James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.Romans 7:7-8:35
VICTORY AND SECURITY
That part of chapter 7 on which we now enter is biographical, giving Paul’s experience at a period when, though, regenerated, he was still living under the law and in ignorance of the deliverance to be had in Christ. It is a revelation that the believer possesses two natures that of the first Adam received at his physical birth, and that of the second Adam received in regeneration by the Holy Spirit through faith. The man here described has been baptized into Jesus Christ, is judicially free from the law, and is walking in newness of life, and yet sin reigns more or less in his mortal body. How is he to be delivered from it? In chapter 6 Paul taught that it was by yielding oneself to God, as the result of which sin would not have dominion over him. In chapter 7 he shows in his own person the need of doing this, while in chapter 8 he describes the Divine process by which the change from defeat to victory is thus produced.
He makes clear that the Christian believer is not made holy by the law (7:7-14). At one time, as a Jew, he thought he had kept the law (Php 3:6), but now as a regenerated Christian he had come to see the law in a new light, i.e., as spiritual, and that which was not sin theretofore now became so. He had thought himself “alive” in a spiritual sense, but now he perceived that he was really dead.
He shows the conflict of the two natures under the law (Romans 7:15-25). He spoke of himself as “carnal” (Romans 7:14), by which he meant that, as a believer, he was still more or less under the power of his fallen nature. He did things that were wrong and yet it was not the new Paul that was doing them but the old Paul, “sin that dwelleth in me” (Romans 7:17; Romans 7:20). This “sin,” this “old man” was like a dead body lashed to his back. Was there no deliverance from it? He thanked God that there was such deliverance through Jesus Christ.
This deliverance he now reveals (Romans 8:1-27): (1) It is through the Holy Spirit dwelling in the believer who sets him “free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2-4). In his fallen state he was subject to a bias or tendency towards sin, the outcome of which was death. But now as a regenerated man that bias or tendency is broken; (2) The Holy Spirit also gives him a spiritual mind to desire this new freedom (Romans 8:5-10); (3) And the spiritual power to exercise the desire (Romans 8:11-13); (4) And the spiritual motive to lay hold of the power (Romans 8:14-25); and (5) And the spiritual wisdom to appreciate the motive (Romans 8:26-27). The spiritual motive to lay hold of the power of the Holy Spirit for a life of victory, is that of our relationship to God as His children, which implies joint heirship with Christ. This heirship is so glorious in its full manifestation that the whole creation is groaning for it, because it means its deliverance from bondage.
The practical conclusion to be drawn from all this on the part of the believer is stated in Romans 8:28, a conclusion which reaches into the glorified state (Romans 8:29-30). The man whom God has called in Christ to be his, is already considered “glorified,” so certain is that event to follow in his experience. No wonder that the challenges of verses 31-35 should follow. Read them in the Revised Version.
1. How is the latter half of chapter 7 described?
2. Of what is it a revelation?
3. What does chapter 8 describe?
4. What does Romans 7:7-14 make clear, and how?
5. What is shown in Romans 7:15-25, and how?
6. By whom is deliverance from the power of sin wrought in the believer? 7. Name the five-fold process by which this is done.
8. What is the spiritual motive for a life of victory?
9. Quote the practical conclusion of Romans 8:28.
10. How far does this extend in its application?