Romans 7:3-13

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

February 3, 1999

Introduction

We have seen Paul present the case that man is not made right before God through his own deeds or the keeping of the law, but simply through faith. Our salvation is not a matter of something weíve earned, it is a "grace", a free, undeserved, gift from God. All we do is trust Him to receive it.

Weíve been looking at the subject of our sin nature and how we are to learn to "reckon" ourselves to be dead to sin and alive to God. We "reckon" ourselves dead to sin because we have "died" with Christ.

Last week we started a section where Paul is tying our death on the cross with Christ with our freedom from the Law:

(Rom 7:1-3 KJV) 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? {2} 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. {3} 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.

:1-6 Freed from the Law by death

As we get back to the verse, keep in mind that Paulís intent is NOT to teach on divorce and remarriage, but to simply use the illustration of a woman being freed from the obligation of her marriage when her husband dies.

:3 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.

free from Ė eleutheros Ė freeborn; free, exempt, unrestrained, not bound by an obligation

The freedom that the widow has from the law of being married to her husband allows her to be married to another man.

Last week, in looking at some of the various allowances in Scripture for divorce and remarriage, we looked the instance of when a believer is "abandoned" by a non-believer:

(1 Cor 7:15 KJV) But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

Here in Romans 7, the word "free from" seems to carry the same idea as the word "not under bondage", where the believing spouse is no longer "bound" (enslaved to) the unbelieving spouse if they should leave. The point of being "free" or "not bound" is that you are free to be remarried.

:4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ

are become dead Ė thanatoo Ė to put to death; itís passive in voice meaning, "you have been put to death". Itís a past tense in that "you have already been put to death".

body of Christ Ė I believe Paulís talking about the actual physical, earthly body of Jesus that was crucified on the cross. Heís not talking here about the church as the body of Christ.

Paul is again referring to this mysterious thing we looked at back in chapter six:

(Rom 6:3 KJV) Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

The focus in chapter six was to show that our death with Christ freed us from the power of sin itself:

(Rom 6:7 KJV) For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Here, the focus is a little different. Here the focus is on how our death with Christ has freed us not just from sin, but now also from the Law.

:4 that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead

Paulís illustration is a little lacking here. You have to be careful not to try to follow the "widow scenario" too far. With the widow scenario, the one that doesnít die is the one who gets to remarry. With his application here, itís the one thatís DEAD that gets to remarry.

Why? Because the Law isnít going to die, we are the ones that need to die.

The point is that the bond of marriage between us and the Law has been broken. We are now freed from our "marriage" to the Law in order to remarry.

The one to whom we are remarried is the one who was raised from the dead.

:4 that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

Some have suggested that Paul is changing illustrations here, from marriage to fruit trees. I think heís staying with the same subject, the subject of marriage.

Whatís one of the "fruits" of marriage?

Children. Offspring. Fruit.

Paul is saying that one of the results of our death to the Law is that we are now able to be "married" to another, and to have children from this new union, to bear fruit.

 

 

Jesus said,

(John 15:1-8 KJV) I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. {2} Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

One of the principles of good gardening is to prune your plants. If you have too many "suckers", branches that are full of leaves but not flowers or fruit, then they draw life and sap away from the good branches. In order to support the fruitful branches, you have to prune and trim back.

Sometimes we get too involved in too many things. Thereís not enough "life" or even time in our lives to do everything. As a good gardener, God will sometimes have to prune us back. Sometimes we can learn to do it ourselves.

{3} Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

"clean" means "pruned". They have been pruned through Jesusí word to them.

One of the best pruning shears in our lives is in Godís Word. Keep reading. Stay pruned.

{4} Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. {5} I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

The key to producing fruit in your life is staying with Jesus. Thereís nothing mystical about "abiding". It simply means to "stay put" or "remain" in a place. You donít need to wander anywhere from Jesus. He has what you need.

{6} If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. {7} If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. {8} Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

Bearing fruit is a part of being His disciple. Bearing much fruit.

What does it mean to "bear fruit"?

1) Inner qualities that come from being with Jesus.

(Gal 5:22-23 KJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, {23} Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

2) Spiritual offspring.

Having an effect on others around you. Leading others to Jesus. Influencing others to know Him.

:5 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.

in the flesh Ė might refer to a carnal or "fleshly" Christian, probably refers to before we were a Christian.

motions Ė pathema Ė that which one suffers or has suffered; of an inward state, an affliction, passion. Other translations have "sinful passions" here.

which were by the law Ė our marriage to the law produced these "passions" of sins.

to bring forth fruit unto death Ė a person married to the Law is going to have "spiritual children" in their life, dead ones.

Lesson

True fruit comes from Jesus.

Whether this is talking about our life before Christ, or if itís talking about a carnal Christian, the principle is still true.

Weíve seen how we canít be saved by keeping the Law.

Now Paul says that if we try to live according to the Law, we not only canít be saved, but the only thing our lives produce is death.

An example of this is in the lives of the Pharisees. They were proud on the fact that they lived their lives strictly according to the Law. But look at where Jesus says that has lead them:

(Mat 23:1-15 KJV) Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, {2} Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:

These people placed themselves as the guardians of Mosesí Law.

{3} All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. {4} For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. {5} But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, {6} And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, {7} And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. {8} But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. {9} And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. {10} Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. {11} But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. {12} And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

When you live your life trying to obey the Law, your whole aim becomes trying to impress others, because that will surely impress God.

{13} But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. {14} Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. {15} Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

This is the fruit of the Law, someone who is "twofold more the child of hell than yourselves"

The only kind of fruit you want to have produced in your life is going to come by you staying close to Jesus.

You donít want the other kind of fruit.

:6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held

delivered Ė katargeo Ė to render idle, unemployed, inactivate, inoperative, the same word in verse 2 as "loosed".

we were held Ė katecho Ė to hold back, detain, retain; we were held in sin.

:6 that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

we should serve Ė douleuo Ė to be a slave, serve, do service

How are you serving God?

Are you doing things for Him because of the Law, because of a sense of legalism?

Are you serving Him because of your relationship with the Holy Spirit?

:7-13 The Good Law

:7 What shall we say then? is the law sin? God forbid.

Does all this mean that thereís something wrong with the Law?

God forbid Ė me genoito Ė "may it never be". A favorite phrase of Paul.

:7 Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

lust Öcovet Ė epithumia Ė desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust. The same word is translated "lust" and "covet".

The Law isnít sin. It exposes sin.

Illustration

It would be as if we were all in a dark room, and we heard over the loudspeaker that only those without a red dot on their foot could go through the exit and leave the room. But the problem in a dark room is that nobody can see their foot to tell whether or not they are qualified to go through the exit. And then someone enters the room with a bright flashlight. All it takes is a quick look with a flashlight to tell that sure enough, every one of us has a red dot on our foot, and nobody qualifies. Thereís nothing wrong with the flashlight. It simply confirms what we should have known all along.

:8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence.

concupiscence Ė a great word. Itís simply another translation of epithumia Ė desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust.

occasion Ė aphorme Ė a place from which a movement or attack is made, a base of operations.

Illustration

My children and I have been playing this computer game called "Age of Empires". You start out in the "Stone Age" and advance your group of people through various stages of civilization in order to attack your opponent. You start out with a "town center". Thatís where you start to build your empire. Itís where you make people, houses, markets and farms. Or itís where you build your weapons, train your armies and launch your attack to conquer the world. When Timmy and Daniel play, the "town center" is a nice farming community and a cool place to explore. When David and I play, itís a weapons factory. The "town center" is a picture of the Law. Itís neither good nor bad. It all depends on how itís being used and whoís using it. When sin takes advantage of the Law, it springs up all kinds of trouble in us. But the Law itself is good.

Sin jumped on the Law and set up its base of operations there, and from the Law launched its attack on us.

:8 For without the law sin was dead.

Itís not that a person who doesnít know the Law doesnít have sin. Itís just that the Law energizes sin.

:9 For I was alive without the law once:

Some call this "the lost paradise in the infancy of men" (Denney). The thought is that before a person becomes old enough or rational enough to understand the law, they experienced a measure of "life".

This is a seed of what we call the "age of accountability". The Jews have a ritual that a child goes through when they are old enough to become accountable to the Law. It is a "bar mitzvah" (or, for girls, a "bat mitzvah"), when a boy becomes a "son of the covenant".

:9 but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

revived Ė anazao Ė live again, recover life; to revive, regain strength and vigor

:10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.

 

:11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.

taking occasion Ė same word used in verse 8, aphorme Ė a place from which a movement or attack is made, a base of operations.

deceived me Ė I know the Law is good and from God, but sin deceives me into thinking that I can meet those standards, and all that happens is that I break the commandments and get caught in sin.

:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

You have to be careful with all that weíve said about legalism. Legalism is deadly in that we are deceived into thinking that we can please God and meet His standards for heaven by keeping the Law.

But the Law itself is perfect.

There are some folks who take such a stance against the "Law" that they just donít read the Old Testament. They say that we arenít saved through the Law, so they donít read the Law.

Look what Jesus said about the Law:

(Mat 5:17-22 KJV) Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

Jesus doesnít remove the Law. He uses the Law and fulfilled all of itís requirements. He never sinned. He also used the Law concerning sacrifices in dying on a cross, taking our place, taking our judgment.

{18} For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

The Law doesnít pass away with the New Testament. It doesnít pass away until the heaven and earth does.

{19} Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. {20} For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. {21} Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: {22} But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

If you want stringent requirements, take a look at how Jesus interprets the Law! He doesnít do this to make it impossible for us to go to heaven. He does this to show us just how impossible it is for us on our own to meet heavenís standards. There is only one person whose righteousness could exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus. There is just one person whoís never sinned. Jesus.

Lesson

Read the Old Testament!

(Psa 19:7-14 KJV) The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. {8} The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. {9} The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. {10} More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. {11} Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. {12} Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. {13} Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. {14} Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Read all of Godís Word, not just the New Testament.

Itís a great picture of what Godís standards are all about. Itís the very basis for the New Testament. I canít see how anyone could understand half of whatís in the New Testament without understanding what has happened in the Old Testament.

Summary:

Thereís a difference between loving and appreciating the Old Testament and the Law, and expecting that Iím going to please God and enter heaven by making it my sole focus to obey every commandment.

I understand very clearly from the Law that I fall very short of it. I also understand in the Law that God has made provision for my sins, by allowing me to offer up a substitutionary sacrifice, another person or animal who takes my place by dying and paying for my sins. I understand now that Jesus has done that for me, dying once and for all for all of my sins. I now know that I can only meet Godís awesome, holy requirements by accepting with faith that Jesus has paid for my sins.

:13 Was then that which is good made death unto me?

Does this mean that something that is supposed to be good for me has killed me?

It would be like saying, "Do you mean that eating all this broccoli is going to kill me?"

:13 God forbid.

God forbid Ė me genoito Ė "may it never be"

Donít be blaming the Law.

:13 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.

exceeding Ė huperbole Ė a throwing beyond; beyond measure, exceedingly, preeminently

(Rom 7:13 NIV) Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

When sin is mixed with the commandments of God, we see just how sinful sin really is. Thereís a kind of "death" that happens in us, a strong conviction that weíve utterly failed. The more time we spend in Godís Word, the more aware we are of how sinful sin really is.

Illustration

Itís kind of like natural gas. I understand that in itís natural state, natural gas is odorless. You canít see it, you canít smell it, but light a match and ka-BOOM! So the gas company mixes in an ingredient that gives it a certain smell. Now if thereís a gas leak, we can smell it and get away from it. The Law is like that ingredient that produces the smell. Itís really for our good that we smell it, it warns us of the danger.

This is one reason why some people avoid church and avoid reading their Bible. Theyíve had a little taste of the conviction, and they donít want to feel that again! What they ignore is that theyíre still carrying around the very stuff that made the conviction feel so bad in the first place, their sin. Just because you donít smell the natural gas doesnít mean that the unadulterated kind isnít around.

For example, the world is just now coming around to the fact that a man and a woman living together without being married is wrong:

Illustration

From USA Today, [ENEWS] Feb. 01, 1999 6:00 a.m. ET

Cohabitation bad for marriages

Couples who live together before marriage are about 48% more likely to divorce than those who don't, says the author of a new review of research on cohabitation. Despite what some couples may think, the overwhelming implication is that "living together is not a good way to prepare for marriage or to avoid divorce," says study co-author David Popenoe, a Rutgers University sociologist. The report comes as the trend of living together soars. By 1998, the number of unmarried U.S. couples topped 4,236,000 up from 439,000 in 1960, according to the Census Bureau.

Yet if you would expose yourself to the Bible, you would have found this out a long time ago and saved yourself mountains of pain by staying away from the sin.

(1 Th 4:3 KJV) For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:

Quick translation Ė Godís will is that you donít have sex before the commitment of marriage.