ROMANS 5 - 8

Romans 7:1-6:
Not under law, but joined to the risen Christ

by Thomas W. Finley

● Romans 7 tells us that the Law can never deliver us from the power of indwelling sin.

● Rom. 7:1 is a direct continuation of the statement in Rom. 6:14. The intervening verses (6:15-23) are seen as a parenthesis. Rom. 6:14 states that we are “not under law” and this point is central to Rom. 7:1-6. The statement in Rom. 7:1 - "Or do you not know" - connects to Rom. 6:14 in this way: "for you are not under law, but under grace...Or, do you not know...that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives?" Paul is going to explain firstly to the Jewish brothers among them that in Christ we have been discharged from the law. "For I am speaking to those who know the law" (7:1). The law here means the requirements and commands of the O. T. covenant which God had with God's people. But, this has application also to the Gentiles who get saved and began to learn the O. T. Scriptures. They too need to know that using the law as a means of being sanctified will fail. We all need to see that any relationship with law is over in Christ. We only have a relationship with Him.

● 7:2-3. Some have tried to exactly assign every detail of this marriage illustration to the Christian's shift from law to grace. If we are the "wife" now in union with Christ as our new husband, then the first husband may have been our sinful disposition, or sin nature. This sin nature in man was judged by God on the cross (Rom. 8:3). This action may be considered as the “death of the husband.” In “the old man” we are under the rule of sin, just as the wife is under the headship of the husband. Another explanation is that we were in union with “our old man,” which pictures the husband. When “our old man” was crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6), then our “husband” died, leaving us free to be joined in union with Christ. Some Bible teachers, however, teach that the husband/wife illustration may just serve to prove one main point: that just as death ends a relationship, so the death of our old man ended our relationship with the law. In either case of interpretation, there was a law concerning the first husband. The relationship with the first husband is governed by the law of the husband. But, once the husband dies, the wife is released from the law concerning that husband. The “law of the husband” certainly speaks of the Law of the Old Testament, and even the law principle, whereby man tries to be right before God by living in accordance with a moral code.

In giving the application (vs. 4-6) of the two marriage illustration, Paul clearly states several spiritual facts:

● We died to the law – our relationship with the law is broken.

● We are joined to another - the risen Christ.

● Our life “in the flesh" (our living in Adam) entailed the sinful passions being stirred up by the Law (God’s ordinances), and these passions worked in our body to produce sins, leading to death.

● Now, though our death with Christ, we have been released from the Law and we can serve in newness of the Spirit.

The two marriages picture our life in two unions. These two unions are captured in the phrases "in the flesh"(7:5) and "in the Spirit" (8:9). Romans 8:9 makes these two realms clear. These are two spheres (positions) man can be in. "In the flesh" is the sphere of all natural men – the sphere of fallen humanity in Adam. But, "in the Spirit" is a realm into which believers are transferred, marked by the truth "the Spirit of God dwells in you."

The "flesh": In Scripture this term can refer to: (1) the literal material bodily flesh of man (Rom. 2:28); (2) our existence as part of this world (2 Cor. 10:3; Phil. 1:22); or (3) the fallen nature of the man (Gal. 5:16-19; Rom. 7:17-18). In Rom. 7:5, it refers to the realm of man in his fallen nature.

Position Marriage union Principle of relationship and service to God in union Pattern of living in the union Living out of union
In the flesh
(7:5; 8:9)
Our person (wife) joined to/under sin in the old man. Our life in Adam. (7:2-4) Law, a legal principle. The "law concerning the husband."(7:2) Law gives sin its power (1 Cor. 15:56) Serve in oldness of letter. Sinful passions aroused by the law's commands (7:5,6) Sin works to bear fruit unto death (7:5)
In the Spirit
(8:9)
Our person (wife) joined to/under "Christ." Our life in Christ.(7:2-4) "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" (8:2), which is the life of Christ realized through the Holy Spirit Serve in newness of the spirit (7:6) Bear fruit for God (7:5)

● 7:4: "Therefore [a conclusion from the illustration], my brethren, you were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ." The "body of Christ" is His body on the cross. Not only did He die for our sins as our substitute, but we died there with Him in that death to our life in Adam in several aspects: 1. We died to sin, the sin principle in Adam (Rom. 6:2, 7). 2. We died to the world, the organized system of this world (Gal. 6:14). 3. We died to law. "For through the Law I died to the Law that I might live to God." (Gal. 2:19). Now, instead of trying to please God by the principle of law (the obligation of commandments upon the effort of man), we are united to a risen Christ! In this relationship we might bear living fruit for God. He is the life-source of the fruit we bear – John 15.

● 7:5-6. These verses speak particularly of the Jew responding to the law while "in the flesh" – the unregenerate nature. But NOW, in the new sphere, we have been released from the Law, "dying in that in which we were retained." (Conc. Lit). The death of our old man released us from our former union with indwelling sin and the law that gives sin its power. The result is that now, in the new union, we serve in newness of spirit, not in oldness of letter. These truths concern our "position" in two different unions.

● Although with respect to our position we are no longer “in the flesh,” but “in the Spirit,” we must regard the full New Testament revelation regarding our actual living. Unbelievers have no choice but to live according to the flesh. Believers, however, may live “according to the flesh” oraccording to the Spirit” (see Rom. 8:4-5; 12-14 ; 1 Cor. 3:1-4; Gal. 5:19-23). Believers can live in either union in practice.

Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13, NASB)