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.)

      2. 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.)

    2. 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?

  2. 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.)

    2. 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.)

      2. 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.)

    3. 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?)

      2. 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.)

    4. 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?

    5. 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.)

      2. 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.)

      3. 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.)

    6. 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.)

  3. 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.)

    2. 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).

    3. 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.)

    4. 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.)

    5. 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!)

    6. 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

  4. Next week: No Condemnation.