Monday, June 12, 2023

2023.06.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 7:5-12

Read Romans 7:5–12

Questions from the Scripture text: What had we been in previously (Romans 7:5)? What was at work in our members at that time? Unto what were these passions bearing fruit? What aroused those passions? What has happened to the law’s holding us bound to have these sinful passions aroused (Romans 7:6)? How can we now serve the commandments of the law? In what way do we not serve? What rhetorical question does Romans 7:7 ask about? What answer does it expect—and give? What did the law do for us (cf. Romans 3:20) to demonstrate that it is not sin? What personal example does the apostle give of how the law did this even for him? When under the law, what did sin do with the commandment (Romans 7:8)? Without the law, how would sin have appeared? Without the law, how did he himself appear (Romans 7:9)? But what happened to these appearances when the commandment came? What would the commandment have brought if we could obey it (Romans 7:10)? But what did it bring instead? Since not the commandment, what was it that actually brought death (Romans 7:11)? What did sin use the commandment to do? What did this show about the law (Romans 7:12)? About each of its commandments?

What, specifically, has union with the resurrected Christ done for us, in our relation to sin? Romans 7:5–12 looks forward to the sermon in the upcoming midweek meeting. In these eight verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that union with the resurrected Christ has delivered us from sin’s always taking advantage of God’s commandments, and given us newness in His Spirit by which to keep God’s commandments.  

It's sin that is sin, not the law. Romans 7:5 begins with a key phrase: “when we were in the flesh.” The apostle is reminding them of how the flesh responded to God’s Word, specifically to God’s law: “sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire” (Romans 7:8a). The flesh looks at this and says “the law is sin” (Romans 7:7a). But the new nature, that has been enlightened to see what is happening says, “the law is what enabled me to recognize sin” (Romans 7:7b, cf. Romans 3:20).

Union with Christ releases us to make good (Spirit-ual) use of the law. The good law required that we bad sinners be spiritually dead. But union with Christ has delivered us from that verdict and sentence of the law (Romans 7:6a), because we died in Him (verse 6b, cf. Romans 7:4a, Romans 6:3). His Spirit, Whom He has poured out upon us in baptism, has given us to be able to obey Jesus out of the life of Who He is (“newness of the Spirit,” Romans 7:6c, cf. Romans 6:3) rather than out of the death of what the law demanded against us (“oldness of the letter,” Romans 7:6d).

So, when the law shows us that we’re dead without Christ, it is showing itself to be good. When we’re under the sentence of death, we respond to God’s law the way unregenerate Paul had responded to “You shall not covet” (Romans 7:7c). This is a mercy, because when we’re spiritually dead, we have the delusion that we have killed sin (Romans 7:8b) and that we are alive (Romans 7:9a). God’s law bursts this spiritual bubble for us (verse 9b), we see clearly that sin is still alive, and that we are still dead (verse 9c). When God’s holy law says “you’re dead” (Romans 7:10), it is not only holy but righteous (declaring the correct verdict) and even good (doing us the good of exposing our sin to us, cf. Romans 3:20). The commandment is holy and just and good (Romans 7:12).

How does your heart respond to God’s law? What does this say about the current condition of your heart? What good does the law do before union with Christ? How do we respond to it after union with Christ?

Sample prayer: Lord, we thank You for Your good law that bursts our bubbles about any goodness from ourselves. And we thank You for giving us Christ to be our death and new life. And we thank You for His giving us Your Spirit to make us love Your law and obey it. Grant that we would do so, in Your Son, by Your Spirit, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH193 “Baptized into Your Name Most Holy” 

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