- Sermon Notes
The Law of the Spirit of Life
Romans 7:1- 8:2
Throughout these first chapters in Romans Paul has been describing the power of the gospel. He’s not ashamed of the gospel because it’s God’s answer
to a sinful world. God can take a sinner and make him righteous in one verse, 1 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to become sin on
our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
That’s an amazing truth that has everything to do with our standing before God. He takes all the sin that was in our account and places it in Christ’s
account, He then takes the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus’ account and places that in our account. That’s the power of the gospel. We can
now have a relationship to God because He has adopted us as His son or daughter because of what Christ has done for us on the cross.
The gospel is God’s answer to the sinner’s dilemma; how can an unrighteous sinner have a relationship with the holy, righteous God? …But every sinner has another dilemma;
how do we have victory over this sinful flesh that we still live in?
In other words, it’s wonderful and amazing that our sins are forgiven, but how do we have victory so that sin does not master over us?
And while we’re on the topic, what is the realistic goal here? Does God expect that we’ll be perfect and never sin? While it’s true that no one is
perfect, it’s equally true that anyone can have integrity, anyone can have godly character. We can be victorious, sin does not have to master over
us, but we need to understand who we are and we need to understand that God supplies what we need that we might live in victory.
Romans chapter 7 and chapter 8 are very much connected together and give us some of the deepest insights in how to live our faith in everyday life
and live victoriously.
Probably the most famous part of chapter 7 is where Paul describes the inner conflict inside a person that wants to do good, but is unable to do it.
“I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I’m doing the very thing I hate… For the good that I wish, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not wish.”
Many people read that and say, “Wow, that’s me. I can completely relate to that.” But Paul is not describing the way God wants us to live in our relationship
to Him, he is describing what it’s like to live under the law.
His point is that God doesn’t want us to live that way, He has a better answer. Here’s where Paul is going with this; the problem is what to do about
this flesh of ours. We are born with it and we’re going to die with it, but it doesn’t mean it has to ruin our lives and destroy us.
In Romans chapter 7 Paul describes what happens when the flesh is under the Law and we’ll look at that as we go through it verse by verse, but then
in Romans chapter 8 Paul describes what happens when the flesh is under the Spirit and that’s a completely different thing altogether.
Here’s the main difference; when a person lives under the law, their flesh wants to rebel from it and they’re like a teenager with an attitude constantly
resisting their parents’ rules. But when a person lives under the Spirit, they’re not like a teenager with an attitude, they are like a bride in
love with her husband. It’s all about what kind of relationship you have.
I. The Law is No Help at All
- The first few verses of this chapter summarize it all. Again, he begins with the words, “Do you not know?”
- If we only knew, if we only understood, it would completely change our perspective and that’s what we need for victory.
- Here’s what we need to understand…
A. The law no longer has jurisdiction
- Paul uses marriage as an illustration of the jurisdiction of the law. It has authority over a person as long as he lives.
- If a woman is married, she is bound by law to her husband while he is living, if that husband dies, she is released from the law and is free to
- His point is that the law no longer has jurisdiction over us, because we were made to die to the law through the body of Christ.
- And it’s a good thing that the law no longer has jurisdiction over us, because it didn’t work out so well. It was no help at all.
- Having said that, it is important to understand that the law is good. Verse 12 – the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
- Paul is talking about the Jewish law in that verse, but even most nonbelievers understand the importance of having the rule of law. Without it
society would turn into anarchy and ultimately devolve into violence.
Romans 2:14-15 Even Gentiles have the work of the law written in their hearts; on their conscience.
Illus – Imagine if there were no driving laws. Chaos would rule; like when I was in Africa and was asked to drive a group of pastors to a meeting. Not good.
B. The law and the flesh don’t like each other
- Over and over Paul makes the point that the flesh and the law are at odds with each other.
Romans 8:7, The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
- The relationship between the law and the flesh is like this; the law is like a bossy parent and the flesh is like a teenager with an attitude.
That’s a formula for disaster.
- In fact, Paul goes on to say that the law actually makes the flesh worse – verse 5, “sinful passions are aroused by the law.” Verse 9,
“when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died.”
- How does that happen? The law makes something wrong, but the very fact that it’s wrong only makes it sweeter to the flesh and creates
more sinful desire.
Proverbs 9:17, “Stolen water is sweet; and bread eat in secret is pleasant.”
- Paul makes that clear in verses 7 and 8, “I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin produced
in me coveting of every kind.”
Illus – Dieting is a good illustration. Going hungry on a diet only makes you want naughty food even more.
Illus – Gayle Irwin once shared that when his kids were young he and his wife went out for dinner and left the kids with the sitter. As he was about to leave, he didn’t know why he said it because he never said it before, but he told their kids not to put beans in their nostrils. They spent the night in the emergency room.
C. This makes for a wretched life
- In the last section of this chapter, Paul describes the conflict between the flesh and the law in some very famous verses.
- We need to step back a bit and understand the different things that are at play in this chapter.
- There is the law; which Paul says is holy and righteous and good, though it is weak – it has no power to help me at all.
- There is the flesh; which Paul says is the desire and passions of the body. This is the part of us that finds pleasure
out of things simply because they are wrong.
- There is the mind; this is the part of us that agrees that the law is good and wishes to do good and joyfully concurs
with the law of God in the inner man.
- Let’s read through these verses again and see how all these relate to each other. (Verses 21-25)
- Paul builds the conflict to a crescendo and then says, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” In other words,
the problem is the body of this death that is waging war against the law of the mind and making him a prisoner of the law of sin in his members,
- “Who will set me free?” Paul asked. The law certainly can’t set us free. It’s too weak.
Illus – The law is like being in school and having a substitute teacher that everyone takes advantage of. My heart goes out to the substitute teachers of the world. They have to have one of the most difficult jobs in the school district.
- Who will set me free? Paul gives the answer – we are set free through Jesus Christ our Lord! This is the answer we need to understand and take
II. You’ve Been Joined to Another
- Going back to the first verses of this chapter, Paul says that the law no longer has jurisdiction because we have died to the law through Jesus Christ.
- This is where some people go crazy and respond, “That’s great that I’m no longer under the law, I never liked those laws anyway. Now I’m going
- Paul would respond to that by saying, “You missed the point entirely. You didn’t die to the law so you could party in the flesh, you died to the
law so you could be joined to a new husband; to Jesus Christ Himself.” (Verse 4)
- This is important because this is the insight we need in order to be victorious. You can imagine Paul saying, “Do you not know?…”
A. Serve in the newness of the Spirit
- In Romans 6:14-15 Paul said, “Sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!”
- In chapter 7 Paul pounds that point home. We haven’t been released from the law so we could live lawlessly.
- If the law was unable to control the sinful flesh, then being released from the law is only going to allow the sinful flesh to go completely hogwild.
Illus – A teenager struggling with his parents rules is a good illustration. Several times we heard from one of our teenagers, “When I’m 18 – I’m outta here.” We always had the same response…
Illus – We can relate to that, because many of us did the same thing ourselves; me included. I was released from the law of my parents and the sinful flesh took full advantage of the opportunity. But I didn’t like the person I was becoming. I went back to church and I went back to my relationship with God. I wasn’t changed in a day, the process still continues.
- We were released from the law so we could be joined to another, to Jesus Christ Himself, and be filled by the Holy Spirit. (Verse 6)
- Paul says we are now to serve in the newness of the Spirit, not in the oldness of the letter. A key to victory is knowing
that we serve our Lord and Master; we’ve been joined to Him who raised us from the dead.
- Paul says in verse 4 that we’ve been released from the law and joined to another that we might bear fruit for God.
- The law was weak, it had no power to reign in the sinful flesh. We’ve been released from the law and joined to another, to Christ, who then fills
us with the Holy Spirit and gives us a completely different relationship to God.
Illus – If our relationship under the law was like a teenager constantly resisting their parents’ rules, but when a person lives under the Spirit, they are like a bride in love with her husband. It’s all about the relationship.
- Paul uses the marriage relationship as a picture of our relationship to Christ in many places in the New Testament…
Ephesians 5:25, 32, Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her… This mystery is great; but I’m speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
- One thing is certain about marriage; it changes you forever! You are not your own. You think about your spouse before you make plans. You have
to take your spouse into account in every decision you make. You put heart and effort in staying close in relationship.
- A marriage relationship God’s way is a huge blessing and it’s a great picture of our relationship to Christ.
Illus – Paul’s analogy- we were married to the law that never lifted a finger to help, but praise God we died to that and are now in a loving, kind relationship.
Romans 7:1-8:2 NASB
1 Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? 2 For the
married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. 3 So
then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the
law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.
from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were
at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound,
so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.
have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “Youshall notcovet.” 8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting
of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I
died; 10 and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; 11 for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment,
deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. 13 Therefore did that which
is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through
that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.
what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing
that the Law is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that
is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the
very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23
but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my
members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on
the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from
the law of sin and of death.