Preached @ Anchor Community Church on July 27th 2014
The Big Picture: The Law makes a beautiful guide, but a horrible spouse; Part 2
Last week we Paul used an analogy to make it clear that the solution for sin was not the law, but grace. Being “Married” to the law is like being married to the wrong spouse, because that spouse is only demanding, but never helpful. You will never be good enough to appease that spouse. But since we are dead in Christ, and no longer “Under law” (Romans 6), should we obey the law at all? Paul’s answer of course is yes, as our guide to truth and life, but not as our covenanted “Husband.”
Basically, our Sin is rooted deep inside us, and I believe that all of chapter seven is dealing specifically with sin and our struggle with sin as we begin to understand the holiness and God and the depth of our own sin. It’s easy to follow man-made rules if we have enough will power, but being like God is not in our realm.
Our passage today parallels Israel who was given the Law, but who are also in Adam. Many people feel that Paul is using the first person, because he is identifying with Israel, but he is not necessarily talking about himself. I don’t believe that, and feel that even though there are many great minds saying that Paul is not speaking about his own struggles with sin, in Romans seven, I believe they are wrong for theological, contextual and experiential reasons.
Last week he showed us an analogy describing how we are “Dead” to the law, and alive in Christ. This week, he is using an analogy to show us that even Israel (God’s People) were sinful, and I believe that Romans 7:13-25 gives us a personal application in regard to sin.
Today there we see 2 Truths of the Christian’s Relation to the Law
From the Head…
The Law Makes A Beautiful Guide (Romans 7:7, 12)
It is clear from verse 7 and 12 that the Law id Holy and Good. Law is our guide to His will (Galatians 3:24), and when we live it perfectly it will bring life as Leviticus 18:5 reminds us, “You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the LORD” (See too, Deuteronomy 30:15-20).
God’s Law is objective because of God’s unchanging nature, but is also relentless. The law is hard on us, and unchanging. Consequences have changed because of Christ who paid the penalty, so some of the Old Testament punishments and ceremonial and dietary aspects have changed, but the moral law is not only binding, but it is equally unrelenting, therefore never intended to save, only point.
Our problem with the law is our inability to completely keep it. Galatians 3:10-12 reminds us that,
“For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”‘ Simply, because of our sin, we can’t keep God’s law no matter how “Good” we think we are, which leads to our second “Truth.”
The Law Makes A Horrible Spouse (Romans 7:8-11)
Paul may be thinking backward to Romans 5:13 when he penned this analogy. “…For sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.”
As I said before, many struggle with the passages relevancy, because they can’t see the connection from Israel to us today, because they do not believe Paul is speaking about himself as a mature believer, but I believe he is, and just like God’s people (Israel) struggled with sin, so do His people today.
Paul keeps driving home the point that, the Law is NOT a solution for sin, only grace is. While many can take advantage of grace and move toward antinomian position, there are still many that see the law as the solution to antinomianism. BOTH are wrong in Paul’s eyes. Being “married” to law is not the answer to sin, only God’s grace is.
The law doesn’t make us sin, since it is God’s holy and righteous law, it just exposes the sin that is in our own heart! The law didn’t make us sin, it exposed our sin (Galatians 3:24). The word Paul uses is παιδαγωγός (Paidagogos) meaning “Tutor/Guardian.” The word was used in Jesus’ time for trusted slaves that were called to mentored young boys in the realm of ethics and morality. That’s what the law’s role is according to Galatians 3:24), it’s not intended to save anyone, because of the deep sin that rules in our hearts. Many of us judge ourselves as being “Not bad,” but the law helps us realize that deep down in our heart, we are more sinful than we can ever imagine, but the gospel reminds us that we are more loved than we can ever know. Whereas religion sees sin as something that is “Out there” and to be avoided, while our solution remains inside us, the gospel shows us that the problem (Sin) is inside us, and the only solution is out there (Jesus). Meditation, religion, hedonism; none of them defeat sin and death as the gospel does.
…to the Heart
When we begin to really understand God’s holiness, we will really begin to understand our own sin and our deep need for Jesus. Sin is deceptive and deludes us into thinking we are ok, and all we need is a little meditation, therapy, good feelings, etc. Our problem is much deeper, and we need a real physician in Christ to extricate the deepness of our sin, and allow the Holy Spirit to fill our heart with His love and desire to please God so we can live by His will, and not my own.
Questions For Study
1. What is the law?
2. What does it have to do with a believer?
3. Does the law cause us to sin?
4. In what way does law produce death?
Books For Further Study
NT Commentary on Romans, William Hendricksen
John MacArthur NT Commentary, Romans 1-8, John MacArthur
Encountering the NT Series: Romans Doug Moo
Romans, Martin Luther
Romans: God’s Good News For the World, John Stott
Romans, R.C. Sproul
Romans, John Calvin
St. Paul For Everyone: Romans, N.T. Wright