Victory Over the Law
Text Romans 7:1-8:4
Introduction: How can I win the battle against the world if I can’t win the battle within myself? Paul talks of such a battle in the seventh chapter of Romans. He then tells us how to overcome the greatest obstacle wining this battle; trying to be good.
Romans 1-3 Sin: Guilty before God
Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Romans 4-5 Salvation of God
Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
Romans 5:6-9 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
Romans 6 -8 Sanctification: Victory in God’s Power
Romans 6 is Victory over Sin Romans 6:6-7 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.
Today, we come to Romans 7. Victory over the Law.
At first reading it seems as though Paul is talking about salvation again. But Paul has moved from initial sanctification, that happens at salvation to progressive sanctification which is the Christian life until we are united with Christi at death. He now warns us about a trap which sin uses to dominate me. Paul tells us that we can become paralyzed in our Christian life, unable to do anything in our battle with sin, if we are not aware of the way the law is designed to work.
Joke: The Quaker and the Cow. A Quaker had an ornery milk cow. One particular morning it kept kicking over its milk pail until the quiet Quaker was about to lose his temper. He jumped up off his stool and walked to the front of the animal, looked it square in the eyes and said, Thou knowest that I am a Quaker and cannot strike thee, but thou dost not know that I can sell thee to my brother-in-law, who is a Baptist and he will beat the devil out of thee.“
We can see ourselves as the Quaker in this story trying fight but unable to win. As Christians, we are trying to keep the law, trying to do what is right and yet we are defeated time after time. Romans Chapter 7 teaches us that instead of fighting we must give up, surrender, not to sin but instead to Jesus. He then will keep the victory in us which He has already won.
Dominion until Death Romans 7:1-4
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? 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. 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. 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.
Death makes us free from the law.
Paul uses an example of a woman who is bound by the law to her husband until he is dead. But the death of the husband sets the woman free from the law of her marriage. She is no longer bound to him, no longer married. It is a very simple an irrefutable truth.
He then says we were also bound by the law but now have been made free by our own spiritual death in Christ to be joined to Him.
That death took place through the sacrifice of Christ and our death to the law when we accepted Him as our savior and as we saw in Chapter 6 is symbolized by baptism.
Free from Sin and Free from Law.
We, as Christians, have a problem with accepting that death that Paul is speaking of, we don’t see the old man, out old nature as truly being dead.
Instead of seeing him as dead, we feed him, we coddle him, we pamper him. We act as though our old nature is still alive. Because we don’t understand him as really being dead we try to relate to him in the same way we used to, by keeping the law.
As Christians we are dead to the law. that is what the Bible says. But what I think and what am told by some well meaning brothers or sisters, is that now since I am saved I have the ability to keep the law. In fact, they tell us, it is my duty and responsibility to keep the law or I’m not a good Christian or perhaps not a Christian at all.
In reality the Bible says I have no reason to be concerned with the law at all but with my relationship with the Lord. With His life he fulfilled the requirements of the Law, so that when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and He came to dwell in my heart, the law was dealt with in Him for me forever.
Galatians 2:16-21 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
Paul says that we will frustrate the grace of God if we try and live again in the old man by keeping the law. I cannot mix grace and law before salvation nor can I mix the two after salvation.
A missionary told story of two monkeys who were playing with a coconut along the riverbank. Suddenly one of the monkeys chased the coconut into a pit of quicksand. The second monkey got very excited and ran up and down along the beach. He called out to the monkey in the quicksand, yourself by the hair of your head and pull yourself out. The monkey in the quicksand grabbed his hair and pulled as hard as he could, but he kept sinking. The monkey on the shore yelled more and the monkey in the quicksand pulled more and more. Yet no matter how hard he strained he continued to sink. “More, pull harder, get yourself out of there.” Finally, the monkey in the quicksand sank under the surface and the last thing you saw was his hand sticking straight up in the air clutching a fistful of hair he had pulled from his own head.
For us to think that we can somehow pull ourselves out of the power of sin by keeping the law is as impossible as it was for that monkey to pull himself out of the quicksand. And for some preacher or well-meaning Christian, to just keep telling you, “You can do it, you can keep the law, come on try harder,” is just as useless advice as the monkey on the shore was giving.
Transition: How do we find ourselves in the quicksand of sin? It uses a trap. It takes something good and desirable and uses it to revive the old man.
Sin the Slayer Romans 7:5-14
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. 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. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which [was ordained] to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. 14. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
The Power of sin revealed.
The law, Paul says, is good. He tells us that the Law was created by God for certain purposes and here and in other place in scripture those purposes are listed.
The first purpose of the law is to cause conviction of sin.
Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
The second purpose of the law is to correct the lawless.
1 Timothy 1:8-10 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
The third purpose of the law is to bring us to Christ.
Galatians 3:24-25 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
But once these purposes are accomplished the law no longer has a purpose in us as Children of God, as Christians.
Now sin uses the law to condemn me, to trap me.
In verse 8 and 9 Paul says sin was dead without the law and “I was alive without the law once.”
Paul at conversion was free from the law. He had died to it in Jesus Christ.
But when the commandment came then sin revived and Paul says, “I died.”
Why does God allow this?
That we might see sin as powerful as it truly is, as sinful and deadly as it truly is. To make us fully understand that I cannot keep the law.
Romans 7:13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
In the original this is a very strong expression, and is one of those used by Paul to express strong emphasis, or intensity, In an extensive degree; to the utmost possible extent. - Barnes' Notes on the New Testament.
1 Corinthians 15:56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
Defeat brings victory.
Whether it is the Ten Commandments or my own set of laws, like pray everyday, go to church every week, don't get angry, read the Bible, don’t smoke, don’t drink, etc, all these are laws that cause sin to revive in me.
When the commandment comes, sin revives and I die.
Why? That I might see how powerful sin is and how weak I am.
That I may be brought to a point of defeat by sin and then to a place of full surrender to God.
Illustration. Watchman Nee and the drowning student.
Transition: Letting someone pull us out of the mire of dominating sin brings us to our last point. Christ the Conqueror.
Christ the Conqueror Romans 7:15-25
For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 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. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 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 inner and outer man
Do you hear the battle raging within Paul as he wrote this passage?
Paul says there are two parts of himself.
The mind or his true self, called the inner man and the flesh, the outward man, which he calls a law in my members.
In his inward man he wants to serve God, but in his flesh, the outward ma, he cannot
This is so strong, so immutable, he declares it a law.
These two parts of Paul enter into battle and Paul says he always loses and is brought into captivity to the law of sin, which is in his body.
The result is that Paul realizes he is a wretched man bound by the law to the dead man who should have been left in the grave when Jesus was resurrected.
Someone has already won the war.
We are fighting and losing the same battles as Paul.
Grandad and the black and white dogs fighting. The black dog is the outward man while the white dog is the inward man and in that fight the black dog always wins.
Like Paul we are left in this wretched condition? If we try to keep the law then we are under its power and under its curse, leaving us wretched in our Christian experience.
Galatians 3:10 -12 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
What we must realize is that we are fighting about we shouldn’t be fighting.
Galations 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
Do you see what you must do? Like Paul you must admit defeat and call out for the only one who can defeat sin, The Lord, Jesus Christ.
Out little white dog can’t beat the black dog, but the master of both dogs can stop the fight and bring peace.
Romans 7: 24 -8:4 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 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. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
We must come to that place of wretchedness or we will never be happy, never know peace in our Christian life. We must come to that place of wretchedness or we will never be used of God to serve Him.
He doesn’t need our abilities or talents he needs us broken and weak, without strength in ourselves, realizing our only hope is in Jesus Christ. Then will He use us, when we can only show His power, His love, His strength in our life.
Illustration: The Wretched Man
Paul may have had in mind a type of capital punishment in which a murderer is chained to a dead body until while it rots away.
Are you still trying to keep the law and being defeated at every turn?
You must do as Paul, give up and let Jesus keep the victory He has already won.
Don't let your Christian experience be a wretched one. Let Jesus do in you what only He could do, keep the law. Your job is only to surrender to Him.
Oh, how I have been here so many times, wretched, on my knees broken in my inability to serve him. I had to let Jesus do in me what only He could do, keep the law. All I could do was surrender to Him, to love him and to find in that love the superseding power to leave the law behind and draw closer each day to Jesus.
Once they asked Christ, “What must we do the work the works of God?”
He answered, “Believe on him who he hath sent.” That is all I must do, in my struggle with sin and the law. Just believe that Jesus has already dealt with it.
POW General learns the war is won.
In his book Forever Triumphant, F. J. Huegel told a story that came out of World War II. After General Jonathan Wainwright was captured by the Japanese, he was held prisoner in a Manchurian concentration camp. Cruelly treated, he became "a broken, crushed, hopeless, starving man." Finally the Japanese surrendered and the war ended. A United States army colonel was sent to the camp to announce personally to the general that Japan had been defeated and that he was free and in command. After Wainwright heard the news, he returned to his quarters and was confronted by some guards who began to mistreat him as they had done in the past. Wainwright, however, with the news of the allied victory still fresh in his mind, declared with authority, "No, I am in command here! These are my orders." Huegel observed that from that moment on, General Wainwright was in control.
Huegel made this application: "Have you been informed of the victory of your Savior in the greatest conflict of the ages? Then rise up to assert your rights. Never again go under when the enemy comes to oppress. Claim the victory in Jesus' Name." Huegel observed, "We must learn to stand on resurrection ground, reckoning dead the old-creation life over which Satan has power, and living in the new creation over which Satan has no power whatever."