Getting an inside view of a situation can help us understand what is really going on on the outside. In Romans 7 Paul peels back the outer layers to show us the internal workings of the Law, sin in the life of an unbeliever, and sin in the life of a believer.
Inside View of the Law (Romans 7:1-4,6)
How can we be freed from the Law? It uncompromisingly shows us our sin and condemns us since we fall short of the Law’s standards. Only death can change one’s status with the Law. So in Christ and in our union with Him, we died to the Law through Jesus’ body. Being joined to Him in His death meant that He died for our sins and fully satisfied the Laws requirements of death for sin.
When Jesus rose from the dead, we did too and now we are free from the Law. Its power to condemn us is broken since Jesus took this condemnation in our place.
Now we are under His grace, knowing His love, and from this, we can serve in the Spirit with a new freedom.
Inside View of Sin in the Life of an Unbeliever (Romans 7:5, 7-13)
The Law and sin do not get along. The Law in its demands works in four ways against sin in the life of an unbeliever in Christ.
Sin is aroused by the law (Romans 7:5) - It awakens like a monster and brings forth death
Sin is exposed by the law (Romans 7:7-8) - The Law shows sin as it really is so we can see it truthfully.
Sin deceives and kills us (Romans 7:9-11) - Sin takes the good law and makes us think it is bad. We follow along, being deceived, and do what sin dictates. We experience death as a result in our lives in so many broken relationships and ultimately in our relationship with God.
Sin is utterly sinful (Romans 7:12-13) - Because sin takes the best (God’s good law) and brings about the worst (death), it shows its true character of being ugly, abhorrent, and evil in every way.
Inside View of Sin in the Life of a Believer (Romans 7:14-25)
Paul gives his testimony of his life now through so many personal pronouns (I, me, my) and uses the present tense in describing himself.
He says part of him is the flesh, which is in constant rebellion against God. This still has a powerful influence on him and causes him to sin.
Paul hates this and does not want to disobey but does anyway so many times. He realizes that sin lives in him but his new, real self wants to do only good. So even though he is responsible for sinning, it no longer defines him. Sin comes from a different source, his flesh, than his true inner man, which delights in God’s law.
This new inner man that wants to obey God is God’s miracle in each of us. It is something totally new that He has created.
Principles we learn:
We now can better understand what is going on inside of us when we struggle with sin.
Sin still has an overriding effect in our lives.
Our sinful nature no longer is our identity. Now we can fight it against it, knowing my real self is separate from it.
This conflict in me actually shows I am a believer in Christ. Unbelievers do not have this battle.
Our ongoing fight against sin will continue throughout our lives. We can therefore be compassionate to the sins of others since we struggle likewise.
This is not the end of the story. Romans 7:24-25 says that Jesus delivers us. He helps us in our fight against sin by His Spirit (more to come on this) and when we die and are with the Lord, we will no longer have our sinful nature and will be forever free from it.