Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?
2 For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband.
3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.
4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.
5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.
6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
The apostle Paul sets out a beautiful argument in Romans 7:1-6 concerning our relationship to the law and our relationship to Christ . Paul uses the illustration of a woman being bound to her husband by law. He explains that if the married woman leaves her husband and marries another man she is an adulteress. But, if she marries another man after her husband dies, she is no adulteress. So, we by nature are bound to the law, in the same way that a woman is bound to her husband. But, Paul explains, the really awful thing about being bound to the law is that “when we were in the flesh the sinful passions were aroused by the law.” The law was like a husband that constantly and harshly tells his rebellious wife what she must do. It actually served to enhance our sin. When we were unregenerate and heard the demands of the law–our consciences bearing witness to the commands–it actually worked against us to make us want to break the law. So our great need was to be set free from the law.
Well, according to Paul’s illustration, all of this means that the law had to die if we were to be set free. But, the reality is that a holy God cannot cast away a holy law. The law reflects the holiness of God and this means that the law can never be abolished. It will never die. This poses a great problem for us who need to be freed from the law. This is where the wisdom of God shines forth in glorious splendor. God, in His mercy, has discovered a way to set us free from the law. If we could die then we could be freed from the law to be married to another. This is Paul’s great argument. In the death of Christ, by virtue of our union with Him, we have died to the law. We died when Christ died. Now we are free to be “married to Him who rose again from the dead.” He gave us knew life when He rose form the dead. We rose when He rose. Jesus brought a marriage to pass in His death and resurrection. We are the bride of Jesus Christ. This is attested to time and time again in the NT. When John the Baptist stood and heard Christ he said, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom, but the friend of the Bridegroom–the one who stands and hears His voice–rejoices at the voice of the Bridegroom.” Instead of being a harsh taskmaster Jesus is a loving husband who enables us to obey His commands. He set of free from what stirred up the sinful passions of the flesh in order to draw us with bands of love. What makes a wife want to obey her husband? The apostle Paul tells us “husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.” The apostle John tells us, “In this is love, not that we loved Him but that He first loved us.” The law could only serve to strengthen our rebellion, but our Heavenly Bridegroom serves to compel us with His love.”
-- Nicholas T. Batzig
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”
8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead.
9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.
10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.
11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.
12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. 13 Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.
If no one articulated God's holy and awe-inspiring character, then we would not know how to model ourselves after Him. So, God provided the law to help communicate His character to His chosen people who were now out of bondage (Egypt) as they awaited the coming Messiah.
Another way to think about it is that the law turned previously invisible sin visible. The law exposes the present corruption and shines a light on our broken and flawed character! But, at the same time, the law illuminates God's holy and perfect character.
The law excites man's innate rebellion (because of the first sin of Adam) by revealing a holy standard, showing us more clearly our need for salvation in Jesus. Too often, Satan inserts his deception into this divine process. We see (#1) our rebellion and (#2) the holy standard of God, but the devil cycles us through his lies of unworthiness, shame, and guilt and we are blinded to the answer of (3) Jesus! #1 and #2 our simply the addition needed to get us to #3; they are not the answer. Only Jesus. -Divinely Interrupted
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.
15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.
16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.
17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.
19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.
20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.
22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
In verses 14-25, “I” is used twenty-four times, and when you add the times Paul uses “me,” “my,” or “myself,” it is another thirteen times. That comes to a total of thirty-seven times in these twelve verses that the apostle refers to himself in this one passage
An antithesis to being “spiritual,” Paul was “carnal.” When the Bible speaks of the unregenerate man, it calls him “soulish”; he is simply body, mind, emotions, and will. That is man as in the old Adam, that which is subject to sin and death. This is an inheritance that we receive from the epoch of Adam. However, when the Word speaks of the believer’s Adamic nature, it refers to him as “carnal” (sarkinos) or fleshly. “Fleshly” is not the physical body but the fallen aspect of Adam that remains with the believer after becoming a Christian—his sin capacity. This is when the believer lives as a non-Christian.
There is a sense that the individual Christian belongs to both the epoch of Adam and the epoch of Christ. The epoch of Adam is represented as the sin capacity and the epoch of Christ is represented as newness of life.
Carnality here speaks of someone under the control of his corrupt sin capacity. The carnal or fleshly man is dominated by the old capacity from Adam. This is not our physical flesh but the nature of fallen Adam or sin capacity. Paul was describing his condition after becoming a Christian. It is important for the believer to recognize the reality of this condition. The strongest Christian on earth is not free from the influence of his sin capacity. [SOURCE: Verse By Verse Commentary]
Romans 7:14-25 is one of the most debated passages in the Bible. There are three major positions that have vied for interpretational prominence over the years.
One view sees Paul’s description of his struggle with sin as his pre-conversion experience. The other sees Paul’s description as his post-conversion experience. A third — articulated by Martyn Lloyd-Jones — argues that we ask the wrong question if we inquire about Paul’s spiritual status in Romans 7:14-25. Rather, as the Doctor asserts, Paul is explaining what happens when someone pursues sanctification according to the law rather than by the Spirit. -Derek J Brown
John Owen, in his detailed study of indwelling sin, describes the flesh as an “inbred law [that] must needs be effectual... such is the law of sin. It is an indwelling law: ‘It is sin that dwells in me’ (Rom. 7:17, 20); ‘It is present with me’ (Rom. 7:21); ‘It is in my members’ (Rom. 7:23) – yea, it is so far in man, as in some sense it is said to be man himself; ‘I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing’ (Rom. 7:18). The flesh, which is the seat and throne of this law, yea, which indeed is this law, is in some sense the man himself... an indwelling law inclining and moving to sin as an inward habit or principle.” The flesh then is Paul’s word to describe the state of every fallen human being as sinfully self-centered and dominated by rebellion. “The works of the flesh are evident,” says the Apostle Paul. They are “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21). -Stephen Unthank; Greenbelt Baptist Church
Our broken flesh is part of the corrupt system dominated by Satan. It doesn’t mean we are actually possessed, but that our bodies are fundamentally operating under that sick, sinful system. This is true for believers as well as unbelievers. All malfunctions of the body steal God’s gift of life and turn it into an instrument of death. In addiction, the body is under the influence of its own broken condition. Without a spiritual remedy, this reality is dim for the addict. However, as Christians we have access to the Holy Spirit. As we’ll learn later, the addict— and all Christians—will need to be conquered by the Holy Spirit. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? (Romans 7: 23-24).
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.
27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.
29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,
30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;
31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.
32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.