Redeemed by Faith, but Living by Law

“For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. O wretched man that I am! WHO shall deliver me from this body of death? Romans 7:19,24

God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, died on The Cross to be the solution to mankind’s sin problem. God’s solution not only paid the penalty of your sin for you, it made a way available for you to no longer be dominated by the power of sin.

Are you a christian who repeatedly finds yourself committing the same sins? Most of us, even in the church, often think we don’t struggle with sin, when, in fact, we all do constantly. Maybe you think of your sins as simply bad habits or shortcomings. But they are, in fact, sins.

Do the words of the apostle Paul found in Romans 7:19,24 describe your daily christian life? This is not how God designed His plan of redemption to function. Most of my life, I have lived with my focus on trying to abstain from bad deeds, and perform good deeds. I thought this was what being a “good” christian was all about. The problem was that I couldn’t set myself free from still desiring sin in my heart. Also, the good that I knew I should do, I usually didn’t get done. At best, I practiced behavior modification and performed religious disciplines.

Someone once said “desperation precedes revelation”. It did for me. The Bible declares God’s solution for sin was complete, and made a way available so that we no longer have to be slaves to the sinful nature that lives within us. God has provided Deliverance from sin, not man-made and produced recovery from it. Jesus died that you may be delivered from both the penalty and power of sin.

I hope the information provided will enable you to experience all of God’s benefits He has provided in His redemption plan.

Romans 7 gives the personal testimony of the apostle Paul AFTER he had been saved, and was then trying to live for God. You, most likely, were taught that this chapter describes Paul BEFORE he was saved. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most commentaries and Bible footnotes will say that this describes Paul before he had been saved. That is ridiculous. How can an unbeliever hate sin (Rom. 7:15)? How can a sinner delight in the Law of God (Rom. 7:22)? How can an unbeliever be brought into the captivity to the Law of sin? They ALREADY ARE a captive to sin if they are an unbeliever! (Rom. 7:23). This chapter of Romans is, without a doubt, describing the struggle of a Believer who is attempting to live pleasing before God after they have come to Christ. This chapter is just a continuation of what was beginning to be discussed and dealt with from Romans 6:15 forward. It is one of the most important chapters in the entire Bible! A Believer must understand the truths contained within this chapter in order to have victory over the sin nature. That is why I have no doubt, the enemy of our souls has worked and is working to keep God’s people from knowing what this chapter reveals. This chapter describes “where” most Believers live everyday, until they have a revelation of “who shall deliver me from this body of death” (Rom. 7:24)?

Before Paul received this revelation, it is evident that God allowed him to continue trying to “do the right thing”, yet continue to fail. This is to inform us that living a victorious life after being saved is not automatic. In fact, trying to do the “right thing” isn’t enough. Asking God to help you not to do the “wrong thing” will not guarantee the Holy Spirit will enable you to avoid sin. I am positive that the apostle Paul had asked God to help him do the “right”, and shun the “wrong”. So, why would God not automatically help him? The entire chapter of Romans 7 reveals that answer.

Romans 7 gives us his testimony of trying to live for God the wrong way. May we all take note. This is one of the most important chapters concerning how to live for God correctly. The first four verses of Romans 7 informs us of God’s view of a Believer’s attempts to do the right thing, but go about it the wrong Way. He views it as SPIRITUAL ADULTERY! HOW we order our lives in service to God is not a light matter. HOW we approach this subject of daily living is a very serious matter to our heavenly Father. Good motives combined with practicing various techniques to try and overcome sin, isn’t seen as O.K.! Sin is our problem. It is the dominate obstacle we face everyday. Yet, we are no longer to live as though it is any bother to us (Rom. 6:11,14). And HOW WE ADDRESS SIN in our daily life as Believers, proves what we truly Believe about our Redemption and God’s reconciliation plan.

These verses explain to Believers, that the death of Christ changed our relationship to the Law (vs. 2, 4). “If her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man” (vs. 3). This symbolism is to show us what happened when we first got saved. Before salvation, we were accountable to God and would be judged according to how our deeds measured up to His standard, the Law. And at that time, the only resource of strength we had to help keep the Law was our flesh (intellect, motivation, willpower, etc.). And God knew the resource of our flesh power to overcome sin’s power, is like having NO POWER AT ALL! That is why it says,” For when we were yet WITHOUT STRENGTH, Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6).

But upon initial conversion, the strength of sin was broken. “And the strength of sin is the Law” (1 Cor. 15:56). We were given a new guide for daily living, and a new empowerment for our daily living, THE HOLY SPIRIT (John 16:12-15, Rom. 8:1-4,11)! As well, we died to the penalty of sin and will never be judged by the Law. Instead, we were married to Jesus Christ, and by Faith accepted that our deeds and sins have already been judged and punished by God, through Jesus’ death. The Law of God and it’s requirements didn’t die. But, by Faith, we died to it’s effects with Christ (Rom. 6:3, Gal. 3:1-2, 10-14). We died to the Law’s condemnation, because none of us could or can keep it without failure. “Wherefore, my brethren, you also are become dead to the Law by the body of Christ; that you should be married to another, even to Him that is raised from the dead (Christ) that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (vs. 4). The only way to “bring forth fruit unto God”, at least fruit that He accepts, is by our Faith in the death of Christ being the “access point” by which the enablement of resurrection life can take place. The Holy Spirit couldn’t dwell in our hearts and free us from the power of sin just because God loves us. The Holy Spirit can only do these things because of The Cross! And our FAITH exclusively in The Cross of Christ is what freed us from the condemnation of the Law, joined us in a marriage bond with Christ and is to empower us to produce Holy Spirit created fruit (Gal. 5:22-25).

Now to the adulterous way that Believers can find themselves living.

Rom. 7:3, “So then if, while her husband lives, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress”. The symbolism here is to show a woman who has two husbands. Not just a “cheating” spouse. But a married woman who married another man as well!!! After dying to the Law, we have been married to Jesus Christ. But after being married to Jesus Christ (initially saved), we ALL commit spiritual adultery (set out to please God through law, by means of our flesh) at some point, and marry the Law again. Although our motive is right, it combines itself with the wrong process of serving and living for God. The reason Jesus died on The Cross was so that all humanity could be declared righteous before God, joined to Him in a “marriage relationship”, and then daily live empowered by His Spirit displaying His righteousness.

We commit spiritual adultery when we go outside this marriage bond and relationship, to get what we think we need to live a righteous life.

I was taught, practiced, and was encouraged most of my life to live in spiritual adultery. Of course, my spiritual leaders didn’t realize they were doing this. Their motives were good, but their methods were wrong. I didn’t know I wasn’t serving God according to His Divine Design. I did wonder why my relationship in Christ didn’t line up with the “abundant life” I read about in the Bible? I wondered when God would change my spiritual situation? I looked and earnestly prayed for “revival” in church buildings to happen, thinking that would be the answer. And the answer had always been available to me, or anyone else. It was available to access at anytime. I needed “revival” in my own heart. I needed to go back to my first love (Rev. 2:4). What had kept me bound for so long was unbelief, and ignorance of The Truth. My unbelief, and ignorance of what the Bible said, caused me misery. I struggled to overcome sin, yet had countless failures. The prophet Hosea speaking to a spiritually adulterous people said “you stumble day and night, and the prophets stumble with you….MY people are destroyed from lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:5-6). Not a lack of information!!! A lack of knowledge. A lack of understanding The Truth! Paul spoke of Israel saying, “For I bear them record that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:2-4).

Is this not what the “father of our Faith”, Abraham did as well? Read Galatians 4:19-5:9. Abraham had been declared righteous and was waiting for the promised child. But it didn’t come immediately. Years went by, and he was getting almost too old to father a child. And Sarah was too old to produce a child! So, Sarah suggested that he marry her maidservant and produce the promised child that way. If Abraham waits much longer, he won’t be able to produce a child by his flesh. That is the Old Covenant “type”, or example, of what every Believer has done in some way. We try to produce God’s promised spiritual life, by means of the flesh. The marriage to Hagar was an attempt of Abraham and Sarah to “get the will of God done”. But, God was waiting to bring about the promise to show them, and us something. All hope of the flesh had to die (God was waiting until Abraham and Sarah knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was physically impossible) before God would produce the promised child. God wants to show us beyond a shadow of a doubt that, our flesh, cannot produce anything good enough for Him to accept. But HE, working in us and through us, can produce miracles!

When we attempt to use our flesh (our own strength, ability, intellect, education, motivation, willpower, etc.) as the means by which we can live free from sin’s control, and free from the Devil’s devices and traps, we have just begun an adulterous marriage relationship with the Law. The Law never has contained any power in itself, or been able to give any person POWER to obey it’s commands. It contains no redemptive power within itself. That is why it is not to be our source of direction and guide for life. The law is not evil, it is good. Knowing the right thing is good. But, that knowledge won’t change your heart to desire obedience to it, or give you the strength to obey it!!! There is nothing wrong with a speed limit sign. in fact, it is there for our safety. It may tell you not to go faster than 25 mph. around a corner, but it can’t help you avoid going faster than 25 mph!!!!! The Law will leave you striving in your own strength to obey it. That is why in the New Covenant, Jesus Christ is the source for life and Godliness. And the Holy Spirit is to be our guide and empowerment to obey His leading. Laws’ only power source is the strength of man. “The law is not of Faith” (Gal. 3:12). Jesus died so that we could live by Faith in the strength of God’s Spirit. Living by “law” is any system by which man has to labor to gain reward from God. We labor for the Lord with our life to spread His Message and love and help one another. But, we do not have to labor to access or receive victory over sin (Heb. 3:12-4:11). We only “labor” to enter into the rest from our works to receive grace and the benefits of our redemption by our continual Faith (Heb. 4:10-11). God is not pleased when we try to do the job only His Holy Spirit can do (Rom 10:5-7). God is only pleased with us according to our Faith in His Son (Rom. 9:30-33).

Romans 7:5 explains how the sin within unredeemed mankind operates and dominates their behavior. Because under the judgment of Law, no help is provided to overcome sin. Romans 7:6 explains that after conversion, a Believer who tries to live by the Law will experience the same result. We are to serve God by “newness of Spirit”/ “newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). That is, His Spirit being our power source for victorious living, not our spirit (Rom. 8:4).

Romans 7:7-8 explains that the problem isn’t the Law. It is perfect and right! The problem is within us, even after initial conversion. But, knowing the right thing to do (commandments, even the perfect commandments of God), won’t free anyone from the power of the sin nature (Rom. 7:8-14). That is why listening to sermon after sermon about what the “right thing” to do is, won’t enable you to do the “right thing” unless you know the doctrine laid out here in Romans. That is simply the proclamation of “law” if not combined with HOW a Believer can DO what is being discussed. The “HOW” is the doctrine Paul is explaining. It requires a different way of thinking concerning God and HOW His kingdom on earth works (Rom. 12:1-2). It is not according to HOW every other part of our lives work (labor for reward, or the “brownie point system”). This doctrine is the meaning of the New Covenant (the explanation of God’s Redemption Plan and HOW to receive it’s benefits).

Romans 7:9 tells the testimony of Paul, who wrestled with the answer and solution to the sin problem after his conversion. Paul committed spiritual adultery! And thank God, the Lord showed Him the solution for this multiple marriage affair! He learned that wanting to do the right thing and using determination and willpower won’t overcome the power of sin (Rom. 7:18-21). Just because the inward man (the redeemed spirit) wants to, and delights in the good Law of God, it still isn’t enough to overcome the Law of Sin (Rom. 7:21-23). By using the term “Law of Sin”, we learn that there is no variance in this principle. Despite the fact that the Spirit of God lives inside a Believer and their “inward man” and “mind” desire to please God, they can once again become captives to the “law of sin”. Paul then refers to his experience of trying to live for God the wrong way in some agonizing words. “O wretched man that I am! WHO shall deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24). How could he live free of the sin natures dominance in his life like he had experienced at initial conversion? The apostle had come to the conclusion that even though he was redeemed and filled with the Holy Spirit, he couldn’t overcome the sin within himself. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwells 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.” (Rom. 7:18-19).

This is a lesson that every Believer needs to learn. Due to the fall, these bodies we live in will always possess a sin nature (Rom. 7:14). Even after God has made us new creations, our spirit still lives in a body that is helpless in regards to living a righteous life. That is why when we try to live for God by our resources and strength of the flesh, we will fail. In and of ourselves (our flesh), dwells NO good thing. False teaching informs us that there is good in all of us. We just need to be improved upon. You, as a Believer, may not want to allow God to show you how sinful and evil you are in and of yourself. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Bible says you are. That is what we all are. Even after we have been redeemed. The only good that dwells within us, is the Divine nature of God (2 Pet. 1:4). Thank God redemption is a continuing process!!! That is why we needed, and continue to need a Redeemer for our sin. A Redeemer who not just forgives us of our sin, but has the power to take away sin’s grip.

Paul asks the question, “WHO shall deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24). He was asking Who can deliver him from this battle he is fighting within himself. He was not asking Who could kill his literal body. He was asking, Who could deliver him from the power of sin that was plagueing his mind and heart. Have you been there? I know I have. Are you there now?

Unfortunately, most of the churches I know of ask a different question. They are not asking the question that Paul asked. They are asking ” WHAT…..shall deliver me from this body of death?” They know there is a problem, but they don’t realize the solution is a person. THE Person “Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 7:25). They may tell you He is the answer. But, then prescribe various methods and programs for you to be involved and follow in order to receive one of the benefits of your redemption; freedom from the power of sin. They get you involved in “law”, 21st century “law”. And step programs cannot set anyone free. Only learning the gospel of Jesus Christ, as is revealed to us in Romans, can lead you to the joy and freedom of your salvation.

The last sentence of Romans 7:25 tells us the conclusion of the whole chapter. “So then with the mind I myself serve the Law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin”. The only thing that we can do as Believers is want to do the right thing and offer God a willing mind, an obedient heart and a body that is weak and corrupt. If we try to live a victorious life through the means of flesh and self-will, we will end up serving the law of sin.

Until you BELIEVE what Romans 7 says, experiencing the struggle against sin and living by law, and cry out and look to God exclusively for help, you cannot experience the freedom and life spoken of in Romans 8. Will you?