The main design of this chapter is to show the insufficiency of the Law to produce peace of mind to troubled sinner. Paul showed in the previous chapters that the Law was incapable of producing justification.
Verse 1 – Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?
Verse 2 – For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband.
Paul uses marriage to illustrate our relationship to the law. When a spouse dies, the law of marriage no longer applies. Because we have died with Christ, the law can no longer condemn us. We now serve and are obedient because a changed heart and mind that overflows with love, will love what God loves.
Verse 3 – So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.
Verse 4 – Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.
When a person dies to that old life and belongs to Christ, a new life begins. Believers find that their whole way of looking at the world changes when they have their eyes opened. Far too many Christians try to hang onto that old way of life and soon find themselves slipping backwards. Before long their lives become a yo-yo, up and down, with all kinds of turmoil. Maybe they were never fully committed.
Verse 5 – For when we were in the flesh, the passions of sins which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.
This verse and the following verse, is designed to show the effect of the Law, whenever and wherever applied. It’s always agitation and conflict in the mind. Trying to keep the whole Law is frustrating, because it can’t be done perfectly. The only hope of release in deliverance is the sanctifying power of the gospel.
Verse 6 – But now we have been delivered from the law having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
There are some who think by going to church and keeping the Ten Commandments and doing good deeds, they earn God’s approval. But in reality, all their efforts cause frustration and discouragement, because we all fail and can’t be perfect in all areas. However, when we come to Christ, the Holy Spirit will turn your focus off of your performance and turn it toward Jesus. He will free us to serve Him out of gratitude and love.
Law Cannot Deliver From Sin
Verse 7 – What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”
The Law in itself was not evil or sinful. It’s function was to reveal sin. We wouldn’t have known not to want what another has, unless a law had been written.
Verse 8 – But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead.
Verse 9 – I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.
Paul no doubt is referring to his past experience. Yet in this he speaks of all who are unconverted, and who are depending on their own righteousness.
Verse 10 – And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.
Verse 11 – For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.
Verse 12 – Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.
Sin deceives people by misusing the law. The serpent deceived Eve by taking away her focus from the freedom she had to the restriction God had made about the Tree of Life. If we look at things the way God looks at them, we will understand that God only restricts us from actions and attitudes that ultimately will harm us.
Verse 13 – Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what was good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.
Verse 14 – For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.
When we struggle with sin on our own, making decisions according to the flesh and emotions, we will become a slave to sin. We can’t combat sin without the power of the Holy Spirit.
Verse 15 – For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.
Coming to faith in Jesus Christ takes but a moment. But learning to be Christ-like, is a life-long process. Most of our struggles will come from within. We must never underestimate the power of sin.
James 4:7 – Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. The problem most Christians have with resisting the temptations from the devil, is that they won’t submit to God! They continue to make excuses for their actions by believing they can resist all on their own.We can’t overcome anything without God’s Holy Spirit and by submitting to Him!
Verse 16 – If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.
Verse 17 – But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
Verse 18 – For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.
In our flesh there dwelleth no good thing. Even after conversion, the only part of us that is holy is our new Spirit, which is the Holy Spirit living in each believer. We still have fleshly desires, attitudes, and behaviors that are sinful. The difference now though, is the Holy Spirit helps us by correction, to clean our mess up.
Verse 19 – For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.
Verse 20 – Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
Even though sin dwells in all of us, we are still responsible for our actions!
Verse 21 – I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.
Verse 22 – For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
Verse 23 – But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
Verse 24 – O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Verse 25 – I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
The believer recognizes that in his mind he wants to serve God’s law since it is holy, just, good, and spiritual, but at the same time his fallen nature is in service of this alien power – sin.