Freedom from Law Brings Freedom from Sin
Thesis: Christians should not continue in sin because we are free from law (7:1-25).
I. The law has authority over a man only so long as he lives (7:1-6).
A. This principle is illustrated by God’s general law on marriage (7:1-3).
1. This illustration reveals something about God’s law of marriage.
2. A woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives (2).
3. If her husband dies, she is free from the law of marriage (2).
4. If she marries another man while her husband lives, she is called an adulteress (3).
a If her husband is dead, she is not an adulteress if she marries another man (3).
b. Therefore, being dead to the law (i.e., a legal system of salvation and its curse), the Christian is no longer bound by that covenant.
B. Sin takes occasion and gains its strength through law; therefore, since Christians are free from the law, we are now free from the power of sin and able to live in the new way of the Spirit (7:4-6).
1. We are dead through the body of Christ (4).
2. We are dead to the law so that we may be married to Christ–partake of the religion of Christ.
3. We are dead to the law so that we can bear fruit unto God.
4. Under the law sinful passions were aroused by the law (5).
a Then we were controlled by our flesh (i.e., sinful nature).
b Then we bore fruit unto death.
5. Now we have been released from the law (6).
a We were released by dying to what once bound us (i.e., sin, cf. 6:2).
b. We were released so that we might serve in the new way of the Spirit.
c. We were released so that we would not serve in the old way of the written code.
II. Although sin takes occasion through the law, the law is holy, righteous, and good; so sin is the enemy, not the law (7:7-12).
A. We would not know what sin is except through the law (e.g., the law that says, “Do not covet” (7).
B. Apart from the law sin is dead; sin seizes the opportunity provided by the law and arouses evil desire (8-11).
1. Once Paul was alive apart from law (9).
2. When the law came, sin sprang to life (9), and Paul died (10).
3. Paul found that the commandment that was intended to bring life (by promising and making way for the Messiah) actually brought death [when used as a legal way to salvation] (10).
a. For sin seized the opportunity provided through the law to bring condemnation and deceived him (11).
b. Therefore, since sin deceived him through the commandment, it was sin, not the commandment, that put him to death (11).
4. Therefore, since the law is so holy that coming short of it is sin, the commandment is still holy, righteous, and good (12).
III. The law functioned to cause sin to be recognized as sin (7:13).
A. That which is good (i.e., the law) didn’t become death to man (13).
B. In order that sin might be recognized as sin, that which was good produced death (13).
C. The law produced death so that sin might become utterly sinful.
IV. Because of the power of sin as a master over those under law, we cannot be made righteous by law (7:14-20).
A. The law is spiritual, but man is fleshly; therefore, man is a slave to sin (14).
B. Man sins without knowing it (i.e., consenting to sin (15).
1. That which man without Christ wills to do, he does not do (15).
2. That which man hates, he does (15).
C Since man does what he does not want to do, he agrees that the law is good (16).
D. In such cases, it is not he that does the wrong, but sin that dwells in him (17).
E. Since man cannot carry out the good that he wants to do, we know that nothing good lives in man (18).
F. Since man does not do the good that he wants to do, but keeps on doing wrong; it is no longer he that does it, but the sin that lives in him (20).
V. In man without Christ, the law of sin (i.e., “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.”) works (7:21-25).
A. Even when in the inner man, one delights in the law of God, another law works in the members of his body and brings him into captivity to the law of sin in his members (22).
B. Only through Christ is one delivered from the wretchedness caused by the body of death (24, 25).
Conclusion: We conclude that, without the help of God through the indwelling Spirit, although our minds want to serve God, we are slaves to the law of sin (v. 25).
© 2004, Dr. Wm. T. (Bill) Lambert
Professor Emeritus – NT Literature and Interpretation
College of Bible and Religion