (5). The Spirit of God is given when one becomes a child of God (Acts 2:38; 5:32; Gal. 4:6). He serves as a “seal” and an “earnest” of future reward (Eph. 1:13-14; 2 Cor. 1:22), and helps us in our growth and sanctification (Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 3:16; Rom. 8:13).
5. We have protection from the wrath of God (9-10). One of the intriguing lessons to consider from this text is that when Jesus saves us, he is saving us from God (Heb. 10:31; 12:29).
6. We have been reconciled (11). Sin caused separation. Through the death of Jesus we can be brought back into fellowship with God (Col. 1:21-22; 2 Cor. 5:18-20).
C. The above blessings were made possible because Jesus died for weak, ungodly, sinful enemies (6-8). It is a love that defies description and understanding (1 John 4:9-10)!
II. What We Lost in Adam, We Gain in Christ (5:12-21)
A. This section contains some of the more difficult statements in Romans. But its primary message is clear: while Adam’s disobedience opened the door for sin to be committed, Jesus’ obedience opened the door for salvation to be received.
B. First, let’s consider what Paul writes about Adam and his sin:
1. Sin entered the world through him (12).
2. Death (physical and spiritual) entered the world because of his sin (12).
3. Sin existed prior to the Law of Moses, and death reigned over all who sinned, even though their sins may not have been exactly like Adam’s sin (13-14).
4. Adam is a “type” of Christ (14). Wayne Jackson, in his helpful book, Biblical Figures of Speech, defines a “type” this way, “A type is a real, exalted happening in history that was divinely ordained by the omniscient God to be a prophetic picture of the good things he purposed to bring to fruition through Christ Jesus” (p. 126).
C. Second, consider what Paul writes about Jesus and his obedience. Regarding Adam and Jesus, the comparison is more in how they are different than in how they are alike (15-19).
1. Through Adam, many died; through Jesus, grace abounded (15).
2. Through Adam came condemnation; through Jesus, justification (16).
3. Through Adam, death reigned; through Jesus, life reigns (17).
4. Through Adam came sin and condemnation; through Jesus, justification and righteousness (18-19).
D. The Law of Moses was given “to increase the trespass” – that is, to shine a bright light on the sinfulness of man (20; cf. 7:7, 13). This was to increase man’s awareness of how much he needs God’s grace in Jesus (21).
Conclusion: A great summary statement for this section is the last part of Romans 5:20, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”