Romans 7: An Illustration from Marriage
In the previous chapter, Paul illustrates how the believer in Christ is free from sin (Romans 6:22). Now he goes on and expresses the believer’s relationship to the Law and expounds a bit further on this freedom.
The Apostle is writing to those “who know the Law” (Romans 7:1), and he wonderfully articulates the relationship between the Christian and the law by using an illustration from marriage to convey his message (Ephesians 5:22-33).
In our marriage vows, we say one to another, “For richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part..”, and the believer’s death to the Law takes place when our faith is placed in the finished work of Christ (Romans 10:4). The Law, as good as it is, was never intended to be a means of salvation. Rather, it was meant to be a “tool” to show a sinful humanity how far we fall short of God’s perfect standard and how incapable we are to save ourselves...hence the reason why everyone needs Jesus.
There are many today who still believe by keeping the Moral Law they can be saved and made right with God, but this is why the Scriptures were given to us, to “see our great need for Christ” in order so we can see that we “have a great Christ for our need.”
May we thank God for giving us His Law, because without it, we would’ve never known what and Whom we needed to be saved from (Romans 7:7).
Romans 7 has been hotly debated by theologians over the years, specifically Romans 7:14-25 where the Apostle describes the Christian’s inward battle against sin. Many have said he was referring to his past life as an unbeliever, but when does an unregenerate person delight in God’s Law (Romans 7:22)?
He takes it a bit further by writing about his own personal struggle with sin and while the particular struggle is not mentioned. It’s important to see that as mighty as he was in the Lord, he was still a man just like us, and by the Spirit, he came to see that “no good dwelled in him” (Romans 7:18). Paul owned himself as a “wretched man” (Romans 7:24).
John Murray, in his commentary on Romans, writes that “the more sanctified a Christian becomes the more painful to him must be the presence in himself of that which contradicts the perfect standard of holiness.”
Likewise, John Knox once said, “I sob and lament for that I cannot be rid of sin. I desire to live a more perfect life.”
Do you, dear believer, find it painful when you see how far you fall short of Christ’s perfect standard? Do you desire to be rid of sin? If so, this is a work wrought by the power of the Holy Spirit, and if this is you, you can have bold confidence that Christ Jesus the Lord will “set you free from the body of this death” (Romans 7:25).