7:1-6 So long as a man continues under the law as a covenant, and seeks justification by his own obedience, he continues the slave of sin in some form. Nothing but the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, can make any sinner free from the law of sin and death. Believers are delivered from that power of the law, which condemns for the sins committed by them. And they are delivered from that power of the law which stirs up and provokes the sin that dwells in them. Understand this not of the law as a rule, but as a covenant of works. In profession and privilege, we are under a covenant of grace, and not under a covenant of works; under the gospel of Christ, not under the law of Moses. The difference is spoken of under the similitude or figure of being married to a new husband. The second marriage is to Christ. By death we are freed from obligation to the law as a covenant, as the wife is from her vows to her husband. In our believing powerfully and effectually, we are dead to the law, and have no more to do with it than the dead servant, who is freed from his master, has to do with his master's yoke. The day of our believing, is the day of being united to the Lord Jesus. We enter upon a life of dependence on him, and duty to him. Good works are from union with Christ; as the fruitfulness of the vine is the product of its being united to its roots; there is no fruit to God, till we are united to Christ. The law, and the greatest efforts of one under the law, still in the flesh, under the power of corrupt principles, cannot set the heart right with regard to the love of God, overcome worldly lusts, or give truth and sincerity in the inward parts, or any thing that comes by the special sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit. Nothing more than a formal obedience to the outward letter of any precept, can be performed by us, without the renewing, new-creating grace of the new covenant.
5. For when we were in the flesh—in our unregenerate state, as we came into the world. See on Joh 3:6 and Ro 8:5-9.
the motions—"passions" (Margin), "affections" (as in Ga 5:24), or "stirrings."
of sins—that is, "prompting to the commission of sins."
which were by the law—by occasion of the law, which fretted, irritated our inward corruption by its prohibitions. See on Ro 7:7-9.
did work in our members—the members of the body, as the instruments by which these inward stirrings find vent in action, and become facts of the life. See on Ro 6:6.
to bring forth fruit unto death—death in the sense of Ro 6:21. Thus hopeless is all holy fruit before union to Christ.