Romans 7

The Word Made Fresh

1Don’t you who know the law know that the law is only binding on you during your lifetime? 2A married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he is alive, but if he dies she is no longer bound. 3If she lives with another man while her husband is alive she will be called an adulteress, but if her husband is dead she is free from that law, and if she remarries she is not an adulteress.

4So, when Christ died, the law was dead to you so that now you might belong to Christ who was raised from the dead, and you can bear fruit for God. 5But while we are living, the law arouses the sinful passions at work in our bodies so that we bear fruit for death. 6But now we are free from the law. We are dead to that which held us captive and we are no longer slaves under the old written law, but now are slaves in the new life of the Spirit.   

7Does this mean that the law is sin? Of course not! If it weren’t for the law I would not have known about sin. I wouldn’t have known that covetousness is a sin if it weren’t for the law which says, “You shall not covet.” 9But sin grabbed an opportunity in the law to provoke all forms of covetousness in me. If it weren’t for the law there would be no sin. 9I was alive apart from the law until the laws were given; then sin took over 10and I died because the very law that promised life proved to be death to me; 11sin seized its opportunity in the law to deceive me, and through the law it killed me. 12So the law is sacred, yes; each commandment is sacred and fair and good.

13Then did that which is good bring death to me? Of course not! It was sin working death in me through what is good so that sin might be shone to be sin. Then, because of the law sin grew beyond measure.

14But we know that the law is spiritual, and since I am flesh the law sold me into slavery to sin. 15I don’t understand my own actions because I don’t really know what I want. That is why I often do the very thing I hate. 16But if I do something I don’t want to do I have to agree that the law is good. 17The truth, though, is that I’m not the one doing it, but rather the sin that settles inside me. 18You see, I know that nothing good lives in my physical body – I can decide what is right, but I can’t do it! 19So, I don’t do the good I want to do; instead, I do the evil that I don’t want to do. 20But if I do what I don’t want to do, it isn’t me doing it, but the evil lurking within me that is responsible.

21So, I have found it to be a kind of law that when I want to do good, sin lies close by. 22In my heart I delight in the law of my God, 23but I feel in my flesh another impulse that goes against the law my mind knows, and it makes me a captive to the sin that resides in my body. 24I am a wretched man! Who will save me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So, my mind makes me a slave to God’s law, but my flesh makes me a slave to the law of sin.


1-3: The point Paul is making here is simply that earthly allegiances do not survive death.

4-6: The law exists to manage this earthly life, but since being baptized into Christ means we are partners in his resurrection, we are therefore dead to the law because we are already living in that new life of faith in Christ. The law no longer holds any power to condemn us. Frankly, I’m pretty happy about that.

7-12: Of course, the law is holy because it came from God and thus has its place, but primarily it merely defines sin. Once we become participants in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the law no longer serves any purpose for us.

13: Paul tends to over-explain things. Okay, sin is the bad thing, not the law. But because the law reveals sin it has the effect of emphasizing our sinfulness which makes us bad.

14-20: There is, however, another primary difference between us and the law: the law is spiritual; we are flesh. For Paul, sin is of the flesh, and in the flesh we cannot but sin. Try as he might, he confesses that his physical existence causes him to do things he knows are not right even while he is in the very act of doing them. On the other hand, he realizes in his mind that what he is doing is not right, and that realization is his spiritual self. So, there is within us a principle of sin and a principle of holiness, but because we live in the flesh we cannot completely overcome the flesh, and thus sin is ever a part of our earthly lives. How can we be saved from such a calamity? We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, which faith allows us to live in the resurrection while we are still living in the flesh.


If we believe that Jesus is God’s Son, then we have faith that Jesus has overthrown our sins through his death (we will experience death as well) on the cross and his rising (we will experience a resurrection as well) to eternal life.