A. Do you ever wish they had consulted you before making a particular law?
B. For example, the area you are driving through is posted 45 mph because it is a residential zone, but there are only three houses throughout the entire area?
C. Michelle and I sometimes discuss what appears to be illogical laws but then conclude; “Oh well, they didn’t consult us when making that law.”
I. The Christian’s Death To The Law (vv. 1-6)
A. Paul makes this point by appealing to the example of a sinner, a proposed law keeper and a believer. (chapter 7)
1. In this and the next chapter, Paul will use “law” in four different ways: as a reference to the Mosaic law, as referring to civil laws, as a reference to the Ten Commandments and as a reference to laws governing principles, such as gravity.
2. In these and the following verses, Paul will demonstrate how the law cannot save the sinner, the one who keeps the law or even the believer who has received a new nature in Christ.
3. The sinner is condemned by the law just as a criminal is.
4. It is a particular law that is responsible for the criminal going to jail, being fined or having to perform community service (or a combination of all three).
5. If there was no law against what he had done, he would not be arrested, fined or jailed.
6. He finds himself in this predicament only because the law said he was not supposed to do what he did.
7. If stealing was not against the law, we could take what we want whether or not it belonged to us. I could walk in Dollar General, load my buggy, put the items in bags and take them to my car without threat of reprisal.
8. Additionally, the one who strives to keep the law is not saved by it. The reason he is not is because he cannot consistently or perfectly keep it. As hard as we try, we will periodically break a law established by our town, state or nation. How many of you have sped in the last week or month? Or failed to slow down to the required speed when going through a school crossing or crossroads? Then there is the matter of the spirit of the law in addition to the letter of the law. Jesus addresses this most pointedly in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)
9. The religious leader who came to Jesus proposing that he had kept the commandments was only fooling himself. (Luke 18:21)
10. Nor can the believer with a new nature obey the law perfectly or continually be saved by it for the new nature is in a continual battle with our flesh.
11. The conclusion is that salvation is not found in the Law. Had it been, there would have been no need for Christ. Calvary would have been an unnecessary event.
B. Paul also appeals to the example of life, marriage, death of a spouse and unfaithfulness in the marriage in his law discussion (vv. 1-3).
1. Laws only apply to those who are alive. When we die, the law will not matter any longer. Nor will we have any influence over what laws are enacted.
2. While death breaks our relationship to the law, it does not exempt us from the judgment that follows death for breaking the law while alive.
3. Laws governing marriage only apply while both spouses are alive. When one dies, the law governing faithfulness and adultery no longer apply.
4. The widow or widower is free to remarry without penalty of breaking the law concerning faithfulness to their spouse. Death releases them from previous agreements and arrangements.
5. While many choose not to remarry, they could if they wanted without breaking previously established marriage bonds.
6. Similarly, the believer has died with Christ on the cross. The law can no longer condemn us for in Christ we are no longer under condemnation. (Romans 8:1) Christ has paid our sin debt, and we are free.
7. Just as a person whose spouse dies is no longer bound under the laws of marriage, so we are no longer bound to the law in the sense that we must perfectly obey it to find salvation. Christ has accomplished that for us.
8. A married person could only be convicted of adultery if their spouse was alive.
9. Just as death breaks our relationship to the law, so our death with Christ breaks our marriage to sin. It no longer fits who we are. We have the freedom to obey, a freedom we did not possess before.
10. Remember there was nothing wrong with the law. The law of God was good and the commands designed for our benefit. The problem was within us. We had no power to obey it.
C. The Powerlessness of the Law over the Believer (vv. 4-6)
1. Having examined how the death of one partner releases a married person from their marriage bond, Paul now turns to application.
2. The believer is no longer held by the power of the law because they have died with Christ. We are placed in that experience when we trust Christ as our Savior. His death for sin becomes our death to sin.
3. Our participation in Christ’s death is vicarious. We do not literally die ourselves, but we participate spiritually in Christ’s death. God counts us as having been there when Christ died.
4. The power of the law was negative in some sense. The more a person tried in their own strength to obey, the more discouraged they became over failure. The continual sacrifices reminded them of that.
5. Now having been united with Christ in his death and resurrection, we have a new power to obey. Now you say, “Well I still miss the mark.” True, but God sees us in Christ, and that means we have total and perfect obedience in position applied to our life.
6. We also have the resident Spirit of God enabling us to live obediently. Sinful practices will not and cannot be the norm.
7. He gives us power to produce good fruit (deeds) for God (v.4). Paul, in another of his epistles, enumerates the fruit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
8. These are to be compared with life under the law: guilt, restraint, sacrifices, ceremonies, rule keeping, pressure, failure, discouragement and disappointment.
9. Paul reminds us how it was before we trusted Christ (v. 5)
10. We were controlled by our sinful nature, its desires worked within us, and the law aroused sinful desires that led to sinful actions.
11. Again, our nature leads us to desire the very things we are instructed not to do.
12. Just like the cow who wants the grass on the other side even though the fence confines it.
13. Why do we do wrong just for the sake of it?
a. Temporary satisfaction.
b. Sense of power.
c. It can be intoxicating.
d. It feels good to rebel.
14. The believer’s service to God now comes not through obedience to a set of laws but by the power of the Spirit.
15. We don’t reach God by keeping rules (not that the rules are not important) but through Christ.
16. We don’t serve simply because the law says we should but out of love and gratitude for what Christ has done.
17. We don’t serve to get approval but because we already have it.
II. God’s Purpose In The Law (vv. 7-13)
A. In giving the detrimental effects of the law, Paul was not teaching the law was evil. God gave the law, so it had purpose, intent and goodness inherent within it.
1. God’s law shows us what God considers sin.
2. How would we know it was wrong to covet, steal, murder or worship a piece of wood unless God’s law had told us so?
3. The law shows God’s standards and then reveals how we measure up.
4. Since we don’t measure up, it reveals our need for help.
5. Before we can see where we need to be or can be, we must see where we are.
6. Further, if there were no laws, chaos would erupt.
B. Sin destroyed the good purposes of the law (v. 8).
1. Paul said sin took advantage of God’s good law by arousing sinful desires in the very people who were trying to obey it.
2. The law said not to covet but people found themselves doing that very thing.
3. We struggle with the same. The law says go 55 mph, but we want to fudge a little.
4. The law says not to steal but we justify taking some desk materials from our office that we didn’t pay for.
5. The law is not sinful; our inner nature drives us to disobey the good law.
6. The law does not force us to sin. We make that choice.
7. The Greek word that is variously translated advantage, opportunity, or occasion is aphorme (ah’ for may’) and is a military term that speaks of forming a bridgehead from which an attack can be made.
8. Sin uses God’s good law as a point from which to attack us.
9. While God’s law helps us know what he considers sin, it does not give any help to avoid it.
10. It is like the sign that warns against swimming because the waters are shark infested. You swim anyway. If you get in trouble it is not the sign’s fault nor does the sign have any power to deliver you.
11. When we look at the law through God’s perspective, we also realize that the law is not simply a set of restrictions God placed on us because he wanted to be mean. The laws are restrictions and guidelines given for our protection from attitudes and actions that will harm us.
12. Paul then applies the teaching to himself (vv. 9-13)
13. Sin deceived him as it does us. It promises satisfaction. It tells us our desires can be fulfilled and enjoyed without consequences. It promises power in exchange for cooperation even as it did for Adam and Eve countless years ago.
A. We can thank God for his law since it demonstrates his standards which are beneficial.
B. We can thank God for sending Christ to fulfill the law-and allowing us to satisfy it through our identification with him.
C. We can further thank God that in Christ we now have the power to obey his commands.