The book of Romans is believed to have been written between 56-58 AD by the Apostle Paul. It is recognized as Paul’s most concise writing on what the foundation of the Christian faith is all about. What was the Law and why was it given? What does it mean to live in the newness of life after the fulfillment of the Law? It is Paul’s message in the book of Romans that ties the old and the new together. As we dive in, pray for understanding. Watch for simplicity in the complex. Benefit from the logic and imagery, as Paul, through the Holy Spirit, explains to the believers the pure message of the gospel of Christ.
Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
Are we bound by the Law of Moses or by the laws of conscience? We are bound as long as we live. Not only are we shackled to the keeping of the law, but to the deadly consequences of breaking it. Understand this, a spectacular thing happened when Christ was on the cross. When you envision the cross, see the perfect, righteous son of God there, but do not fail to see your own sin-corrupted life there as well. Those who have believed the gospel need to know that their sins, and their dead sinful selves, were on Jesus as He suffered there in order to put them away forever. The law is binding as long as we live, but when we die, we are free.
A prisoner condemned to life in prison is no longer kept in his cell after he dies. He is free from his punishment. Likewise, when we surrendered our lives to Christ, we in essence died to sin. That’s why we needed to be born again. In other words, the only way that we escape the penalty of our sin, which is eternal separation from God in hell with the wrath of God upon us, is that we are in Christ, and we are spiritually included in His death. Spiritually, we are raised with Him on resurrection Sunday to live a new life no longer bound by the consequences of the law. That may sound strange as we don’t think of ourselves as bound by anything, but temporal liberty is an illusion, it’s because of the longsuffering of God that we don’t all immediately perish when we sin. Adam was instructed that on the day that he transgressed God’s commandment, he would die. Although his body continued living for many years, the consequences and the separation that followed began immediately.
For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified). For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another; (Romans 2: 12-15).
There is no escaping the reality that whether Jew or Gentile, without dying to sin and being born again we are condemned eternally by the law, the truth of God, to damnation.
For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
As is Paul's method, he makes a statement, and now he is going to support that statement with an example - one that everyone can reason through and understand. If a woman is married she is bound to that husband. But if the husband dies, she is free from the husband. Pointing out the obvious, that means that as long as he is alive, if she leaves him to be with another man, she commits adultery. But notice, she is not guilty of adultery if he passes on. The nation of Israel had many prophets speak to them of their adulterous (and idolatrous) ways with regard to their worship of God. They repeatedly tolerated and incorporated other Gods into their worship. God allowed them to be taken into captivity and scattered them among many nations. All suffered the wrath of God on their sin, from the oldest to the young and innocent. The devout leaders in Paul’s time understood all too well the historic sinfulness of their nation. They did not wish to be guilty again of turning their back on God for any other God. To be saved from the wrath and judgment of God, it has to be understood that Jesus and the Father are equal, and that God the Father accepted the sacrifice of His Son to satisfy all that the law required of mankind. Jesus wasn’t a new God, He was God from the beginning. While the old testament demanded obedience to the truth of God written on tables of stone, the Messiah brought an end to that system by Christ’s sacrifice. Replacing tables of stone with a tender heart of flesh, with the person of Jesus, who is the true word of God. After calvary the wrath of God was satisfied and the grace of God was made available.
Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
You can have seeds or you can have a garden, but you can not have both. If you cherish the seeds, keeping them airtight in jars to be admired on a dusty shelf, you’ll never eat of the bounty that they would produce. The seed has to die, it falls away, and the promise within it takes over to be transformed into a plant that is able to produce living fruit. Likewise, the law of God does not produce life and fruit, it reveals our need for both. It had to be planted, Christ had to die and to be buried, in order for the resurrection to occur. The law has been fulfilled and life sprung forth in a borrowed tomb outside of Jerusalem.
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. (Matthew 5:17). We recognize the suffering servant of God, the Messiah Jesus, because the law was a picture of our need for a savior. When we are reborn in spirit, born again, we die to our old life and become alive in Christ. The Law did not bring forth fruit. It led to death. Christ leads to eternal Life. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.(Romans 6:14) In some ways, the law increased our awareness of sin, and sometimes increased our desire for it. If that is confusing, think of how many times we see the speed limit posted and decide how far above that law we can go without being caught. By seeing the sign, we decide how to break the rule. Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:20)
For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
The law is perfect, but did not have the ability to redeem us. God honored the faith it took to obey and pushed sin back a year for His people. The legacy of the law was a mountain of death, after penalty upon penalty for a multitude of sins that resulted in offerings requiring the death of innumerable animals, thee law could not get us to heaven. The law declares us guilty. We were bound by the curse of sin. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (James 1 :14-15)
But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
We are freed from the law by our death and rebirth in Christ. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8: 2-4)
We are no longer bound by the letter of the law, we walk after the Spirit. It is not adultery or idolatry for the faithful Jew or Gentile to die out to sin and become new in Christ. Because dying is the only way to live.
For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
Paul’s comments here are a little confusing to most. There was a time as a child Paul did not have the knowledge of sin. But once he became of age and knew the law, sin was revealed to him and that awareness bound him to the consequences. Sin is deceitful. The saying is that sin will take you farther than you want to go. Paul is saying here that the problem isn’t in the Law itself. The law is holy and right. We are the problem, the sinful nature of man.
For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
If I died out to sin when I became a believer, why do I still commit sin? We are born into the newness of life through Christ, but we are walking around in the flesh. Just as Adam did not immediately die physically when he sinned against God, we don’t immediately receive our sinless new bodies when we are born again. Positionally, we are in Christ and accepted by the Father immediately, but practically, the battle continues as we grow in our relationship to God. Paul confesses that even though he wants to do the right things; he desires to do the right things, he is a descendant of Adam, and sin is ever present. Paul in chapter 3 quotes from the old testament about the goodness of man.
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good. God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Psalm 53: 1-3)
Nothing has changed- In our flesh there is no good thing. Jesus himself warns us of this battle. Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.(Matthew 26:41) Paul has revealed a biblical principle… despite our best efforts, when we would like to do good, evil is present. It is a continuous warfare for every believer that cannot be ignored.
For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
The inward spiritual man desires the things of God he has been made new. He delights in God’s word, desires open communication and prayer with the Creator above all things. But the battle is between the flesh and the spirit. The old and the new. If we are born again, we have shed ourselves of the old us (the old man). As frustrating as it is, the old man needs to stay dead. That’s why Paul said, “I die daily.” Daily I choose to lay to rest the old me, and to take determined steps to be more like my Savior.
The old man does not define who we are - we should not dig him up and carry him around. So Paul in his frustration, with himself and in teaching us, asks who will deliver us. We can’t deliver ourselves, the law showed us that. It is the redemptive work of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit that delivers us. We renew our mind daily in God’s word. We control our flesh daily by submitting our minds and wills to God in prayer. We keep the cross first in our understanding, in order to live forever, what is temporary has to die.
Thank you for studying with us! God bless!