Thursday, November 3, 2011
COMMENTARY ON ROMANS 7: 1-6
(1) 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? (2) For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. (3) So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is freed from that law; so that she is no longer adulteress, though she be married to another man. (4) Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. (5) For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sin, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. (6) But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
Paul begins to illustrate the principle laid down in chapter 6, verse 14, “Sin shall not have dominion over you,” i. e., you are the subjects of God’s justifying grace, “for ye are not under the law, but under grace,” commences with this 1st verse of our 7th chapter and continues through the 4th verse of chapter 8. He illustrates “Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law” in verses 1 through 24. Then “sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are under grace” from 7:25 through 8:4. The first six verses of this chapter of Romans deal with the relation of believers to the Law and to Christ.
This chapter has been used by many in a false way and there has been much controversy over its proper interpretation. We must ever be “comparing spiritual things with spiritual’ (1 Cor. 2:13) and follow the Scriptures as they interpret themselves. We shall find much to dispute from those who teach that Romans 7 is not the normal experience of every true Christian. A. W. Pink pointed out: “The controversy which has raged over Romans 7 is largely the fruitage of the Perfectionism of Wesley and his followers. That brethren, whom we have cause to respect, should have adopted this error in a modified form, only shows how widespread today is the spirit of Laodiceanism. To talk of ‘getting out of Romans 7 into Romans 8 is excuseless folly. Romans 7 and 8 both apply with undiminished force and pertinence to every believer on earth today. The second half of Romans 7 describes the conflict of the two natures in the child of God: it simply sets forth in detail what is summarized in Gal. 5:17. Romans 7:14, 15, 18, 19, 21 are now true of every believer on earth. Every Christian falls far, far short of the standard set before him — we mean God’s standard, not that of the so-called ‘victorious life’ teachers.”
Regeneration does not eradicate the Old Nature in the children of God. We remain what we always were except for the new principle of life implanted by the Holy Ghost, which “wars” against the old nature, to overcome and subdue it. Likewise the old nature “wars” against the new nature (principal of holiness), seeking to overcome and suppress it. This conflict is graphically described in complete detail by the apostle in Romans 7 and 8 and Galatians 5:16-26).
Verse 1 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? God’s method of justifying sinners delivers the elect from the Law (Acts 15:1-29). In this chapter Paul shows what is not and what is the Law’s relation to the believer. Judicially, believing sinners are emancipated from the curse or penalty of the Law (vs. 1-6), and morally under bounds to obey the Law (vs. 22-25). Paul says that he speaks to “brethren,” his spiritual brethren, that he “speaks to them that know the law.” He speaks to all believers “called to be saints” (1:7), who are familiar with the “holy scriptures” (1:2). Paul had been used of the Holy Ghost to prove in the preceding chapters that we are not under the Law for our justification. In this chapter he shows that by the deeds of the law no man shall be sanctified. If we are “in Christ” we are not only free from the condemning power of God’s Holy Law, but also from the power and dominion of sin. The Law has authority and lords it over the sinner. Law, all law, law in general binds a man as long as he lives, no longer. There is certainly no question here about the repealing of law. The law remains in force — death frees a man from the obligation of a law to which he is rightfully subject; nothing else can. Law binds the living, not the dead. Law, as the principal of justification, has dominion over a man, till, by union to Christ, the propitiatory victim for sin, he becomes as a dead man in reference to the Law.
We are not under the Law for sanctification. The Law is not the motive for our sanctification. We do not obey the Law for our justification, salvation, and sanctification (Acts 13:38-39), but we love the commands of God because we have been saved, justified, and sanctified. And now we are not under the curse of the Law. The Law cannot demand of us payment as it was fully satisfied in our Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are not dead to the Law of God as a rule of life, but as a means of justification. Too, Scriptural holiness, no less than Christian comfort, requires of us that we insist upon the truth (and never fail, on a fit occasion to vindicate it), that believers are dead to the Law, or that it is dead to them, as a means, or as a motive to holy living, no less than as a means of justification before God.
Henry Mahan states, “The Law to which Paul refers in this chapter is not the ceremonial law but the moral Law of God — the whole will of God manifested to all mankind. (1) God gave to Adam a Law of universal obedience, by which He bound him and his posterity to obedience (death being the result of disobedience). All men were placed under that covenant and that Law (Gal. 3:10; Rom. 2:14-15). (2) This same Law written on the heart continues to be the perfect rule of righteousness and pronounces a curse upon all who fail in the smallest measure (James 2:10). This Law was also delivered by God upon Mt. Sinai in Ten Commandments. (3) It is only when the believer is united to Christ that he is freed from this covenant of Law . . . But remember, the Law not only reaches the acts of men but also the attitude — not only the manners of men but the motive (Gal. 4:21; Matt. 5:21, 22, 27, 28, 38, 39). We are bound to that Law, married to it and under it as a covenant until we are freed (from its curse and penalty) in Christ.” So the Law, as a covenant of works, ceases to bind us when death has loosed its bonds. It is not the Law that dies — throughout this passage it is said that we are dead to the Law (vs. 4), delivered from the Law (vs. 6), and not that the Law is dead.
Verse 2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. Matthew Poole observes, “He here exemplifies and illustrates the foregoing assertion. ‘The woman is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth;’ see a parallel place 1 Cor. 7:39. This is the general rule, yet there is an exception in the case of fornication or desertion: see Matt. 5:32; 1 Cor. 7: 15. ‘From the law of her husband;’ from the obligation of the law of marriage.” The force of this illustration taken from married life is: “What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6). The obligation of a wife to a husband, and their fidelity to each other, is a matter of law growing out of the relationship that holds us together. So long as a husband lives and a wife lives, neither one of them can be free to marry except in a certain case, and that exception is discussed elsewhere. Paul is just discussing the general principles here. The woman referred to becomes dead to the law of her husband, not by her own death, but by his death — is as completely removed from its power as if she herself had died. She is “loosed from the law of her husband” — that law has no more dominion over her, as to it she is as it were dead. The general law of a husband remains unrepealed — it has lost none of its power over its proper subjects, but it has no dominion over her; she is out of its limits. In applying this illustration we find that the law holds you to absolute fidelity in obedience just as the law holds the woman bound to her husband, and the husband to his wife. If the sinner died with Christ, he is dead to that law, and therefore can enter into another relationship. We are espoused to Christ and the law that binds us now is the law of that espousal to Christ, and that is the law of freedom; not like the other, it is a matter of grace.
This illustration clearly emphasizes the relationship of all men to the Law of God by nature, and before sinners are regenerate and brought under grace (Matt. 5:17-48). The woman is married to her husband, under subordination or under his authority — “bound by the law of her husband.” She is under the power and control of her husband. Paul is comparing this husband with the Law. The relationship of the unbeliever to the Law is identical with that of the wife to the husband. The Scripture says that the woman’s “desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Gen. 3:16). And the Apostle shows that the husband is the head of the wife, and the head of the family (Eph. 5:22-23). That is God’s ordinance. Paul shows in this epistle the Jews have the written Law but those who had not the written Law were not without Law for “all men had the works of the law written in their hearts” (Rom. 2:14-15). Thus the Scriptures establish that all mankind is under the Law. The Holy Ghost shows us in Chapter 5 that even from Adam to Moses, before the written Law was promulgated to the Jews through Moses; the Law of God was there. Every person is under the Law of God.
This illustration used from marriage brings out the binding character of the relationship. She is “bound by the law to her husband,” permanently. And in what God originally ordained as the ideal in marriage is that it is something that is not broken by anything but death. Our Lord teaches that divorce has come in as a concession. God allowed it, Christ said, “because of the hardness of your hearts” (Matt. 19:8). But here what Paul is putting forth is that death does end the relationship and that opens the way for the surviving party to enter into a new relationship.
Verse 3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
The principle avowed is that even the Law of marriage, sacred as it is, binds not after either party has departed this life. The application of this illustration regarding all that has happened to us in our new spiritual marriage to the Lord Jesus Christ does not contravene God’s Holy Law. It is not a setting aside or making void the Law, it is establishing or a “fulfilling the Law.” As Martyn Lloyd Jones said, “The Apostle’s concern is to show the way in which we can pass from one spiritual relationship to God to another relationship — ‘Ye are not under the law, but under grace.’ The illustration shows us how this happens and it is a very wonderful illustration.”
Verse 4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him that is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. All true believers are, according to the principles of God’s way of justifying sinners, as completely delivered from the Law, as a dead man is from the law he was subject to when he was alive, or as the woman whose husband is dead is from the law which bound her to her husband. It is not by the Law that we are to be justified, sanctified, or saved and we are taken off all hopes of such by it, and from confidence of gaining approval by obedience to it (Gal. 2:19). This freedom from the Law the elect obtain, not by their own death, but ours vicariously, or “through the body of Christ.” Our freedom from the Law is the result of what our Lord Christ did and suffered in our stead (Eph. 1:7; 2:13). It is because of His having been made sin for us, that we are made the righteousness of God in Him (Eph. 2:16). It is because of His having become a curse in our stead, that we are delivered from the curse of the Law Gal. 3:13). Our salvation is secured by His having brought in an everlasting righteousness. “The body of Christ” means the same as the phrase in Colossians 1:22, “reconciled in the body of His flesh through death.” We are “sanctified by the offering of this body of Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10). He “abolished in His flesh the enmity, the law of commandments” (Eph. 2:15). He “nailed the handwriting that was against us to the cross” (Col. 2:14). The death of our Lord Jesus Christ, in which all the elect are one with Him, was a death which answered all the Law’s demands. It killed Him, and killed us in Him. Although the Law continues evermore to bind us as rational creatures, it no longer prescribes the conditions of our salvation. So if we are in Him, the Law has, it can have, no demands on us as a method of justification. By the Law having had its full course so as to be glorified in the obedience to death of Him in whom the believer is, we are completely delivered from the Law. The Law has no more to do with us, and we have no more to do with it in the matter of justification (Rom. 8:1). And this freedom from the Law is at once necessary and effectual to our living a truly holy life — a life devoted to God.
Paul does not say that the Law had died, because the Law had not died. The Law is still alive. But through the death of Christ in our stead we are no longer “bound to the Law,” no longer “under the dominion of the Law;” we are free from the obligations of this former marriage.
The phrase “dead to the law” has been grievously misunderstood, misused and abused by the antinomianism that runs rampant in our pulpits and pews. They make the claim that the Christian has nothing to do with the Law at all, and they live their lives accordingly. God’s moral Law is His moral demands on all mankind. The Ten Commandments are a perfect summary of His Law. We are dead to the Law only in the sense that we are no longer under the Law. As regenerate children of God we are no longer under it as a covenant of works. By it we are no longer trying to save ourselves, justify ourselves, sanctify ourselves, or make ourselves fit to stand in the presence of God by keeping the Law. That is where all mankind stands and we stood there also before being regenerated by the Holy Ghost. That is what is meant by being “under the Law;” striving to use the Law as a means of saving ourselves, of being justified before God, of being sanctified in His presence. By the mercy of God the saints are now “under grace.” We no longer try to justify ourselves by works, or by conformity by the Law. “Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom. 10:4). It is in that sense, and in that sense only, that we are dead to the Law. It does not mean that we have no interest in our Lord’s Law and its demands. That error is a deadly form of antinomianism, and it is utter contradiction of the Scripture.
In the new covenant God writes His Holy Law on the heart, in the will, and in the affections of all those born from above (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:10-12; 10:16-17). This is the great change God has made in sinners saved by grace. By nature we are at “enmity against God: not subject to the law of God” (Rom. 8:7). By grace the sinner has been changed from hatred of God and His Holy Law to a lover of Him and His commands (John 8:42). We are now “under the law of Christ” (1 Cor. 9:21), loving Him and all His Word, commands and ways. This is clearly shown in the life of Paul in the last half of this chapter. Christ came into this world to do God’s will (Heb. 10:7), and in saving the sinner, He enables us to do it also. In Romans 8:3 Paul is saying that the object of salvation is to enable the redeemed to carry out the righteousness of the Law. In Romans 13:8-10 he is telling the Christian how we are to love. He preached the Ten Commandments which are a wonderful setting forth of the kind of life we are to live.
This freedom from the Law by union to Christ our Lord in His death, burial, and resurrection, was in order to our union with Him in His new life, procured by His death as a living, life-giving covenant Head, that we might be brought into a relation to Him similar to that in which we previously stood to the Law. All natural men are under the Law and they look, though they look in vain, for justification by its means. They hope to enter into life by keeping the commandments, expecting both a title to, and a fitness for, final happiness from their personal obedience. The Law is their hope and dependence. But the redeemed are Christ’s — married to Christ is to have our happiness identified with His; to place our dependence for all we need on Him; to expect to be justified by His righteousness, sanctified by His Spirit, saved in and by Him “with an everlasting salvation” (1 Cor. 1:30). We must be completely freed from the Law in order to our being thus married to Christ. Any and every man that is under the Law is condemned; all that are in Christ are justified. No man can be both. If we are under the Law, we are seeking for salvation by our own doings; if we are in Christ, we are ever saying and meaning, “Surely in the Lord have we righteousness and strength” (Isa. 45:24). No man can do both. We must be dead to — free from the Law, in order to our being united to Christ. This deliverance from the Law is not effected by setting the Law aside, or by disregarding its commands; but by those commands being satisfied in the person of Christ.The freedom from the Law here affirmed of believers, and our union with Christ in death and life, are most intimately connected. It is our union to Him as dying the victim for sin, that gives us freedom from the Law; it is our union with Him as raised from the dead by “the glory” — the expressed approbation, of His Father, that brings us into a state of grace.
The grand design and certain result of this freedom from the Law, in consequence of dying to it, dying by it, in Christ Jesus our Lord, and this marriage relation to Him, are that the children of God may and do bring forth fruit to God. As far as we are concerned, redemption is in order to holiness. David Brown points out, “It was essential to his argument that we, not the Law, should be the dying party, since it is we that are ‘crucified with Christ,’ and not the Law. This death dissolves our, marriage-obligation to the Law, leaving us at liberty, to contract a new relation — to be joined to the Risen One, in order to spiritual fruitfulness, to the glory of God.”
The peculiar relation between believers and Christ, is here represented as intended to lead to practical results of a sanctifying kind. The Spirit is represented as producing fruits in holy dispositions and conduct. The wild olive grafted into the good olive tree partakes of its root and fatness, and produces corresponding fruit (John 15:4-5). The true believer married to Christ brings forth fruit to God — is formed to a character, and distinguished by a conduct, which Almighty God approves. To “bring forth fruit to God” is the same thing as to “live to God.” The design and the certain effect of the saint’s freedom from the Law, secured by God’s method of justifying sinners, is not that they may live for self or live in sin, but that they may live to God.
It was the pure, free, everlasting love in the heart of our Heavenly Bridegroom, which caused Him to betroth His Church unto Himself in loving kindness (Isa. 54:8). We were all vile, guilty sinners, in the most abject state, and despicable conditions, yet He loves His elect from all eternity, and openly espouses every member, in time of our conversion, one by one (Jer. 31:3; Psa. 102:13). The work of God in converting sinners works a principle of holiness in the soul that brings forth fruit of righteousness unto God (Ezek. 11:19-20). Union with Christ will not allow a continued life of sin. As a sure consequence of His grace and mercy working in heart and life of the redeemed, we have new love, desire, objective and life. Good fruit is such as is brought forth unto God; then we bring forth fruit to God, when what we think, and speak, and act, is all in reference to Him and His glory, out of loving obedience to His will, with an intent to serve Him only, out of a true desire to please Him only, with a design to honor Him. When the serving, and pleasing, and glorifying, and enjoying of God is the aim of all we do; a special goodness is hereby derived upon all our fruit, it is then brought forth to God. Fruit brought forth unto sin, unto the flesh, unto the world, is cursed fruit. Fruit brought forth to ourselves is no fruit in God’s account. “Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself” (Hosea 10:1). The fig-tree was cursed by our Lord for having no fruit (Matt. 21:19). Our fruit must be real fruit. The heart must be made good by the saving operation of the Holy Ghost before it can bring forth good fruit (Matt. 7:17-18), and in our being united to Christ our natures are changed, our hearts renewed, our souls taken from the old stock wherein we were born and engrafted into our Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore we bring forth fruit unto God (John 15:4).
Verse 5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. The apostle proceeds to show that this deliverance from the Law is absolutely necessary in order to sanctification. Deliverance does not just not encourage sin, but it is essential to holiness; for, in fallen man, a state of subjection to Law, as the principle of justification, is a state of subjection to sin; and, in order to our living to God, we must become dead to, freed from, the Law. Law cannot make a bad man good. The apostle shows from his own experience and that of the Roman Christians that it was indeed so (vs. 5 & 6).
“We” clearly refers to true believers — we who were in the flesh, but by Divine grace are so no longer — we who are now “in the Spirit.” “The flesh,” by its association with sin, is to be taken to mean that principle of sin “which works in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.” Hence, “flesh” becomes synonymous with the old Adamic nature, ruined and depraved by the Fall and rising up is opposition against all that is spiritual. “The flesh” is equivalent to the state in which all men are born, and continue so unless they are born again (John 3:6-7). It is of similar import with “the old man” — a state in which fallen man is chiefly affected by things that are sensible and present, seen and temporal (Eph. 4:22). Before our conversion the elect were under the wrath of God and enemies to Him, with just as much hatred toward Him as the reprobates. We were controlled by the flesh, our old carnal depraved nature, and walked according to it (Eph. 2:2-3).
“When we were in the flesh” what was the effect of the Law on us, who were then under its power — did it make us holy? No; “the motions of sin which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.” “The motions of sin” means passions, affections, “sinful affections and lusting” — sinful propensities of our fallen nature — its tendencies to evil, the bias to error, the disposition to sin, the forming design, the rising desire, of evil. These motions to sin are said to be “by the Law.” “The motions of sin,” or the sinful propensities, “which were” excited, or called forth into exercise, “by the law.” How these sinful passions are aroused by the Law is explained in verses 8, 11, and 13.
The Law does not excite sinful propensities in innocent, holy creatures. The apostle is not speaking of innocent, holy persons: he is speaking of men “in the flesh” — of unregenerate, depraved men; and there can be no doubt that in them sinful propensities are excited, called out to exercise, by the Law. Instead of subduing sinful affections in a depraved heart, the Law irritates them. Depraved sinners find themselves curbed and checked by the Law, and is filled with displeasure at the Holy Law of God and hatred of the Lawgiver Himself (Rom. 8:7). The strictness of the precepts of the Law, and the severity of its sanctions, make him fret against its Author, and form harsh thoughts of that inflexible justice and immaculate purity which are essential elements of the Divine character. Displeasure at the holiness of the Law is direct enmity against God; and enmity against God is at once the worst of “the motions of sin,” and the parent of all others.
These sinful propensities, called forth into exercise by means of the Law, “did work in the members,” or put forth their energy by the members — by the various functions of our nature; not the body only, but the whole of our faculties — mind, imagination, affections, and all the different capacities of thought and feeling and action through which we express ourselves and our personality.
These sinful, lustful feelings were working within us and working on our natural powers and ways of expression, in order to “bring forth fruit unto death.” This activity was not confined to outward actions for our Lord Christ said, “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). These motions, passions of sins were working in us and exerting our members to act. We sinned in mind, imagination, in heart, and in body. And thus exerting themselves, “they brought forth fruit unto death:” they led to practical consequences — to the external manifestation of themselves is a course of action, the end of which, under God’s government, could be nothing but death — everlasting destruction. Such was the influence of Law on the apostle, the Roman Christians, yea, all Christians everywhere, when we were “in the flesh.” The tendency and effect was anything but sanctifying. Now we are married to Christ in order that we should “bring forth fruit unto God;” but in our unsaved life, our life before we were regenerated, we spent all our time and activity in bringing forth “fruit unto death.” The life of sin is a life of death. All sinful actions lead always and only to death; the death of the soul.
Verse 6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. “We” — that is, we now who have been regenerated, who were in the flesh, and under Law — we, now in the spirit, are delivered from the Law — i.e., we have been completely delivered from the condemning sentence of the Law, and we are “now” brought into a state in which our everlasting happiness is not suspended on our own personal obedience as its meritorious condition. This deliverance from the Law rises out of our death to it. The received text expresses these words as it reads in the marginal rendering — “We being dead to that by which we were held.” The reference is to what the apostle, in the 4th verse, calls our death to the Law “by the body of Christ.” Our freedom from the Law arises from Christ, as our representative, having settled our accounts with the Law on the Cross — in which settlement of accounts we obtain a personal interest by believing.
The apostle Paul looked upon the great principles of the Law as the rule of Christian living. When a person has not the writing of the Law upon the heart in regeneration grace (Jer. 31:33), his service toward God in the Law can only be a matter of letterism. It can never be from the heart, in the true spirit and intent of the Law. The Law in its cursing, condemning character being dead to us, since we are in Christ, we now serve God, not in the letter of the Law, under the threat of its cursing, condemning nature, but in the true spirit or intent of the Law. As shown in verses 2 and 3 above the Law has the power to curse or condemn a woman who is married to another man while she has a living husband, calling her an adulteress, but the Law no longer has this power to curse or condemn this woman if her husband is dead and she is lawfully married to another man.
In the death of the Husband of our soul, Jesus Christ our Lord, we are dead to the cursing power of the Law. The Law cannot curse us, calling us adulterers, though we are married to another, even our resurrected Lord Christ. The Law in its cursing power being dead to us, we now serve God, not in the letter of the Law, but in its great principles of holiness. “A man doth not partake of the Gospel blessing till he serve God in the spirit; that is, till he be made partaker of the regenerating grace and actual influence of the Holy Spirit. New life is the principle of evangelical obedience; and when we are renewed by the Holy Ghost, we walk in newness of conversation. The Gospel is a ministry of the Spirit, 2 Cor. 3:8. It not only requireth duty, but giveth power to perform it. The letter of the Law requireth, but giveth no principle or inclination to do it; that is from regenerating grace, or the Law written upon our hearts: John 3:6, ‘That which is born of Spirit, is spirit;’ that is, suited, inclined, disposed, fitted for a spiritual life.” (Thomas Manton).
The word “serve” does not signify to do an occasional act of obedience, but to be a bond-servant, a slave, the property of his Master, constantly and entirely subject to His will. Before his conversion Paul vainly attempted to serve God “in oldness of the letter,” but it was a service which he later, after being regenerated, described as “confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3-4). Spiritual service is inward for it proceeds from a renewed heart, whereas carnal service is external and is therefore destitute of holiness. Paul thus shows these two services to be diametrically opposed to each other (Rom. 2:29). As new men, Christians serve Christ in newness of life and love.
The work of the Lord Christ’s life and death was to justify sinners: so the teaching of His Spirit is to sanctify them. And as this is done inwardly in our soul, it is evidenced outwardly in our lives, in separating ourselves as a holy vessel meet for the Master’s use, from all sensuality and uncleanness; in “putting off the old man with his deeds,” and in serving our God and Saviour “in newness of the Spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” “Ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body, and Spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6: 19-20). RCLVC.
Worthy Doctrinal and Spiritual Notes and Quotes on Romans 7: 1- 6.
Verse 1. O! What pains are taken to conjure up the ghost of the Law, and how many mistaken souls frighten themselves all their days with the ghastly apparition of it, instead of seeing it slain by Christ, and rejoicing over it as a dead enemy. (The Law is not dead. We are dead to it by the body of Christ as our Substitute and our death in Him – LVC). Reader, do not charge me with Antinomianism: I abhor the imputation: it is the desire of my soul to say with the Psalmist, “Lord, how love I thy law!” I believe it to be the rule of our duty, and that it will be the measure of our reward or condemnation. I believe, from my heart, that we are only miserable by transgressing it, and can never be happy but in conforming to it. But then I must learn from St. Paul the Spirit’s order of coming to the love of it. And I understand from him, that I can never look upon it with a friendly eye till I see the sting of death taken out of it, never be in a fruit -bearing state according to it, nor delight in it as a rule, till I am freed from it as a covenant. — Thomas Adams (1583-1652).
Things that don’t make sense to our ordinary reasoning can make sense to our spiritual understanding. — Vance Havner (1901-1986).
There is no such thing as genuine knowledge of God that does not show itself in obedience to His Word and will. — Sinclair Ferguson (b. 1948).
The Law of God is the royal Law of liberty, and liberty consists in being captive to the Word and Law of God. All other liberty is not liberty but the thraldom of servitude to sin. — John Murray (1898-1975).
I cannot find a syllable in [the Apostle’s] writings which teaches that any one of the Ten Commandments is done away . . . I believe that the coming of Christ’s Gospel did not alter the position of the Ten Commandments one hair’s breath. — J. C. Ryle (1816-1900).
Verse 2. In its nature marriage is of perpetual obligation, and can be dissolved in no way during the life of the parties, but by some crime, which wholly subverts its design. The Scriptures mention two such, adultery, and willful permanent desertion, Matt. 5:32; 19:9; Mark 16:18; 1 Cor. 7:15. — William S. Plumer (1802-1880).
This is a plausible reason, derived from Theodoret and Chrysostom; but hardly necessary. Commentators have felt much embarrassed in applying the illustration given here. The woman is freed by the death of the husband; but the believer is represented as freed by dying himself. This does not correspond: and if we attend to what the Apostle says, we shall see that he did not contemplate such a correspondence. Let us notice how he introduces the illustration; “the Law,” he says in the first verse, “rules, or exercises authority, over a man while he lives;” and then let us observe the application in Romans 7:4, where he speaks of our dying to the Law. The main design of the illustration then was to show that there is no freedom from a law but by death; so that there is no necessity of a correspondence in the other parts, As in the case of man and wife, death destroys the bond of marriage; so in the case of man and the Law, that is, the Law as the condition of life, there must be a death; else there is no freedom. But there is one thing more in the illustration, which the Apostle adopts, the liberty to marry another, when death has given a release: The bond of connection being broken, a union with another is legitimate. So far only is the example adduced to be applied — death puts an end to the right and authority of Law; and then the party released may justly form another connection. It is the attempt to make all parts of the comparison to correspond that has occasioned all the difficulty. — Ed. (Taken from footnote of John Calvin’s commentary).
The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled on by him; but out of his side to be equal to him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved. — Matthew Henry (1662-1714).
If the ‘grace’ you have received does not help you to keep the Law, you have not received grace. — D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981). (Amen! LVC).
Verse 3. A contract so lasting as that of marriage, and of which the consequences are so important, should not be entered into lightly, but in the fear of God. — Charles Hodge (1797-1878).
Successful marriage is always a triangle: a man, a woman and God. — Cecil Meyers.
The Apostle here proves his assertion by a particular reference to the law of marriage. And no doubt this law of marriage was purposely adapted by God to illustrate and shadow forth the subject to which it is here applied. Had it not been so, it might have been unlawful to become a second time a wife or a husband. But the Author of human nature and of the Law by which man is to be governed, has ordained the lawfulness of second marriages, for the purpose of shadowing forth the truth referred to, as marriage itself was from the first a shadow of the relation between Christ and His Church. Some apply the term Law in this place to the Roman law, with which those addressed must have been acquainted; but it is well known that it was unusual both for husbands and wives among the Romans to be married to other husbands and wives during the life of their former consorts, without being considered guilty of adultery. The reference is to the general law of marriage, as instituted at the beginning. — Robert Haldane (1764-1842).
Verse 4. Multitudes have made a confession, but they are not living holy lives. They all claim Jesus as Saviour, but you can’t see a mark of His rule in their lives. — Rolfe Barnard (1904-1969).
It is one thing to make a profession of religion, and another thing to experience real, vital union to and oneness with the Lord Jesus Christ. Without this union, there cannot be any real communion, for union is the foundation of communion; therefore, it is of the greatest moment to know our union to Christ. — William Gadsby (1773-1844).
He is not married to Christ who brings forth no fruit unto God. — Hardy.
We must be united to Christ, engrafted upon another stock, and partake of the power of His resurrection; for without this we may bring forth fruit, but not fruit to God. There is as utter an impossibility in a man to answer the end of his creation without righteousness as for a man to act without life, or act strongly without health and strength. It is a contradiction to think a man can act righteously without righteousness. For without it he hath not the being of a man; that is, man is such a capacity for those ends for which his creation intended them. — Stephen Charnock (1628-1680).
Verse 5. The Holy Spirit teaches us in Scripture that our mind is smitten with so much blindness, that the affections of our heart are so depraved and perverted, that our whole nature is vitiated, that we can do nothing but sin until he forms a new will within us. — John Calvin (1509-1564).
The “flesh” is the open, implacable, inveterate, irreconcilable enemy of holiness, yea, it is “enmity against God” (Rom. 8:7) — an “enemy” may be reconciled, not so “enmity” itself. Then what an evil and abominable thing is the flesh: at variance with the Holy One, a rebel against His Law! It is therefore our enemy, yea, it is far and away the worst one the believer has. The Devil and the world without do all their mischief to the souls of men by the flesh within them. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
MEN IN NATURE have most strenuously assailed the doctrine of total, innate, inherent depravity, and have long devised and proclaimed their lying, deceptive and seductive argument against it; but God will make His people know the truthfulness of it by a daily experience of their own sinfulness. A vital knowledge of sin puts to flight every traditional theory of human ability or Adamic purity, and fastens upon the conscience a pungent conviction that man is a sinner, from the cradle to the grave, with no part or capacity reserved. It is not the Christian’s burden that he only sins by word and deed, but his thoughts are unclean, and above all he discovers lurking like a serpent in the deep recesses of his heart the love of sinful things. This almost drives him to despair, and makes him hate his own life, and trust nothing but the blood and righteousness of the adorable Redeemer. — H. M. Curry.
“For when we were in the flesh [i.e., while Christians were in their unregenerate state], the motions of sins [literally, the affections of sin, or the beginning of our passions], which were [aggravated] by the Law, did work in our members [the faculties of the soul as well as of the body] to bring forth fruit unto death” (Rom. 7:5). Those “affections of sin” are the filthy streams which issue from the polluted fountain of our hearts. They are the first stirrings of our fallen nature which precede the overt acts of transgression. They are the unlawful movements of our desire prior to the studied and deliberate thoughts of the mind after sin. “But sin [indwelling corruption], taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence” or “evil lustings” (Rom. 7:8). Note that word “wrought in me”: there was a polluted disposition or evil propensity at work, distinct from the deeds which it polluted. Indwelling sin is a powerful principle, constantly exercising a bad influence, stimulating unholy affections, stirring to avarice, enmity, malice and countless other evils . . . The popular idea which now prevails is that nothing is sinful except an open and outward transgression. Such a concept falls far short of the searching and humbling teaching of Holy Writ. It affirms that the source of all temptation lies within fallen man himself. The depravity of his own heart induces him to listen to the devil or be influenced by the profligacy of others. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
Verse 6. Till men have faith in Christ, their best services are but glorious sins. — Thomas Brooks (1608-1680).
Professor of Christianity: Your evidence is to bear fruit. — J. C. Ryle (1816-1900).
To my God, a heart of flame; to my fellow men, a heart of love; to myself, a heart of steel. — Augustine (354-430).
The child of God has only one dread — to offend his Father; only one desire — to please and delight in Him. — Charles Bridges (1794-1869).
Do we get out of condemnation by our not walking after the flesh? Certainly not; that is salvation by works, a turning things backwards. We escape condemnation if we are “in Christ” who died for us. Then the consequent and essential result of this death is “that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” He who is dead in trespasses and sins cannot please God because he is in the flesh and minds the things of the flesh. If one is seen always minding the things of the flesh (regardless of what he professes) it is very evident that he is still in the flesh. “But ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”
Can we not live after the flesh and still have Christ in us the hope of glory? — GOD FORBID! The Word of God says here not only that we cannot live after the flesh, but he who does so “is none of His.” This is an awful truth and hard saying to the carnal mind. Paul follows his statement with proof: “But if Christ be in you the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness.” What does he mean? — our outward body of flesh and bones? Certainly not, but the “body of sin”; it is dead, crucified, killed, mortified, put down, kept under, etc. (1 Cor. 9:27; Rom. 8:13, etc.). It is the carnal mind, the lust of the flesh, which in Paul’s words serves the “law of sin and death.” — W. J. Berry (1908-1986).
The motive for service and obedience is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, who has given us new desires, principles, dispositions, and views. We serve out of love and not out of fear. We now delight to do the will of God, rather than the following of the letter in fear of its threats. We serve as sons. In Christ we are new creations! — Ferrell Griswold (1928-1982).