As we saw here, the right way to increase in sanctification is to know, reckon and present. And you would think that knowing the right way would be enough. What else needs to be taught on this subject? Romans 6 covers it. But, human nature is a perverse thing! The old nature loves to do things. It loves to depend upon its own works. Even after it knows the right way, very often will take the wrong way.
It shouldn’t surprise us that even after a person has has been brought face to face with Jesus, and realized there is no righteousness or justification in the Law, that even then, that person will sometimes return to the Law for holiness. And that is why we have Romans 7. It is a warning against acting in such a way. It is not to be considered the normal Christian experience. We shouldn’t need this chapter! It is a picture of a defeated Christian. If we cannot know what God has done for us in Christ… if we cannot reckon it to be true and allow it to shape our worldview… if we fail to present ourselves to God, then all we have left is the dreary, depressing, desperate experience we find recorded here.
The chapter consists of 3 divisions:
1-6: relation between Law and the Christian
7-13: relation between Law and sin
14-25: relation between Law and carnal man
There is a very logical connection between these 3 divisions. In the first few verses, Paul establishes an undeniable fact: The believer is dead to the Law. He is done with it forever! But, as his argument unfolds, he makes a comment that may create questions in the minds of his readers. In verse 5, he says,
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 (7:5).
When his readers saw that, they may conclude that the inclination to sin comes from the Law. If that is the case, then isn’t the Law something sinful? Paul answers that question in the second division (7:7-13). He concludes the Law is holy, righteous and good (7:12). He illustrates how the Law reveals and provokes sin, and how the sin that is stirred up is detrimental to the believer (7:11).
But another question will arise right here: If the Law is holy, why can’t it make the Christian holy? Paul addresses that question in the third division. (7:14-25). Having just showed that the Law is holy, he states, “the Law is spiritual, but I am carnal.” (7:14). This is not a statement about the false idea of Dualism. He is showing the real reason people still sin after having been justified.
The reason a holy, righteous, good Law cannot make a Christian holy is because the Christian is carnal (or still bound to this body of death, the perishable body, the flesh). It’s not because something is wrong with the Law. Paul’s struggle, and ours too, is that he does the things he doesn’t want to do and doesn’t do the things he wants to do. He is pulled into sin by his flesh, the old man.
Thankfully, God has delivered us positionally, and is delivering us practically. It is God alone who can rescue us from this body of death! When we are finally delivered in-full, and are in the presence of Jesus, we will be given a new body – incorruptible, imperishable, untainted by sin and it’s power! What a glorious day that will be!
Until then, we continue to have this struggle within us. Paul summarizes the entire chapter in the last sentence.
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 (7:25)
But this shouldn’t be the norm for Christians. This is the experience of every believer at times, but it should not be the status quo. To resign ourselves to this condition as the norm for our lives, is to give up! We should review chapter 6 – Reckon what we know and live accordingly! Let’s be Roman 6 Christians, not Romans 7!