Who is the Man of Romans 7?

Romans 7
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 8

¿Who Is The Man of Romans 7?

(Romans 7)


Introduction: Romans 7 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. That may seem odd to you. Why not pick a chapter that pours out praise to God? Why not pick a chapter that promises peace and joy? I like those kinds of chapters too. The reason why I like Romans 7 so much is that it encourages me in my struggle with sin. Some will say that I should not be encouraged by it. Some will say that it is for beginning Christians, not old guys like me who have been in the faith for decades. Let's do what we do every week - jump into our study of the Bible and learn more about what God has to teach us!


  1. Legal Authority


    1. Read Romans 7:1-3. What has changed in the story Paul tells in these verses? (The husband died.)


      1. Did the law change? (No.)


      1. What should we conclude from this? What does this teach us about the law? (The law does not change, but circumstances change our relationship to the law.)


    1. Read Romans 7:4. How has our relationship to the law changed because of a change in circumstances? (Like the wife who was released from the law of adultery by the death of her husband, so we are released from the law by the death of Jesus on our behalf.)


      1. In our story, the woman married another man. Or, at least, she was free to do so. What are we freed to do? ("Bear fruit to God.")


        1. Can you explain this? Why should our freedom from the law cause us to bear fruit to God?


  1. Fruit


    1. Read Romans 7:5-6. I think this is the answer to the last question. But, we need to dig a little to understand the answer! Does the law of God arouse "sinful passions?" (Not by itself. Notice the other necessary ingredient - being "controlled by the sinful nature.")


      1. Does being "under the law" result in us being controlled by our sinful nature? (Look at it this way. Our natural human nature is sinful. When we see the "Thou shalt nots" of the law, our rebellious nature springs into life and we desire to do what the law prohibits.)


    1. Look again at Romans 7:6. What is the new way of serving? (Through the Holy Spirit. This time, the "spirit" driving us is not our natural human nature, but rather the Spirit of God. By being "released" from the condemnation of the law, we are free to choose a Holy Spirit led life.)


      1. Has the law changed? (No.)


      1. What has changed? (Your circumstances. You are led to live a life consistent with God's law through the leading and encouragement of the Holy Spirit. You are no longer driven by your sinful nature to rebel against God's law.)


    1. Read Romans 7:7. What purpose does the law continue to serve? (To alert us to what is sin.)


      1. Some teach that Paul is writing about the "ceremonial law" of Moses. We were released from it and not the Ten Commandments. What does this verse say about that teaching? (It is wrong for two reasons. First, the example that Paul uses is one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:17). Second, Paul says that the law teaches us about sin. That benefit (a correct understanding of sin) is more rightly attributed to the Ten Commandments then any ceremonial law. If Paul were talking only about the ceremonial law, what kind of picture of sin would you have?)


      1. The reason some teach that Paul is not referring to the Ten Commandments is that they worry that Christians will not be concerned about the law, specifically the Sabbath commandment. Re-read Romans 7:5-6. Do you want to be bound to righteousness by works for the Sabbath commandment - or any of the other commandments? (Friend, I want to be saved by grace for all of the law! I want to be lead in the new way of the Holy Spirit for all of the law! The idea that Paul is excluding some part of the law (the Ten Commandments) undercuts grace.)


    1. Read Romans 7:8-11. Does this seem correct to you? Have you ever noticed that when someone is told that they cannot have something, then they begin to intensely want it? On the other hand, if having something is always an option, then they are indifferent to having it. Can you attest, in your own observations, to the truth of what Paul writes?


    1. Read Romans 7:12. What is the nature of the Ten Commandments? (They are great! They are "holy, righteous and good.")


      1. If the Ten Commandments are so great, what is wrong? (What is wrong is us! What is wrong is our sinful nature. We need to replace it with the leading of the Holy Spirit.)


      1. Why does dying to the Ten Commandments help us to get to the point of being led by the Holy Spirit? (We no longer have to worry that failing to obey the Ten Commandments brings death. Jesus has died for us. "You also died to the law through the body of Christ" (Romans 7:4). We are free to live by His Spirit.)


      1. Does any of our discussion so far seem like it is directed to new converts to Christianity? (Far from it. This idea of obedience to the law, the idea that we can save our self by gritting our teeth and behaving, is a universal issue.)


    1. Read Romans 7:13. What about the law "produced death in me?" (Paul repeats that it is not the law, but sin. "[I]n order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me." Our experience with sin teaches us that it brings harm. It brings sadness. It brings death. Again, Paul seems to ask us to test what he is saying against our own experience.)


  1. The Struggle


    1. Read Romans 7:14-16. Who do you think Paul is describing here? Himself or a new Christian? (Why would he be referring to someone else when he uses the word "I?")


      1. Contemplate the argument that Paul has been building in our study the previous two weeks. What is his overall message? (In Romans 5 we studied that Jesus already paid the penalty for our sins. In Romans 6, Paul says "don't go overboard" and think it is fine to continue in sin. Now, in Romans 7 Paul again says, "don't go overboard," and expect that you will be done with sin. Each chapter builds on the past to avoid extreme conclusions. Paul is not teaching new believers, he is teaching all Christians.)


    1. Read Romans 7:17-20. What excuse does Paul give for doing things that he does not want to do? What excuse does he give for his sins? (He says, "Blame my sinful nature!")


      1. Have we heard this idea from Paul earlier in this chapter? (This goes back to the whole problem with the law. There is nothing wrong with the law, rather it is our sinful nature that reacts to the Ten Commandments with a desire to sin (Romans 7:4-12).


    1. Read Romans 7:21-24. Do you understand exactly what Paul is feeling? (Every honest Christian should feel this way. Paul expresses the opinion of us all.)


    1. Read Romans 7:25. Who has rescued us? (Jesus! Jesus gives us grace!)


      1. Let's look at this from a different angle. Let's say that Paul is writing only to young, immature Christians. What would that say to mature Christians? (They have no excuse for sin. But, more discouraging, they have no hope of rescue. This is another argument for righteousness by works, and it must be rejected.)


    1. I cannot leave us here. We will study Romans 8 next week, but let's read Romans 8:1-4. What is the great news for us who still struggle with our sinful nature? (We, "through Christ Jesus," have been set "free from the law of sin and death." What joy!)


    1. Friend, Paul does not attack the Ten Commandments. The enemy is our sinful nature. Our nature does not react well to the law. Our struggle with our natural self continues during our Christian walk. But, the great good news is that in Jesus Christ we have no condemnation. Do not let those who knowingly or unknowingly argue for righteousness by works steal your joy. Just accept the gift Jesus offers.


  1. Next week: No Condemnation.

Copr. 2017, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.