Romans 7.

1869 333 For the better understanding of this chapter, I shall commence a little in advance of it. The apostle, having demonstrated by the power of the Spirit of God the iniquity of man — every man under sin, whether Jew or Gentile, responds to that condition by the propitiation through faith in the Son of God.

But in Romans 4, another principle is developed, namely, the resurrection. In that chapter the faith of Abraham is presented to us as the model before God, who quickens the dead. He considered not his own body now dead. His faith was imputed to him for righteousness, and to us also who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. You see that our justification is here attributed to the resurrection.

In Romans 5 this principle is applied to justification, our place before God, and the confidence in His love which it sustains. This principle of resurrection leads the apostle to trace the thing to its source — sin to Adam, righteousness to Christ.

Romans 6 consequently applies the resurrection to the question of life. We are dead and raised again, not only in order to be justified in Christ, but necessarily to be dead to sin, and to live to God as those who are alive from the dead.

Now Romans 7 applies the effect of the resurrection to the law. It is the forgetfulness of this that has caused the difficulty in the chapter, and which has produced so much discussion.

The law is presented as a first husband, who is dead in the death of Christ, and Christ raised from the dead is now our husband, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. Then the apostle demands, "Is the law sin? God forbid." But it cannot heal sin, but only impute it to death (Rom. 4:15; Rom. 5:13), to provoke it, that it might become exceeding sinful. The apostle then presents the effects of the law upon the experience of the soul when it is placed before law and feels its effect upon the conscience. But here there is something to add. The soul to be overwhelmed by the view of the law must acknowledge that it is spiritual, and desire to fulfil it: otherwise there is carelessness or else self-righteousness. The apostle therefore assumes the spirituality of the law, or at least presents the experience (it. is the only time) of the soul which knows that the law is good, and which takes pleasure in the law of God in the inward man (Rom. 7:22); that is to say, a soul renewed. Renewed in its intelligence and in its will, it understands the law and it takes pleasure in it, but it does not yet understand grace. The consequence is, that the more it understands, the more it takes pleasure in it, the more miserable it is — it finds no strength. (Rom. 7:18-19.)

The more he understands the law to be what it should, the more he feels justly condemned, and incapable of fulfilling it, or of delivering himself from his condition; and therefore the apostle in these verses speaks neither of Christ nor the Spirit. A Christian may find himself in this condition, but this condition is not christian.

Romans 8 gives the christian condition. From the one he has come to the other; and the soul finds itself in liberty, blessing, and security.

You will find in Romans 3 these three characters of man unconverted — none righteous, none that understandeth, none that seeketh after God. (Rom. 3:10-11.) Now in Romans 7 the man has become intelligent; he acknowledges that the law is good, and he submits to it (Rom. 7:12-16); his will is broken, for he takes pleasure in it (Rom. 7:22); but the third thing fails — he has no righteousness. The more his intelligence of the spirituality of the law increases and the more he desires to fulfil it, the more he understands that righteousness is not in him; and he is a miserable man.

For up to the present time, although he might have understood by a spirit and a heart renewed, the spirituality of the law, he does not yet understand by the testimony of the Holy Ghost that the righteousness of God is his by faith in Jesus Christ. He is not yet set at liberty, he is under the law. The Holy Spirit cannot put His seal upon such a condition. He puts His seal upon the righteousness of Christ known in the heart by faith in His testimony; and therefore strength fails here also, although the man may have all the good dispositions possible.

The object therefore in chapter 7 is not to distinguish between a man regenerate and unregenerate, but to show the condition or position of a man renewed, and that the man raised up with Christ, who has the life of Christ in his soul, is no more under the law, but is subject to another husband, namely, Christ raised in order that he may bring forth fruit unto God; that under the law the heart that is renewed is perfectly miserable, because there is still the law in the members which prevents its fulfilment. (Rom. 7:23.)

But in Christ this is not our position, according as we find (Rom. 4), by the grand principle of resurrection by faith, according to the power of Him who raises the dead, we are justified according to the justification of Christ, because united to Him — identified with the Second Adam, as we were with the first naturally.

The law could only add to the sin of our state by nature the positive transgression of a known commandment. (Rom. 7:7.)

This resurrection with Christ, by the communication of His life to all of us who are justified, is necessarily a principle of holiness. If we are by our union with Christ placed before God, justified in Christ, we have by that union a life of holiness within us. If we are dead with Him and raised with Him,* it is not only that we should be before Him according to the efficacy of His death and resurrection, when it is a question as to the imputation of sin; but that we should walk according to the newness of the life that has been communicated. (Rom. 7:4.) But at the same time the law was not able to follow through death and resurrection. Therefore being united to Christ, and dead and raised with Him* in His death and resurrection, received by faith, we are raised to life as to a new husband when the first is dead.

[* This is more than the author would now draw from Romans 6, which does not go quite so far as Colossians 2, 3, and simply shows us alive unto God through our Lord Jesus Christ — not raised with Him.]

For "without the knowledge of that, the law, instead of being able to assist us in the fulfilment of the desires of the heart renewed, renders us perfectly miserable by the feeling of our utter impotency; whilst Christ justified is our life and our strength before God, so that there is no condemnation. The Spirit of life in Him has made me free; and that which the law could not do, God has done by sending His Son to condemn the sin found in us by nature, by making expiation for the sin by that which it is, that is to say, a sacrifice for sin. (Rom. 8:3.)

In chapter 7 it is necessary always to remember that a man acts upon the law when the efficacy of the resurrection of Christ is either unknown or misunderstood; for the Holy Spirit is given as the seal of the work of Christ. I do not say that He acts as the seal (for He must act to produce the first good thoughts), but He is given to dwell in us as the seal of the work of Christ known by faith. Then He produces assurance, faith, strength, good fruits, and the consciousness of our communion with the Father and with the Son; the consciousness of our adoption; sorrow — not of chapter 7, the sorrow of the soul not set free, but the sorrow — of sympathy with all the misery around, and of our own bodies, which belonged to the ruined creation, with which we shall be set free when power is exercised to that end. (Rom. 8:22-23.)

In the meantime, in waiting, we have the confidence that all things contribute to our good, and that nothing will separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.