Romans 7:5 – “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.” NKJV
I’ve been contemplating this chapter for years, as have many. And for some reason, when I read chapter 7, I walk away with an entirely different point of view than many Christians. As a matter of fact, I have often heard people use this passage (verses 14-25) to justify their inability to live the Christian life.
These individuals explain, quite passionately, that if Paul, the great Apostle, struggled in his flesh, well, all the more reason they should struggle! Well, I don’t believe this is what Paul was saying at all! And it’s impossible to go into depth about all he did say with a blog, but I will do my best! This post was originally written in January, 2020, under the title, “Torn Between Two Worlds”. I saw no reason to rewrite a post for Romans 7, when I had already written this post!
“Romans is placed first among Paul’s letters in the New Testament not only because it is his longest work, but because it also furnishes a massive and basic theological frame-work for the whole collection of the apostle’s writings.”bible.org
I’ve already mentioned that in my first blog on the book of Romans. Now that we have entered one of the most controversial chapters in this book, maybe in the Bible, I want us to keep in mind the things that we have already learned from the apostle Paul, especially in chapter 6.
Keeping Romans 7 in context, when chapters 6 and 8 are read along with it, there’s no way to walk away thinking that Paul was saying that he was struggling in his flesh as a Christian, and that it was simply the way of life. If you read the entire New Testament, there is no other place where you can find scripture and verse to show Paul as such, a struggling believer. As a matter of fact, after reading the New Testament, most people I know walk away feeling that Paul was over the top in his faith and relationship with Jesus, and in a league of his own! So I’m not sure how we can say that he struggled in his faith and Romans 7 is the proof of it!
Romans 6 ends with Paul making a foundational point about redemption. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” But this point was made after he cautioned us as believers to live a life of holiness, and to not think that the grace of God gives us a pass to sin! As a matter of truth, he reminded us in several verses that we can be a slave to sin, or to righteousness, it just depended on whom we decided to yield our members to!
After so eloquently making this point, he continues in chapter 7, to express the power of sin, and our inability outside of Christ to get the victory over sin.
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.Romans 7:5
Paul is still on the same theme here! Paul’s reference to “in the flesh” is a reference of our time before we came to Jesus. The commentary I have, on the book of Romans, through Logos, explains that in this section of Romans 7, Paul is reiterating the inadequacy of the Law to make us righteous before God. Paul understood this better than most, because it was his devotion to the Law that caused him to persecute the church, while he was indeed in his flesh!
Paul uses an illustration to help us to understand the Law. He speaks of a marriage relationship, and how when both spouses are alive they are bound to one another. If while married, the wife marries another, she becomes an adulteress. If however, she is a widow and marries again, she is free from the Law and can do so! Paul realized that when he lived under the Law, he was bound to the Law, but when he came to Christ, he was freed from the Law! And as such, was to live in newness of the spirit! This phrase, “newness of the spirit” is the same phrase used in Romans 6:4 when Paul encouraged the believers to walk in the newness of life! This does not sound like someone who is setting up to give us excuses about why he can’t live a holy life! As a matter of truth, it is not!
I just want to say to you, if you have been struggling in your walk with the Lord, and you have been using this chapter as your crutch, it is being snatched away! God’s heart for us is not that we live life between two worlds. He has not redeemed us from sin that sin may still reign in our mortal bodies. Remember Paul has already shared his thoughts on this subject:
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?Romans 6:16 NKJV
Proof positive that we are not to continually struggle over sin. The battle over sin was won at Calvary, and the Holy Spirit is at work in us to maintain that victory! But we have to stop seeing ourselves as wretched, struggling sinners, and begin to see ourselves as Christ sees us! He sees us as the righteousness of God, and as more than conquerors, as those who have the Greater One living in them, and those He has redeemed!
I believe the devil likes it when we think that sin is more powerful than the cross of Calvary. And that’s just not true! Jesus defeated Satan and the power of sin, once and for all, and it was that we might live life free of the power of sin! Wonderful Jesus!